Responsible tourism: Madagascar north coast nature vacation
Madagascar is one of the most important countries for biodiversity on the planet. Whilst on this trip you will have the opportunity to see flora and fauna that is endemic to Madagascar such as the beautiful Coquerel sifaka and up to 7 different species of lemurs including the crowned lemur, fat tailed dwarf lemur and the mouse lemur which is nocturnal, plus chameleons and over 48 species of birds. Your naturalist guide will help you to spot these amazing creatures, astonishing wildlife and stunning flora and lead you on an amazing adventure. We are hugely committed to conserving the wildlife and to supporting the conservation of the rainforest in Madagascar and by traveling with us you too will learn how to help with this process and you will be issued with instructions as to how to help preserve the environment which we hope you will follow. Our local agent is very active in the reforestation work in the area and we support this both financially and physically (where possible!), since 2008 our agent has personally raised funds for over 500,000 trees to be planted and we are responsible for providing some of these trees. For every client booked on a trip to Madagascar we finance one tree per day per client through our agent. By supporting the conservation of the rainforest we can encourage the authorities to recognise the potential of wildlife tourism which in turn ensures the protection of this unique environment.
We only use local guides as we want to support the communities and believe that the best advice can only be given by those who are immersed in the culture. We pay fair wages and treat everybody equally and request that you do the same. We use local businesses and services and recommend visiting markets and purchasing the handmade crafts, we also recommend restaurants and visit villages that are off the usual tourist path thus interacting and supporting local communities and hopefully injecting some much needed capital in to the local economy. By supporting the reforestation project we help to educate the community as to the benefits of preventing logging and planning for the future and also providing jobs for some of the locals who are employed to maintain the nurseries. Everyone who travels to Madagascar with us are contributing towards a unique community reforestation effort run by us. We fund a school tree nursery near Italavina. This is a long term project which aims to plant over 2000 trees every year, as well as provide fruit for the children in the local school. We invest 2% of every trip cost to help fund this and you can include a visit to this project as part of your Madagascan itinerary or even spend time 'volunteering' to help develop this project further. We have already started building the fencing (350-400m) and are in the process of planting a well designed/equipped 100 tree orchard as well as 100 luguminous and 100 moringa Oleifera (nutrional plants) on a piece of land we have bought for the school.
After the first couple of years this will produce 200 young fruit trees saplings (to be planted on student's family land) + 1800 leguminous trees (to be planted on community land).
The plan is that the first harvest of Ananambo nutritional leaves will be ready by 2013/14 to supplement the daily diet of students. Once the trees start growing and with the first seeds (papayas, passiflores, moringa, etc, ...) a small poultry operation will be launched, providing eggs and occasional meat for special school events. The association of poultry and fruit trees is extremely beneficial for both and is a long long time old practice in Madagascar. After 5-6 years, daily fruit distribution for students will be possible.
We employ one permanent gardener to maintain and direct student's works and are able to implement this with the support of our clients traveling to Madagascar with us (approximately 2% of the trip cost is donated to this project) and our local partner who is extremely active in reforestation of this area.
Reviews of Madagascar north coast nature vacation
You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the vacations.
I am reborn! Simply the best vacation I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
It was OK
A bit disappointing really
Reviewed on 06 Dec 2016 by Chris Green
1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?
Seeing the lemur's and other wildlife. Talking to as many local Madagascan people as was possible. Visiting the Tsingy.
2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?
Fly as often as possible, the roads are unbelievably bad up North, even in a four wheel drive. Take what you are told before you go with a "pinch of salt". There are other travel operators to Madagascar look at them all. Make sure you talk to the local guides all the time, especially if you have a complaint. Even if some one says the roads are to bad, keep on going to YOUR planned destination.
3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?
Local people had some of our cash, and of course the travel company employs guides, office staff etc. The parks all have local guides who we looked after very well when we left. As for environmental impact, very bad as we were driven all over the North from the Capital in not the best maintained 4x4. We flew via Turkey and Mauritius to Antananarivo in Madagascar so not the best way to reduce your environmental impact. (We thought at one time we would be asked to plant some trees but sadly not. ) We have seen nothing to suggest anyone supported local conservation.
4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?
Sadly it was a super opportunity missed. We will not be going back to Madagascar, it will take some time before we look at the vacation providers web site again for our next vacations. Misleading information was also given before we booked.
Read the operator's response here:
We are disappointed that learn that you did not enjoy your trip as much as you were expecting to. In this particular case it may be that expectations were simply too high or that we did not do enough to explain the situation on the ground. As we take for granted and agree with you that "roads are unbelievably bad up north, even in a 4 wheel drive". However in our experience (and our local partners have been operating there for 30 years) ignoring the advice of your guide and driver is not wise in Madagascar ... getting stuck in remote areas has safety and security implications as it can take many hours to get help when things go wrong. Therefore sometimes itineraries do have to change to reflect this. And unfortunately flying everywhere isn't a realistic option as firstly the internal air network isn't comprehensive and anyone who has researched Air Madagascar's punctuality record will know, you are likely to spend an awful lot of time waiting for delayed flights.
That said this trip is usually very well received and we feel that much of the dissatisfaction with the trip was due to the beach extension which you have written to us about, being disappointed that you did not see whales at Nose Be. Normally the season is this area is from August to November and this year the whales migrated many weeks earlier than normal and so were not there in the first half of October. Unfortunately this is out of our control. You did however swim with whales sharks.. a once in a lifetime opportunity for many, so not a bad consolation.
Finally we would just point out that whilst there are clearly other providers offering trips to Madagascar, few can touch us for our range of over a dozen specialist Madagascar trips. And although on this trip there was no tree planting, as our nursery and reforestation project that we as a company fund is in the south at Italavina, we do nevertheless also pay a proportion of every trip towards this important reforestation project which is unmatched by any other Malagasy operators as far as we know. So you have helped to reduce your carbon footprint even if you didn't know it! So whilst Responsible Travel is a very big part of our ethos, and we actually do it rather than paying lip service to it, perhaps on this occasion we didn't communicate that at all well. A lesson for us which we will remedy. Thank you for bringing it to our attention.