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Blue Ventures - Madagascar

Laurence Thackwray and fellow volunteers with Blue Ventures in MadagascarI decided to take a gap year because after spending 14 years educating myself I felt that I deserved some time off!  I spent some time in my final year of school deciding what I wanted to do. It wasn't easy, so I ended up writing down a few criteria: it has to be remote; it has to be worthwhile; and it has to include scuba diving.  Bearing this in mind, I started trawling through the myriad companies that offer Gap Year experiences.  I didn't fully appreciate just how diverse a choice there was and what a wide range of activities were open to Gap Year students.

 

I found the Blue Ventures website and began reading a description of their expeditions.  It appealed to me instantly because of the number of different activities that are covered in each expedition.  Scuba diving, teaching English, Baobab excursions, science training, pirogue sailing (local canoes), further scuba diving training and a whole host more - all in the exotic location of Madagascar.  Before I continue - Blue Ventures is a not-for-profit, English-based charity that runs expeditions to Madagascar.  The main aim of these expeditions is to train the volunteers in simple scientific survey methods, equip them to recognise the sub-aqua flora and fauna and then accurately record the data. But there is so much more to it than that.

 

Madagascar is a wonderful country and I was impressed by the scenery and the vibrancy of the capital almost as soon as I left the airport.  The actual location of the camp itself is on the southwest coast, just next to a small fishing village named Andavadoaka, with whom a lot of work is in conjunction with.  There is a great deal of interaction between the volunteers and the locals, who are incredibly friendly and love having their pictures taken and beating the volunteers' football team!  Once we had gotten settled in and accustomed to our authentic Malagasy huts, the scuba diving started almost immediately.  One of the joys of diving there is the remoteness.  There is no pollutant source, no tourist diving, no commercial trawling vessels and the majority of fishermen fish traditionally - this means fantastic diving!  I have dived in many places around the world, but the coral formations I saw out there were far better than any I have seen elsewhere.  It is also an exceptionally diverse area in terms of fish species; there are few places in the world where you can see such a wide variety of fish - in all shapes and sizes - in one dive.

 

I had a fantastic time out in Madagascar, I made some firm friends, substantially refined my diving technique and I have a whole wealth of excellent memories.  What made the experience so memorable is the great organisation, both in England and in Madagascar.  You are looked after very well and all the staff out there are very friendly and approachable.  I can't recommend it enough and even if you don't choose Blue Ventures then make sure you travel abroad and go somewhere unusual and different!

Laurence Thackwray was in Madagascar with Blue Ventures. Find out more about Blue Ventures.

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