The Leap | Scuba + Conservation + Teach + Island Hopping in Madagascar

Video and Photos

Looking for a January/February Departure?

We still have a few spaces left in our Tanzania, Ecuador, Cambodia and Costa Rica teams heading off in Jan and Feb. Just get in touch for more information.

About

Join a leap team in Madagascar to help with marine and lemur conservation, and teaching conversational English. This is all before island hopping, on a 50 ft boat, around remote islands to meet indigenous communities and rare lemur species.

Programs vary from 3 - 10 weeks and depart throughout the year.

A 10 week program would include all of the following:

Scuba and Marine Conservation
Scuba train up to advanced level, diving 5 days a week, after which you will be ready to head out with marine scientists to assess the health of the reef system.

Forest Conservation
Trek into the jungle to study the diversity, populations and habitat of the lemurs, lizards and insects.

Teach Conversational English
To the local community on the remote islands.

Island Hopping
Join us on a 50ft boat to meet remote islands communities, explore untouched forests and search for rare wildlife.

Highlights
  • Island hopping around remote islands
  • Studying rare lemur species
  • Meeting local communities
  • Living the dream on a tropical island
  • Learning to scuba amoungst tropical fish and turtles

Questions & Answers

Reviews

93%
based on 12 reviews
  • Housing 8.8
  • Support 8.9
  • Fun 9.9
  • Value 9.3
  • Safety 9.2
Showing 1 - 12 of 12
Default avatar
Isaac
10/10

Unimaginable Experience!

If you love being outdoors, being with surrounded by like minded adventurers, and going on worldview changing experiences then THIS is the trip to go on!

There's nothing NOT to love about The Leap's Madagascar program and MRCI - the Malagasy organization you'll be volunteering for. When you arrive on Nosy Be, one of MRCI's charismatic staff members will meet you at the airport and take you across the small island to the port, where you'll hop on an incredibly scenic boat ride to your basecamp on Nosy Komba: Turtle Cove. The boat will drop you off at the beach where you'll get your first glimpse of paradise on Earth. As you walk up into the camp, which is built and blended into the rocky hillside, you'll be greeted by other (inevitably glowing and happy) volunteers who can help show you the ropes.

If you're starting with Marine and it is your first time diving (like it was mine), within days the team will have you underwater, practicing your skills, exploring the reef, and well over those powerful nerves you get when you first realize you are breathing underwater! Then time will fly and before you know it you'll be going on fish and coral survey dives, cleaning freshly planted baby coral and getting to know the resident sea turtles.

If you're starting on Forest, be prepared for a solid leg workout but also stunning views and immersion into the natural landscape. As a part of the forest team you get to learn all about the island's fauna and go on surveys where you search out and identify the all the little creatures; the data collected all goes on record to help current and future conservation efforts there! You'll also get to meet the Lemurs local to Ampangorinana, or "Ampang", the nearby village. They're cute, but be careful not to get peed on!

Being in the Community program, for me, was possibly the most rewarding part of the whole experience. Connecting one-on-one with locals and getting to know all about their lives in Madagascar through teaching them English was incredible. I had the pleasure of becoming good friends with Julian, a 23 year old Wiz Khalifa lover, and Silver, a 65 year old barbecue master, both of whom I know I'll never forget.

On Island Outreach, you'll get to do bits and pieces of the other 3 programs on a bunch of Islands in the area, traveling between them on MRCI's ship "Spirit of Malala". The ship's crew is hospitable and hilarious - Abdu and Johnny will get you wherever you need to get in style (rustic style, at least). And not to mention Patrick, the Malala's onboard chef, who can whip you up some of the tastiest barracuda you'll ever have.

On weekends, you'll have time off from whichever program you are on to explore Nosy Be or just relax around camp (which is never a bad idea because there's always an open hammock, an intriguing book in the camp's library, or someone looking to play a game of cards). If you do choose to spend the weekend on Nosy Be, there's a magnificent list of places to go and things to do. You can visit the island's sacred waterfall, ride horses on the beach, or hit up the bars in Ambatoloaka. There's always something happening on the weekend that you're going to want to be a part of.

The worst part of this trip is that eventually, you have to leave. If it was up to me I'd still be enjoying the endless 80° weather and honing my fish identifying skills right now. So don't even bother continuing to look for your Overseas Experience - this is the one you want.

Yes, I recommend this program
Brooke
10/10

Insane experience 100% recommend

This trip was honestly amazing and I would highly recommend anyone to take the opportunity to do it. The leap is an awesome company who takes care of every aspect of your trip to make sure you can enjoy it to the fullest.
I met amazing staff and locals over the 6 weeks and also amazing people who I still stay in contact with and I can’t wait to see during the rest of my travels.
The outreach was definitely a highlight as you get to explore more islands and do different activities. The locals are amazing and the sense of community and the appreciation for volunteers makes it so worth doing. I did forest conservation because I love animals and hiking but with the leap your programme is flexible and if you prefer to teach you can switch over as well which you don’t get with other company’s.
It’s a shame that there’s bad reviews from people that I was there with because the leap had nothing to do with it - it was their overall behaviour that ruined it for them- so those reviews aren’t worth reading
What you should know is GO THROUGH THE LEAP!

Yes, I recommend this program
Nick
10/10

Absolutely Brilliant Experience

I loved every aspect of the programme and would definitely recommend it to others. I made so many amazing memories and met some remarkable people during my time in Madagascar. My favourite part of my time there was Island Outreach as we travelled around to remote islands by boat, taught children and went snorkelling in the most beautiful areas. Whilst on camp, Turtle Cove, I participated in forest conservation and taught in the local village which I found to be most rewarding. I seen some beautiful animals and taught some fascinating people. In my spare time on the weekends I arranged some fun excursions, one of my favourites being the whale shark excursion. I loved this one was I was able to swim alongside a whale shark and used my go pro to take some photos. It was a once in a lifetime experience that I am so grateful to have been a part of. I would like to thank the staff at The Leap for being so helpful.

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
William
10/10

Highly recommend!!

I would recommend this experience to anyone interested in an unique opportunity to discover Madagascar. The Leap is a fantastic company which take care of you from the moment you book to your last day. I was very fortunate to be surrounded by some amazing people during my 6 weeks. This includes both the staff, locals and my fellow volunteers.

I would highly recommend the scuba diving course. Llewellyn is a seriously good teacher but also great guy to be around. The Leap also offer a 10 day boat trip around the North of Madagascar which is included in your fee. The time I had out on those 10 days were both rewarding and exceptionally good fun.

I notice that not all reviews on this site are positive, however I would make the comment that this does not reflect the time I or any of my fellow volunteers experienced.

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Amir
3/10

This program is a joke

This program is a scam. Turns out IVHQ was also sending volunteers to this camp and they were all doing the exact same program as us for half the price and when I asked why this was they said "Leapers get a bunch of extra benefits". This is all nonsense, the IVHQ volunteers had everything we did besides for separate meetings every 3 weeks. I managed to get my leg run-over by a car while I was there and got no medical attention, my parents were not even informed. The drinking water is yellow. Towards the end of my trip they told one of my mates that he could go on a free boat ride to see whale sharks with a couple other volunteers and I got quiet jealous at first but when they got back the two boys that went on the trip were asked to pay a large sum of money and the three girls got the trip for free. My mate didnt pay because he had lost his wallet much earlier on in the trip and had told this to the director to make sure the boat trip was free as he did not have the money to pay. When he confronted the director, they denied ever saying the trip was free in front of me and multiple other volunteers and the put his head down and walked off. None of the staff said anything for the next week or so until the day of our flight back home the director came and found my mate a couple hours before our flight and threatened him saying he was not aloud to leave the country if he didnt pay. This entire program is a joke although I had an amazing time it had nothing to do with the program. I could go on for days about why this program is the wrong choice but Im lazy.

Response from The Leap

Hi Amir,
We are very sorry that you view the program with such disdain as we remember the episodes you mention through a very different lens. Hopefully, with hindsight, you will be able to reflect on how your own behaviour affected your experience with us. I would however be grateful to hear any constructive feedback - please email me directly. Milly

No, I don't recommend this program
Heidi
10/10

Simply a once in a life time experience

Where do I begin? Having already completed 5 months living and skiing in the Austrian Alps and interrailing through Europe this year I found it hard to believe that any trip could top it all. My travels to Madagascar however , did just that. I spent four weeks volunteering for MRCI (Madagascar research conservation institute) and two weeks travelling round the most remote islands by boat. Living on camp at turtle cove was so much fun, especially meeting like minded people from all over the world. Playing cards with a beer in hand was the best way to finish a day spent hiking through the forest, identifying rare species and conserving endangered habitats. Then the boat trip in a nutshell : snorkelling, camping , parties , hiking . The most amazing experience. I can't thank all of the staff working for the Leap enough for guiding me through organising and making my travels to such a beautiful remote place possible. THANK YOU!

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Alexandra
9/10

Madagascar (5 weeks)

I'll start with the boat trip. Honestly, it was definitely the highlight of my trip. I had such an amazing time, the 10 days could not have gone faster. Each day we did something different and new, and were able to experience so much. It was a great opportunity to be able to travel round some of the different islands of Madagascar and to visit the mainland too. I felt that this really gave us a feel of Madagascar, letting us experience more of the Malagasy culture and seeing more of what Madagascar has to offer. We were definitely treated a lot on the boat: the cooking was delicious, with large portions..we even got desserts too! There was rum punch, we also had a really fun bonfire. The trip was a great bonding experience, bringing everyone closer together, and Kyle and Emma were just so amazing, I don't think I could have asked for a better pair of staff to come with us; they were like the mom and dad of the group, but also were so much fun to have around. I will never forget the marvellous time I spent on 'The Spirit Of Malala'.

The living conditions are very basic, but that's part pf the fun of it, and it makes you appreciate all the luxuries of back home, as this is what many people in these countries live like. I really enjoyed the variety of the programmes and how each day was different. Everyone was very friendly and supportive on camp. I was able to experience so much during my time in Madagascar, and its something I'll never forget. Teaching and working with the community was such a rewarding experience, as you know that you are helping out those less fortunate than you. Seeing how some of the Malagasy lived made me realise that I shouldn't take anything for granted, and I have definitely come back home with a different mind frame. I feel that I have grown as a person, both in my confidence and in my attitude towards life. It is important to embrace everything that life has to offer, and not to miss out on any opportunities, as you regret what you don't do, not what you do do.

How can this program be improved?
There's not much more that can be improved, may just more on camp activities and a more variety of things to do on camp.
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Peter
10/10

Tsara be- Highly recommended!!

I recently spent the past 6 weeks volunteering with the Leap on Nosy Komba and can honestly say it was the best and most unforgettable experience of my life. I met so many great people, saw fascinating animals and made some great memories that will stay with me forever.

On arrival I was absolutely amazed by the camp and accommodation which far exceeded my expectations. Huts are scattered amongst the boulders and trees on the hillside which overlook the beautiful views of Turtle Cove. The huts are furnished with comfortable bunk beds and are lit by solar powered lights.

The Leap prioritise your safety and concerns, which is perfect for first time travellers like myself, they provide support unlike other volunteer companies which can be quite comforting when being in a new environment. At the same time you are given the freedom to enjoy the experience independently.

Some of my greatest memories include snorkelling with a huge turtle through the coral reefs on Nosy Tankelli. Seeing many of the geckos and chameleons that we had learned during forest program on the night walk at the top of Nosy Komba island, including my personal favourite the Uroplatus Henkeli. Another of my favourite memories had to be playing beach football in Be village where we got to know the local Malagasy children and teenagers, also conversing with them in Malagasy which we had learned during the teaching program.

To anyone contemplating travelling to Madagascar with The Leap do not hesitate, just go for it, it will be the best experience of your life- I cannot thank the staff and volunteers enough!!

How can this program be improved?
The only suggestion I would make is perhaps a little bit more structure and organisation within the construction program to ensure that volunteers always have a major project to work on.
Yes, I recommend this program
Taylor
10/10

A trip to remember

I could tell from the lively group chat that this group was going to be a great one, and I was not disappointed. Experiencing Madagascar was epic, but what I really cherish from my 10 weeks there are the friends I gained during my time there. For me, Madagascar was a great program that was made better by my companions. I'd highly recommend this program to anyone pursuing a life-changing gap year experience. The lemurs are neat too ;)

How can this program be improved?
I cannot think of any ways in which to improve the program
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Amelia
10/10

Madagascar-a trip of a lifetime

Madagascar was a dream. The country is absolutely stunning and the people are so friendly. The marine and forest conservation aspects were fantastic and I learnt so much from the amazing diversity of nature out there. Teaching however, even though I thought it would be my least favourite aspect of the trip, was so inspiring and just so much fun. When you're trying to teach a class of 60 the body parts using 'head shoulders knees and toes' it can get rather manic, but seeing the kids grasp it and ask for more when the bell rings (not running from class like we do back here) really makes you feel like you're making a difference! Wouldn't chance the experience for anything!

Yes, I recommend this program
Amy
10/10

10 weeks in Madagascar

Nearly 5 weeks ago I got back from an amazing 10 weeks in Madagscar! From snorkelling with whale sharks and turtles, to teaching local kids and adults English, as well as collecting data on local species such as Black Lemurs, Crested Drongos, and Green Pigeons, it was truly an experience I won't forget! The Leap is great to be able to talk to people who've been before, have comfort in the fact you won't be travelling there alone, and have a solid group of people to share the memories with, who you become incredibly close with - lots of reunions have already happened! The Leap also kept everyone back home updated, made sure we were safe, and had fun! In the MRCI (Madagascar Research and Conversation Institute) camp there were volunteers from other organisations as well as members of staff who are there to support you! I made so many amazing memories and met so many wonderful, friendly people, locals and volunteers, and am grateful to the Leap for giving me this opportunity! Interested in Madagascar? You should definitely go!

How can this program be improved?
Better communication between the camp and the Leap, some facts were slightly incorrect but easily rectified!
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Zoe
10/10

Incredible Experience

My trip to Madagascar was a truly enriching experience that I will never forget. The Leap were great at organising the trip and were very helpful with questions always answered. Going with The Leap means that you can happily go by yourself knowing you will be thrown together with a group of likeminded people that are around your age (we were all between 17-21). You'll be staying at the Madagascar Research and Conservation Institute (MRCI) when you aren't living on the boat, which means you'll be leaving with about 50 other volunteers that came with other organisations. The camp is really nice with a main area, lots of 6 bed huts and 4 bathrooms. The food is pretty basic- rice, beans and occasionally meat and salad- but it's all really tasty and there are never complaints. Nosy Komba is an incredibly beautiful island and the locals are some of the friendliest people I have ever met. The remote-ness of it was possibly my favourite thing as you really do feel so far away from life at home which is so relaxing. I was teaching while I was out there which was fantastic as you learn the ropes really quickly and all the kids are so eager to learn and befriend you. I had some incredible experiences in Madagascar and really made friends for life and can only recommend you stay for as long as possible- (my short 6 weeks really wasn't enough!). The boat trip is equally if not more incredible but very different, as it's more of an island hopping holiday which allows you to really see what Madagascar has to offer while also allowing you to form great bonds with the rest of your group. I really can't recommend it more highly! Thanks for a great trip.

Yes, I recommend this program

Interviews

Meet the Alumni

About The Leap

The Leap has been leading the field in overseas volunteering and career enhancing internships since 2002, providing award winning programs across Africa, Asia and South America. They are the first UK company to be accredited by the Gap Year...