Conservation - Volunteer Reviews

MADAGASCAR

Read what our volunteers say about their time volunteering

Find out more about the Conservation project

Thomas – 2019 

“This is a truly eye opening experience being in the middle of a local community where the team has such close relationship with this unique community. You are also always busy and definitely get your moneys worth with really interesting activities from herps identification to lemur transects.

Absolutely changed my perspective on the way that we approach life and how we can protect these very special areas of the world.

What did you find most rewarding?
Being able to see both the sides of the story in regards to deforestation as the project was so close to the community in st Luce.

What did you find most challenging?
I think the diet of mainly rice and beans however I quickly adapted to it and was enjoying it by the end.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
Bring sauces and chocolate you will appreciate it and if you share it others will massively appreciate it to especially if you join at the end of the project and if it is the chocolate.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
I think it offered a unique experience and also was a huge excuse to travel a bit.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes”

Julie - 2019

“For years I had dreamed of visiting Madagascar in a way that would connect me to people and allow me to contribute in some way. Pod volunteer and team in Madagascar made this possible.

I traveled to Madagascar by myself, but once at camp, I never felt alone. The duration of my assignment was two weeks. The team, including Malagasy guides, included me in everything, and it was my absolute pleasure to work with with everyone on the team.

The learning experience was incredible. In just two weeks, I had the opportunity to participate in transects that involved plants, lemurs, herps, invertebrates, and birds. During the last several days of the assignment, we also participated in educational workshops in the community and with Malagasy kids at their schools, which was beyond rewarding.

The team explained every aspect of the conservation role as well as many details about Madagascar Malagasy people. It was a very rewarding experience, and I can’t believe I had this opportunity to learn so much and participate in so many different conservation/educational activities in just two weeks!

I will cherish my memories from this experience. Many thanks to Pod Volunteer and the Madagascar team.

What did you find most rewarding?

Being involved in so many different activities was very rewarding and was an amazing learning experience. The team included me in everything, and I had opportunities to participate in plant, lemur, invertebrate, herp, and bird assignments. Everyone on the team shared so much of their knowledge and experiences and they provided excellent advice on just about everything from weather to handling illnesses in remote locations. I traveled to Madagascar by myself, but I was never alone at camp. The team always made me feel very welcome and engaged.

What did you find most challenging?

Heavy rains day-after-day in the beginning made the transects and life very challenging. There were times that I was sure my gear and tent would fail and no longer resist water. But, it all worked out. The worst thing that happened was that my rain jacket lost its waterproofing after the third day, but my tent held up. The second week was beautiful.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?

If you can, invest in really good rain gear (jacket, pants, dry bags, and backpack) - laminate, not just coating. I found the EarthPak kayaking waterproof backpack especially helpful in the heavy rains. It will not fail because it is made to be in the water. Another benefit to bringing an EarthPak is that you can use it to protect your most important items in case your tent starts to leak.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?

The information on your website plus all of the good reviews and ethics awards made me choose Pod.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes”

Emma  – 2019

“I had the most marvellous time volunteering with the Conservation project in Madagascar. Tourism in Madagascar can be risky and expensive, so this was a fabulous way to safely see some parts of the country that are otherwise inaccessible. I was extremely well looked after throughout my stay, and really enjoyed being able to contribute to the ongoing wildlife conservation and education work that the team are doing in the region. The scenery was spectacular, and it was wonderful to get to explore the local beaches and forest with knowledgeable guides, and to see several unique endemic species some of whom, including lemurs and chameleons, would turn up in camp to visit us!

What did you find most rewarding?

Knowing I have contributed to attempts to protect a very unique habitat.

What did you find most challenging?

The living conditions - camping with very basic sanitation, and limited food options. High temperature and humidity, with lots of trekking overland.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?

Bring footwear that you can walk long distance in, but that you don't mind getting wet, as you regularly wade through streams and shallow rivers. I found my walking boots impractical, due to having to take them off too often, but I found a pair of crocs to be very sturdy and protective of my feet, while completely waterproof. Bring water carriers (bottle or, ideally, platypus type) as dehydration is a major issue when trekking in the heat.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?

Looking for a programme specifically in Madagascar, via a reputible organistion.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes”

Ana  – 2018 

“My conservation volunteering experience in Madagascar was amazing.

I got to be involved in so many different activities, such as forest analysis, lemur (day and night) transects, herps (day and night transects), lobsters and Club A, where kids from local schools learn about nature and conservation (and sing an awesome song about it!).
I learnt some very basic Malagasy to be able to say hello to the locals and buy beer (and Bolo!) from the local shop. Interacting with the community was pretty great and everyone was always in such a brilliant mood.

I could not have asked for a better team! The guides were so helpful and knowledgeable, the RA and coordinator were amazing, and the food was soooo good!!
In the end, they even helped me organize a 2-day trip to Berenty, which was fantastic and helped me getting some de-worming medicine for the way back.

I would definitely recommend the experience! You will go home with a very full heart!

What did you find most rewarding?
Interacting with the locals and knowing that the project contributes to both their community development as well as nature conservation.

What did you find most challenging?
Dogs being taboo.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
Go for it, the experience is amazing!

You'll meet lots of great people and work towards a great cause.

It's a nature conservation placement, so expect cool (harmless) snakes and all sorts of other animals (including some possible sand flea parasites in your feet, which will be fine and part of the experience). Cold bucket showers for everyone (which feels great after coming back from a transect)!

Bring a head torch for the night transects, 10,000 Ar notes or smaller if you want something from the shop (it will be difficult to get change for a 20,000 if you are buying something very cheap) and a brush to wash your feet that you can buy in Fort Daupin before heading to the campsite.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes”

Josh  - 2018

“It was an invaluable experience, more rewarding than I could ever imagine, it was my opportunity to give back to the environment which I am passionate about preserving for the future for future generations to enjoy and not just us (today's society). Camping was quite fun and comfortable, all of the research assistants were really nice and good fun and I enjoyed all of the research activities, especially the early starts for lobsters - they are underrated.

What did you find most rewarding?
All of the research. Particularly the lobsters, found them particularly interesting.

What did you find most challenging?
Communication with home.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
That you will have the best time and should just do it. Such a rewarding experience.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
Great range of projects at affordable prices. Also, website looks really organised.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes - It was amazing. Sunrise was beautiful.”

Eleanor - 2018

“My experience was amazing. Saw fantastic wildlife. You have no idea how many volunteers you will be with until you get there. It could be from 0 to 10 so that it always something to keep in mind.

What did you find most rewarding?
Living in a campsite in a forest for 4 weeks and not becoming ill.

What did you find most challenging?
Not being able to communicate with home.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
Bring something you enjoy doing in your spare time as there are times when you have some chilled time for yourself.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
I have heard good reviews about Pod and so I looked on their website and I liked what I saw.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes”

Joanna - 2017

“I didn't know what to expect from the Conservation Project, but I needn't have worried - it was far better than I could ever have imagined. All of the practical things were dealt with so efficiently and the team out there were so helpful and friendly, there were no issues at all. The project itself was an amazing chance to help collect important conservation data and I really felt like the volunteers were an important element of the research and the conservation project.

What did you find most rewarding?
Being able to contribute to the wildlife research through the surveys that we carried out.

What did you find most challenging?
Food was very simple and I missed things like chocolate and cheese!

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
Be prepared to work hard and embrace the basic facilities at the village camp. If you do, you will have so many brilliant experiences.

Were there any parts of the placement which you would like to see changed?
There are improvements to be made to the pre-trip information and the kit list.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
Recommended by a friend

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes”

Christina - 2017

“I had an amazing experience at the conservation project in Madagascar! During those two weeks I got to know a completely different world and way of living, I learned to appreciate so many things in my life. I was lucky tomorrow meet great and passionate people and to be so warmly welcomed by the local people.

What did you find most rewarding?
Seeing the happy children at school

What did you find most challenging?
Staying patient while tracking down lemurs

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
Be aware that you will do lots of walks and you might need patience. Facilities are very basic and you will be “off the grid“. It that's what you want to experience then you're at the right project!

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
Good reviews

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes”

Emily - 2017

“Volunteering with Pod has been a life changing experience that will stay with me forever. I have made friends with like-minded people around the globe, and have become more confident and culturally aware as a result. Seeing the lemurs and chameleons in their natural habitats was amazing, and I am so proud to have helped gather data concerning these species.

What did you find most rewarding?
Seeing the mouse lemur with their tracking collars, and knowing that I helped find and take down their measurements.

What did you find most challenging?
Getting rid of fleas, adjusting to the diet, and the journey to Antananarivo.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
There is very little internet access at the Bush camp, so be aware that you may not be able to contact friends and family when you are not in town. Also, bring snacks and spices to put on the food to make it more interesting!

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
The conservation project sounded ideal.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes”

Emma - 2017 

“Leaving Madagascar to come home was one of the hardest things I've had to do. I had amazing 6 weeks out there and made some great friends. I learnt a lot about conservation and the many different species that only Madagascar has. It was a totally new experience for me but I loved it!

What did you find most rewarding?
Working within the local communities, either through Club A (a conservation class for the children) or English classes for those who wanted them, was the most rewarding. During these activities you can actually see how you are making a difference.

What did you find most challenging?
The long working hours, the early mornings and the lack of home comforts.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
It is hard work and the days can be very long, especially in the heat. The way of life is very different and camp life may come as a bit of a shock. However, it is definitely worth it because you will have an amazing time! Also, I would recommend bringing some of your favourite snacks from home for when it does get tough.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
I knew they had a good reputation and they were very helpful.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes”

Ben - 2016

“An amazing experience. We were constantly surrounded by wildlife of all sorts. The guides were remarkable, both due to their extensive knowledge of the forest and their friendly nature. I have learnt a lot from them and also the research assistants and other volunteers. The locals were very welcoming and their ability to produce delicious meals on an open fire with little more than rice and beans still impresses me.

What did you find most rewarding?
Knowing that if successful the research we were helping with would make an immense difference to the locals and the wildlife. Also the club A followed by an entire day of football.

What did you find most challenging?
The walking

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
Go for longer. Give yourself time to see more of Madagascar.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
Recommend by DofE

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes”

Ari - 2016

“The whole experience was really good. You get to do real conservation work helping a variety of endemic species to Madagascar ranging from lemurs to butterfly's to endangered palm trees. 

The people there were great also. The staff were all amazing, especially some of the Madagascan guides which can see animals in the forest before anyone else. The other volunteers too were great people. I loved my time there.

What did you find most rewarding?
The satisfaction of catching a super-fast butterfly.

What did you find most challenging?
Sleeping in the tent for a month.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
Bring dries Parmesan cheese for spaghetti night and invest in a comfortable mattress.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
Heard a lot of good feedback about them.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes”

Patrica - 2016

"This holiday was the best I had in my life. I will definitely repeat this kind of holiday. I learned a lot about the environment, animals and the culture but also a lot about myself. Being able to combine a little bit of travelling through Madagascar before the volunteering started was the perfect mix. I only regret not being able to stay longer.

I was camping the first time in my life and did some research beforehand. However I did of course made a few mistakes. The next time I would definitely bring a bigger tent and 2 very strong head torches. My tent was ok for 2 weeks but for a longer period it would be too small. A very strong head torch is a must if you want to be able to spot lemurs and insects in the dark. And be prepared for wet feet if you don't have waterproof ankleboots.

The project in my opinion is a huge benefit to the local community as both the locals as well as the research staff work hand in hand as best as possible. The education about the nature is not one party teaching the other but rather both teaching each other with local guides who know the area inside out even in the dark and with the research staff teaching children how to protect this area in a sustainable way.

What was the most memorable or exciting part?

I can't name that one and only moment I have to say. The whole experience was memorable. Not only the work but also the people I had the pleasure to meet.

Everything was perfect. Research, people, support, camping, free time.

All in all perfect balance and definitely did not feel like work.

What did you find most rewarding?
Being part of conserving endangered nature

What did you find most challenging?
Trying to look up the trees in the dark whilst not stumbling. The local guides are very impressive being able to do this and spot animals.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
Good reviews

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes"

Megan - 2014

“My 4 weeks with the Conservation project were just amazing! The research into the wildlife was fascinating and will hopefully help protect the amazing endemic species found there in the future. Watching lemur behaviour and finding chameleons and geckos by night will definitely stay with me for the rest of my life!   The programme also allowed me to interact with the local community by teaching the children about the forest and English lessons. So much fun and the community is so wonderful, always smiling and laughing! That is definitely one of the reasons I find the project fantastic, as they combine conservation and community work. I would definitely recommend to anybody wanting an experience of a lifetime!!!”

August - 2014

“Doing the project has been one of the best decisions I've ever made. The people are incredible, the environment is breathtaking, and the work is very rewarding.

Geckos, lemurs, and people you will never forget. I would most definitely recommend the pioneer program to anyone interested in volunteer work.

The charity makes a point to work with the community and no matter where you go you always feel welcome. Don't be daunted by the length of time, you will want the full ten weeks to experience all that Madagascar has to offer. I can't wait to do more work with them in the future.”

July - 2013

“I spent July and August volunteering with Conservation, and I can honestly say that everyday I spent there was absolutely incredible. We were able to work hands on in conducting research on biodiversity and conservation and despite any challenges that could come our way.

The charity was always there to support and care for its volunteers. As a small NGO, it was so impressive to see how much work is being don in the region where they operates, and how much of an impact this work has made on the lives of the local people and the environment.

I have volunteered abroad with organizations in the past, but none have made such an impact as this has on my life. I would HIGHLY recommend this program to anyone!”

Fran - 2013

“I went to Madagascar to spend 4 weeks on the Conservation project. I absolutely loved it and was gutted that I couldn't have stayed for the whole 10 weeks.

When I arrived everything was very well organised with meeting us and getting us settled and orientated into the town. When we went to the campsite was really nice and again run really well by the local guides and staff. The guides are excellent and really friendly and patient with educating volunteers about the culture there and also malagasy.

The actual work was really interesting and rewarding with seeing so much special wildlife and I felt that as volunteers we did still make a valid contribution to the research. The guides have incredible knowledge and skills with regards to the wildlife. There is a lot of walking but it is rewarding and you get very fit while seeing beautiful remote and rare forests.

There is also the community based education work in the school which is amazing work and its great as you get more involved with the local community and gain a better insight into the culture and people of the region.

I definitely recommend traveling to Madagascar because you will have an incredible special experience at the same time as benefiting one of the poorest communities and most endangered eco systems.”

Monique - 2012

“I spent ten weeks volunteering in the SE of Madagascar. Before arriving I had a fair bit of confidence in the NGO based on their great communication and total openness as I drilled them about finances and sustainability of projects. From start to finish that confidence never dwindled. The charity creates the perfect environment for their volunteers to experience the reality of life in the poorest area of the country while maintaining safety and fun. Our group slept in tents, used bucket showers and latrines and ate rice at almost every meal. We usually worked about 6 hours a day which left us time to play soccer (football), juggle or other random games with the kids.

The staff were extremely energetic and passionate, they are patient and generous and are reason enough to want to go back for a visit (trust me there are 1000 other reasons). The volunteer scheme was diverse, ensuring it never became repetitive or boring and allowing everyone's strengths to shine at some point. The communities were gorgeous and the people so welcoming. I felt safer there than I often do in my hometown.

If you are unsure about anything that makes you question volunteering, JUST ASK THEM, they are very open and honest. Coming from Canada the 2000 pounds I had to pay felt like a whole lot of money before going, it nearly changed my mind....I'm so glad it didn't. The money really goes where it should!”

Daniel - 2012

“This year I was lucky enough to spend a fantastic month in Madagascar. Arriving in Madagascar we were all struck by the difference in lifestyles, even those of us who had travelled and seen similar levels of poverty before. At the same time though, the Malagasy were incredibly friendly and welcoming to us, and always smiling despite the daily hardships many of them endure. We saw a vast array of animals and plants during our trip, including several species of the famous lemurs which can't be found anywhere else in the World. I will never forget the moment when one of the ring-tailed lemurs, dangling off a branch, reached down to take some guava fruit I offered it, soft hands taking the fruit while its bright eyes looked into mine.

We spent the majority of our trip out in the bush at Emagnevy, working to repair and improve a primary school. The scenery was amazing, looking like something out of Jurassic Park more often than not! With the help of the  team of local builders, we worked hard on the school repairs, and added a veranda to protect it from the elements for years to come. Though hard work, it was hugely rewarding to see how it progressed each day.

All in all, it was an unforgettable, life changing experience. This may sound cliché, but when it comes to Madagascar, nothing else would suffice!”

July - 2012

“This past summer, I was lucky enough to get a chance to work with the project. It was, without a shadow of a doubt, the best experience I have ever had.

We worked and lived in a village in Southeast Madagascar doing research and providing the only form of Environmental Education in the local school. We spent our days quietly combing through the forest, looking for frogs, lemurs and trees. It was truly Heaven on Earth, being in such a rich environment. For me, our involvement with the people and community was the best part. Walking through the village, children would run out and yell our names and say common English greetings. The school was filled with eager, exciting kids singing songs and laughing hysterically.

My experience is one I will never forget. I made great friends, experienced new things and felt 100 percent safe and supported. I could really tell that our work made a significant impact in the community, and I am so proud to be apart of something so effective. They do such a great job at working and improving village life and creating a safe, fun and encouraging environment for its volunteers.

I would highly recommend this volunteer organization to anyone who wants to step out of their box, make a difference and create memories to last a lifetime.”

Find out more about the Conservation project

AWARDS AND ACCREDITATIONS

  • Tourism Concern
  • Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust
  • Right Tourism
  • DOFE
  • theguardian
  • the independent
  • Sunday Times
  • Year Out Group
  • Best Volunteering Organisation
  • Wall Street Journal