Responsible tourism: Madagascar in depth, small group tour
One of the focusses of this tour is on the incredible wildlife and natural world of Madagascar, and we spend a good proportion of this tour visiting some of the country’s national parks and reserves. Tourism is vital in helping to preserve such areas, many of which are home to endangered species, and the entrance fees included as part of this tour help to pay for maintenance and conservation efforts. When exploring these areas we ensure that we stick to the tracks and trails so as not to damage sometimes fragile environments.
Much of Madagascar is threated by logging, which is destroying natural habitats at an alarming rate in some places. The presence of tourism offers a viable and sustainable alternative as to how income can be gained from the preservation, rather than exploitation, of the natural world.
As well as national parks we also visit the community run reserve of Anja, which has less formal protection, meaning that our contribution here is important in helping to preserve this area for the species which live here.
The lodge that we stay at in Andasibe operates a small private park which is dedicated to providing a home to lemurs that have been rescued from the pet trade. Few of these lemurs can be released into the wild as they are now too accustomed to humans but they live in a semi-natural environment.
We operate a strict no litter policy on our tours and insist that all litter from travelers, guides and drivers is taken back to the hotels where it can be properly disposed of. In conjunction with our local team we work with hotels and guesthouses to implement best practices when it comes to environmental matters – Madagascar is still not that accustomed to tourism and this is far behind what we might be used to in other parts of the world. This includes basic things like not replacing towels each day, as well as saving electricity and turning lights off.
Although the main focus of this tour is on wildlife, we always try to ensure that local people benefit from our presence. When exploring the national parks and reserves we try to employ the services of local guides, from the areas that we visit; not only are they able to offer greater insights and a more intimate connection with the place, but this helps to ensure that some of the income generated by our visit filters back to local communities rather than just being funnelled to centralised institutions. This also helps to show local communities that there is a financial benefit for them in preserving the natural environment.
On this trip we stop to visit local villages where possible. In most villages and communities in Madagascar there are a number of local taboos, known as fady, which are diverse and can seem strange to the visitor, but are very important to local people. We ensure that our travelers are briefed on these where appropriate so as not offend any local beliefs.
In the Tsaranoro Valley we stay in a fixed camp that is rather off the tourist trail, in an area that sees far fewer visitors than some other parts of the country. This provides employment for local people that would otherwise have little opportunity to earn from the tourist industry, in a part of the country where chances for employment are lower than they are in the towns and cities.
Where possible we encourage our travelers to spend their money with local businesses; for this reason we do not include meals where it is feasible to eat outside of the hotels, in order that local restaurants are able to benefit from the presence of tourism, rather than the income being channelled just to the hotel.
1 Reviews of Madagascar in depth, small group tour
5 out of 5 stars
Reviewed on 02 Nov 2015 by Barry Theobald
1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?
The Tsingy was brilliant really would have liked to stay there longer which is what could be said of all the places we visited. A really great country to visit.
2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?
Be prepared for some long drives and get fit as the walks are terrific but you need to be up to doing them.
3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?
I'm sure it helps local people and conservation reducing environmental impacts is debatable.
4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?
Extremely good I could not have done myself, very well organised and brilliant guides and drivers.