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Madagascar Expedition Management

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Madagascar Expedition Management

Trek across some of the most untouched and diverse landscapes in the world, and learn how to lead your own expedition from one of our expert field guides.

Prices from $2,745

The magical Island of Madagascar is famous for its bizarre assemblage of wildlife, its dramatic landscapes and its unique and varied ecosystems. No other island or place on earth boasts such a combination of species richness and endemism! For example, every native terrestrial mammal species found on this huge island is found nowhere else on earth. Most famous of all of its inhabitants though are the lemurs, primitive prosimians, whose name, derived from the Roman Lemures, meaning 'spirits of the dead' alludes to the country's ancient cultural traditions.

There are currently 101 recognised lemur species on the island all of which are believed to have evolved from a single colonising ancestor who reached isolated Madagascar some 50 million years ago. Sadly however, recent assessments made by the IUCN now show that lemurs are now the most endangered group of vertebrates in the world, with 94 species being classified as threatened with extinction. However, lemurs are not the only group of animals in need of help. The amphibian fauna of Madagascar is considered to be one of the greatest on earth, with 238 recognised species and another 182 candidate species currently awaiting classification. Madagascar has sadly already lost over 90% of its original forest cover though and this has put increased pressure on all of the endangered species who live here.

Madagascar is also the centre of diversity for chameleons, with almost half of this old world fauna being found exclusively on the island, including both the largest and smallest species in the world. In Madagascar, there are weird, unique and wonderful forms of life everywhere that you look and the more you discover about each of them, the more amazing they become. This sentiment was summed up perfectly by the 18th century French doctor and explorer, Joseph Philibert Commerson, in a letter to his tutor in Paris:

"Of Madagascar I can announce to naturalists that this is truly their promised land. Here nature seems to have created a special sanctuary whither she seems to have withdrawn to experiment with designs different from any she has created elsewhere. At every step, one meets more remarkable and marvellous forms of life"

Despite these tantalising early accounts, Madagascar is still an island shrouded in mystery and remains relatively unstudied to this day. Myths and legends abound in Madagascar and remain deeply embedded in the collective imagination, adding to the sense of magic surrounding the island.

You will join an elite group of adventurers trekking across some of the world's most remote, wild and spectacular locations in Northern Madagascar, an area which represents a transitional habitat between the floral communities of both the East and West and which is renowned for its high species diversity and high levels of endemism. It is one of the most threatened forest habitats in Madagascar - the seasonal humid forests of the Sambirano biome.

Whilst on the project you’ll discover a huge variety of Madagascar's exotic species, as you trek through rugged and remote regions of this hugely exciting island. Your journey will be incredibly challenging but highly rewarding.

As expedition trainees you will learn all of the necessary leadership and expedition management skills, from how to plan, organise and implement projects to leading your own treks, camp craft, navigation, field safety and an array of surveying techniques.

Working alongside other dedicated expedition volunteers, you’ll help to monitor the distribution and abundance of many groups of animal and help assess how they are responding to human induced stress factors, such as deforestation, habitat fragmentation and other forms of anthropogenic disturbance. Your expedition team will perform important research, assessing and comparing habitats, with the aim of informing relvant local entities as to how to manage the remaining forests and conserve their invaluable natural assets.

But of course it is not all work, and after a hard day's trekking and exploration you can always relax on the golden beaches, snorkel in the crystal clear waters or play football!

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  • Trek through some of Madagascar's most spectacular landscapes
  • Learn survival and survey skills
  • Make lifelong friends


Location Madagascar
Activities Pre-departure planning & preparation
Expedition skills
Expedition leadership
Scientific survey work
Transport Airport pickup first Monday of the month
Transfer to town centre and beach camp from Nosy Be Airport weekly on a Monday
Accommodation Communal camp and forest camping


Before you go Pre-departure support & documentation
Travel & medical advice & documentation
Equipment advice
Discounted medical kit
Free Frontier t-shirt
UK expedition management training weekend
In-country Airport pickup first Monday of the month
Food - 3 meals each day
Internal ground transfers & in-transit accommodation first Monday of the month
Local orientation and training  
In-country emergency support
24-hour international HQ back-up
Vocational qualification certificate in Expedition Management available



A variety of qualifications are available on many of our projects. For example, BTEC certificates and diplomas on our Group conservation projects and TEFL certificates and BTECs on most of our teaching projects. You may also be able to gain a CoPE to support your university application. For more information on these qualifications, please see the qualifications section of our website or ask your volunteer advisor.


Help Conserve species found nowhere else on earth

The project's aims are to contribute to the current understanding of the local environment and help conserve the spectacular array of wildlife found here. Madagascar has been isolated for over 84 million years, creating a biodiversity resource of global significance, with over 80% of species found nowhere else on earth! Madagascar's unique fauna includes leaping sifaka's (Propithecus), diminutive mouse lemurs (Microcebus), the spectacular true lemurs (Lemuridae) and surely one of the world’s strangest creatures, the aye-aye (Daubentonia). Reptiles include rare tortoises, snakes, geckos, including the superbly camouflaged leaf-tailed gecko', skinks and a vast array of chameleons.

There is spectacular bird life on the island as well as a remarkable assemblage of carnivores, including the elusive fosa, falanouc and fanaloka. Over three quarters of the island's vast diversity of plants and trees are also endemic with huge palms, ancient baobabs and more orchids than are to be found in all of mainland Africa.

Sadly, the whole of Madagascar suffers from an unsustainable level of forest clearance for agriculture and logging for charcoal production, furniture and jewellery production. Madagascar's human population has doubled since 1960, leading to increased deforestation and overgrazing, which in turn has caused massive soil erosion and desertification. Only one tenth of the original forests remain and this situation is rapidly deteriorating as the human population continues to grow. We need to work to protect what’s left, before it’s too late!

The current location of the Frontier Madagascar Forest camp is on the island of Nosy Be, North West Madagascar, home to the black lemur, Hawk's sportive lemur and Claire's mouse lemur, being the smallest in the world, and 6 species of chameleon. The Expedition Management project helps to explore new areas around the North of Madagascar both on the surrounding islands and the mainland for future locations for the long term research programme. By compiling a comprehensive species list and identifying areas of disturbance, we will help to highlight areas and species that need protection. We attempt to observe and collect data on the island's more elusive and scarce species, so be prepared for adventure!


Along with your fellow Expedition Management trainees you will be responsible for planning you expedition itinerary, logistics and procuring supplies for the trip. Planning taxi buses, getting directions and haggling with market traders will be much easier if you practise your Malagasy, or French, so it’s a great idea to do so before you arrive!

When you have made your travel plans then you will begin your adventure on boats, taxi buses and on foot in exploration of the breathtaking mountains, valleys, forests and villages of Northern Madagascar.

You will be performing rapid biodiversity assessments of areas to record the species present and evaluate the impacts of human activity in the area. This data may be vital to understanding endemic species and the protection and conservation of their habitats for their future survival. The expedition will also explore new areas that may hold the potential for further research and conservation.

Scientific survey work will involve studying a number of indicator species using standardised rapid biodiversity assessment methodologies. The details of the programme will be put together by the expedition scientist but typically will include elements from:

  • Small mammal sampling
  • Amphibian & reptile sampling
  • Black lemur behavioural studies
  • Butterfly trapping
  • Bird watching

You will be an important team member helping to make key decisions but will also have the opportunity to learn leadership skills and  about the health and safety of expeditions.

You'll learn all the skills that you need to lead your own unforgettable expedition. These will include:

  • Pre-departure planning and preparation
  • Risk assessments
  • Personnel team selection
  • Fundraising
  • Marketing
  • Budgeting
  • Health and safety awareness
  • Expedition skills
  • Navigation
  • Expedition leadership
  • Route-planning
  • Debriefing
  • Team communication
  • Decision-making
  • Problem-solving
  • Taking responsibility

If this is your first time doing conservation work, don't worry! It will only take a short while for you to feel totally at home and confident with the science work. Although the work is intense you'll find that living in such a beautiful and inaccessible environment alongside friends who share your passion for conservation will be the experience of a lifetime!


Volunteers arriving weekly on a Monday will be welcomed by a Frontier representative at Nosy Be airport. From here it's a short taxi or minibus ride from the airport to the centre of the vibrant town of Hellville. If you arrive before noon, you will transfer to your project site and be introduced to the Frontier-Madagascar programme on the same day. If you arrive later in the day, you will stay overnight at the Frontier volunteer house in town and transfer to your project site the following day.

You will be welcomed by a Frontier representative on the Madagascar Forest project. While on base camp you will have a series of briefings and introductions to the expedition and Frontier-Madagascar.

Here you will learn how to identify species and perform rapid biodiversity assessments and meet the rest of the forest research team before moving on to your next camp and exploring Northern Madagascar.



Accommodation will vary from camp to camp. On forest base camp you will have the luxury of sleeping in traditional Malagasy wooden huts on the beach and cooking on an open fire. We aim to provide you with a unique and memorable living experience. Our camps will make no permanent or intrusive impact on the environment and will provide you with a special home during your stay.

When moving from camp to camp you will be sleeping in your tent or even under a tarpaulin under the starry sky. You will be assessed on your ability to set up camp and choose a suitable place to camp, ensuring that it's close to a water source and, if possible, with the best views! After you set up your tents, it will be time to build a fire and get down to cooking your dinner of beans, rice, vegetables and whatever else you've brought. You will help run camp from day-to-day, taking turns to cook, collect firewood, purify water, and other essential camp duties.

Your "shower" may consist of a river-pool, jug or bucket of water or you will wash in the sea and you will be cooking over an open fire, so prepare yourself for the simple, low footprint, unencumbered lifestyle!

Check out our Camp Tour video! 


Camp food is basic and nutritious and consists largely of rice, vegetables, beans and noodles, all of which are purchased locally as we travel in order to help support the local economy. Luxuries such as chocolate, peanut butter and drinking chocolate must be imported from the local town, so make sure you stock up before heading to the field!

Ten Most Recent Reviews for This Project

Madagascar Volunteer Diaries  | 13 Aug 2018
After a beautiful two-day drive from Antananarivo, which was a fantastic chance to see this amazi...

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Madagascar Volunteer Diaries  | 25 Jul 2018
Our adventurous expedition to Analavelona was an amazing experience. After negotiating the crossi...

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Madagascar Volunteer Diaries  | 11 Jul 2018
The July expedition to Analamerana Special Reserve Northern Madagascar was eventful from the star...

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Madagascar Volunteer Diaries  | 4 Jul 2018
"Aah, wasps!" shouted Tim, shortly before the pirogue tipped over, carting its forlorn ...

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Madagascar Volunteer Diaries  | 17 Jun 2018
"Tired but happy, we have just returned from the first ever Expedition Management Training i...

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Madagascar Volunteer Diaries  | 3 Jun 2018
Getting to our expedition starting point from Tulear was an expedition in itself! - It turned int...

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Madagascar Volunteer Diaries  | 15 May 2018
"A group of expedition management trainees met up with leaders in Tulear after two days trav...

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Madagascar Volunteer Diaries  | 29 Apr 2018
"After two days of hiking the expedition team has reached and successfully set up a function...

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Dolphin and whale encounters on Madagascar Marine  | 1 Apr 2018
If Madagascar entered a lonely hearts column, it would read....."Wild, passionate, exotic, b...

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Madagascar Volunteer Diaries  | 18 Mar 2018
"We started out long trek to the Munombo River from Heathrow in the early hours of the morni...

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Participants on the Frontier-Madagascar Expedition Management Project can gain a nationally accredited BTEC Advanced Certificate in Expedition Management for an additional $442.

The Expedition Management BTEC incorporates the training and participatory learning already experienced by all volunteers on Frontier expeditions but adds depth to your experience by actively building your research and fieldwork skills under the close supervision of field professionals.

To complete the BTEC you'll fill in a daily work diary, create a written survey plan, briefs, debriefs and a verbal presentation of your expedition. You will also be assessed on rapid biodiversity assessments, species identification, camp craft, team work and group leadership, all of which will work towards your qualification in Expedition Management.

Modern conveniences

Hellville - 1 hour boat journey at own cost

  • Attractions e.g. Lemurland, Donia Festival
  • Banks / ATMs; Bank of Africa, BFV-Société Générale, BNI-CL
  • Bars / cafes
  • Boats to the mainland & Boat Hire
  • Hostels and hotels
  • Internet cafe
  • Medical clinic
  • Nightclub
  • Pharmacy
  • Post office
  • Street food
  • Supermarket
  • Taxis to the rest of the island
  • Telecom office
  • Traditional markets
  • Western style restaurants
  • Western Union


4 weeks $2,745


June, July, August
Departs first Monday of the month


4 weeks


Before you go

  • Pre-departure support & documentation
  • Travel & medical advice & documentation
  • Equipment advice
  • Discounted medical kit
  • Free Frontier t-shirt
  • UK expedition management training weekend


  • Airport pickup first Monday of the month
  • Food
  • Accommodation
  • Internal ground transfers & in-transit accommodation first Monday of the month
  • Local orientation & training
  • In-country emergency support
  • 24-hour international HQ back-up


Nearest airport(s): Nossi-Be (NOS)


  • Flights
  • Visas
  • Insurance

For detailed information on flights, visas and insurance, click here.


Please read our legal statement regarding the running of NGO projects.

To apply for this placement, click on "Apply Now" below. Fill in the short application form and one of our advisers will then call you back to answer any questions and make sure this is the perfect placement for you. Applying doesn't cost a penny and you won't pay anything until you're completely happy and you're ready to reserve your place.

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