Author: Kelly King
Date: September 2018
Island outreach on The Spirit of Malala
One of the amazing volunteer programs that we offer is Island Outreach, where volunteers spend 10 days sailing on our conservation and research vessel, The Spirit of Malala, to surrounding islands as well as to the mainland of Madagascar. The trip is a combination of projects giving volunteers the opportunity to teach, do construction, participate on turtle and bird data collection, collect batteries from local villages for recycling and go on regular hikes!
For Volunteers with a limited time frame the trip allows for them to participate in projects, and travel around Madagascar at the same time! Each trip is accompanied by a staff member, a forest guide as well as The Spirit of Malala boat captain, Abdou, and a private chef! I was lucky enough to get to go on a recent trip and had an incredible time with the group of Volunteers that I went with.
The journey began in Nosy Be where the Volunteers and I visited the CNRO museum and learned about Madagascar’s marine life. Hearing about the local marine life, especially seeing the whale skeleton, had all the Volunteers excited to get in the water! When we left the museum, we headed to the port where we were picked up and brought to The Spirit of Malala for the first time! The boat is incredibly comfortable, there are two bathrooms (both with showers) a table with enough chairs to sit 14, a kitchen, and even a swimming platform to make entering and exiting the water easier.
During the trip, all of our bags were stored on The Spirit of Malala but we would actually set up tents and sleep on the beach at night! Meals were prepared and ate on the boat (all were extremely delicious), and we were able to take showers on The Spirit of Malala as well. When we were traveling from place to place everyone could be found lounging in the beanbags or sitting up in the front of The Spirit of Malala, journaling, napping or getting to know one another. Seeing how we were all living in very close proximity for 10 days, everyone got to know each other quickly and it was never difficult to find someone to join you in a game of cards or a conversation.
By far one of the highlights of the trip is that it gives the volunteers the opportunity to see many places in Madagascar over the 10 day period. Every day we arrived at a new white sand beach, or swam on another unbelievable coral reef. We traveled to multiple islands and the north of the mainland. We even stopped in Nosy Iranja during the trip which is by far one of the most beautiful places I personally have ever been.
Other highlights of the trip besides the amazing locations, we were able to see 4 different species of lemurs, we had 4 whale sightings and getting to see new born baby sea turtles at the turtle conservation center we visited! Everyone also agreed that the locals in the communities we stayed in made the trip so enjoyable for us all. Multiple times during our trip, people would join us for a bonfire on the beach, and would perform traditional Malagasy music around the fire.
When the 10 days came to an end we all agreed we could happily do another 10 (or 40) on The Spirit of Malala!
Learn More About Our Island Outreach Program Here