Collaborate with a group of volunteers from all over the globe to experience breath-taking coral reefs, white sandy beaches, coastal forests and friendly local communities in the awe-inspiring Shimoni Archipelago. This expedition is one of GVI’s most varied programs, and is perfect for someone looking to experience a little bit of everything we do including marine research, primate research and community development.
Dolphin research is the primary focus for the marine research, where you will explore the Kisite-Mpunguti protected area. Here, you may have the chance to site a humpback whale or snorkel with turtles! The primate research consists of spending time in the coastal forests where you will find the rare populations of the Black and White Angolan Colobus monkey. When working with the community you will assist with teaching English and helping to develop sustainable tourism initiatives.
The chance may also arise for you to protect Kenya’s big game by working with rural communities in the hear t of East Africa’s savannas to improve upon alternatives to wildlife poaching.
Please note, this program offers durations up to 24 weeks. Speak to your Country Expert for more details of extending your stay in-country
We are always looking for enthusiastic and dedicated people to join our team. This expedition offers qualifying and high-performing volunteers the chance to stay on the expedition for a longer duration on a GVI Scholarship free of charge and as part of the staff team in the field. If you would like to work towards a field career and make the very most of your time abroad, you might want to work towards a place on a GVI Scholarship. Successful scholars may find themselves offered full time employment with GVI, and many of our current staff have come through this route. Contact us for more information!
Please note, the awarding of scholarships is at the sole discretion of GVI and may be offered immediately after the completion of your program or at a later date.
GVI is real volunteering
Our projects are constantly evolving according to the needs on the ground at any given time. All the information displayed here will give you an overall feel for the project, but you should be prepared for any changes in the field when you travel. An evolving project means that we can constantly meet the needs and requirements of our partners, who dictate the work that we do. The way it should be.
Your schedule will shift to the various projects during your time on the expedition, and follow a schedule put together by our staff.
You will receive extensive training upon arrival, so no previous experience is required. The training will cover: oceanography, marine mammal identification and behavior, turtle biology and identification, terrestrial environments, threats and conservation, primate survey techniques, biodiversity and human impact surveys, English language teaching techniques and certification as well as a globally recognized first-aid course.
You will be primarily located on the Wasini Island where the expedition’s main base is managed; however there is also a base in Shimoni Village where you will conduct the primate research. You may spend a week of your time camping and working on the border of Tsavo National Park where you will collaborate with former wildlife poaching and community groups. Your accommodation will be basic, with limited electricity and bucket showers.
Your work with GVI in the local communities will fall into the three main categories of marine conservation, terrestrial conservation and community development, covering tasks such as:
- Collecting population and distribution data on marine mammals
- Assessing human impact on marine mammals
- Assisting partners in developing a ‘code of conduct’
- Lending a hand on wildlife conservation projects around the national parks
- Reducing community conflict with wildlife
- Running environmental education programs and teaching English
- Developing sustainable tourism practices
The long-term aim for this expedition is to establish a self-financing conservation system via regulated ecotourism and resource use. Your efforts will be in collaboration with local villagers, conservation groups and tourist operators.
How this project makes a difference:
The GVI Kenya Expedition is making a difference by supporting our partners, including Kenya Wildlife Service, in three focus areas; dolphin surveys, forest research and community development. Through education, environmental awareness and current wildlife monitoring studies, our collaborative work has been building capacity within the communities, assisting them in developing sustainable tourism practices and protecting marine mammals and primate species within the area.
I just recently returned from Kenya and was very impressed with GVI. All of the programs are very dynamic and seem to be extremely effective. In particular, the program in the Taveta region is spectacular and the people are amazing! I will be making ongoing donations to this program to help the communities, and purchase needed supplies for the products they are making, such as jam pots, sugar, beads, kangas, etc. My hope is that in a couple of years I can come back to this region and see what progress has been made.
I was impressed with the website - it provided a lot of information and looked professional, which made me more confident in the program. I also was interested in doing an expedition with a variety of activities, which GVI provided. Overall, I appreciated the diversity of the projects and the people. The location went beyond my expectations, and I enjoyed moving back and forth from Mkwiro to Shimoni to Kidong. I really appreciated GVI's dedication to sustainable development and conservation. Personally, I enjoyed learning new skills that I would otherwise not have had an opportunity to use.
Volunteering with GVI not only allows you to participate on programs assisting disadvantaged communities or endangered ecosystems but it also offers wonderful opportunities to travel in the local area in your down time or further afield either before or after your program. Many decide to travel after volunteering, solidifying the lifetime friendships established on program.
Our long term field staff are a great source of advice and are here to help you make the most of your time abroad. Remember to ask about discounts on local activities and side trips through your association with GVI. Our Shimoni field teams have helped us put together the following information on trips and travel options in Kenya!
Included Side Trips
During project you will embark on the fascinating community-based eco-tourism Slave Cave Tour in Shimoni village, exploring the natural caves that are currently home to bat colonies but over the years have served as a refuge for local people during tribal clashes, a slave holding pen on the way to markets in Zanzibar and more recently a kaya shrine.
Optional Side Trips
Please note these additional side trips are not included in the program but can be easily organised on the ground after arrival.
Closer to base, you can support various eco-tourism initiatives in the surrounding communities, such as traditional fishing trips with the Mkwiro fishermen in their dug-out canoes, Swahili cooking classes or trips through large underground limestone caves at Tswaka.
An amazing day trip is to Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary, a community reserve in the hills near Shimba where game drives will bring you close to herds of protected African elephants. You can also see how the community turn elephant dung into recycled paper products for sale to tourists as an income generating scheme.
For something longer than a day, you should consider an overnight trip to Shimba Hills National Reserve, home to African elephants, buffalo, giraffe, warthog and Kenya’s only breeding population of sable antelope. The south coast of Kenya is dotted with several stunning white sand beaches where some of the more popular beach towns offer ocean sports such as kite-surfing, kayaking and diving. Tiwi Beach offers a more relaxed experience with very few tourists present.
Mombasa can also be visited over a weekend, a city that combines the historic old town and traditional Swahili culture with modern city life, restaurants, bars and clubs. As well as its beautiful beaches, the nearby Haller Park is an ecological restoration project that offers opportunities to get close to giraffe, hippopotamus, buffalo, waterbuck, crocodile and the giant Aldabra tortoise.
Further Travel Opportunities
Kenya is a large and extremely diverse country in terms of both culture and nature. Over three to four days you can undertake a safari that takes in the vast Tsavo East and West National Parks, or the famous Amboseli or Maasai Mara National Parks, all home to incredible wildlife viewing opportunities. You can journey further up Kenya’s coastline to visit Watamu and Malindi home to the Gedi Ruins and Arabuko Sokoke Forest National Park. Or for something less active, try Lamu Island, a tranquil getaway, steeped in Swahili history, tradition and culture.
Even further afield in Kenya including Lakes Naivasha and Victoria and national parks such as Nakuru, Hell’s Gate and Samburu. Our operations lie close to the Tanzanian border and onward travel here offers some of Africa’s most famous names; the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Mt Kilimanjaro and the Zanzibar Islands.
Build Your Program
- Pre-departure support and discounted services
- 24-hour emergency phone
- Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
- Arrival orientation
- Long term experienced staff
- Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
- All meals (unless otherwise stated in field manuals)
- Welcome meeting
- Location orientation
- All necessary project training by experienced staff
- All necessary project equipment and materials
- 24-hour in-country support
- Transfer to expedition site
- First Aid & CPR training
- GPS training
- Marine radio and camera trap use
- Dolphin identification
- Tropical forest ecology and identification skills
- Scientific techniques in collection for transect work, incidental observation techniques
- Introduction to TEFL
- Community work workshop
What's Not Included
- Medical and travel insurance
- Visa costs
- Personal kit
- Additional drinks and gratuities
- Extra local excursions
- International and domestic airport taxes