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Andrew took part in one of our first expeditions in Madagascar, volunteering for 6 weeks.

When I first mentioned the idea of joining an expedition to Madagascar among my family and friends down here in Australia, most responded with a fairly perplexed look. It seems that everyone had heard of Madagascar, but no one actually knew where it was. When I intelligently informed one of my best mates that Madagascar was in fact the chunky island off the east coast of Africa (after having only worked that out a few minutes earlier myself), he was even more confused. “Oh. And I thought that we were the chunky island off the east coast of Africa?” he said. Well, whatever tickles your fancy. Fairly typical of the insightful and rigourous analysis one can expect from an Australian!

And ultimately, this was what drew me to Andavadoaka, the tiny seaside village on the west coast of Madagascar. I wanted to get away from it all, to experience a way of life fundamentally different to the one I enjoy each day at home, while also contributing positively to a local, and ultimately global, community. To capture my experience in Andavadoaka in a few humble words is a difficult task, made more so by the fact that individual experiences in Madagascar can vary as much as a pousse-pousse fare in Toliara! But, in an effort to satisfy the curiosity of the reader, I’ll give it a crack...

I flew to Madagascar, flippers in tow, prepared for everything. Or so I thought at the time. For most of you, Madagascar will be unlike any other country or region you have travelled to. It is hot (everywhere) and hectic (in parts). Wherever you go in Madagascar, you will be presented with its rugged charm, be wrapped in the feeling of adventure, and be struck by the genuine hospitality of Malagasy people.

Volunteering in Madagascar will enable you to fully appreciate these underlying qualities in a country where the word diversity should have originated. Aside from diving almost everyday (which was an incredible, awakening experience, immersing myself in the reef alongside countless beautiful fish), I was able to teach English in the local primary and secondary schools, and get involved with some of Blue Ventures' community conservation initiatives.

A trip with Blue Ventures is not just a diving expedition. It's an opportunity for you to further your understanding of yourself and the world around you by helping and engaging with others. In the process, you'll make great friends among the community members, staff and of course the volunteers that share this experience with you!