15 Top Volunteer Projects of 2018!
As the New Year rolls in, I’m sure we all have the best intentions: get fit, eat more healthy food, travel more, drink less…the list goes ever on. Yet by mid-January most of us have fallen back into the same old habits. A few years ago I promised myself I would go running every morning. But the thought of doing so would be enough to keep me in bed an extra 15 minutes. Every late night or busy morning was an excuse. One morning I finally woke up and wondered why I was making myself do something I hated. Since then I have found a host of sports I adore and have never been fitter. In the end, if you resent something, no amount of will power is enough. Sustainable habits have to be relished. When inspiration and good intention seize you, hold on to that moment! If travel, doing good, or just making a change and spending your time in a way you will never forget are resolutions for the coming year, we have just the projects for you…
Get up close and personal with one of the World’s most iconic big cats. Namibia is home to one third of the World’s cheetah population and to a stunning wildlife project, which provides a safe-haven for injured and orphaned animals. From feeding meerkats, and bathing orphaned baboons, to heading out on horseback to count game on the Savannah, you’ll be fully emerged in the project. Get ready to roll your sleeves up and get involved!
This unique project works to save one of the World’s most misunderstood creatures. You will have the chance to plunge into the oceans off the coast of South Africa (in a shark cage, don’t worry!) and see these incredible predators up close. You will help researchers collect project data and learn seamanship skills. On days where the weather is not good enough for boat trips, you will be taken to explore the surrounding countryside.
Travel deep into the Sri Lankan jungle to help experts better understand what is behind human-elephant conflict and how to protect this majestic animal. You’ll also have a chance to explore Sri Lanka’s cultural capital, Kandy, as well as local villages to see conflict solutions in action!
This project in the heart of Malawi’s capital gives you the chance to see in person, what your hard work really achieves. The centre cares for injured and orphaned animals and aims to release them back into the wild once they have recovered. They also provide education to the local community on the importance of conservation, and carry out several community projects. Get involved with every aspect, then wind-down in the evening and soak up the sun in the onsite garden.
There are few areas in the world still unexplored. However, just off the coast of West Papua, Indonesia is the archipelago Raja Ampat. In the heart of the Coral Triangle, this reef is a final frontier of scuba diving exploration. Many of the islands are still uninhabited and many reefs have yet to be dived. Get involved in marine conservation in this area and help advise local authorities on how to best care for this beautiful environment.
Madagascar is only around the size of France, yet it is home to around 250,000 species, 70% of which can be found nowhere else on earth! PADI qualifications are available of this project, and once you have learned to dive, you will be involved in mapping and studying large areas of untouched coral reef. While you’re there, don’t miss the Lokobe Nature Reserve, home to a magical array of Madagascar’s flora and fauna.
Explore one of the World’s oldest rain forests: the Taman Negara. This 130 million-year-old forest is home to a whole host of endangered species, including elephants, sun bears, and Malayan tigers. You will take part in conservation and observation walks, learning to recognise tell-tale signs of poaching. Even the presence of volunteers can help deter poachers and stop ongoing drop in Malayan Tiger numbers. So get ready for an education in conservation you’ll never forget!
Meaning, “rich coast”, Cosat Rica truly lives up to its name. The country is famed for its incredible biodiversity and its eco-friendly policies. On this project, you will live deep in the wilderness of a tropical forest, and take part in pioneering research on animal behaviour and ecology. This project has reaches Elite rating, making it one of our most eco-friendly projects, so you can feel especially smug whilst having the holiday of a lifetime.
This rescue centre in the heart of Java provides care for orphaned orangutans and other wildlife. You will shadow the centre’s staff and help them to rehabilitate the animals, ultimately releasing them back into the wild. Volunteers also get involved with running a club for children and teaching Community English classes for local people. You’ll be kept busy but there will still be plenty of time to soak up the incredible surroundings.
Live on a secluded Fijian island paradise, soaked in sun and surrounded by sparkling ocean. You will find an incredible diversity of sea life here. Once you’ve learned to SCUBA dive, you will work along-side renowned shark conservation experts to observe and record an array of sea life including some of the ocean’s most misunderstood and majestic creatures.
This project is based on the edge of the Manú Biosphere Reserve. You will work on a number of different activities, from night shifts on amphibian and reptile watch, to monitoring birds, to reforestation. Bio-gardens help to feed local families and combat malnutrition as well, so every aspect and human, animal, and plant-life is considered.
This project in the scrublands of South Africa aims to protect some of the world’s most endangered species, including black rhinos, wild dogs, and cheetahs. Though the focus is to work on conservation, there will be plenty of opportunity to admire the herds of zebras and towering giraffes.
This project is situated deep within the Lower Kinabatangan Floodplain Rainforest in Sabah, Borneo. The “Corridor of Life” is a biologically important area and the focus of the project. As part of the project, you will take boat trips down the Kinabatangan River, trek through the rain forest, and work with Orangutans at the Sepilok Sanctuary.
Head out to the Maldives to work with the largest fish in the sea: the magnificent whale shark. You can happily swim alongside these gentle giants, recording their size via photo ID and logs. The not-for profit organisation running this project also takes part in community-building initiatives. Take time to explore the island community you will be working with, and living among and get a taste of local hospitality.
Sick of the winter weather? Head out to the awesome (in the original sense) Namibian plains and help to protect the last two populations of African desert elephant. Get to know the local culture, and fall asleep under the stars. What could be more magical?