Travel Madagascar responsibly
Some advise to take at heart
Do not hand out money, clothes, ball points, sweets or whatever to children. No Matter how cute and poor they might be, it encourages begging and a distorted view of tourists. Instead show genuine interest and play and talk with these kids.
If you want to bring goods, your lodge owner is a good source of advice. They know how to distribute it best. We personally think it is better if you leave it up to them instead of playing Santa Claus and donating in person. Same applies for leaving stuff behind in your room. Better to give it to the lodge owner, than leave it for the maid to find, which might cause friction among the staff.
Try to buy souvenirs and fruit and veggies at local markets and shops. If you go to the supermarket, try to buy products made in Madagascar. The chocolate, coffee and spices are a real treat. Eat at smaller, locally owned restaurants.
Most lodges have a tipping box and distribute the tips equally among all the staff. If you enjoyed the service, just be generous and contribute to the tipping box. As for your driver or guide, tipping is highly appreciated.
Giving back more
You will not be the first roadtripper, moved by the the fact that Madagascar and its people welcome you with open arms. Their borders are open for us and we can enjoy their National Parks, eating fresh seafood, staying in lovely lodges - all at a fraction of what it costs back home. It makes you think, what can I give back?
Below are a few initiatives which you can sponsor. These are local, sustainable initiatives that are well managed, of which we know your money is well spent.
Our one and only Peter - who takes care of the Roadtrip Madagascar operations on the ground - is the director of HoverAid Madagascar, a humanitarian charity based in the UK and the Netherlands, working in Madagascar. They use hovercrafts to reach isolated communities, making it possible for aid organisations to work in areas that have been simply too difficult or expensive to reach before. The west coast has many shallow rivers full with sandbanks and dry parts. A hovercraft passes through, where boats and cars will get stuck. HoverAid is active in cyclone relief programs, enabling medical teams to bring mobile equipment for surgery, to install water pumps, build schools and rehabilitate buildings.
An NGO specialising in the re-planting of mangrove forests in the North West of Madagascar. Several hundred thousands of trees have been planted. It's run by Jamie Schattenburg, a missionary kid, born and raised in Madagascar. The mangrove are the main protection of the west coast against flooding and are crucial for protection, especially during cyclones.
Children of Madagascar
In Madagascar, illiteracy rate is very high. Around 60%. Children of Madagascar is a Foundation which supports children from the most poor families with education and meals in schools.