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Community tourism

Community tourism is becoming more and more popular these days. This “other kind” of tourism can be described as a closer relationship or interaction between the traveller and the host country. The basic idea is that both parts profit from community tourism.
Thus, visitors get a deeper, wider and also cheaper experience of the real daily life of local communities than other travellers, and learn first-hand lots of information about local culture, customs or way of living. Nature is also a very important part of this more sustainable way of travelling, since ecotourism is closed related to community tourism.
On the other hand, the local (often rural) communities benefit from tourists since the money they leave goes directly to the community, village or organisation, and it is a very welcoming support to their development.

Madagascar is not an exception to this trend of solidarity and there are more and more NGOs, international and local projects, associations, foundations and other initiatives whose aim is to give visitors an intense and unforgettable experience and at the same time to improve the hard life of too many poor local people.

We are currently elaborating a list of community tourism projects to promote this kind of solidarity travelling. If you know a project that is not listed, please contact us. We thank every little help to improve our travel guide!

The RAVAKA Association in Antsirabe offers three different trekking tours which lead the visitor to the less known region of Vakinankaratra on Madagascar's highlands.
One tour takes two days and makes a loop through the rural communities living western from Antsirabe. This tour is focused on the way of living and culture of the Merina on the high plateau. Accommodation is at guest families in villages not stated in any tourist guide.
Another trek (also two days or longer if you wish) leads to the mount Ibity to visit the gem mines and to spot wildlife along the way.
The third route lasts also two days and get visitors acquainted with the traditional iron crafts of the local blacksmiths and also visit several sacred places.
Phone: +261 (0) 20 44 498 87 / 032 42 638 22 / 033 24 204 03

Lambahoany Ecotourism Centre is a Dutch foundation that works both in the city of Tamatave as in the surrounding countryside to preserve nature and culture of Madagascar and to improve people’s life. They organise several trekkings around the village of Fetrahomby,  (not far from Brickaville), in an area called the Ankeniheny-Zahamena Corridor, with its stunning rainforests and laid-back, hospitable communities.
Besides hiking, you can spend the day with the villagers, see how they live and help for a day in the rice field. The area is also very attractive for biologists and special interest tourists such as wildlife photographers.

Currently there three different treks:
The Plaisir trek is a 3-day trip which is suitable for experienced as well as non-experienced hikers. You will travel by boat and foot to the village of Sahamamy. Highlights are hiking through the jungle discovering the flora and fauna of the rainforest, visiting remote and traditional villages, swimming under a waterfall and visiting a graphite mine.
The Milay is a simple and short 3-day trek, but it gets more difficult in case of rain when the paths become slippery. The trip leads us through several villages where you can feel the Malagasy hospitality and enjoy the local culture. You will sleep in Fetrahomby, where the locals also give a special cultural performance and you will learn about medical use of local trees and plants. Of course you will also look for wildlife and take a bath under the waterfalls.

The sauvage trek is a 5-day trip for experienced hikers who are in good health. You have sufficient time to really experience the nature and culture of Madagascar and do not mind living in a basic and remote setting for a few days. This trip will lead you through various small villages and the majestic virgin rainforests of East Madagascar. You will visit places where few others have ever travelled and it is likely you will see lemurs and chameleons.
Lambahoany offers accommodation at its Centre in Tamatave. Here you can know the different projects they manage and meet local people. There is a great information centre as well.
For further information visit their homepage at www.lambahoany.org

The Association Mitsinjo is a local NGO focussed on ecotourism that works for a sustainable development in the region of Andasibe. They manage directly two forest areas and are also responsible of further projects, such as local capacity building, sustainable agriculture, healt care and family planning to avoid slash-and-burn or a nursery with more than 100 endemic trees. They have a gift shop whit plenty of local handcraft ideal for buying “fair trade” souvenirs.
Mitsinjo offer forest tours in the two forest areas they manage. On the Forest Station Analamazaotra visitors can make both a day-walk to spot indris and many other lemurs, birds, reptiles and plants, and a night-walk to discover the strange creatures which are hidden during the day.
Another highlight is the canopy tour: a team of professional climbers takes you on platforms constructed high in trees, the descent into the various platforms is done by sliding along a cable stretched in the forest canopy. This tour will offer you the opportunity to observe wildlife, including lemurs groups that live around. The tour is offered from June to December only.
The Torotorofotsy site is one of the few places where the extremely endangered greater bamboo lemur occurs. Visitors can join the research team to track this lemur and also observe birds and reptiles and enjoy a great scenery.
You can find more information on their website: http://sites.google.com/site/mitsinjo/home

The NGO Blue Ventures manages a project based on Andavadoaka focussed on the development of comnservation programs and research activities in the reef ecosystem in the lagoon. Their aim is to create the largest community-run protected area in the entire Western Indian Ocean. This huge reserve (1145km2) is called Velondriake, which means “to live with the sea” in Malagasy protects not only coral the reef, but also mangroves, sea grass beds and baobab forest. Blue Ventures works together with 25 local communities in order to reach a more sustainable development of these fisher villages. It is possible to work as a volunteer. You find all necessary information on their website:  www.blueventures.org

The English NGO Azafady, which means “please” in Malagasy, is currently developing many holistic development and conservation projects in the Anosy and Androy region of southeast Madagascar. They work together with 80 rural communities and in Fort Dauphin as well. They do not organise trips but they run award-winning volunteer programmes where you can support their projects for 2 – 10 weeks. See here: http://www.madagascar.co.uk/index.htm

A.D.D.A. is a recent local initiative to promote sustainable development and tourism in the small village of Ankevo, on the western coast of Madagascar south from Morondava.
The peaceful environment, the superb beach and the crystal clear ocean, along with the opportunity of contributing to a laudable local initiative to support community tourism make a stay worthwhile. You can stay overnight at one of the 3 basic bungalows built by the local people and enjoy the hospitality of the villagers. The area was hit by a cyclone on 2009, so coming here is even more important now! Their website is so far only in French: http://www.ankevo.com/index.html

ReefDoctor is a non-profit marine conservation organization carrying out several educational and social projects together with the local fisher populations of the Bay of Ranobe north from Tulear. They offer voluntary services to collaborate in some of their projects. See further infos under: www.reefdoctor.org