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10 best adventures for volunteers

10 best adventures for volunteers

Probably, everyone had times in their lives when he or she just wanted to forget about everything and go somewhere to a warm country to make good deeds. This feeling is extremely high during a state of complete vitamin deficiency on the threshold of spring. So, it turns out, that there are some people who do good things continually and absolutely free of charge, and they are called volunteers. There is a lot of various directions and ways where volunteers can apply their virtuous abilities. Let’s talk about the most touching and appreciative of them, i.e. taking care of wild animals. Below you will find a list of 10 volunteer opportunities, which anyone can experience for 2 weeks in his or her life. From a work as a caretaker for the pandas in China to protection of sea turtles in Costa Rica.


1. Big cats and monkeys, Bolivia

Inti Wara Yassi – is a project to protect wildlife on a volunteer basis. Its aim is to rehabilitate wild animals trafficked on the black market. The headquarters of the project, which also serves as an animal shelter, is located in the heart of the rain forests of Bolivia.

All the expenses and works of the shelter are totally performed by volunteers. They feed animals and take care of big cats, birds and other representatives of exotic fauna, which came to the shelter in a state of starvation and with various injuries, as well as clean the cells and make new ones.

There is a lot of work for everybody and this work is extremely hard: nurse orphans, rescued howlers and capuchin monkeys, lemurs and parrots, keep an eye on the newcomers, perform daily walks with pumas, jaguars and ocelots in mangrove forests, prepare birds for a free life in the wild, as well as to accompany frequent visitors of the shelter. There are 2 hostels for volunteers on the territory of the shelter.

Inti Wara Yassi offers 14 day accommodation with three meals per day for $220 ($12 per day). All payments are used to cover expenses of the shelter. If you plan to stay for a long time, the price of the accommodation can be reduced or totally waived.

Big cats


2. Wild horses, USA

Return to Freedom nature reserve is located in the wine region of California, where “On a roadside” movie was filmed. This nature reserve is one of those private organizations, which provide stallions, mares and foals with complete freedom of movement. Thus, horse “families” are formed in natural atmosphere and in natural way. Work there can be incredibly heavy and dirty, but you will get many unforgettable moments of joy, which will outweigh all the tiredness of the world. Imagine your feelings when you save a small foal, whose mother was dead or killed. Take care about it, perform “socialization” classes and find it new and “loving family”, which will be a perfect therapy for you and will help you to get rid of any stress. Volunteers not only get an accommodation in wooden cottages, but also an opportunity to swim or surf on the Jamala beach, which is located near. One can also visit local wineries.

Return to Freedom offers free accommodation for volunteers, who plan to stay for more than 2 weeks. Any shorter visits are the subject of 45$ charge per night for staying in El Captain houses. One can also stay in Embassy Suites or in a camping on the Jamala beach. The most convenient way to get there is to arrive to Los Angeles airport.

Wild horses


3. Giant pandas, China

There are less than 1000 pandas in the world. Around 300 of them are living in the Shaanx province not far from Xi’an. Working as a volunteer and caring of pandas gives you an amazing opportunity to stay extremely close to those black and white plush bears, so that your heart will be ready to jump out of your chest.

The center is located at the foot of Qingling mountain and provides volunteers with a chance to take care of those cute bears in specially created kindergartens for bears, as well as to look after the rescued pandas and those born in captivity, and other representatives of local fauna – red panda, black deer, golden monkeys and sheep-like takins. If you come here during the breeding season in summer, you will be able to walk around local juniper forests and observe relationships of clumsy and lazy pandas in the wild.

15-day trip is worth 1275$, including accommodation and full board.

Giant Panda


4. Sea birds, Greece

One of the less known attractions of the Paros island, which sometimes is called the pearl of the Greek islands, is a hospital for wild animals Alkyonis Wildlife Hospital. This hospital is located, neither more nor less, in the house of its director. The house is an amazing villa, which is located in a picturesque place on the top of a hill with amazing views on the sparkling sea. This amazingly beautiful shelter serves as a place for rest for malnourished or injured migratory birds, as well as for the inhabitants of the island, which are pelicans, herons and flamingos. Volunteers are allowed to stay here as long as they want, taking care of sick and injured birds and other wild animals, i.e. turtles, hedgehogs and hares. “Patients”, which are not able to continue their lives in wild nature are finishing their lives in specially created conditions of the hospital. During weekend volunteers are having an amazing opportunity to discover local underwater caves and rocks of the island or visit adjacent vineyards.

The hospital for wild animals Aegean Wildlife Hospital offers free accommodations for those volunteers, who stay for one week or more. In all other cases one can use several variants of cheap B&B accommodation.

Sea birds


5. Elephants, Thailand

Elephant Nature Park, is located in 60 km from the city of Chiang Mai on the edge of a tropical forest. This park is a shelter for injured domestic elephants, or those in bad state, as well as for orphaned small elephants.  This park was created by a young woman Lek Chailert, which was included to the “Hero of Asia” list of Time journal in 2005. Elephant Nature Park is one of the few places in Thailand, where elephants are living totally free and protected from the cruelty of daily touristic excursions or circus performances. Volunteers have to feed, wash, take care of injured elephants or elephants with problems, as well as to look after a small zoo, which consists of warthogs, buffalos, dogs and cats. After fill recovery Lek Chailert brings elephants to the so-called Elephants Harbor, where they enjoy life on an area of 2,000 acres, finally ending their working career in the world of people. One of the most memorable and astonishing moments, for which a volunteer can clean all the cages in the world, is the weekly night walk through the jungle to the top of the mountain in the company of those gentle and kind giants. Volunteers are preparing tents and enjoying the starry sky, while elephants are enjoying their freedom.

Elephant Nature Park offers 7-days stay in wooden houses with hot shower and 3 vegetarian meals a day, as well as a shuttle service for 330$ per week.



6. Sea turtles, Costa Rica

Watching at hundred of baby turtles on a shore and protecting them during their whole trip to the ocean is an unforgettable and exciting experience. Gandoca Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge project on protection of sea turtles in totally on the volunteers’ responsibility. The aim of the project is to protect nests of turtles, perform nightly beach patrols in order to avoid poaching and ensure safe ingress of young turtles into the ocean. Leatherback sea turtles are critically endangered; total number of these animals has decreased by more than 80% during the past decade when people turned their nesting beaches of the Pacific coast into numerous all-inclusive resorts.

Accommodation and provision in the local research station or with local families is worth 310$ per week, or 930$ for 4 weeks in the period from July to December.

Sea turtles


7. Black rhino, Kenya

While balancing on the sharp line of extinction, black rhinos are also keeping a strict vegetarian diet. Conditions and main elements of the flora, where those honorable “stags” are living together with other herbivorous animals, are carefully examined and measured by the volunteers within their two-week program at the Sweetwaters Research Centre. The centre is located in a savannah, which covers more than 46 000 acres of the Ol Pejeta natural reserve on the Laikipia plateau between Mount Kenya and the Aberder chain of mountains. Volunteers are allowed to discover rhinos’ behavior in captivity, as well as to go hiking in the rugged terrain of the equator in order to see lions, leopards, zebras, buffalos, impalas antelopes, baboons and hippos in their natural habitat with their own eyes.

Earthwatch offers a 15-day program from January to October for 2850$, including accommodation in comfortable houses, as well as full board.

Black rhino


8. Vultures, Croatia

Escape to the sensual Adriatic island of Cres in order to save endangered species of predatory birds and protect scenic forest. This patient and sunny place, surrounded by a dense forest serves as a shelter for golden eagles, wolves and bears. Griffon vultures are among those species which are struggling for survival. When an environmental activist Dr. Goran Susic created his Eko-centar Caput Insulae Beli rescue center on the island 15 years ago, there were only 25 pairs of birds. Now there are around 100. Volunteers have to perform hard, but incredibly rewarding work, i.e. they have to feed vultures chicks, check nests to make sure that chicks didn’t fall into the sea; take care of adult individuals, which tend to be more demanding. During free time one can simply discover surrounding ancient ruins and monasteries , walk along goat trails, enjoying dizzying views of the sea and look at funny jumping dolphins.

Eko-centar Caput Insulae Beli offers weekly accommodation for 210$, including full board and airport transfer in the period from June to September, and for 150$ in the period from October to June.



9. Lizards, Honduras

Not far from the shores of Honduras on a small island of Utila, which is surprisingly free from crowds of tourists, one can find the headquarter of the Conservation Project Utila Iguana. This unique treasure chest of the most bright and colorful fauna representatives, which include shimmering lizards, colorful birds and totally fantastic animals, is located in the exact center of the wild mix of lush greenery, fruit trees, carambolas and orchids. The project was created in order to protect nearly extinct species of iguanas and other lizards, which are endangered because of the prospects of human development in mangroves and beaches where female lizards lay their eggs. Many species of tropical birds are living on the island, as well as spider monkeys, congo apes, white-tailed deer, wild boars and raccoons. In addition to animal feeding and care for orphans, volunteers are obtaining new skills, e.g. cutting through the paths and lawns trimming.

Conservation Project Utila Iguana offers 4 weeks of accommodation for 150 Euro.



10. Arabian leopards, Oman

Scratches, paw prints, some feces… These are the main signs of shy Arabian leopards, which is nearly extinct in most parts of the Arabian Peninsula. This leopard can only be found far away from the civilization in the desert mountains of Dhofar region. As a volunteer, who is working on a long-term basis in the Biosphere Expeditions research project together with scientists from the Royal Court of Oman and a first-class international team, you will have to find evidence of the existence of the Arabian leopard using your own foot, a camel and, only if are lucky, a Land Rover. You will hide cameras in secret places, search for watering places and talk with local people, who could have noticed something, which will also give you a lot of fun and joy)) During your whole trip you are going to stay in a field camp of the expedition, but maybe you will have to spend couple of nights in bushes under the open sky.

Biosphere Expeditions 12 days of such adventures in January and February are starting from 1880$.

Arabian leopards


We are sure that after reading all this information you will have a lot of questions. Why should I pay something if I’m going to work like a slave from sunrise to sunset. First, it’s pretty hard to say, who’s having higher risk, you close to a leopard, or the leopard in the company of such a stranger as you. Money brings more discipline. Strange dependency, but it’s true. Second, your payments for accommodation are used to cover expenses of care centers for animals, which are completely in charge of volunteers. Third, it can be your great opportunity to visit different countries and explore real, but not touristic life. Fourth, you will finally make something real and will see you results, instead of spending another day in your office, switching between Facebook and YouTube. Fifth, maybe you are still looking for your life choice, so it can be your vocation. Furthermore, in case if you have strong will and goals, long term working conditions are totally different. And finally, it’s just incredibly positive to help young turtles to find their own way to the ocean, instead of dull looking around searching for the consequences of the global crisis.