Scuba + Conservation + Teach + Island Hopping in Madagascar

Video and Photos

Lemurs are very friendly!
Lemurs are very friendly!
The leap group
The leap group
The boat
The boat
Scuba diving in Madagascar
Scuba diving in Madagascar
Island Hopping around remote islands.
Island Hopping around remote islands.

About

Join a leap team in Madagascar to help with marine and lemur conservation, and teaching 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, helping protect a unique eco-system.

Scuba and Marine Conservation
Scuba train up to advanced level, 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
Live with a local community on a remote islands teaching and building a school.

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
  • Exploring tropical islands
  • Learning to scuba amoungst tropical fish and turtles

Coronavirus Update

All our programs are running as planned from September onwards and we are creating "wish to leap lists", no deposits required until we know the world has started to move again. Get in touch so we can help guide your gap year planning with latest country updates.

Questions & Answers

Reviews

9.38 Rating
based on 16 reviews
  • Housing 8.9
  • Support 8.6
  • Fun 9.9
  • Value 9.4
  • Safety 8.7
Showing 1 - 8 of 16
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Izzy
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

10 week programme (sept 2019)

This 10 week programme was truly the most incredible experience, where I have made amazing friends and immersed myself in getting to know a whole new place and culture. The camp itself has members of all different volunteer programmes, allowing you to develop incredible relationships with people from all over the world in such a unique environment. I did a month of marine conservation and a month of teaching. The marine conservation was beautiful, and being able to get an advanced open water PADI in marine protected areas of Madagascar was very special. As for the teaching, this was something which was so special to me, it allowed me to become so connected with the community, and I created bonds with people that I will truly never forget. Seeing students progress over time was so rewarding and allowed me to develop such close relationships. The staff members are super relaxed and it really feels like your own community! Honestly the best experience!!!

What would you improve about this program?
The fee includes only 4 weeks of marine conservation, which is about how long it takes to get your advanced PADI, leaving little to no time to actively participate in any conservation projects.
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Georgia
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The Leap Madagascar

Made the most incredible friends and made the most amazing memories. I had the opportunity of achieving my advanced PADI course and swimming with seahorses and nudibranchs to whale sharks. Teaching in the local village was very rewarding and humbling, especially teaching the advance class who would proceed to ask for extra lessons as they were so determined to learn. The Island hopping was just unimaginable. going from island to island with lunch being caught fresh off the back of the boat. Camping on the beach and teaching (or attempting to) little children as well as creating bricks fro the local hospital and numerous long but awarding forest hikes. Staff members where very relaxed and would join the volunteers on the weekend. SO MUCH FUN!

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Lucy
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Madagascar overall

I highly recommend first time travellers to use the Leap. The trip to Madagascar is incredible as you get to experience such a diverse, beautiful island. The locals are super friendly and life on camp is great as you start to feel like a family. As the leap is one of three volunteering schemes on the same camp it’s easy to make lots of friends. Scuba diving was the most amazing experience. Teaching was very very rewarding and made it easier to make friends with the local community. As I was ill whilst out there I can honestly say that The Leap was definitely worth the price as I was cared for very well and had someone come to hospital with me and translate everything as well as being very kind and caring. Overall, Madagascar was an amazing trip and I will definitely go back.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Bring anything that can be made with boiling water as the food can get boring. Bring reading books for beginner and advanced for the locals and students.
Read my full story
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Hannah
9/10
No, I don't recommend this program

My experience

Spending 10 weeks in Madagascar was probably the best experience of my life. I grew as a person, found out about new cultures and ways of living and had the best time with the ones around me. But the volunteer program was not well organized, most staff members did not know about most things that was going on, there was too much free time, there wasn’t any staff members in the hole 10 weeks I was there that were actually a part of the leap program and some of the programs such as marine conservation was not well executed I think. Some days you wouldn’t do anything, it was not productive and it did not feel like you were volunteering. Also, the Leap has a bad reputation in Madagascar so the first few weeks our group was there we felt a little out of place and excluded, but then they got to know us and it was fine! For me the best part of the 10 weeks was meeting all the people on camp and exploring the beautiful island of Nosy Komba, as well as the construction program were I got to help build a trash system and a school for the locals.

What would you improve about this program?
If I could improve anything, I would have a director at camp were they would make things a little bit more clear for the staff members and be more organized when it came to all the programs.
Response from The Leap

We are saddened and confused to read this feedback. The feedback we had throughout the 10 weeks was positive and everyone seemed to be happy their projects and life in camp. Some even juggling a couple of projects at a time so they were really busy. Every week there was a meeting to air any worries and change thing should they need to be tweaked...

Pre-departure, we make it very clear, that the Leap are guests of MRCI, as are the other companies who send volunteers there. All the camp staff are employed by MRCI and the camp director acts as our co-ordinator making sure you are happy, healthy and getting the most out of your experience. In addition we have Riassa on hand to help with anything medical should you need to go the doctor.

As for the reputation – sadly, we did have a particular group early in the year who played particularly hard so I can only apologise for the “hangover reputation”. This was very stressful for us all to manage certain individuals who didn't respect our values. Thankfully everyone since has been amazing and fantastic ambassadors for The Leap so that should be a thing of the past.

When I visited in November everyone seemed to be having a great time and the feedback has been so positive, so this has come as such a shock, if only we had known, we could done something about it as the staff there are so kind and helpful.

We will look into it and try other ways to encourage our volunteers to speak up if they are worried about things.

The diving especially was loved by others - one of the boys wrote to tell me that "the diving was extremely well organised and an incredible life experience."

We really care at the Leap to make everyone's experience special and gutted that we didn't know this is how you felt until now. I only wish you had come to me or Jen first and we could have done something at the time to address your concerns.

Best wishes,

Milly

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Isaac
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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.

Brooke
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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!

Nick
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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.

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William
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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.