Madagascar Research and Conservation Institute

Program Reviews

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Kathelijn
7/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Where did the time go??

Kathelijn van Heusden, 23 (Marine Program, MRCI)

My four weeks at MRCI have flown by in a complete whirlwind of wonderful new friends, a heap of marine related knowledge and above all, many scuba diving adventures. As I was not PADI certified before joining the Marine Program, my stay at Turtle Cove on Nosy Komba started off with meeting my instructor Jacques, who I would be spending most of my mornings with over the first week here (lucky for him, somehow the Madagascan sun has turned me into way more of a morning person than I am at home…;) ) Being able to do my confined open water dives, not in a pool somewhere, but in the shallows of our very own beach has been amazing, and Jacques is a wonderfully kind and patient instructor. My fellow Mariners waste no time in filling me in on which are the nicest creatures to find on our reef (Nudi’s and Boxfish for the win!), their weekend plans on Nosy Be and how to make sure you can be first in line for seconds at dinner. Since we get the weekends off we plan a Whale Shark trip (Snorkeling with these majestic creatures should truly be on eveyone’s bucketlist) and an excursion to Nosy Iranja (A beautiful tropical island Jack Sparrow would gladly finish a bottle of rum on). I seriously am beginning to wonder why I even packed clothes for this trip as I am spending every day morning till evening in my swimsuit or wetsuit, participating in dives or on one of the many dry activities that are organised, beach cleans and turtle watch being two of my favourites. The time here flies by and you’ll find yourself wondering why you even booked a ticket home in the first place in no time at all…

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Elal
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Did you know a group of lemurs is called a conspiracy?

Before this program most of my knowledge of the place came from the rather inaccurate movie Madagascar. The lemurs I had the opportunity to work with did not sing but oinked not unlike a pig. Obviously they didn't talk either. I loved them regardless. Despite it not being quite what I expected I enjoyed my trip in Madagascar. I learned the different species of frogs, skinks, snakes, birds, chameleons, and geckos present in the island of Nosy Komba. I got to conduct surveys on the wildlife present in order to aid forest conservation efforts. Not only did I feel that what I did was impactful but it was also extremely interesting and fun. The hikes through the incredible scenery, both beaches and forests, are experiences I shall never forget. The people, both staff and locals, were incredibly friendly and welcoming. Put simply Madagascar is amazing and this program was a great way to get there and learn about Madagascar (the place not the movie).

Anna
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Review of MRCI Camp on Nosy Komba

I was volunteering in the forest project for 4 weeks and I thought it was amazing. During my time here I got to see wild lemurs, chameleons, and tons of snakes and geckoes. We would hike on Nosy Komba in the morning, these hikes are though, but they are also beautiful and I think it was absolutely worth every drop of sweat and mosquito bite. I started studying my species before I got here, and that really helped me when I got to camp. It is so much more fun when you know what you are spotting in the forest and you also feel like you are doing more of a difference

The huts are basic, but that lets the ocean breeze in, which is nice on the warmer nights. The food is good and carb based. Most volunteers go to Hellville in Nosy Be on the weekends. Form there you can go different islands, se the sacred waterfalls and do some shopping, and much more.

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Bardia
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Review of MRCI Camp on Nosy Komba

My time spent on Nosy Komba has been unreal. As a marine volunteer, I would typically start the day with a dive along the reef about 100 meters off the shore from camp. After the dive there are typically dry activities, like data entry, turtle monitoring, or snorkeling available to the volunteers as well as activities with the other programs such as hikes with the forest program or construction and teaching with the community program.

Camp itself is an isolated location off the bigger island of Nosy Be. It is nestled on the beach with the forest directly behind it. The location of camp is perfect, and I enjoyed relaxing on the hammocks or going swimming on the beach. In addition to camp there are activities such as the sacred waterfall on Nosy Be, diving at Tani Kelly, and snorkeling at the beach of Nosy Iranja.

Overall my experience here has been great, and I would recommend this camp to all potential volunteers. A couple things to keep in mind is the weather during the winter months is still extremely hot and humid, and the camp is quite isolated with limited access to electricity and access to wifi.

Isabelle
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Fun on Forest

Being on the forest program was an absolute blast! I enjoy hiking and getting outside and on forest that is the main thing we did, whether it was hiking to do reptile transects, walking around the perimeter of the island, or going to see lemurs in the wild. Each day was something different, which I enjoyed, and at the same time the staff gave allowed us to give input into what we wanted to do each week, such as more time doing agroforestry or wanting to do a bird transect in a week. I would definitely recommend the forest program to others who love to hike, love animals, and are okay with sweating, a lot! For those thinking of joining the forest program, I would recommend a good pair of hiking shoes (mine got a lot of wear with all the walks up steep hills, along beaches, and other rocks), lots of bug spray (especially if you are coming during the rainy season), sunscreen, and a good back pack (for carrying around water, snacks, and more water).

Erin
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Volunteering in Paradise

Volunteering with the Madagascar Research and Conservation Institute has been a trip of a lifetime. Being able to dive at least one a day during the reef and have a gorgeously healthy reef right out front has been an amazing way to spend 12 weeks. Being a part of the survey team, tracking the health of the reef over the years and working to make sure it stays protected is truly remarkable. The water conditions are gorgeous and the staff is so amazing. Some truly amazing divers who have shared so much knowledge to help improve my diving skills, plus make the environment fun as well as serious. Safety is truly a top priority which isn't something that you always find when it comes to diving. The overall experience here has been life changing in a very positive way.

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Nicole
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

BEST EXPERIENCE EVER

Not only is Madagascar an incredible place to volunteer but the camp itself is absolutely beautiful. The MRCI staff is so welcoming and helpful and the local staff does an amazing job with cooking the (meat and vegetarian) meals and the most delicious desserts. I came to Madagascar without any SCUBA certifications but the dive instructor made it so easy to learn and within two weeks I had my advanced certification and was diving in the most beautiful reef. I made the best friends that I plan to visit all over the world and have learned so much during this experience. I spent four weeks there and I can honestly say it was not enough time to take it all in, I was so sad to leave but can't wait to go back some day.

What would you improve about this program?
A larger emphasis on teaching conservation and science related topics
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Kristen
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Nosy Komba, Madagascar

My 10 weeks on the forest conservation project in Madagascar were full of hiking, wildlife, new friends, and beautiful scenery. The accommodations turned out to be better than I expected and I enjoyed spending weekends exploring other parts of Madagascar with other volunteers. You'll meet people from all over the world who share a similar passion for travel, volunteering, conservation, and community development. You'll have the opportunity to learn the local language, Malagasy, and to immerse yourself in Malagasy culture by talking with people, trying traditional Malagasy cuisine, and exploring the country. As one of the world's poorest countries, you'll see firsthand the effects of poverty on people's lives, but you'll also spend your days volunteering in ways that will improve people's lives, which can be very rewarding. In addition to the forest project, I also had the opportunity to teach English classes in the afternoons and to go on several construction trips to a rural village on the main island where MRCI volunteers are building a medical clinic for the village. It was rewarding to help in as many different ways as possible, and I made life-long friends from all over the world. I would highly recommend this program to anyone who is interested in conservation, community development, experiencing new cultures, or simply making a difference in someone's life.

Tom
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Life Changing Experience

I have just completed my 8 week volunteer adventure on the Marine Conservation Program with MRCI. It was a life changing experience to say the least, from the food provided on camp, to being professionally guided throughout all my diving qualifications. The staff of MRCI are nothing shy of excellent, they are always there to help with any issue large or small. In addition to this, MRCI also offer malagasy language classes throughout the week, if you are interested on fully immersing yourself in the local culture and environment.
The Marine Conservation Program especially was excellent. If you do not already have your Open Water and Advanced Open Water diving qualifications, the local staff are skilled and excellent in helping you master your underwater experience. Highlights of the program would have to include, aiding in the construction of an underwater artificial reef, being qualified for the active swimmers survey team as well as having the ability to go diving almost every day of the week.
I would recommend to any future volunteers that are looking to aid the community or wildlife in Madagascar, try and go there with no expectations. It is a environment like no other, a life changing experience and a highlight of my life.

What would you improve about this program?
I would try and introduce more variations of the types of meals that are provided on camp.
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Camilla
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Teaching English program

I volunteered for teaching during 2 months. Definitely, it was one of the best times of my life! As a teacher I had students all ages, from 3-4 to 50 years old. Classes in different villages, with several levels of English. This was a big challenge! A challenge I would love to deal with again and definitely for more than 2 months. There is so much to do!
Camp and it’s life style is amazing. The acomodations are really good with very good views to Nosy Be. Staff members and local people are very welcoming and friendly, creating a very good atmosphere to live.
My experience with other volunteers was really really good. I met awesome people. I learnt plenty of them and I had my small family back on camp. This made my experience even better. During weekends we did some trips to other islands, national parks and other turistic places, which I recommend 100%.
But volunteering is not only about teaching. It starts from the moment you arrive to Madagascar, see the people, other volunteers, camp, everything. All of it, It was an amazing experience!