Madagascar is a place like no other. I never knew much about it until I stumbled over the Madagascar Teaching, Wildlife and Diving project on the Frontier website. I don't really know why I chose that project, it just happened. Next thing I knew I was on the plane to Nosy Be. Nosy Be is such an enchanting little island. From the nice people - ignoring how seriously they take "mora mora" (slowly slowly) - to the mesmerizing landscapes and exciting wildlife.
Image courtesy of Madagascar volunteer Sarah Miller
I never thought there would come the day where I would jump with excitement at the sight of a snake. A wild snake. Huge. Venomous. But it fascinated me the first time we spotted one on the way back to camp from an Active Search. Every snake after that fascinated me even more. Same with all the chameleons and lemurs and all the underwater invertebrate species I had to study. Once I knew what I was looking at - forest or coral reef - it was all the more interesting. Plus you get to feel great when you go home to your friends and family and tell them all about the Brookesia Stumpffi or Zonosaurus Madagascariensis you saw. Most likely you'll sound like a genius to them since they have no idea what to associate with those smart sounding words.
Depending on the time of year you're planning on going to Madagascar, it might involve a lot of dampness. But the rainy season has its perks as well, such as [the] amazing wildlife, or the morning walk to the almost overflowing long drop [that] will turn into an unexpected adventure as it can get quite muddy and slippery. And once you've reached the long drop, prepare to be watched by any kind of wildlife. But the simplicity of camp life is great! You give up all kinds of luxuries such as a toilet. But falling asleep listening to the waves crash on the beach or lemurs screeching in the forest behind camp is so worth it.
Also living with everybody on camp is always fun. As there is not much else to do around camp you will get to know everybody in this unique environment in their own special way. I personally enjoyed that the most; just hanging about together waiting for the rain to pass. While you're there you might also learn how to make a fire and cook rice and beans for 20 plus people. If you don't, no worries; I still cannot do either of those.
Life in town on the community projects is very different in comparison to camp, but just as fun. There you can enjoy electricity and wifi, cushions and backrests; [all of this] while teaching motivated kids some English. Perfect!
I think the most important thing to remind yourself while you volunteer, though, is that everything done on the projects are long winded processes. So Teaching, Wildlife and Diving is great when you want to get a feel for each of the projects. I loved being an adventurer for that reason. But if you really want to make a considerable difference, stick to one project for as long as you can. That's what I'd do next time.
Author Sarah Miller volunteered on Frontier's Madagascar Teaching, Wildlife & Diving project. Frontier is an international, nonprofit volunteering NGO with over 300 dedicated conservation, community development and adventure projects worldwide. To find see more from projects please visit Frontier's Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest, or see photos shared by volunteers in the field by searching #frontiervolunteer on Instagram.