Main bag – You will need a rucksack or holdall (hard suitcases are not appropriate), 50 litre minimum capacity. You need to be able to carry it over rough ground to access some of the forest camps.
Day bag/small rucksack – Needed for carrying water, paper, pens, binoculars, cameras etc.
Sleeping bag – A light sleeping bag is recommended – the temperature can drop down to as low as 14 degrees but usually is around 18 degrees at night
Roll mat or thermarest – Necessary for both warmth and comfort in the forest. Roll mats can be purchased cheaply, whereas Thermarests are more of an investment (be sure to buy a repair kit).
Water bottle/platypus – A combination of leak-proof plastic bottles (total capacity 2 litres) is imperative. The ‘hydration systems’ on the market (Platypus, Camelback, Ortileb) have the advantage of packing flat when not in use.
Strong head torch – Night-time opportunistic walks require the strong headlamps. Please note that the small headlamp models are no good for spotlighting nocturnal wildlife such as snakes and amphibians, etc, but are excellent back-up torches. Don’t forget spare batteries!
Watch with alarm – It doesn’t have to be anything technical. A travel alarm clock will also do.
Biodegradable soap/shampoo – To minimise impact on the environment we ask all volunteers to bring ‘green’ detergents.
Insect repellent – For any projects where you will be handling or in close proximity to animals (in particular amphibians) you will need a non DEET based repellent. However for other times DEET based repellents are fine. Many of our staff use Mosi-guard which can be bought from Amazon.
Sunblock – Factor 30, minimum, is recommended as the winter sun can still be very strong and you will potentially be outside in sunlight all day.
Sanitary pads/tampons – Please bring a supply even if you do not expect to use them.
Travel towel/sarong – Don’t bring a big thick towel as it won’t dry quickly enough.
Malagasy phrase book or dictionary
Binoculars – Highly desirable for certain surveys.8 X 40 are the best to bring.
Camera – You will have lots of opportunities to take pictures.
Notebook and pencils – Essential for all projects.
For the forest you should bring clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty! Synthetic (wicking) fabric is the best as it is quick drying, but cotton is kinder to the skin. Don’t forget to buy your Opwall t-shirt(s) here!
Hiking boots – Should be comfortable and have ankle support. Make sure they are well worn in.
Reef booties – 1 pair. Need some footwear that will stay on in water and mud. Flip-flops should be an optional extra
Sandals – Optional but can be worn instead of reef booties on some longer treks for comfort
Lightweight long baggy trousers – 2 pairs
Shorts – 2 pairs
T-shirts – 5
Fleece top – 1
Long sleeved shirt – 2
Swim suit/bikini/board shorts – 1
Socks – Enough for 1 week. Hiking socks worn over cotton socks can be better for long treks.
Underwear – Enough for 2 weeks.
Sunglasses – A good pair are useful to protect your eyes from the glare reflected from the water.
Hat or bandana – 1 – useful to protect you from the sun.
Nightwear/Pyjamas – You will be in shared accommodation!
SSI Forms – You must complete these online via the Opwall portal (http://portal.opwall.com) at least 3 months prior to travel. It’s recommended that you bring out a printed copy of the completed form with you on expedition, particularly if you’ve had it signed by a doctor.
SSI Training Materials – To complete your SSI Open Water course you must arrive on site with your training materials already downloaded onto an electronic device (smartphone or tablet). This must be done before coming to site as the signal on Nosy Be will not permit you to download it there. To do this you must create a profile through https://my.divessi.com/register. Then download the app to your device using this link, https://www.divessi.com/en-IC/freeonlinetraining/. To download the materials on the app you will click “Programs & Cards” in the dropdown menu, then under “Scuba Diving” you will click to download the “Scuba Diver” program (NOT “Try Scuba”).
Proof of dive qualification – If you are already a qualified diver, we will require proof of your dive qualifications on site. Your qualification must be the equivalent to or more advanced than SSI Scuba Diver or PADI Open Water.
All the equipment listed below is essential for diving projects. You can bring your own or hire onsite (with the the exception of a wetsuit). Hire costs will be included in your final invoice.
Buoyancy Control Device
Mask and snorkel
Wetsuit – We recommend that you bring a 2-3mm long wetsuit (as opposed to a a shorty).
Rash vest – A good alternative to a wetsuit when it is warm (or if you are snorkelling), and can also be worn under a wetsuit when it is cold.
Dive watch/computer or waterproof watch – A timing device is a requirement under SSI regulations for qualified divers. You can buy a simple Casio W800 watch waterproof to 100m (not that you will be going any deeper than 18 metres – however they are more reliable) for approximately £15 on Amazon.
Although every expedition will have its own medical supplies you MUST carry your own personal medical kit.
Sea/travel sickness tablets
Prescribed medications – It is vital that you bring any medications that you have been prescribed by your doctor (including anti-malarial tablets).