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Discover the Marine Megafauna of Nosy Be, Madagascar

15th February 2018   |   Mario Passoni

Get ready to explore the archipelago of Nosy Be, Madagascar and discover the inhabitants of these tropical waters.

Marine experts will show you a coral reef full of life and give you the opportunity to swim with sea turtles. Moreover, from the end of August, there’s a possibility that you might see humpback whales, and from October, you can swim with whale sharks.

PADI Eco Travel has selected this trip in order to concretely help and monitor the megafauna of Nosy Be.

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Essential Information


Whale Sharks

Itineraries

Sea Turtle and Marine Life Observation (from the 1st of April to the 20th of August)

  • Day 1: Arrival at the airport in Nosy Be. Transfer to your accommodation, briefing, registration and diving gear fitting.
  • Day 2: (Half day) 8.00: Boat transfer to Nosy Tanikely Marine Park for two dives. The surface interval will be dedicated to a reef class or censusing hawksbill turtles, which are living in the protected area. 13.00: Back to the hotel.
  • Day 3: (Full day) 8:00: Boat to the first dive spot - the surface interval will be dedicated to spotting marine life, such as dolphins, false killer whales and turtles. 11.30: Second dive. 13.00: Lunch in Nosy Sakatia. 14.45: Biology lesson on green sea turtles and then snorkelling with them, collecting data.
  • Day 4: (Half day at sea – half day on land) 8.00: Boat transfer to the first dive spot - the surface interval will be dedicated to spotting marine life, such as dolphins, false killer whales and turtles. 11.30: Second dive. 13.00: Back to the hotel for lunch. 14.45: Minibus transfer to visit a sacred tree and a sacred waterfall to learn more about the animist cult. 17.30: Return to the hotel.
  • Day 5: (Full day) 8.00: Boating to Nosy Iranja (1h 30). 13.00: Lunch in Nosy Iranja. 14.45: Visit the lighthouse designed by Eiffel and a nearby scenic overlook. 15.30: Transfer back to the hotel in Nosy Be.
  • Day 6: (Half day) 8.00: Boating to the first dive spot - the surface interval will be dedicated to marine observation. 13.00: Return to the hotel for lunch. 15.30: Sightseeing at three of the 13 lakes of Nosy Be and then enjoy an African sunset from Mont Passot.
  • Day 7: 8.30: Transfer to the Reserve of Lokobe to encounter geckos (Uroplatus), one of the world smallest chameleons (Brookesia minima), pygmy kingfishers and lemurs. 18.30: Return your dive gear.
  • Day 8: Breakfast and check out. Transfer to the airport.

Humpback Whale, Whales Shark and Sea Turtle Observation (from the 21st of August to the 15th of December)

  • Day 1: Arrival at the airport in Nosy Be. Transfer to your accommodation, briefing, registration and diving gear fitting.
  • Day 2: (Half day) 8.00: Boat transfer to Nosy Tanikely Marine Park for two dives. The surface interval will be dedicated to a reef class or censusing hawksbill turtles, which are living in the protected area. 13.00: Back to the hotel.
  • Day 3: (Full day) 8:00: Boat to the first dive spot - the surface interval will be dedicated to whale watching (humpback, minke, omura) or interacting with whale sharks by snorkelling. In both cases, a citizen science activity will be performed. 11.30: Second dive. 13.00: Lunch in Nosy Sakatia. 14.45: Biology lesson on green sea turtles and then snorkelling with them, collecting data.
  • Day 4: (Half day at sea – half day on land) 8.00: Boat to the first dive spot - the surface interval will be dedicated to whale watching (humpback, minke, omura) or interacting with whale sharks by snorkelling. In both cases, a citizen science activity will be performed. 11.30: Second dive. 13.00: Boating to the hotel to get lunch. 14.45: Minibus transfer to visit a sacred tree and a sacred waterfall to learn more about the animist cult. 17.30: Return to the hotel.
  • Day 5: (Full day) 8.00: Boating to Nosy Iranja (1h 30). 13.00: Lunch on Nosy Iranja. 14.45: Visit the lighthouse designed by Eiffel and a nearby scenic overlook. 15.30: Transfer back to the hotel in Nosy Be.
  • Day 6: (Half day) 8.00: Boating to the first dive spot - the surface interval will be dedicated to whale watching (humpback, minke, omura) or interacting with whale sharks by snorkelling. In both cases, a citizen science activity will be performed. 13.00: Return to the hotel for lunch. 15.30: Sightseeing on three of the 13 lakes of Nosy Be and then enjoy an African sunset from Mont Passot.
  • Day 7: 8.30: Transfer to the Reserve of Lokobe to encounter geckos (Uroplatus), one of the world smallest chameleons (Brookesia minima), pygmy kingfishers and lemurs. 18.30: Return your dive gear.
  • Day 8: Breakfast and check out. Transfer to the airport.

If you are looking for humpback whales, the best period is from the end of August to the middle of October. If you wish to swim with whale sharks, book this trip whenever you want from the middle of October to mid-December. Sea turtles are residents and can be spotted all year long.

These itineraries are subject to change based on weather conditions and animals sightings.

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Experience Overview

Nosy Be is a splendid island located in northwest Madagascar, along the eastern edge of the Mozambique channel. From Nosy Be, you can easily reach other paradisiacal islands, such as Nosy Iranja (considered one of the 10 most beautiful islands on the planet), Nosy Tanikely and Nosy Sakatia.

The warm, crystalline waters that surround this archipelago are rich in marine life, such as a vital and colourful coral reef, reef sharks, leaf fish, clown fish, snappers and more.

The purpose of this trip is to collect data on two species of sea turtles (green and hawksbill), whale sharks and humpback whales. You will be working with Emanuele and Carlotta from Manta Diving as well as university researchers, who will accompany you on this unique adventure.

In the first part of the season (from April until the end of August), the trip is dedicated to sea turtles, which permanently reside in this area. The goal is to photograph them, a non-invasive method that allows researchers to collect important data on their population. Through this simple activity, you will be able to discover the name of the specimen you have photographed, or if it hasn’t seen before, give it a name!

During the second part of the season (from the end of August until the end of November), you’ll have the opportunity to spot humpback whales and whale sharks, which annually migrate through the waters of Nosy Be. Whale sharks take advantage of waters rich in plankton to grow, while humpback whales come to wean their babies and mate.

Also in this case, photographic data will be collected to monitor the megafauna population, always trying to disturb these innocuous creatures as little as possible. The Malagasy laws prohibit swimming with humpback whales, however swimming with whale sharks is allowed.

Moreover, you’ll take part in wild land excursions, visiting tropical forests where you can admire unique animals, such as tiny chameleons, geckos, frogs and, of course, lemurs.

The collected scientific data will be given to and analyzed by Homme et l’Environnement, a local NGO that protects the local environment.

This trip is scheduled for spotting sea turtles, whale sharks and whales. However, don’t forget these are wild animals in their natural habitat, so we cannot guarantee sightings.

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Accommodation

Hotel Arc en Ciel

Arc en Ciel is a charming, 3-star boutique hotel located on the west coast of Nosy Be in Madagascar. It overlooks the sea and is surrounded by a luxurious blanket of tropical garden. It can be surely regarded as the ideal site for relaxing and enjoying nature. Arc en Ciel offers 12 spacious and bright rooms, including superior and suite styles.

Rooms have a quiet atmosphere and are in perfect harmony with the style of the boutique hotel. Large windows allow the eyes to wander over the boundless landscape made memorable by captivating sunsets.


Ylang Hotel

Between the sea and forest, Ylang Hotel offers a splendid, panoramic view. You can see the cliff overlooking the bay and a long strip of sand ending in a sheltered cove by the mangrove swamp. It’s a small, magical and quiet place where you can watch mornings and evenings pass by like the boats in the bay and the pirogues swaying peacefully on a colorful sea.

Ylang Hotel is an ideal starting point for discovering the paradisiacal landscapes of Nosy Be in addition to the north side of Madagascar. The owners welcome you to 4 bungalows, 2 double rooms and 1 family room, which can accommodate up to 16 people. The limited number of rooms allows the staff to personally welcome their guests with a friendly atmosphere.

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Sea Turtle

Dates and Prices 2018

Sea Turtle and Marine Life Observation (from the 1st of April to the 20th of August)

Hotel Arc en Ciel

Divers:

  • Sea view room: USD $1,320
  • Garden view room: USD $1,240

Non-divers:

  • Sea view room: USD $895
  • Garden view room: USD $740

Ylang Hotel

Divers:

  • Bungalow with air conditioning: USD $1,155
  • Double room without air conditioning: USD $1,095

Non-divers:

  • Bungalow with air conditioning: USD $735
  • Double room without air conditioning: USD $675

Humpback Whale, Whales Shark and Sea Turtles Observation (from the 21st of August to the 15th of December)

Hotel Arc en Ciel

Divers:

  • Sea view room: USD $1,320
  • Garden view room: USD $1,240

Non-divers:

  • Sea view room: USD $950
  • Garden view room: USD $875

Ylang Hotel

Divers:

  • Bungalow with air conditioning: USD $1,155
  • Double room without air conditioning: USD $1,095

Non-divers:

  • Bungalow with air conditioning: USD $790
  • Double room without air conditioning: USD $730

All prices are based on double occupancy.

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The Trip Leaders

Carlotta Barba

Carlotta Barba

Carlotta is a biologist, and during her career, she has been part of oceanographic expeditions for sampling and the analysis of seawater. In addition, she has worked on surface sampling of the seabed from the vessel Universitatis. Furthermore, she assisted marine scientists in the Stazione Zoologica di Napoli as the scientific manager on a sea turtle project before moving to the Seychelles, where she continued her studies and taught classes on Chelonia mydas.

In 2011, she moved to Nosy Be, where she became a partner of Manta Diving in 2013. She spent a few months in the Maldives in order to learn how to restore coral reefs, knowledge that she has put to good use by starting the Coral Garden Project in Nosy Be in 2017. Thanks to several universities and centres focused on shark research, Emanuele and Carlotta have begun to study whale sharks and take a census of the Chelonia mydas population in Nosy Be.


Emanuele Venanzi

Emanuele Venanzi

Emanuele is a professional PADI instructor, who fell in love with his job 14 years ago. During his work as a dive instructor in Costa Rica, the Red Sea and the Philippines, he has increased his passion for and knowledge of marine biology. In 2011, he arrived in Nosy Be, where he worked as a PADI professional and consequently became the owner of Manta Diving.

Upon his arrival in Nosy Be, he immediately understood how important it is to study and protect all the local marine fauna, from tiny nudibranchs to huge whales. For this reason, he started to dive in a sustainable way, giving biology lectures during surface intervals and directly in hotels. During his Malagasy adventure, Emanuele met Carlotta Barba, who became a partner of Manta Diving. Together, they developed different ecological projects on coral reefs, turtles and the megafauna of Nosy Be.

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Recommended Equipment

  • Snorkeling and diving gear
  • Underwater / terrestrial camera
  • Polarized sunglasses
  • Cap
  • Long sleeve t-shirt to avoid the powerful rays of the sun
  • Dry sack

The Trip Includes

  • Breakfast
  • Water, tea, fruit on the boat
  • 8 dives
  • Snorkelling
  • Island & land tours
  • Marine biologist
  • Biology lectures
  • Lunch during full day excursions
  • Snorkeling equipment (mask, fins and snorkel)

The Trip Doesn’t Include

  • Country entry fees of 80,000 Ar, about USD $25 per person
  • Traveller fees, about USD $2.50 per day per person
  • Transfer from/to airport: Hotel Arc en Ciel - USD $25 per person (up to 2 guests); Ylang Hotel - USD $25 per way for a vehicle with a 6-person capacity (you can share the price)
  • Travel and medical insurance
  • Dive insurance
  • Tips for the crew (recommended)

Requirements

  • Passport
  • Travel and medical insurance
  • Dive insurance
  • Diving certificate

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