Nov 12th, 2013: Family Planning in Madagascar: lessons from a conservation NGO is published in the Guardian.
1st July 2013, Belo sur Mer, Madagascar - Following a reproductive health needs assessment conducted earlier this year, Blue Ventures is launching a community health programme in the Belo sur Mer area, integrating closely with on-going marine conservation initiatives. The programme will initially reach 8,000 people across 10 villages, and represents the first replication of Blue Ventures’ award-winning Population-Health-Environment (PHE) approach beyond the Velondriake area.
Madagascar expedition datesWe have spaces for our Madagascar expeditions starting and finishing on the following dates:
|Optional overland tour (Antananarivo - Toliara)||Expedition start date||Expedition end date||Optional overland tour (Toliara - Antananarivo)||Status|
|25-Jun-14 to 28-Jun-14||30-Jun-14||10-Aug-14||12-Aug-14 to 14-Aug-14||Full|
|9-Aug-14 to 12-Aug-14||14-Aug-14||24-Sep-14||26-Sep-14 to 28-Sep-14||Last few spaces|
|22-Sep-14 to 25-Sep-14||27-Sep-14||7-Nov-14||10-Nov-14 to 12-Nov-14||Spaces|
|6-Nov-14 to 9-Nov-14||11-Nov-14||21-Dec-14||By arrangement||Spaces|
|30-Dec-14 to 2-Jan-15||4-Jan-15||14-Feb-15||16-Feb-15 to 18-Feb-15||Spaces|
|12-Feb-15 to 15-Feb-15||17-Feb-15||30-Mar-15||1-Apr-15 to 3-Apr-15||Spaces|
|28-Mar-15 to 31-Mar-15||2-Apr-15||14-May-15||16-May-15 to 18-May-15||Spaces|
|12-May-15 to 15-May-15||17-May-15||27-Jun-15||29-Jun-15 to 1-Jul-15||Spaces|
|25-Jun-15 to 28-Jun-15||30-Jun-15||10-Aug-15||13-Aug-15 to 15-Aug-15||Spaces|
|9-Aug-15 to 12-Aug-15||14-Aug-15||24-Sep-15||26-Sep-15 to 28-Sep-15||Spaces|
|22-Sep-15 to 25-Sep-15||27-Sep-15||7-Nov-15||10-Nov-15 to 12-Nov-15||Spaces|
|6-Nov-15 to 9-Nov-15||11-Nov-15||21-Dec-15||By arrangement||Spaces|
Our expeditions formally start and end in the southwest regional city of Toliara, which is a short flight from Madagascar's capital Antananarivo. Transfers between Toliara and our field base in the village of Andavadoaka are by 4x4, included in the cost of the expeditions and organised by Blue Ventures.
We offer a very popular overland tour from Antananarivo down to Toliara on the southwest coast at the beginning of each expedition, and from Toliara back up to Antananarivo at the end of each expedition. The journey covers 1,000 kilometres through beautiful scenery and some of Madagascar's most famous national parks, with plenty of opportunities for spotting lemurs! It is also a great chance to get to know your fellow volunteers a bit before arriving in Andavadoaka. The tour departs at 7am on the first day so volunteers should book their flights to arrive in Antananarivo at least the evening before the departure date.
We understand that volunteers are not always available at the time when an expedition is scheduled to begin or for the full 6 weeks. We therefore offer mid-expedition start dates, and further flexibility for start and end dates can also be accommodated. Our mid-expedition start dates for 2014 are as follows:
|Actual expedition start date||Flexible expedition start date|
|30-Jun||7-Jul or 21-Jul|
|14-Aug||21-Aug or 4-Sep|
|27-Sep||4-Oct or 18-Oct|
|11-Nov||18-Nov or 2-Dec|
Please note that if you decide to join or leave an expedition midway through, as per the flexible dates above, you will be responsible for your transfer costs between Toliara and Andavadoaka. We can arrange a 4x4 vehicle with a driver for you, and the cost is approximately £200 each way, which can be shared with anyone else travelling at the same time. We do our best to coordinate journeys with other volunteers and staff to reduce the cost, but you should be prepared to pay the full amount if this is not possible.
Expedition prices vary according to your current diving qualification and length of stay in Andavadoaka. Half of our volunteers have never dived before and our PADI dive courses represent excellent value for money.
|Expedition length||You are a PADI Advanced Open Water (or equivalent) diver||You are a PADI Open Water (or equivalent) diver||You have no diving certification||Non-diving volunteer||Non-diving under 18||Expedition medic|
|12+ weeks||£225 per additional week||£225 per additional week||£225 per additional week||£150 per additional week||£150 per additional week||£3,650* (18 weeks)|
* Discounts are given for trained medical personnel fulfilling the role of expedition medic. Find out more here but please note that additional costs apply for dive courses (PADI Open Water - £100 and PADI Advanced Open Water - £75).
Prices listed are per person and for shared accommodation with four volunteers per cabin. If you would like your own cabin, please add a supplement of 10% for singles or 5% each for couples/two people sharing (depending on availability). We can also accommodate families and groups.
Our expedition costs include:
- Transfers between Toliara and Andavadoaka for volunteers joining and leaving at the expedition start and end dates
- Accommodation for the duration of your stay in beach-front eco-cabins - each cabin has a shower and toilet with a maximum of four volunteers per cabin
- Three meals per day including tea and coffee at breakfast and lunch - all meals are prepared by local chefs using fresh local ingredients
- Science training with our team of field scientists and researchers
- Scuba diving training and certification to PADI Advanced Open Water level (depending on your existing qualifications)
- Use of our scuba diving equipment including buoyancy control devices (BCDs), regulators, weights and cylinders
- Comprehensive logistical support and pastoral care from our large team of permanent field staff
- Health and safety briefings from our expedition medics and dive managers
Our expedition costs do NOT include:
- International flights to Antananarivo
- Domestic travel to the meeting point in Toliara; we offer overland tours from and to Antananarivo for this journey (the cost is £185 for the 4-day / 3-night trip from Antananarivo to Toliara and £160 for the return 3-day / 2-night trip from Toliara to Antananarivo - including minibus hire, driver, accommodation, national park entry and guide fees)
- Entry visa for Madagascar - this can be purchased upon arrival in country
- Malaria prophylaxis and vaccinations
- Travel and dive insurance
- Personal diving equipment: wetsuit, mask, snorkel, fins, watch or dive computer, dive torch and underwater slate
- Personal field equipment: sleeping bag, torch, mosquito net
- Scuba diving training manuals
- Additional dive training; costs are detailed below
- Velondriake marine reserve entry fee
- Spending money for drinks, snacks and souvenirs
- Hotel accommodation in Toliara before or after your expedition dates
- More information about all these costs can be found in our volunteer guide
Volunteers wishing to undertake additional dive courses should inform us prior to the start of their expedition. It may also be possible to decide to take a dive course while on your expedition, subject to a supplement of 15% for the course manual and materials.If you book a course in advance and decide during your expedition that you don't wish to take the course, the course fees will be refunded but not the cost of the course manual. Please note that it is a requirement for every student to have their own copy of the relevant course manual.
PADI Scuba Tune-Up - £49 (including manual and decal)
This course is designed for divers to tune-up their diving skills and safety knowledge before diving again. A PADI decal (sticker), attached to your certification card, denotes successful completion of the course. This is compulsory for all qualified divers who have not dived within six months of their expedition start date. You may chose to participate in a scuba tune-up before you arrive in Madagascar and we can help you to choose a suitable dive centre or instructors.
PADI Emergency First Response - £95
It is a requirement for all PADI courses that you have your own copy of the relevant course manual. Contact us to buy this manual for £14 including delivery costs (alternatively you can purchase it from a local supplier).
PADI Rescue Diver - £245
It is a requirement for all PADI courses that you have your own copy of the relevant course manual. Contact us to buy this manual for £24 including delivery costs (alternatively you can purchase it from a local supplier).
PADI Divemaster - £395
It is a requirement for all PADI courses that you have your own copy of the relevant course manual.
Blue Ventures offer discounted volunteer expeditions for medical professionals who can provide health, safety and general treatment for our marine conservation and research programmes in
Our expeditions in Madagascar formally start and end in the southwest coastal city of Toliara. We therefore offer a very popular overland tour from the capital Antananarivo down to Toliara at the beginning of each expedition, and from Toliara back up to Antananarivo at the end of each expedition.
This journey covers over a 1,000 kilometres through beautiful scenery and some of Madagascar's most famous national parks, with plenty of opportunities for spotting lemurs and Madagascar's famous wildlife! It's also a great chance to get to know your fellow expedition volunteers before arriving in Andavadoaka.
Summary of the overland tour from Antananarivo to Toliara:
Day 1Depart from the Auberge du Cheval Blanc hotel in Antananarivo at 7am, drive through the Malagasy highlands with their distinctively terraced rice paddies and traditional red brick houses.
Stop for lunch in the bustling town of Antsirabe or Ambositra with their colourful pousse-pousse (rickshaws).
Continue on, pausing for photography breaks before arriving in the main highland city of Fianarantsoa at 6pm, dinner and overnight stay at Mini-Croq hotel.
Day 2Wander the old town of Fianarantsoa after breakfast; this has been listed as one of the world's top 100 threatened cultural heritage sites.
Depart for Ambalavao, where we visit the traditional paper factory to see Antaimoro paper being made using sisal and pressed flowers. Lunch is at the nearby community-run Anja reserve, which is home to ring-tailed lemurs, chameleons and and other endemic species.
Hike over the rock formations in Anja to admire the views of the surrounding countryside. Back in the minibus, and arrive in the village of Ranohira at 6pm, dinner and overnight stay at Momo Trek hotel.
Day 3Trekking in Isalo National Park (Madagascar's outback!) with an English-speaking guide to visit natural swimming pools, waterfalls, grasslands, sandstone cliffs and canyons.
Opportunities to see brown and ring-tailed lemurs as well as chameleons.
BBQ lunch in the park, dinner and overnight stay at Momo Trek hotel.
Day 4Depart from Momo Trek hotel in Ranohira at 8am, drive down to the coast and arrive in Toliara at 1pm. This is the end of the overland tour; volunteers are responsible for organising their own accommodation in Toliara, and we can recommend places to stay.
CostThe cost is £185 for the 4-day / 3-night trip from Antananarivo to Toliara, and £160 for the return 3-day / 2-night trip from Toliara to Antananarivo. This includes minibus hire, driver, accommodation, national park entry and guide fees. Please let us know if you're interested and we can reserve you a place on a tour. The dates can be found on this page.
Volunteer storyBlanchard Campbell did the overland tour before his expedition in Andavadoaka, and this is an account of his experience in the Isalo National Park:
We had a very friendly tour guide, Momo, to show us around Isalo. We started on a route called Canyon des Makis, taking a hike around the canyons that surrounded us, and were told about the rare endemic plants on our trail, as well as sacred burial sites embedded in the canyon walls. After hiking for twenty minutes, we climbed to the top of one of the canyons to rest, and appreciated the view that surrounded us.
From the canyon top, we descended back to the main footpath. On the way, we encountered a number of small reptiles and dragonflies. Approaching an area called Piscine Naturalle, the sound of rushing water began to fill the air around us. After a few minutes we found ourselves at a beautiful waterfall with a small natural pool that we waded into, cooling ourselves down after our hot trek.
We then hiked to an area resembling a lowland equatorial evergreen rainforest! Momo, our guide, pointed out a native species of aloe, called Aloe isaloenis, and answered many of our questions about the national park, its history and heritage. Soon after, we were greeted by a number of brown lemurs (Eulemur fulvus). Everyone was amazed by the way they moved. Even the slightest jump had us staring in awe!