Volunteer in Madagascar with Plan My Gap Year, an award winning, international volunteer abroad organisation. PMGY provides safe, meaningful, affordable projects overseas with a wide range of volunteer projects in Madagascar including Childcare, Conservation & English Teaching.
“I went to Madagascar for 4 weeks and had a fantastic experience. I loved teaching as well as spending a week on the conservation project. The PMGY team in Madagascar were incredible, from the coordinators to all the staff at the projects! Everyone is so helpful and easy to talk to about anything. The team also support with travelling at weekends and helping volunteers organise this, which allow you to see a lot of such a diverse and beautiful country. A very well structured organisation from the moment you sign up.” – JAKEY FRYERS | UNITED KINGDOM
PMGY provide a sociable structured meaningful experience across need driven community projects in Africa, Asia and South America. Each year, we have thousands of volunteers working across a range of our projects from teaching and childcare to wildlife, medical and more. Our volunteer reviews are testament to the extensive pre-departure support and legacy our team provides to match the unbelievable in-country experience our volunteers engage in.
We are transparent and affordable with our fees, committed to long-term sustainable community development, all our local programmes are fully vetted and offer some great travelling and cultural opportunities to ensure that your time with us overseas is the best it can be.
A combination of all these reasons and more are why so many of our volunteers choose to come back to us and volunteer year after year with PMGY!
Book your flights as early as possible after confirming your place on the programme to ensure you get the lowest airfare possible.
You should book your flights to Antanarivo International Airport. The airport code is TNR. You will then need to book a domestic flight for the following day to fly from Antanarivo to Tolanaro Airport in Fort Daulphin. The airport code is FTU.
PMGY work with various partners in the aviation industry to offer our volunteers competitively priced flights. If you would like any assistance in booking your flight, you can request an optional flight quote during the online application or feel free to call us or drop us an email.
PMGY have an ATOL Licence to ensure any flights booked through us are financially secured by the Civil Aviation Authority.
Travel Insurance really is a travel essential. It is mandatory for all of our participants to have adequate travel insurance in place across all their trip dates incase anything goes wrong when overseas.
PMGY have teamed up with the insurance company Endsleigh to create an affordable and comprehensive optional travel insurance policy specifically designed to insure PMGY volunteers for all their travel essentials. The policy is available to anyone up to the age of 75 and covers you for any PMGY destination and any onward travel you may arrange (excluding the US and Canada).
Plan My Gap Year Ltd is an appointed representative of Endsleigh Insurance Services Ltd, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
If you’d like to purchase Plan My Gap Year Travel Insurance, you can add this option on during your online application.
Before you begin your programme, we provide extensive pre-departure support on the build up to your volunteer project with us whether it is a month or a year away. This all begins from an online chat or a telephone call that develops into a regular email chain of next step communications to ensure you are fully prepared for your trip with us.
Further to this we provide a forty page plus Volunteer Handbook that provides all you need to know once you confirm your place on the programme with us; from visa guidance and how to get a background check to what to pack and more information on the culture and preparing for your project.
For all our destinations we have Facebook groups made up of our local teams, past, present and future volunteers that provides a great forum for volunteers to network and to also share project updates and community updates across the year.
We have also generated a range of informative and action packed videos to bring some tangibility on what volunteers can expect when travel volunteering with us. This can be accessed on our PMGY Vimeo channel.
Our pre-departure and programme preparation webinars are not to be missed either. They run on selected Tuesdays at 1pm (GMT) and will provide you with some invaluable advice on your upcoming trip. The first webinar covers all the essential pre-departure information you need to know and things you need to do before you go and the second webinar is more programme specific with advice and information for whilst you’re on your placement.
For those looking to go one step further, we introduced a 60 hour online TEFL course to really strengthen volunteers project preparation. This really is the perfect introductory course to teaching English abroad and enable you to acquire some key skills along the way as well as an internationally accredited certificate.
Our community projects are based in the vibrant coastal town of Fort Daulphin (often referred to more recently as Tolanaro). Adopting a tropical rainforest climate, the area represents the first French settlement in Madagascar.
Originally founded by the Portuguese, the bay also has French and American history across the years and is traditionally famous for its ports and export industries.
The lack of road infrastructure to the rest of Madagascar has left Fort Daulphin more recently in decline and lacking in relative growth and prospects to the rest of the country. A big mining project with strong European investment has seen the creation of some jobs, but the adverse effects of this has seen tourism migrate away from Fort Daulphin to other areas of Madagascar and yet to return back to the area.
Not only this, but the social upheaval and negative environmental impacts the mine has brought to the area has generated more controversy amongst the local people.
Nevertheless, Fort Daulphin today remains a location of stunning beaches, vibrant people, many shops and restaurants and a great place to experience the real Madagascan way of life.
Our programmes in Fort Daulphin run from 2-12 weeks beginning on the first and third Sunday of each month.
Our conservation project is based on the idyllic Saint Luce Reserve that spans 10 miles across the South East coast of Madagascar. The abundant wildlife within the fragile location that the reserve represents a habitat for makes it a key place for volunteers to support the conservation efforts of the local team.
The reserve is home to a coastal rainforest, five species of Lemurs including nocturnal species and tens of reptile, birds and trees species. Sadly much of the rainforest and the plants and animal species within it are threatened by deforestation as well as the lemur species facing a battle against extinction.
An almost untouched beach lies only a 1 mile trail away from the centre of the accommodation on the reserve where you can soak up the sun and relax by the ocean.
Our programmes in Saint Luce run from 1-12 weeks beginning on the first and third Sunday of each month.
PMGY’s programme in Madagascar are ran by our dedicated and experienced in-country local teams who have been fully vetted by our UK team.
Such a committed local staff network provide the structure for your stay with us when working on our Madagascar project. The support structure includes providing accommodation, meals, airport pick up, in-country orientation and 24/7 emergency support.
So whether you are teaching in the English centre, working at the reserve on conservation or interning at the childcare project with us, our local team will also allocate you to your project as well as providing a great framework for you to enjoy a unique cultural experience with us in Madagascar.
Your orientation will begin on the Monday evening on arrival into Fort Daulphin. After a quick refresh in the accommodation, both those on the conservation and community based projects will receive the theoretical part of the orientation over dinner. This includes meeting some of the team, learning more about the projects, the history, culture of Madagascar and the code of conduct.
After a good nights rest the orientation will then continue into Tuesday morning after breakfast where all the volunteers will go on the town tour. A town tour will allow you to take in Fort Daulphins stunning scenery and get some great photos of the beautiful coastline as well as going to the ATM, supermarket, getting a local SIM card etc.
Volunteers on the conservation project are advised to note that due to the immediate isolated nature of the reserve; they are best to maximise their time in Fort Daulphin when picking up supplies at supermarkets, visiting ATMs, obtaining local SIM Card etc.
After lunch conservation volunteers will make their way to the reserve and community based volunteers will receive an induction into their project setting.
Please make sure you arrive into Antananarivo International Airport (TNR) on the selected Sunday.
Day 1 (Sunday) – Arrival
Welcome to Madagascar! You will be collected from Antananarivo International Airport by a member of our Tana pick up team who will be holding a sign with your name on it. Volunteers will need to either exchange money or make use of the many ATMs when at the airport as such services are not readily available elsewhere particularly if joining us on the conservation programme.
Volunteers will then have an overnight stay in Tana at our partner hostel accommodation.
The accommodation here will be basic but comfortable and a short distance from the airport. Volunteers will be able to relax and refresh and ready for the domestic flight to Fort Daulphin on the Monday where our local team will meet you at the airport ready to begin your programme.
The transfers between the airport (both to and from) and the accommodation in Tana are included in the Programme Fee.
Day 2 (Monday) – Domestic Transfer and Orientation
After a good nights rest in Tana its time to head back to the airport in time to collect the domestic flight to Tolagnaro (FTU).
You will be transported back to the airport in good time for the flight where you will then enter the domestic terminal accordingly. Volunteers are advised to note that this domestic flight is not included in the Programme Fee and is at volunteers expense. The domestic flight usually takes around 1.5 hours and you will be met at Tolagnaro airport by our local team.
They will then transport you to the volunteer accommodation in the area a short distance away where you can refresh.
In the evening our local team will begin the orientation going through more information on the projects, do’s and don’t’s, familiarising yourself with the environment, understanding your schedule and what is expected of you at the project.
Day 3 (Tuesday) – Town Tour and Project Placement
Tuesday morning will see your first real experience of Fort Daulphin and the beauty it has to offer. A town tour will allow you to take in its stunning scenery and get some great photos as well as going to the ATM, supermarket, getting a local SIM card etc.
Volunteers on the conservation programme are advised to make the most of this time as in the afternoon they will begin the four hour commute (via jeep and canoe) to the reserve to arrive in time for sunset and the evening meal.
Those who are on our community based programmes in Fort Daulphin will receive an afternoon introduction to the project you are going to be working at meeting the team accordingly ready to begin the first full day on the Wednesday.
Day 4-6 (Wednesday-Friday) – Volunteering Begins
Wednesday is your first full day at the project! If joining us on the conservation programme, be prepared for the longer days starting from the morning nature walks right to the close of day activities! Should you need anything whilst at the project, remember our local team are only a phone call away.
Day 7-8 (Saturday-Sunday) – Weekend
Weekends in Madagascar are never dull! Whatever you plan to do, our local team can advise you on the best places to go! We suggest budgeting around £100 to £150 per week spending money if based in Fort Daulphin on the community based programmes as travel opportunities are more accessible from here. If based on the reserve volunteers are lucky enough to take a breath on the Sunday and rest and soak up all the natural beauty the reserve has to offer and as such minimal weekly expense is needed. Why not check out our weekend guide to find out what you can be getting up to in your free time!
The following weeks
Your next week(s) will follow a similar pattern, as you will be volunteering across the week. Time will fly so make sure you make the most of it. Our local team are there to support you throughout your stay. Whether you’ve lost your passport, want some advice for weekend travel plans or just need someone to talk to, they are there for you.
Last day (Sunday or Tuesday)
Sunday is your last day with PMGY if you join us on the community based programmes. Tuesday is your last day on the reserve should you join us on the conservation programme. If you are heading home then we can help you arrange your return airport drop off. Please note that this is not included in your Programme Fee.
If you have not travelled much before, it is really hard to know what to expect and many volunteers (and their loved ones) are concerned for their safety and security.
Although we can never fully guarantee your safety, we do everything in our power to ensure your volunteering programme is as careful, safe and secure as possible. Every programme that PMGY offers has been personally inspected and selected by a Director of Plan My Gap Year. We have lived in the accommodation, experienced the orientation, worked on the projects and built strong trusting relationships with our local staff.
In the unlikely event that something was to happen, volunteers have various layers of support that they can go through (and people who will help them in the case of an accident).
1. In-Country Project Coordinators & Support Staff
2. Project Staff
3. PMGY UK Team
Projects are monitored on an on-going basis to gauge volunteers’ experiences and we are continually improving our placements and projects through this feedback. Security and safety of our programmes is constantly being reviewed and if you have any concerns we encourage you to discuss these with the local staff at your orientation. During orientation, project staff will also provide guidance in the area of safety and security.
Listed below are some general safety tips.
• Be modest with the amount of jewellery you wear in public.
• Do not drink tap water.
• Be cautious of beggars or crowds. Incidents of theft often occur when there are crowds and confusion to distract you.
• Be cautious about removing money in public.
• Always try to know where you are going before you attempt long journeys. Be especially careful at night.
• Use reputable taxi firms only. Our local staff will recommend some specific companies during orientation. If you are unsure – ask local staff who to use.
• Try to keep in groups at night and never walk alone along dark, empty streets. If possible use transport from door to door after dark.
• The recognised tourist areas can be considered potentially high risk areas for pickpockets and thieves.
• Leave your valuables behind before a night out in the town.
• For traffic safety, always keep looking to the left and right and walk slowly when crossing the road.
• Do not accept drinks or food from strangers.
Madagascar represents a highly diverse subtropical climate. Traditionally rainy seasons runs from December through to March and dry season goes from April to October.
In rainy season tropical storms are common across the whole of Madagascar. Temperatures remain slightly higher in the north whereas the south and central parts of Madagascar are more cooler and drier.
Lightweight clothing is usually recommended to cope with the extremes that Madagascan climate has to offer.
The best times of year to see wildlife is usually from late August to early December. Traditionally numbers across Madagascar peak in the months of July and August.
During your time with PMGY in Fort Daulphin you will live in our Volunteer House/s. The accommodation is basic but comfortable. The projects are usually within walking distance from the accommodation.
The Volunteer House is located just outside of central Fort Daulphin, in a peaceful part of the coastal town. Volunteers have access to a private garden that leads to the beach to take in some idyllic views and even take up some surf lessons should you wish too!
Each room has bunk beds, up to 8 people per room (same-sex only). Volunteers are provided with fans in the room and their own mosquito net and bed linen.
Bathrooms are shared. Each bathroom has a shower and western style toilet. The water is cold but this shouldn’t be a problem as Madagascar is hot and humid all year round! The house has Wi-Fi (although intermittent) and a communal area for volunteers to hang out. There is also a kitchen area with a refrigerator to store any items you need to keep chilled.
We encourage you to bring some small padlocks for your suitcase to store any valuables you may have.
A laundry service is also available for a small fee of around $3 per bucket load. Communal areas will be kept clean regularly by the housekeeper.
There is always local team representatives that live on site or close by to the accommodation. Although volunteers have their own private space there is still the security of living next to our local team who can assist you if need be. It is also a great way socialise and to learn more about Madagascan way of life.
During our busiest months (June to September) you may be placed at alternative accommodation. This could be a nearby guesthouse or one of our summer Volunteer Houses.
All meals whilst on the programme are included in the Programme Fees volunteers pay. There is an on-site housekeeper at the accommodation who prepares lunch and dinner each day. Breakfast is usually continental and self-service with the food reserves available for volunteers to help themselves in the morning.
Lunches and dinners are rice-based and usually made from fresh vegetarian based ingredients. Occasional meat dishes will be on offer through the course of the week.
Depending on the timings and needs of the project; volunteers may sometimes take a packed lunch to eat at the project.
Here is an example of the meals you can expect:
* Our team will do their best to cater for any dietary requirements but there may be instances where you may need to purchase alternative ingredients at your own expense.
During your time with PMGY when on the reserve you will live in our volunteer huts. The huts are extremely basic and designed to fit in with the eco-friendly way of life adopted on the reserve.
The bungalows include mattress, mattress cover, sheet, pillowcase, solar light and solar USB charger.
Each hut has either single or bunk beds with usually 1-4 people per room. Volunteers are advised to bring some warm clothes as temperatures can drop through the night. Mosquito nets are provided. You are also welcome to bring your own mats if you want some extra comfort.
Bathrooms are shared, have a shower and western style toilet. The water is usually cold but after a hot day on the reserve this is usually very refreshing!
We encourage you to bring some small padlocks for your suitcase to store any valuables you may have. There will also be fridge space available for volunteers to store any items they need to keep chilled. Volunteers are advised to note that cupboard space is not readily available.
There are communal areas across the reserve where volunteers can relax and socialise. These are outdoor areas that bring with it some stunning views of the reserve and usually volunteers pass the time on the tranquil reserve by playing board games and card games, reading books or a stroll to the nearby untouched beach.
There is always local team representatives that live on site at the reserve. Although volunteers have their own private space there is still the security of living next to our local team who can assist you if need be. It is also a great way socialise and to learn more about Madagascan way of life.
All meals whilst on the reserve are included in the Programme Fees volunteers pay. There is an on-site cook who prepares lunch and dinner fresh each day.
In line with the simple way of life on the reserve the food is usually made up of local fresh ingredients and quite basic in its nature.
Volunteers are advised to use their short time in Fort Daulphin before heading to the reserve to stock up on snacks etc as these are not accessible once based at the reserve for the remainder of your programme.
If you bring food to the reserve please also bring solid plastic storage containers with tight lids, or ziplock bags, to avoid attracting ants.
Here is an example of the meals you can expect:
* Our team will do their best to cater for any dietary requirements but there may be instances where you may need to purchase alternative ingredients at your own expense.
For both the conservation and community programmes, all the projects are within walking distance from the respective volunteer accommodation.
PMGY welcome volunteers of all nationalities and backgrounds. The minimum age to join the programme is 18 and there is no upper age limit. All volunteers need to have a good level of English, although it does NOT need to be your first language. You do not need to speak Madagassay, although learning a few words in your days with us in Madagascar will go a long way!
We require a clean background check from all our participants in advance of volunteering with us abroad.
In general no formal experience or qualifications are required for the projects, just lots of energy, enthusiasm and preparation. Medical and healthcare projects usually require additional documentation before participation begins in country.
Registration Fees must be paid within 7 days of the application being successful to confirm your place and Programme Fees are due at least 60 days before the programme start date.