Madagascar Semester

Cultural & Ecological Diversity

A 3-Month Gap Year Program

Enroll
Duration
84 Days
Description

Study endangered landscapes and cultures, witness the competing interests of economic development, and discover the natural wonders of the “8th continent.”

Spring Dates

Feb 7 - May 1, 2020


Spring Availability

open

Fall Dates

Sep 15 - Dec 6, 2019


Fall Availability

closed

Number of Participants

12


Suggested Ages

17-22

Spring Begins In

38 Weeks

Fall Begins In

17 Weeks

Land Cost

$14,740


Estimated Flight Cost

$1,835

Antananarivo (Tana)

Ampefy

Ranomafana Park

Morondava

Ambanja

Mahajanga

Isalo Park

Ambatamanga

Antsirabe

Program Overview

SET APART FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT, MADAGASCAR IS THE FOURTH-LARGEST AND ONE OF THE MOST BIOLOGICALLY DIVERSE ISLANDS IN THE WORLD.


Rugged travel across a canvas of deserts, forests, mountains, and seas paint the vivid ecosystems and traditions that make up this island-nation. The country has been populated by waves of migrants; people who sailed across treacherous open ocean to create a distinct blend of African and Malay cultures. In addition to an unmistakable culture, Madagascar is also home to seemingly otherworldly flora and fauna. Indeed, over 80% of Madagascar’s plants and animals are found only there. Historical and geographic isolation have made Madagascar a place where almost all of what you see, hear, and do are possible nowhere else on earth.

Early on in the program, we set out to explore some of the country’s unique ecosystems. We travel by bush taxi (taxi-brousse). The seats are too small and the vehicles are compulsorily stuffed to the gills with people, sacks of rice, dried fish, and luggage. Yet it is from these seats that we best see the vivid colors and faces of Madagascar. We trek…

Rugged travel across a canvas of deserts, forests, mountains, and seas paint the vivid ecosystems and traditions that make up this island-nation. The country has been populated by waves of migrants; people who sailed across treacherous open ocean to create a distinct blend of African and Malay cultures. In addition to an unmistakable culture, Madagascar is also home to seemingly otherworldly flora and fauna. Indeed, over 80% of Madagascar’s plants and animals are found only there. Historical and geographic isolation have made Madagascar a place where almost all of what you see, hear, and do are possible nowhere else on earth.

Early on in the program, we set out to explore some of the country’s unique ecosystems. We travel by bush taxi (taxi-brousse). The seats are too small and the vehicles are compulsorily stuffed to the gills with people, sacks of rice, dried fish, and luggage. Yet it is from these seats that we best see the vivid colors and faces of Madagascar. We trek in two of the country’s most famous national parks and meet with visiting and host country scientists who endeavor to protect the breathtaking endemic forests that lemurs, and other peculiar animals call home. We learn about lemurs, an endangered primate well-known for their catlike faces, large ears, and playful sounds and behaviors.

In the eastern region of the country, we practice the Malagasy language with homestay families, explore the natural wonders of tsingy (limestone pinnacles), and visit the Avenue of the Baobabs. After watching the dancing shadows of the majestic baobab trees at sunrise, we travel north to a quiet highland village near the capital. Here, we live with Malagasy families in traditional mud-brick or grass roofed houses overlooking glistening rice fields. Electricity is rare and time passes quickly as we spend our days with families tending to daily needs: planting crops, fetching sticks for cooking, or washing clothes in the river.

Even further north, on red dusty roads of the desert, we arrive in a place where the rainforest touches the coast and the scent of vanilla fills the air where we spend the final weeks of the program volunteering in local villages and learning about cacao and vanilla production while working alongside local farmers.

From the bumpy back seat of a taxi-brousse, through the candlelight of family dinners, or under the canopy of a lush rainforest; our semester exposes us to the stories that make Madagascar a place unlike any other. Alone at the bottom of the Indian ocean lies a beautiful and wild island waiting to be explored.

Read More Read Less Sample Itinerary

Program Components

2/5
Comparative Religion

Examine the complex set of beliefs and intersections of Christianity, a rich system of traditional beliefs, while also learning about the country’s small Muslim population.

5/5
Development Studies

Investigate how the micro-economics and political events impact the environment in Madagascar.

5/5
Focus Of Inquiry

Delve into issues such as the provocative legacies of African slave trade and local conservation issues – particularly the complex tension between economic development and environmental preservation in Madagascar.

3/5
Homestay

Spend two weeks in a homestay with the Merina people in the highlands, several days with families in the western town of Morondava, and two weeks living with the Tsimihety on the north-eastern coast.

3/5
Independent Study Project (ISP)

Explore a personal area of interest such as sustainable land use, ecotourism, local handicrafts, conservation efforts for endangered species, trade in the Indian Ocean, traditional health beliefs, music or language studies.

2/5
Language Study

Use language with homestay families, Malagasy acquaintances, and during independent study projects. Learn to speak basic Malagasy through language lessons and practice your French at any level through interactions and supplementary lessons.

3/5
Learning Service

Spend time with Malagasy non-governmental organizations that care for at-risk and underprivileged children in several different regions of the country. Engage with local environmental conservation efforts at various national parks.

5/5
Rugged Travel

Travel throughout Madagascar on local transportation, which often winds slowly down sing-landed roads cluttered by cars, ox cards, bicycles and foot-traffic. Explore the ocean on traditional boats, stay in multiple humble homestays with minimal amenities, and explore unique landscapes on foot during treks.

3/5
Trekking

Spend 10-14 days trekking in Madagascar's unique landscapes. Explore remarkable rainforest on a one-week trek in Ranomafana National Park and multiple day and night hikes in national parks.