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Madagascar

Island Hopping + Turtle Conservation

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Discover Madagascar

Meeting King Julian in all his glory...

Our 4th MidLifer for 2019...and let me tell you this one is worth waiting for. I ventured here back in 2016. It was the first time I had stepped out of my comfort zone since having kids and it was so worth it. You might think this is Africa - been there done that - but I promise you it may be close on the map but that's where the similarity ends.

Firstly, the people. Over the centuries it has received waves of migrants from all corners of the world, each bringing their own customs, beliefs and architecture. French is the national language and strong coffee, croissants and baguettes are on every street corner.

Secondly, the wildlife. Yes we have all seen the movies (numerous times) and we love King Julian. Yes, he really does exist and no, he is not that pretty. He has lots of relatives who are white and fluffy but the King has yellow eyes and hasn't been told that staring is rude, just so you know.

Thirdly, the marine life. Utterly stunning is all I can say. The coral is still colourful (i.e alive), the turtles are everywhere, as are Nemo and his friends. So pack your snorkel and let's go and marvel at coral ‘cathedrals’, shipwrecks, rays, whales and reef sharks.

We are heading to the islands off the north-west coast so we can have our cake and eat it.

Venture out to the islands of north-west Madagascar to explore the forests and marine world before contributing to turtle conservation.


Trip Itinerary

This vibrant and remote trip is set amongst the stunning tropical islands off the coast of Madagascar, so we are best placed to experience a unique combination of community, culture, wildlife and marine.

This is what we have planned...

Overview

Islands of N.W Madagascar

Welcome to Island life...

Throughout our MidLifer trip we will visit a fair few of Madagascar's exotic islands but our main base and spring board will be Nosy Be.

Nosy Be is the largest, just off the north-west shore of the mainland, and is where we will fly into. What we are going to find is a little slice of paradise - squeaky white beaches, crystal clear waters wrapping around a core of lush rolling hills covered in the sweet smelling ylang ylang plantations and rum distilleries: think the Caribbean but better...

There are 2 main towns for us to explore - the main hub called Hell-Ville and a more beach orientated one called Ambatoloaka which is where we are going to base ourselves for the first few days.

From here we will visit Nosy Tanikely (famous for its marine reserve), Nosy Sakatia (famous for their giant green turtles) and Nosy Komba (famous for their lemurs) so get your snorkle, flippers and waterproof camera at the ready, you are in for a treat.

Tues

Nosy Be Island Arrive and settle in

Arrival day ...

We will be picked up and taken to our hotel in the hip little town of Ambatoloaka. Here we will rest up and settle in before exploring the local town and beach life.

Ambatoloaka has everything you can imagine (and need) from groovy little shops to cafés and killer cocktails, so it's a good base and easy to wander around for a good snoop.

Accommodation

Here we stay in a 3 star hotel like Sarimonok which is close to everything and right on the beach.

Food

Breakfast included. Lunch and dinner will be out in one of the local cafes.

Weds

Explore Nosy Be Explore Nosy Be + Sacred Tree

Getting our bearings...

I know I tell the gappers not to go anywhere near the quad bikes BUT if we keep it quiet I think we should do this as it's the best way to get up into the interior of the island to explore the ylang plantations (honestly the smell is delicious), make a wish at the sacred tree and cool off at the waterfalls.

MidLifer community projects

As true MidLifers we have to follow the 'work hard, play hard' motto. So our hosts, MRCI have organised for us to help with 2 ongoing community projects - the first involves mangrove planting within the marine national parks to keep their eco-system healthy and the second involves making bricks for the school development projects.

Both projects are ongoing and depend entirely on volunteers' support for sustainability. By helping here you will work alongside local islanders, who will be so chuffed and grateful for your help and in return will make the experience fun and rewarding.


Thur

Lokobe National Park Explore + Lemur Trek + Project

Forest trek to find King Julian

The forest on the southern/eastern tip of Nosy Be is called the Lokobe, covering around 4 km² of the last remaining Sambirano primary forest. This humid evergreen forest is the natural habitat for the endangered black lemur, so let's go and find him with a trusty guide.

But it's not all about King Julian, we will of course see some other grey-backed sportives and mouse lemurs, the pygmy kingfisher, long-eared owls and if very lucky a panther-chameleon, so pack your binoculars.

Afternoon Project
Back to our project sites to help with the mangroves or brick building.

Fri - Mon

Turtle Camp Turtle Conservation

All aboard the Spirit of Malala

Time to explore the highs seas. We will hop on board the Spirit of Malala, a 50ft dive/fishing boat which will take us down the coast to find the rustic Turtle Camp on Ampoagna beach. This is MRCI's main base for their turtle conservation project which is identifying and implementing protection measures for key turtle breading sites. Over the next couple of days we will help:

  • Map and identify beaches used as nesting sites.
  • Identify species diversity and numbers.
  • Monitor and remove plastic waste and other harmful products from the beaches.

On Monday, on to our next phase, we will stop off at Nosy Tanikely whose surrounding waters are part of a marine reserve. Here you will find amazing snorkeling opportunities in the shallow waters (between 2 and 12 meters deep) home to exotic fauna, flora and the Hawksbill turtle. We will have lunch here, climb up into the light house to get a 360 view of the area, while being watched by the inquisitive lemurs who will sneak into the trees above - staring being their forte.

If time we will also visit Nosy Sakatia whose waters are home to shallow sea grasses (2 to 3 meters), making it the perfect spot to swim amongst the giant green turtles who come here for a mid day snack.

Late afternoon, we will arrive at Nosy Komba which is an island directly opposite Nosy Be. Here we will stay for the next couple of nights to rest up (after our camping adventure) and explore.

Accommodation

Turtle Camp - expect rustic...little huts or pop up tents, all set up on the beach, so you will sleep to the sound of crashing waves. Showers will be on the boat.

Nosy Komba Monday night - staying at a beach side, village guest house such as ILO's in the village of Ampangorinana.

Food

3 meals a day - cooked on the boat and or beach.
Monday night supper in the village.

Mon - Tues

Nosy Komba Lemur trek

Lemur Island

Nosy Komba is covered in forest and yes you know it - King Julian and his many friends live here.

The plan is that we will head up into the forest to track down the wild furry beasts but down at the village we will visit the lemurs who are habitualised and not shy to jump on your head. That's your Christmas card sorted.

While we are also here we will have the chance to do a trial dive and snorkel in the marine national park which is directly in front of us.

Accommodation

ILO Village Hostel.

Food

Bed and Breakfast only.

Weds

Departure Day Fly home

Time for home.

We will catch the boat over to Nosy Be and be transported back to the airport for our flight out.

Trip Details & Costs

This MidLifer to Madagascar is all set to capture the best weather and turtle season, starting on the 5th November 2019 in Madagascar. But please note that those leaving the UK will depart on Monday 4th November on the overnight flight.

We can only take 12, so I am afraid it will be on a first come, first served basis...so book away...see the big book button.

Any questions email me at: milly@theleap.co.uk

November start date:

2019: 5 Nov

Costs

8 nights/9 days
Turtle conservation + Lemurs + Island Hopping
2019: £1985

Rare and unique wildlife

Exploring the forest to find rare and unique species. Lemurs being just the beginning.

Turtle conservation

Contribute with hands on work to a long-term turtle project.

Tropical island hopping

Around remote islands in the Indian Ocean. Paradise - a Robinson Crusoe experience.

Off grid travel opportunity

Exploring the islands and helping with MRCI's turtle project is a unique experience.

Time in, Time out

We promise there will be time for you to chill and do your own thing.

MidLifer's favourites:

  • Visit the markets on Nosy Komba and Nosy Be.
  • Horse ride along the beach.
  • Cool down under the Nosy Be waterfall.
  • Dance the night away in Ambatoloaka, Nosy Be.
  • Scuba dive.
  • Deep sea fishing.

This MidLife trip has been put together and will be hosted by David Bird and his team, who run the Madagascar Research and Conservation Institute (MRCI) - an NGO focusing on environmental research, community development and educational programs on the islands of north-west Madagascar.

They are a fantastic team and will take us off the beaten track, to explore and contribute.

MRCI's mission is to:

Research and conserve the terrestrial and marine environments in and around Madagascar.
Assist the Department of Education in educating local fishermen on the importance of marine conservation.
Support and facilitate, where possible, other conservation and research initiatives.

Leaper's Highlights

Have a read of what our Leapers have been up to...

Misaotra and veloma Madagascar Ellie Harland

Madagascar - Conservation Week Tamzin Howard

Sun, sea and mosquitos Katie Dunn

Scuba diving and feeding lemurs in Madagascar Katherine Tracy

Watch our videos

Madagascar

Island Hopping

Madagascar

Island Overview

Madagascar

Whale Sharks around Nosy Be

Like what you see?

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