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The top eight volunteer projects for this year

Article by Jenny Clark

Jenny Clark

Posted: March 25, 2022

We’re well into the new year. As you run down your checklist of things you want to accomplish, be sure to keep a spare page for the top volunteering abroad projects you’re looking to take part in.

There are plenty of reasons to volunteer abroad with international volunteer organisations. They allow you to experience meaningful travel experiences overseas, and take part in impactful work that teaches you skills that’ll improve your employability

Anyone can volunteer, no matter their skill level, and training is provided to get you ready to make a positive impact. Have a look through our top volunteering programs abroad for this year and get inspired to travel in a meaningful way. 

This is a list of our favourite volunteer projects abroad for this year. But in every location, you can either join a volunteer project or an international internship. And each of these opportunities can be factored into a gap year if that’s part of your plan.

Which volunteer abroad programs are best? Here are our top ten volunteer projects for this year.

1) Volunteer with Elephants in Thailand


Support community efforts in the mountainous forests of Northern Thailand. You’ll assist in reintegrating elephants into their natural habitats after being relieved from their previous lives in tourist camps.

During your stay in a mountain community in Chiang Mai province, you’ll learn about elephant history, behaviour, training, biology, social interactions and more. You’ll also have the chance to observe elephants in their natural habitats and build up the body of research into this alternative model of ethical elephant tourism.

While learning about elephants from the local Karen community (who have worked alongside these colossal creatures for centuries) you’ll get to see how your contribution adds to the everyday well-being of the elephants and the community. 

Learn more about this program here.

Read more: Four reasons why the environment needs elephants

2) Contribute to shark and turtle conservation in the Seychelles 

Spend time on coral-encircled Curieuse Island while helping to conserve three of the Seychelles’ most important marine species: the sicklefin lemon shark, the hawksbill and the green turtle. Track down shark pups nesting among the roots of mangrove trees to gather valuable data on their population and growth rate.

You’ll also study the nesting success and habits of both the endangered hawksbill and green turtles on the island. Collect and collate information such as tag numbers, carapace (shell) measurements and number of eggs laid, or carry out nest evacuations to measure hatching success rates.



Throughout your time on this program you’ll live on a remote research base on one of the world’s most beautiful islands.

Learn more about this program here.

3) Participate in a wildlife research expedition in South Africa

On this volunteer program you’ll travel to a private Big Five (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and African buffalo) game reserve in South Africa, and volunteer alongside an international team assisting in sustainable conservation work.



You’ll collect behavioural data on reintroduced predators and large herbivores in the savannah. 

In order to assist with this vital conservation work, you’ll be trained to use research equipment to help locate predators in the reserve. You’ll also receive professional training in large animal identification, tracking, and behavioural study skills.

Learn more about this program here.

Read more: How to start a career in wildlife conservation

4) Contribute to jaguar conservation in Costa Rica

Original photo: “Animal Carnivore Cat” by PublicDomainPictures is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0


Join a team contributing to the development and management of long-term wildlife conservation efforts along Central America’s Caribbean coast. 

Our conservation base is situated in Jalova, in Tortuguero National Park, a protected rainforest near the Caribbean Sea.

Our work here focuses on the long-term conservation and management of the rainforest and the wildlife that inhabits it – including the elusive jaguars that prowl the area. 

You’ll be searching for signs of jaguars and their prey species by setting up remote cameras and surveying a 25-kilometre stretch of a turtle-nesting beach.

Relaying data to the Costa Rican government and other prominent conservation organisations, our team aids conservation efforts through species monitoring and tracking.

Learn more about this program here.

5) Join a marine conservation expedition in Mexico


Travel to the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea and earn a Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) diving certification while protecting the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System – the second largest barrier reef in the world.

You’ll contribute to efforts that assess the overall health of the reef – including coral reef and fish monitoring – and you’ll develop your knowledge of this underwater environment and its inhabitants.

As a member of an international team of participants in partnership with highly regarded marine organisations, you can be sure your marine conservation efforts will make a valuable impact.

Learn more about this program here.

Further reading: How long do PADI courses take?

6) Volunteer on a construction project in Nepal


Travel to Nepal’s lake-side city of Pokhara and volunteer alongside an international team, contributing to educational objectives through infrastructure development. Contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (UN SDG) 4: Quality Education.

This program is focused on initiatives within local communities that require assistance with education, and improved educational facilities. Volunteers on this program might assist with constructing furniture as well as building and repainting walls. While no previous experience is required, physical fitness and DIY or construction experience will come in handy. 

During your spare time, you can visit traditional Hindu and Buddhist temples or embrace your adventurous side with white-water rafting or mountain trekking trips.

Learn more about this program here.

7) Travel to the Mediterranean and work with turtles in Greece


Our project site is a ten-minute walk from the village of Giannitsochori, a small coastal village located near ancient ruins. Experience Greek culture first hand in a beautiful area and visit the nearby towns of Kalamata, Kyparissia and Olympia, where the original Olympic games took place.

As a participant in our volunteer program in Greece, you’ll work with a team of international volunteers and staff to conserve and protect one of the most important loggerhead turtle nesting areas in Greece.

You’ll assist our partners in recording nesting activity and protecting hatchlings from predators as they make their first journey to the ocean.

Learn more about this program here.

8) Join a community development initiative in Fiji

As a community development volunteer in Fiji, you’ll work alongside members of the local community on a range of initiatives from our base in the village of Silana, in the district of Dawasamu. 

You’ll have the opportunity to work across a range of projects in traditional coastal villages – including freshwater management, education enrichment, environmental monitoring and mapping, waste management and health awareness.



On weekends, or whenever you have free time, you can enjoy island-hopping between remote locations. Here you can dive into activities like scuba-diving, dolphin watching, hiking to waterfalls, snorkelling, traditional ceremonies, and Fijian language lessons.

Learn more about this program here.

The best volunteer opportunities around the world

When you go abroad with a reputable volunteer abroad program, you’ll be exposed to a range of learning opportunities, both personal and professional. 

The best volunteer abroad programs for college students, as well as the best volunteering programs for high school students, bring together personal and professional development with the chance to make an impact in global sustainable development. 

Feel ready to start making a contribution on a global scale? 

Find out more about GVI’s volunteer projects and internships, and choose from our range of worldwide programs.

Read more: Three key reasons why international experience is a career must 

We understand that you may have questions about how COVID-19 will affect your travel plans. Visit our FAQs page which explains our latest safety protocols in response to COVID-19. 

Disclaimer: The images in this article were taken pre-COVID-19.

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