Volunteers can now enjoy even more of what Madagascar has to offer by signing up to join us on our new research vessel, the Spirit of Malala. In an effort to extend MRCI’s community and conservation reach beyond Nosy Be and Nosy Komba, volunteers are transported aboard the vessel the Spirit of Malala, spending 10 days visiting several of Madagascar’s remote islands and villages. Through MRCI’s Island Outreach program volunteers will be involved in a range of initiatives such as teaching, small construction projects and scientific research.
Many of these island communities in Madagascar have very limited basic resources. MRCI’s Outreach Program aims to assist these local communities not only with access to education and resources, but with basic first aid assistance as well. We will have a local doctor on board and volunteers whom volunteers may choose to assist in administering basic healthcare. Contributions in the form of donations can be made such as much needed medical supplies, a list of which is available below.
Volunteers will visit the local schools and hand out donations of essential school supplies and sporting equipment as well as giving impromptu English lessons. They will also assist our forest and marine programs by participating in forest walks and snorkel surveys to identify changes in habitats and species populations. You can enjoy your free time by exploring the tropical islands, snorkeling in the turquoise waters or by joining in on a fun game of beach soccer with the village children.
Island Outreach Itinerary
Volunteers start the program by visiting the Centre National de Recherches Océanographiques (the Oceanographic Research Institute of Madagascar) in Nosy Be, where they will receive a short introduction to marine conservation by one of the institutes leading Malagasy marine researchers followed by a fascinating tour of the marine museum, which has a large collection of specimens covering all aspects of marine life and its evolution in Madagascar.
Nosy Mamoko Island
This island is at the southwest end of Ampasindava Bay. The small, unspoiled forest ends in sandy white beaches with excellent opportunities for swimming and snorkelling in the bay to explore the delicate coral reefs. This traditional island still has a Queen as head of their population (which includes a troop of lemurs living amongst the villagers and a 100 year old tortoise).
The name of this fascinating area dates back to the Russo-Japanese war of 1905, when a Russian warship anchored in the bay. Instead of attacking passing Japanese ships, the crew enjoyed Madagascar so much, they decided not to wage war or to return to Russian. The ship was kept hidden, but emerged twice to trade with pirate vessels from the Mozambique Channel. It finally sank years after running out of fuel. The last of these Russian sailors died in 1936 and their graves can still be visited today.
The spectacular marine life in the bay offers superb snorkelling and diving. Whales and whale sharks are common in the bay from October to December and there is an abundance of lemurs, birdlife and reptiles in the tropical forest with a choice of hiking trails.
Ankazoberavina Marine Reserve
Ankazoberavina (meaning “island with big-leaved trees) Marine Reserve lives up to its name with a forest of large trees and mangroves which is home to some species of lemur, flying foxes and chameleons. The snorkelling is outstanding with spectacular coral formations teaming with tropical fish and resident turtles.
This little-known island is so small that it is used solely as a lemur rehabilitation centre and safe-house. It is currently home to six lemur species. This private island has a tropical rainforest and is one of four large lumps of silver basalt that makes up “Les Quatres Freres” (The Four Brothers) which also includes Nosy Betalinjona, Nosy Beangovo and Nosy Betanihazo.
The Nosy Iranja Archipelago consists of two islets (Nosy Iranja Be and Nosy Iranja Kely) linked by the now world famous sandbar at low tide. The clear waters offer excellent snorkelling and swimming.
Nosy Iranja Be is the larger of the two and home to an abandoned lighthouse that was designed by Gustav Eiffel (best know for designing the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty). There is also a small village of fishermen on the island.
Nosy Iranja Kely has large sandy beaches that are important breeding sites for both the Hawksbill and the Green Sea Turtle. With its lush vegetation, it is home to a large diversity of birdlife and coconut crabs.
Lush hills behind sunny, white beaches are the main features of Baramahamay River. Visitors to this remote area may even spot the extremely rare Madagascan fish eagle feeding off fish basking in the river. The villages are reknown for their blacksmiths, boat builders and honey. Honey and even crabs can be purchases from villagers in their pirogues. There is a small primary school in the village that volunteers contribute towards running.
Nosy Tanikely draws both bird enthusiasts and snorkelers alike. The crystal clear waters are perfect for viewing the amazing variety of marine life. At low tide, one can walk all the way around the island, during which you may spot lemurs, flying foxes and white-tailed tropical birds.
About Spirit of Malala
The Spirit of Malala is a 50ft research and conservation vessel with flush toilets, showers, seating areas and cooking facilities. This boat was built in support of Malala Yousafzai, an incredibly courageous young girl, who stood up for the rights of all young women to receive equal educational opportunities. In so doing she almost lost her life. Malala is the youngest person to receive a Nobel Prize and she continues to inspire and promote equal education for women globally. The meaning of Malala in Malagasy is “My Darling”.
Volunteers will sleep under star speckled skies in tents at each of the rustic beach camps. Modest tents will be provided.
What to bring along
- Light Sleeping bag
- Sleeping roll mat
- Torch with extra batteries
- Fins, snorkel & mask (optional)
- Basic first aid kit (which you can donate at the end of your trip)
- Minimal clothing as dress is casual at all times.
- Do pack some light warm clothing for the cooler evenings.
- Trainers or hiking boots for forest walks
- Personal items
- Bath & beach towels
- Insect repellent
We encourage our volunteers to bring along items that they can donate. These items are difficult for people in remote areas to access and we will distribute them during the Island Outreach Program.
- Books: for children and adults, written in English. These can be from any genre.
- School Supplies: including pens (ballpoint and coloured); pencils (led and coloured); writing books; erasers; chalk (white and coloured); whiteboard markers; stickers; small prizes (balloons, toys etc).
- Medical Supplies: such as bandages; Band-Aids/plasters; triangle bandages; medical gloves; antiseptic/iodine; gauze; hand sanitizer; tooth brushes; toothpaste; Q-tips, cotton-wool balls; tweezers; small scissors; eye-wash; alcohol wipes; medical tape; wound dressings; burn gel.
- Balls: for sports such as basketballs, soccer balls and footballs. They can be deflated – we will pump them up once they are here!
|All year round||Every First and Third Monday of the Month|
|Volunteer Island Outreach Program|
|2 Weeks||$ 980.00|
|* A discount will be applied if you add an additional program when you sign up *|
|For an additional cost of $10 per night
MRCI is pleased to provide the option of a private accommodation. This will be available ONLY to married volunteers and/ or parents that want to accompany their children.
This rustic and comfortable bungalow is made of natural fibres, has 2 single beds, mosquito nets, a private shower and toilet.
Sign Up for our Island Outreach Program and experience
Madagascar in a truly authentic and unforgettable way.