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.