Madagascar High School Community Service

Home to leaping lemurs and pinkie-sized chameleons, Madagascar is recognized by scientists as one of the most biologically diverse places on Earth. Settle into a research center near Ranomafana founded by a National Geographic grantee, and work alongside local community members to preserve the unique surrounding ecosystems through a variety of conservation service projects.

June 28 - July 17, 2019
Airfare is not included. We have arranged a round-trip group flight between New York and Antananarivo.

Trip Highlights

  • Stay at the world-renowned Centre ValBio research station, founded by a National Geographic-supported primatologist.
  • Plant trees for a reforestation project, and work with local community members to help promote wildlife conservation initiatives.
  • Trek through the rain forests of Ranomafana National Park, learning to analyze the behavior of resident lemurs.
  • Hike the canyons of Isalo National Park, and swim in its natural swimming pools.

Itinerary | 20 days

Days 1-3

Begin in the capital city of Antananarivo and learn about the rich cultural and ecological history of the island as we get to know our group and start to prepare for our community service projects.

Days 4-9

Head southeast towards Ranomafana National Park and settle into our home in the jungle, the Centre ValBio—a research center founded by National Geographic grantee Patricia Wright, one of the world’s leading experts on lemurs. Work with local conservation clubs on a variety of eco-service projects. Plant trees for a reforestation initiative, and spend time with community members working on solutions to promote wildlife conservation.

Work with your peers to document your service projects through photos, writing, or video. In the afternoon or evening, take a break from your service projects to search for endemic chameleons near Ranomafana National Park, shadow researchers working at the Centre ValBio, or interview artisans at the Ranomafana village market about Malagasy culture.

Days 10-13

Travel to Anja Community Reserve to seek out ring-tailed lemurs; then continue to Isalo National Park, known for its wild sandstone formations and dramatic canyons. In the company of a knowledgeable guide, hike these incredible landscapes, and cool off in natural swimming pools.

Days 14-20

Return to the Centre ValBio to finish up your community service projects. Learn about endemic silkworms from a women’s silk-weaving cooperative, dance to Malagasy music at an artisan exhibition, or paddle a kayak along jungle waterways in search of rare bird species. Journey into the heart of the rainforest and camp overnight, falling asleep to the sounds of the forest. On hikes in the park with local guides, analyze primate behavior and search for highly camouflaged geckos. As our expedition winds down, reflect on our efforts to preserve this unique and fragile island, then return to Antananarivo to catch our flight home.

Our community service trips are for students in grades 9-12. Students settle into a community and get involved with collaborative service projects that focus on infrastructure, education, or sustainability. Students work alongside local people, and document their experience through photos, journals, and video. Collaborative community projects provide an opportunity for deeper cultural interactions and insight into daily life in our host communities. Students travel alongside a team of highly-qualified trip leaders—college graduates with extensive experience in the field, who love working with students. Our community service trips are limited to 18 participants, and the student-to-trip-leader ratio is usually between six and eight to one and never more than nine to one.
This trip includes several full-day hikes. To get the most out of the program, participants should be physically fit and enthusiastic about outdoor exploration.

On this program, students will spend an estimated 35–40 hours on community service projects. At the end of the program, students will receive a certificate stating the number of service hours completed. Projects described in this itinerary are examples and vary depending on the needs of the community.
While working at our community service site, the group sleeps in dormitory-style accommodations and will spend one night camping in Ranomafana National Park. We stay in a comfortable guesthouse in Antananarivo and a small lodge while visiting Isalo National Park.