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The Gap Year Blog

Christmas Time in Madagascar

20 Jan 2020 12:00 PM


I have been in Madagascar for about two weeks now. Camp life is simple and basic, but it is a nice relief from the hustle and bustle of Hellville (also in Madagascar, where I was before) with the constant chaos of tuk tuks everywhere. For me, the strangest thing is the difference in living conditions between Hellville and the towns surrounding the camp. It’s only a small geographical distance but the lifestyles seem an age apart with semi modern buildings to rustic communal living. The boat that takes you to and from Hellville can be interesting as it’s not the largest of boats but there doesn’t seem to be a limit of the amount of people or belongings that can fit on it. Getting on and off with all your luggage can be quite the experience!


The highlight of my trip so far has probably been the visit to Tanikelly, a remote island off Nosy be. Here I got the chance to snorkel amongst the reefs and see lots of different colourful fish, some larger than I expected. I also came to the realisation that I’m not a fan of jellyfish and seeing them heading towards you in the water is less than ideal. The highlight of my day was getting up close and personal with a turtle which is something I’ve always wanted to do! On land, there was still plenty to see with lizards and lemurs all around. On top of the hill there was an old lighthouse with some very rusty steps - it probably wouldn't be open in a country with any health and safety regulations!


The next day was Christmas and the staff had created something called Beach Olympics. This day of fun saw the marine and forest volunteers battle against each other, with a couple of locals bulking up the teams. Festive celebrations ended with a small fire on the beach socializing. It was such a great day!


I’ve conducted several surveys whilst I’ve been here. Ranging from mangrove surveys to herpetology and lemurs. One of the staff members here is also doing a personal study on snakes so we are constantly on the lookout for them. They are sometimes very hard to spot, so much so that I accidentally kicked one whilst walking (oops)! I have also been snorkelling around some reefs which are close to the camp. They are not as vibrant as those in Tanikelly but there are still plenty of amazing sights to see, including large puffer fish.


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By Shaun Newton, volunteer