Find yourself on stunning white sandy beaches on the Shimoni Archipelago on Kenya’s Indian Ocean. Here you will be surrounded by unique coastal rainforests, vibrant coral reefs and a friendly team of volunteers from across the globe.
The first 12 weeks of the internship are spent training on GVI’s Kenya expedition which has three main focuses; primate monitoring in the areas coastal forests, dolphin research in the Kisite-Mpunguti marine protected area and finally community education and sustainable development programs. During this phase you will qualify in First Aid, learn Swahili and gain many skills necessary for the work placement.
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 community development projects, or you will have the opportunity to work with one of our partner community development organizations. Either way you will be working alongside a professional 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.
Over the course of the first 12 weeks you will rotate around each of the project focuses, building up your training and experience in conservation and community work. During your placement you will mainly focus on the community education programs and sustainable development initiatives.
Due to the training and experience you receive on the program you will not need any pre-required experience. To complement the training received you will also take part in Swahili lessons, undergo First Aid training, gain an introduction to TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language) as well as experience in teamwork and leadership.
Work placements vary depending on the individual’s experience, interests and background. Some of the placements will be field staff positions training and leading volunteers on GVI’s community education and development programs in Shimoni, Mkwiro or Mombasa . Alternatively you may be working with one of our local partners assisting with community development efforts.
While we are based in villages around the local communities our bases are quite remote. Rooms are shared with limited electricity and bucket showers.
You will gain a much better understanding of the need to conserve this beautiful area by assisting with wildlife research and working with the community. Typically this includes:
- Running environmental education programs
- Teaching English
- Assisting with community projects
- Capacity building
- Developing sustainable tourism practices
Through education we aim to increase the knowledge base of all area students while empowering the local community to support tourism along with other sustainable practices. By building capacity GVI helps to develop villagers’ skills to increase the opportunity for the community to diversify their income sources and do not solely rely on fishing.
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.
The community is fantastic; extremely welcoming. You get a true taste of African life. The kids never forget your name, and you literally get treated as part of the family. It’s an experience of a life 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
- Teamwork and leadership experience
- An ‘Introduction to TEFL’ course
- Online TEFL qualification
- First Aid & CPR training and certification
- 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