Based in the beautiful Bay of Lakonikos in the southern Peloponnese, you will live and volunteer with a team of international volunteers to conserve and protect one of the most important loggerhead turtle nesting areas in Greece.
The team will engage in daily morning surveys to record nesting activity and protect turtle nests against predation by mammals and inundation by sea water. Volunteers will also provide important conservation information to overseas visitors and the local community.
Hands-on work with one of the most endangered species in the Mediterranean; living in a quiet area near a traditional fishing town; exploring nearby nature reserves and admiring local architecture. The thrill of seeing turtles lay their eggs and watching the hatchlings head for the sea; experiencing Greek culture first hand in a beautiful area which you can explore in your free time; taking a great first step towards your career in practical conservation or simply making a lasting one-off contribution to the preservation of endangered turtles.
GVI works in conjunction with our local partners to ensure you receive all the necessary training to meet the project's objectives as well as providing opportunities for you to explore the fascinating Greek culture and sights of the surrounding area in your free time.
"It is hard not to regurgitate all that has been said before – ‘how the time has gone’, ‘the amazing people’, ‘combining a beach holiday with volunteer work’. All these things are true. The one thing that will stay with me is the work with the hatchlings; watching them power down the beach, watching as they get battered by the waves but always manage to overcome them and of course the times I had the privilege to hold these tiny hatchlings. So thank you to everyone who has made this time one I will never forget."
What's Not Included
The work is varied, with all volunteers rotating around the different roles: turtle patrol, camp duty, bamboo harvesting (used to protect the nests) and an environmental education program for the locals and tourists. The days are long, it is hot and you will have to walk long distances (at least 5km) during surveys.
Your accommodation will be in tents right next to the beach, providing you with a breathtaking scenic view to wake up to each morning. The campsite will have a number of facilities, including a mini-market, a self-service restaurant and access to a telephone.
In between your shifts, you will have plenty of time to soak up the sun on the sandy white beaches or relax with your fellow volunteers back at the campsite. Although the climate will be hot and can get very humid, by living so close to the beach you will be able to cool down with a quick dip in the sparkling waters of the Mediterranean. Depending on how shifts you are structured, you will also have one day off a week, giving you time to explore the local area and immerse yourself even more into the breathtaking natural beauty, culture and history that Greece has to offer!
What's Not Included
GVI works in collabouration with a Greek organisation that has been conducting research in this area since 1983, making it one of the oldest conservation projects in the Mediterranean.
Key volunteer tasks may include:
· Patrolling the beach to locate new tracks and nests
· Recording data and measurements
· Installing protective nest grids
· Nest relocation (if required)
· Nest excavation (from August onwards)
· Bamboo harvesting - assembling nest grids
· Manning beach kiosk - educating public about the project
· Public awareness presentations - conducted at campsites/hotels in the local area
Data collected not only contributes to coastal management plans in Greece but also towards the international strategy for the conservation of sea turtles.
How this project makes a difference:
Protecting nests against predation by mammals and/or inundation by sea water ensures that as many hatchlings as possible are added to the population each year, while public awareness activities help people adopt friendlier attitudes towards the natural environment and possibly reduce their environmental footprint in the area
What's Not Included
Optional Side Trips
During your time off on the project you may want to visit some of the following places:
Whilst not part of the program most volunteers will have the opportunity to visit the Village of Mavrovouni and the fishing port of Gythio. They are both located close to the project site and have some interesting old buildings and cobbled streets with great views across the bay. In Gythio there is an ancient theatre and a few Roman ruins scattered around to explore. On occasion the project staff may take volunteers to Limeni Village where it is sometimes possible to snorkel with turtles.
The Archaeological Site of Mystras is now a world heritage site. It was built as an amphitheatre around the fortress erected in 1249 and since then has been conquered, re-conquered, occupied and abandoned. Now only the medieval ruins remain.
Monemvassia is a well-known medieval fortress with an adjacent town, located on a small peninsula off the east coast of the Peloponnese near Laconia. Its remains include the defensive structures and the small adjacent town and Byzantine churches . Its name derives from two Greek words, ‘mone’ and ‘emvassia’, meaning "single entrance". Many of the streets are narrow and fit only for pedestrians.
Areopoli is the second-largest town in Mani and is one of the few areas in Greece that was not under occupation rule. The inhabitants, in the past, built their homes like small fortresses in order to feel secure. Now you will find narrow streets, majestic tours, markets and a small port.
Further Travel Opportunities
Greece is a country with one of the most fascinating histories in Europe. If you have the available time and funds, then you should definitely try and explore it further. Possible side trips include relaxing on some of the island beaches, visiting the traditional villages of Metsovo and Kythira, taking in the ambience of Nafplio or Corfu Town, investigating the royal tombs at Vergina, and above all, seeing the ancient ruins at Delphi, the Acropolis and Olympia. Ferries depart from Gythio to Crete twice a week and from there it is possible to island hop back to Athens.
Meet Sebastian, our enthusiastic nature-lover here in Greece. Sebastian studied biology in Berlin and is passionate about wildlife and conservation. He is part of a big wildlife conservation program in Berlin and coordinates his own project at the university. A few years ago he worked on similar projects at the very same beach where our projects are based now, so he knows the area and the projects quite well.
The travel bug has really bitten him and he's always planning his next trip. After going around Australia in a Land cruiser for 18 months he went on to travel all over Europe in a Volkswagen T3 for 15 months. Steve Irwin was his childhood hero, "I remember looking up words in the dictionary when I was a kid to be able to ask him personally if I could help him with his amazing mission of protecting wildlife". This is still what Sebastian wants to do – protect and give back to nature and all of it’s amazing creatures!
Meet Helena, a GVI field staff member here in Greece! Helena has always had a love for the ocean and travelling since she was young. She first started off working with marine life in Greece where she worked with Loggerhead Sea Turtles. This led to her to work for GVI Greece and then in Jalova, Costa Rica where she worked with Green turtles and a wider variety of wildlife. There she explored her love for all life especially the Aracaris and Toucans, yet her heart still lies with the ocean.
This has recently lead to her becoming qualified as a Certified PADI Open Water Diver which will enable her to work alongside more marine life and help her improve her work as a keen marine conservationist. She wishes to expand her knowledge in the future and to carry on exploring the world one country at a time. She is still waiting to cross off swimming with Whale Sharks and Manta rays off her bucket list.
Meet Will, one of our knowledgeable staff members here in Greece. Will is a final year student at Durham University studying biology; he has had a strong passion for wildlife conservation his whole life and is very excited to work with GVI Greece.
He volunteered with GVI in Costa Rica before joining us in Greece and was really taken with how passionate and dedicated everyone at GVI was. Will is a big sports fan, specifically rowing and rugby, although as a Scotland fan that's often not very fun!
Meet Quintin, he is part of our field staff here in Greece! Quintin loves to travel and study animals, after graduating with a bachelors in Wildlife Conservation he went to work on a Leatherback monitoring project on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica.
If not working, you can find him in or around the water and taking photos of any living creature. Quintin gets very excited when searching for personal new species of birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals. He is always ready to go on a hike or try something new!
Meet Victoria, one of our awesome field staff members in Greece for this summer. Victoria has a degree in Environmental studies and has always had a love and passion for the environment and wildlife. She has been with GVI for over a year starting as an intern in GVI Costa Rica before moving on to a field staff position with both GVI Greece and GVI India.
Victoria has a passion for animal behaviour and would like to one day carry our studies here into animal behaviour and patterns. She loves marine life and the understanding of how that environment works and would like to further develop her knowledge in this environment and the species within this year in Greece.
Meet Alyssa, also known as “Miz or Missouri”, one of our very enthusiastic staff for this upcoming season here in Greece. Miz has always had a passion for wildlife and sharing her knowledge with the world. Her entire childhood was filled with nursing orphaned rabbits, and opossums back to good health and releasing them back into the wild.
She aspires one day to open her own rehabilitation center in South-west Missouri. Miz has worked on a number of GVI projects including Costa Rica, India, and Greece. She has had the opportunity to work with 5 of the 7 species of sea turtles and hopes to get the opportunity to work with the remaining two in the near future!
Meet Ana, our helpful project coordinator here in Greece. Upon finishing her PhD studies in Molecular Biology she decided to change the lab coat for the field and ran the largest sea turtle conservation program in Greece where she met and worked in close collaboration with GVI Greece, Mavrovouni.
Before joining us as project coordinator in Greece she ventured to work as a science coordinator at one of our conservation programs in Costa Rica. "Ever since I met the GVI team I decided I wanted to become one of them! She relocated from her home country, Spain, to work in Greece, ensuring that our turtle conservation programs run smoothly."