Make the white sandy beaches of the Shimoni Archipelago your home while you live and work with a dedicated volunteer team on wildlife conservation. Here you will find Kenya’s most vibrant coral reefs and coastal forests inhabited by friendly and welcoming locals.
Your initial 12 weeks on the internship placement will be focused on training and researching the dolphin population in the Kisite-Mpunguti marine sanctuary, while also trekking through the coastal forests to monitor the area primates (Angolan Black and White Colobus monkeys). In addition to this you may have the opportunity to assist with community education programs and sustainable development projects. To complete your training you will also qualify in First Aid, take Swahili lessons and complete a leading biological surveys course.
After the initial training period, you will start your 12 week work placement and will work with either our team to help run and manage our conservation projects, or you will have the opportunity to work with one of our partner conservation organizations. Either way you will be working alongside a professional conservation team, learning from them all along the way.
After a successful internship, qualifying candidates may be given the opportunity to work for GVI or selected partner organizations in Kenya, or in other countries around the world where GVI operate.
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 initial 12 weeks will allow you to gain experience in a range of fields by rotating around to the different projects.
The training you receive will be comprehensive enough so you will not need prior experience to participate. Subjects covered include marine mammal behavior and identification, turtle identification and biology, primate survey techniques, biodiversity and human impact surveys, terrestrial environments, conservation, local threats and some essential teacher training for when you work with the communities.
The internship is based out of two locations: Wasini Island where marine research is conducted and Shimoni Village where you will do the primate work. Conditions on both bases are basic, so please expect limited electricity and bucket showers. Work placement conditions are similar to this. You may also spend a week camping and working on the edge of Tsavo National Park to work with former wildlife poaching community groups.
Work placements vary depending on the individual’s background, experience and interests. Some of the placements will be GVI field staff positions training and leading volunteers on either our marine or coastal forest research programs. Or you may be working with one of our local partners assisting with grass roots conservation efforts.
Valuable conservation data is collected by GVI on both the terrestrial and marine wildlife. Listed below are a few examples of the type of work you will be doing:
- Determining human impact on marine mammals
- Collecting distribution and population data on marine mammals
- Assessing habitat relationships and residence rates
- Helping project partners develop a ‘code of conduct’
- Conducting behavior and population studies of Angolan black and white Colobus monkeys
- Contributing to wildlife conservation projects in and around the national parks
- Reducing local community conflict with wildlife
GVI’s sustainable vision for this program is to empower the communities to finance the conservation of their local area through regulated ecotourism and resource use. The only way to do this is by collaborating with local conservation groups, tourist operators and local villagers.
How this project makes a difference:
The program makes 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 found GVI through The Africa Guide website after filtering through many options and I'm supremely glad I did. GVI was an experience like no other. It gave me the opportunity to experience a wonderful little village as only a local would and take part in volunteer work with a legitimate and extremely important long term goal. Our interactions with the locals were so educational and inspiring and getting that chance to work out in the elements spotting wildlife and completing forest surveys was challenging and completely wonderful. If you're the kind of person that can weather trivial things like cold showers, long walks and a bit of dirt in order to have an authentic African experience then this is perfect. I'm already looking into the next trip. 10/10; Absolutely the best time!
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
- Leading biological surveys course
- Teamwork and leadership experience
- Transfer to expedition site
- First Aid & CPR training and certification
- 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
- Weekly evaulation with your mentor
- Final evaluation
- Certification and summary of training and experience received
- Confidential professional reference
- Work placement
What's Not Included
- Medical and travel insurance
- Visa costs
- Personal kit
- Additional drinks and gratuities
- Extra local excursions
- International and domestic airport taxes