Which are the Best Volunteer Abroad Projects? Here are our Top 10 Volunteering Projects for 2018

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Posted by WorkingAbroad Projects on Thursday, 9th November 2017

2018 is just around the corner, and is set to be another successful year for our many volunteer and internship projects around the world!

Thanks to the combined efforts of hundreds of international volunteers and local teams of dedicated staff our wildlife, community, environmental, teaching and healthcare volunteer abroad programmes have had a significant impact this past year on the communities in which they are based, and this is set to continue in 2018.

Whilst by no means comprehensive, this list represents the top 10 best volunteer abroad projects for you to visit in 2018, based on the excellent feedback we have received from returning volunteers from the field, the positive impact the projects' work has had in the past 12 months, and their commitment to our policy on ethical standards.

1. Elephant Volunteer Project, Thailand

Elephant Sanctuary in ThailandA chance to volunteer with elephants at an Elephant Sanctuary and home in Mae Chaem, situated in the countryside of Northern Thailand. This elephant volunteer project provides an alternative for elephants and their owners to move away from the busy city life and hardships of trekking & tourist rides by providing a retirement home for elderly elephants, as well as engaging the local community in environmental and education projects.

Why this project made our list; A truly ethical example of working with elephants and animal welfare best practice, this is a great opportunity to interact with elephants in Thailand in an ethical and positive way.

Highlights in 2017 - In October, the sanctuary welcomed a new elephant rescue named Fluffy, who will now be able to experience a life away from the hardships & abuses of tourist riding camps.

Find out more about this project here.

2. Amazon Basin Research & Conservation Volunteer & Internship Project, Peru

Amazon Basin Research VolunteersEnvironmental volunteers and interns work to assist in the project’s long-term scientific research in the Peruvian Amazon; to better measure the effects of human activities on wildlife, including endangered species; to get the collected information to the people who can make decisions and act on the solutions that help conserve rainforest, and to make a clear and positive impact on the Amazon ecosystem in this part of Peru.

Why this project made our list; A chance to protect and conserve parts of the Amazon rainforest which are still pristine, and research the diverse wildlife that lives there alongside expert researchers.

Highlights in 2017 - The project has this year continued to prevent any further deforestation of 4,460 hectares of highly-threatened virgin rainforest, despite the surrounding areas of the rainforest sadly experiencing increasing rates of deforestation. 

Find out more about this project here.

3. Ocean Spirits Leatherback Sea Turtle Volunteer Project, Grenada

Leatherback turtle in GrenadaVolunteer in the Caribbean and take part in leatherback sea turtle monitoring, research, and community outreach programmes on the island of Grenada.

Why this project made our list; An opportunity to research the largest sea turtle species in the world, and gain hands on experience alongside marine biologists.

Highlights in 2017 - Our 2017 volunteer team achieved over 2,500 hours of turtle patrols, recorded 412 sea turtle nests, watched over 7,000 hatchlings emerge, measured 62,803 cm of turtle carapaces, counted 40,706 turtle eggs, and educated over 500 students in our education programmes!

Find out more about this project here.

4. Desert Elephants Volunteer Project, Namibia

Desert Elephants in NamibiaTrack desert elephants and take part in community building volunteer work in the beautiful Damaraland region of the Namib Desert.

Why this project made our list;  This project is a great example of a project working to find solutions to facilitating the peaceful cohabitation between elephants and man. Volunteers will be able to experience the Damaraland desert through community building & elephant tracking.

Highlights in 2017 – A large group of families together with their children spent 10 days in Damaraland working and playing at Okongue Primary School with  some additional adventure and exploration during August. This once a year opportunity has been a growing success since 2013.

Find out more about this project here.

5. Dolphin & Whale Volunteer Research Project, Italy

Dolphin in ItalySince 1990 this project has been investigating the ecology and behaviour of cetaceans living in the Cetacean Sanctuary - a special marine protected area extending between Italy and France. The research focuses on the spectacularly large fin whale as well as on sperm whales, Risso’s dolphins, pilot whales, striped and bottlenose dolphins.

Why this project made our list; A fantastic opportunity for those looking to gain experience in marine conservation research, volunteer researchers are directly involved in field activities, helping the scientists to collect cetacean data and assist them in preliminary analyses of digital photos and acoustic recordings, while learning basics in sailing.

Highlights in 2017 - A group of Students from Lewes Old Grammar School in the UK visited the project for one week, and saw a sperm whale called Erico twice, which was incredible considering he hadn’t been seen by researchers in the entire Mediterranean Sea for more than a decade!

Find out more about this project here.

6. Caribbean Reef Buddy Diving Project, Carriacou, West Indies

Reef diving in CarriacouBecome a Caribbean Reef Buddy volunteer on the beautiful island of Carriacou near Grenada. Learn to dive in the warm, crystal clear waters of the Caribbean and play a full and active part in our exciting marine conservation projects.

Why this project made our list; An opportunity for budding divers to build on their previous experiences, leaving as fully qualified professionally rated divers with all the tools to work in diving and marine and coral reef conservation.

Highlights in 2017 - Volunteers have removed over 500 lbs of invasive lionfish from the reefs surrounding Carriacou. A volunteer who completed the Eco-Divemaster course is now living and working in the Bahamas as a dive professional / biologist. Lastly, volunteers have collectively conducted over 50 independent reef surveys contributing directly to data collection and informed decision making concerning management of fishing practices on the reef surrounding Carriacou.

Find out more about this project here.

7. Bottlenose Dolphin Volunteer Research Project, Croatia

Dolphin in ItalyThis project is the longest ongoing study of a resident population of bottlenose dolphins in the Mediterranean Sea. From the research station at Veli Lošinj volunteers monitor the daily behaviour of the bottlenose dolphins of the region. It is now possible to identify around 450 individual dolphins with the help of photo-identification.

Why this project made our list; The marine environment around Lošinj is the cleanest part of the Northern Adriatic Sea, with underwater visibility of consistently over twenty metres. We encourage our volunteers to explore the island and take advantage of the untouched natural environment that surrounds them.

Highlights in 2017 - This year marked 30 years since the foundation of the project, a year which also had the highest number of volunteers (43), and highest number of observations ever, 141. Also, a scientific paper on the home ranges of resident dolphins was released and the project was mentioned in the New York Times listed as one of the 10 best places to volunteer in Europe.

Find out more about this project here.

8. Kariega Big Five Game Reserve Volunteer Programme, South Africa

Giraffe in South AfricaBecome a Wildlife Conservation Volunteer in a Big Five Game Reserve in South Africa, and get involved in elephant, rhino and lion monitoring programmes.

Why this project made our list; The Kariega Big Five Game Reserve Volunteer Programme offers a once in a lifetime chance to get behind the scenes and involved with the conservation efforts of the Game Reserve. Kariega is an extraordinary and exciting conservation project, at the forefront of numerous species reintroductions and conservation initiatives, working in collaboration with a renowned academic institution.

Highlights in 2017 – The reserve celebrated the birth of two new white rhino calves during 2017 – which is great news for rhino conservation. Volunteers were also extremely fortunate to be involved in the dehorning process of rhinos. Other 2017 highlights that stand out for volunteers were the darting of lions on the reserve and replacing their telemetry collars. We had several amazing sightings of lions hunting and mating during this year. And to end off with a bang (or a few blisters or two), volunteers removed roughly 27 000 alien invasive plants on the reserve during 2017. What an incredible effort!

Find out more about this project here.

9. Playa Tortuga Conservation Volunteer Project, Costa Rica

Turtle hatchling in Costa RicaVolunteer in Costa Rica and live and work in a biological research station and take part in sea turtle, butterfly, crocodile, mammal research and environmental education.

Why this project made our list; By helping this project you will be part of a serious scientific research project, which provides important data for the conservation of sea turtles, mammals, reptiles & insects in this biodiversity hotspot.

Highlights in 2017 - Last season, volunteers helped to release 4,335 baby sea turtles back into the wild. Volunteers next year will have the target of helping to release even more safely back into the wild!

Find out more about this project here.

10. Rural Community Volunteer Project, Nepal

Medical volunteers in NepalVolunteer in Nepal and participate in several community projects in locations throughout the country. These projects are aimed at promoting social well-being through teaching, cultural exchange and tackling healthcare issues. 

Why this project made our list; Following the 2015 earthquake, the communities where our volunteers work have a heightened need for outside support. Volunteers can use their skills to help improve education & healthcare provision in one of the poorest countries in Asia.

Highlights in 2017 - In Spring, a team of volunteers painted a school that had been rebuilt following the 2015 earthquake with colourful new designs to provide a brighter learning environment for the school children.

Find out more about this project here.


Author: WorkingAbroad Projects

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