A wilder way to learn

Volunteer Projects

GVI runs volunteer projects overseas in more than a dozen countries around the world. Choose from a variety of conservation projects and deepen your understanding of fragile ecosystems and endangered species, while meeting people with similar interests from all over the world. This is a chance to enhance your skill set, develop an appreciation for nature, and curate the adventure of a lifetime. 

With a focus on wildlife conservation, marine conservation and volunteering with animals, we offer volunteer projects overseas in Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe and Latin America

At GVI, we know that collaborative work makes the biggest impact, and who better to identify the needs of a community than local people themselves? That’s why all our projects are locally-led, with decision-making shared between GVI, local organisations, government and community leaders. This type of work allows us to be a part of the continuous, long-term development of communities and individuals. Doing collaborative work is also part of GVI’s commitment to ethical best practices.

Our dedication to making an impact as ethically as possible and upholding the best operational standards is also represented in our badge of ethics, ten ethical commitments and five human empowerment principles.

Critical science

Critical science

You'll contribute to vital conservation research targeted at protecting the earth's most valuable ecosystems.
Ethical engagement

Ethical engagement

Using the UN's SDGs as a framework, we've made a commitment to positive, constructive and sustainable impact.
Beautiful adventures

Beautiful adventures

You'll spend your days exploring some of the world's most breathtaking, exhilarating and remote wildernesses.

Overview
Projects
Locations

Global conservation efforts

With over 25 years’ experience in running sustainable development initiatives that are rated tops on Trustpilot, our award-winning volunteer programs offer you the opportunity to make a real difference while exploring some of the world’s most captivating destinations. Engage in on-the-ground conservation work that addresses important environmental challenges – from restoring damaged coastal ecosystems to preserving wildlife habitats and the species that inhabit them. Grounded in science, our volunteer projects are carefully curated using data analysis, allowing you to contribute to global conservation efforts and research that’s been cited over 1,000 times on Google Scholar. Join us on this incredible adventure, where you can expand your knowledge, develop essential skills, and leave a positive, lasting impact on this planet we call home.

With a focus on wildlife conservation, marine conservation, endangered species, habitats and ecosystems, citizen science, climate change, and volunteering with animals, we offer volunteer projects abroad in: 

 

An ethical approach

At GVI, we know that collaborative work makes the biggest impact. That’s why our volunteer projects are locally-led, with decision-making shared between GVI, local organisations, government and community leaders. Collaborative work is also part of our commitment to ethical best practices. Sustainability is at the core of everything we do, as we strive to create long-term positive outcomes. Our international volunteer programs are built on a foundation of ethical practices, guided by a strong code of conduct and a dedicated team of scientists and PHD-qualified impact directors who ensure our initiatives prioritise the well-being of both people and the environment.

Our dedication to making an impact as ethically as possible and upholding the best operational standards is represented in our badge of ethics, ten ethical commitments and our stances on working ethically with wildlife, marine life and the environment.

GVI runs a range of volunteer projects abroad that are aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) and focus on addressing critical global issues. Our global volunteer projects are focused on nature conservation, both on land and below water. 

Combining adventure with purpose

Whether you’re a student looking for gap year or summer break ideas, a retiree, a career breaker, or simply have a few weeks of annual leave and want to take a break and switch off from the stresses of everyday life, an overseas volunteer program is the ideal way to travel to travel to extraordinary locations while contributing towards:

  • Climate change research
  • Plastic pollution prevention
  • Wildlife conservation
  • Marine conservation
  • Environmental conservation
  • Endangered species conservation
  • Coastal conservation
  • Citizen science initiatives

 

With plenty of international volunteering opportunities to choose from, you’re sure to find one that you’re passionate about.

Invest in yourself

Volunteers on our programs stand to benefit with opportunities for personal and professional development. All of our international volunteer programs offer an optional pre-program course in wildlife conservation, marine conservation or community development, at no extra cost. You’ll receive a certificate from the University of Richmond after successfully completing the course.

And teens who enrol in an under-18 program can complete our optional Leading Teams For Impact online course. Created in partnership with the University of Richmond, after successfully completing the course you’ll receive a certificate to add to your college or job applications.

Students who are looking for career-enhancing work experience in line with their field of study are encouraged to apply for our international internship programs. Our internship programs offer many of the same benefits as our volunteer programs, but have an added focus on the specific professional development and skills needed to land a job in the industry.

To find your perfect volunteering opportunity, browse our international volunteer projects. If you need help choosing one, you can set up a call with one of our enrolment managers for a quick chat.

If your interests lie in community development initiatives, head on over to our People site, where you’ll find our range of programs that focus on:

  • Women’s empowerment and gender equality
  • Education and early childhood development
  • Global public health

 

GVI runs global volunteer projects in over a dozen countries around the world, taking you to some truly extraordinary locations. With our scientific approach and impactful project work giving us rare access to extraordinary locations, picture yourself off the beaten track, exploring unique conservation areas with rare species and amazing ecosystems. You could work to protect Fiji’s coral reefs, conserve Mexico’s marine ecosystems, study lemurs in Madagascar or work with iconic species like lions and rhinos in South Africa.

Combining volunteer work with travel 

There are also opportunities to travel and sightsee while volunteering abroad. All volunteer work takes place during the week and usually operates during regular office hours. This means that there’s plenty of time in the evening to visit the local area or take short trips on the weekend.

Some volunteers also choose to extend their time abroad by travelling to nearby locations before and after their volunteer project for the full volunteer holiday abroad experience. And some of our programs already include adventure activities, like our teen volunteering programs.

Where can you volunteer with GVI?

Volunteer in Africa

In Africa we run volunteer projects in Madagascar, Seychelles and South Africa. 

Volunteer projects in Madagascar

When you volunteer in Madagascar you’ll be based on our research station on the island of Nosy Be. Wildlife conservation volunteers experience the diverse ecosystems of rainforests, oceans, and tropical coasts while working alongside local experts and other volunteers to conserve endangered lemurs, black lemurs, Hawks’ sportive lemurs, panther chameleons, dwarf chameleons, green turtles and hawksbill turtles. 

In your free time you can hike to the highest peak of Lokobe National Park for breathtaking ocean and island views. Or experience the vibrant atmosphere of Hell-Ville, Nosy Be’s capital, with its bars, restaurants and markets. And don’t miss the opportunity to snorkel and dive in the coral wonderlands of Nosy Tanikely’s marine protected area.

Volunteer projects in Seychelles

GVI runs volunteering projects from Mahe Island in Seychelles, with our main partner in the region being the Seychelles National Parks Authority. Our research station in Cap Ternay is situated right next to the Baie Ternay National Park, located on the main Seychelles island of Mahe. Based in a marine protected area teeming with marine life and abundant coral reefs, you’ll dive daily, contribute to research, and have the opportunity to earn advanced PADI diving qualifications. 

When you join our climate change and coral bleaching program you’ll assist with coral rehabilitation and learn about efforts to combat coral bleaching. Or you could take part in marine species research, conservation surveys and marine plastic pollution cleanups through our marine conservation expedition program

Weekends in Seychelles are your time to explore. Discover hidden beaches, spot giant tortoises and hop on a ferry to nearby islands like La Digue. Hop on a bike and head to Grand Anse, voted the world’s best beach – and don’t miss the chance to visit the Veuve Nature Reserve and encounter the rare black paradise flycatcher bird. 

Volunteer projects in South Africa

In South Africa, GVI runs wildlife conservation programs from a private game reserve in Limpopo. Against the backdrop of the Drakensberg mountain range, which forms part of the Great Escarpment, this protected area is a stronghold for many key African species like the Big Five – buffalo, elephant, lion, leopard and rhino. Our research station is located only 45 minutes away from the famous Kruger National Park, one of the largest nature reserves in Africa.

Joining a wildlife research expedition in South Africa offers an opportunity to protect the environment and immerse yourself in its rich biodiversity. With its diverse landscapes and a staggering number of mammal, bird, and plant species, South Africa is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts. You’ll have the chance to work alongside experienced conservationists, gaining valuable knowledge about wildlife behaviour, ecology and conservation efforts – from tracking and monitoring animals to actively participating in conservation initiatives.

During your free time, travel the picturesque Panorama Route, taking in the breathtaking views of the Drakensberg, go bungee jumping or glide through the landscape on a zipline tour. You could also travel further south and explore Cape Town, from hiking Table Mountain to relaxing on beautiful beaches, visiting the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, meeting penguins at Boulders Beach, and paying a visit to the Robben Island Museum.

Volunteer in Asia

In Asia, we offer wildlife and coastal conservation volunteering projects in two regions of Thailand – the mountainous area of Chiang Mai and the coastal region of Phang Nga.

Volunteer projects in ThailandChiang Mai

Our Northern Thailand program is located about an hour from the city of Chiang Mai. Here, volunteers work alongside the Karen cultural community, in the village of Huay Pakoot, to assist with reintegrating Asian elephants relieved from the tourism industry back into their natural forest habitat. Or join our gibbon conservation volunteer program and contribute to the preservation of endangered white-handed gibbons. Track, photograph and document their behaviour while exploring the breathtaking mountains and forests of Northern Thailand.

In Chiang Mai, volunteers are spoilt for choice with things to do during their free time. Explore magnificent temples, wander through vibrant markets and indulge in delicious street food. Thrill-seekers can enjoy ziplining and bamboo rafting adventures, while nature lovers can explore jungles and waterfalls.

Volunteer projects in ThailandPhang Nga

In the province of Phang Nga, we work in the village of Bam Nam Khem on coastal and marine conservation projects. In partnership with the Thai Royal Navy, our sea turtle conservation volunteers help to raise sea turtles at conservation and research centres. The purpose of this project is to help sea turtles hatchlings grow to a size where they are more likely to succeed in the wild. Unfortunately, local beaches are currently too eroded to support the nests. When these young sea turtles are released back into the ocean they help threatened sea turtle populations to regenerate faster. 

Volunteers can also participate in coastal conservation projects, such as organising plastic cleanups, and snorkel in crystal-clear waters to contribute to coral reef conservation surveys.

Your free time in Phang Nga will be packed with unforgettable moments. You can go snorkelling or diving, discover hidden caves and limestone cliffs on kayak excursions, immerse yourself in Thai culture with cooking classes and market visits, or trek through jungles to find hidden waterfalls.

Volunteer in Australasia

From the Pacific island nation of Fiji you can participate in marine conservation initiatives.

Volunteer projects in Fiji

If you’re interested in marine conservation and would like to earn professional diving qualifications, join our dedicated team of conservation volunteers on the main island of Viti Levu, in Dawasamu. We focus on researching the effects of climate change, overfishing and plastic pollution on coastal habitats, coral reefs and marine species. Working closely with local partner organisations, such as the Fiji Locally Managed Marine Area Network, we work towards finding sustainable solutions to these challenges. Here you’ll survey the health of the reefs and remove invasive species. You could also work in partnership with Fiji’s Ministry of Fisheries to improve sustainable fishing practices.

Before diving into our marine conservation programs, you’ll earn our exclusive qualification: the PADI Coral Reef Research Diver Distinctive Specialty. This unique course teaches you cutting-edge techniques for underwater coral reef surveys. Plus, while exploring Fiji’s stunning waters, you can also earn a range of other PADI certifications.

Make the most of your free time by scuba-diving, exploring nearby islands, and enjoying the surrounding areas. You can also take a trip to the city of Suva for a taste of local culture and delicious food.

Volunteer in Europe 

Our projects in Europe are based in Greece and the Canary Islands of Spain. These projects focus on coastal and marine conservation, and endangered species preservation.

Volunteer projects in Greece

Each year, during the European summer of June, July, August and September, GVI volunteers gather on the beaches of the small town of Giannitsochori.

This region is one of the most significant loggerhead sea turtle nesting areas in the Mediterranean. Our volunteers survey beaches in the morning and the evening, looking for mother sea turtle tracks, nests and baby sea turtles. As a sea turtle volunteer, you’ll install protections around nests and might even get involved in mother sea turtle tagging. Later in the season, you might even see baby sea turtles hatch from their nests.

Discover the wonders of Greece during your free time. Visit Olympia, the ancient site of the Olympic Games, with its impressive ruins and sacred temples dedicated to Greek gods. Or take a trip to the breathtaking Neda waterfall near Figalia, where you can swim in pools and marvel at the cascading falls.

Volunteer projects in Canary Islands, Spain

GVI runs marine conservation projects in one location in Spain. Our research station in the Canary Islands is located on the island of Tenerife. The warm Atlantic Ocean that surrounds Tenerife is inhabited by pods of dolphins, whales, sea turtles and other marine life.

GVI’s marine conservation efforts in this region focus on dolphin and whale conservation, and also contribute towards the conservation of other marine life. Here, we monitor and collect data on cetaceans and other marine populations. The data we collect contributes to scientific research towards sustainable marine conservation, sustainable tourism, ethical fishing regulations and environmental conservation.

Part of your time as a volunteer will be spent on a boat with fellow volunteers and GVI staff members to monitor whale and dolphin behaviour, take photographs and record the amount of cetaceans you spot. Tenerife’s biodiversity marks the island as a popular tourist destination. You’ll get involved in educating tourists about the importance of ethical dolphin and whale watching tours, which will contribute towards efforts to alleviate dolphin and whale species endangerment.

During your free time, you can catch the perfect wave while surfing, hike to the summit of Mount Teide, explore bustling local markets, and savour mouthwatering Spanish cuisine as you soak in the stunning vistas of this volcanic island.

Volunteer in Latin America

We run volunteer projects in Costa Rica and Mexico.

Volunteer projects in Mexico

From the beach town of Puerto Morelos on the Caribbean coast, we run marine conservation programs as well as the opportunity to earn various PADI certifications, including Open Water, Advanced Open Water Diver and the unique Coral Reef Researcher Distinctive Speciality.

Our marine conservation volunteers in Mexico help to study and preserve the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, the second largest reef system in the world. Volunteers on this program play a vital role in reef conservation. They conduct surveys to assess reef health, cultivate coral fragments in a lab for transplantation, and help reduce marine plastic pollution through beach and ocean cleanups while documenting the collected waste.

Experience the magic of Puerto Morelos during your free time! Relax on pristine beaches, uncover the secrets of the ancient Mayan civilization as you explore nearby ruins, and dive into the hidden world of cenotes, where you can swim in crystal-clear waters and take in the mystical beauty of underwater caves. And, of course, indulge in the authentic flavours of Mexican cuisine with mouthwatering dishes like tacos, tamales and ceviche.

Volunteer projects in Costa Rica

Our conservation volunteering programs are based in Kekoldi Indigenous Reserve, which is a protected, coastal rainforest with a high density of wildlife, several lagoons and canals. Here, volunteers are stationed at a remote research station within the reserve. The main species you’d focus on researching are tropical birds, reptiles, jungle cats and sea turtles. You’d also conduct biodiversity surveys of the surrounding forest and bird surveys while canoeing along the canals. This data is delivered to park management, the Costa Rican Ministry of the Environment and Energy, and other partners.

Our Costa Rica volunteer projects offer the perfect opportunity to explore during your free time. From stunning beaches like Punta Uva for surfing, to snorkelling adventures, hiking, ziplining and white-water rafting, there’s something for every adventurer. Travel to Cahuita or Manzanillo for a more off-the-beaten-track experience, or explore the numerous breathtaking national parks.

See what other parents & participants say

Read reviews and recommendations from all over the world.

Adventure is calling. Chase that feeling!

Save up to 15% when you book and pay by 31 July
Share