Volunteer in Greece to help with our efforts of conserving critically endangered sea turtles that frequent the sandy beaches of Kefalonia. Gain hands on experience as you contribute to important research, all while meeting new people, having fun and exploring the beautiful island.
Working alongside environmental biologists, conservationists and many other international volunteers, you will play a vital role in securing the future of these fascinating creatures in the Mediterranean.
You will be living close to and volunteering on the beautiful beaches, where you will enjoy the most picture-perfect backdrop around! To date, Kefalonia has been relatively untouched by tourism, allowing you to explore the many natural and untouched attractions the island boasts. Snorkel in the glittering azure seas, trek up the breath-taking mountainous landscapes, wander through the lush forests or explore the secrets coves – there really is so much to see and do!
Kefalonia is an important breeding area for loggerhead sea turtles, but unfortunately they are now facing many threats that are pushing them closer to the brink of extinction. Sea turtles are regularly injured or killed by accidental boat strikes, get trapped in fishing equipment, inundated by the rising tide or by swallowing plastics.
The project’s primary objective is to protect and conserve sea turtles and their habitats. This is done through monitoring and research to then develop and implement plans, as well as raising public awareness. We work closely with the local environment authorities and fishermen in the hope to mitigate and reverse population declines.
Your tasks will range from daily morning patrols to locate and protect new nests, turtle identification, monitoring and relocating vulnerable nests, behavioural research surveys, raising public awareness with locals and visitors about the island’s biodiversity, night beach patrols, gathering valuable population data, tagging turtles so we can monitor and carry out health checks and so much more!
You will receive practical on the job training from local staff and have the opportunity to help safeguard Greece’s vulnerable sea turtles and exceptional habitats for future generations. Hands-on learning is emphasised throughout the project, so that you can acquire practical experience on a wide range of wildlife research and conservation practices, including their legal and social aspects, which are often the most controversial aspects of conservation.
If you are looking to conduct your own independent research or are looking to carry out an internship then our local team are more than happy to assist.
You will gain valuable research experience, increase your knowledge in wildlife conservation and develop your interpersonal skills while exploring new places, experiencing a new culture and making lifetime friends. Most importantly you’ll be helping save the sea turtles of Kefalonia from extinction.
You will play an integral role within the small team (generally around 20 other volunteers), working to a rota that is published every week so you know exactly what you’re doing.
During your first three days you will receive your extensive training that will go through everything you need to know for your time volunteering.
Most days require an early start; so there won’t be much time to congregate around the table at breakfast (don’t worry there’s plenty of time for that at dinner!).
During your time in Greece, you may get up to the following activities:
During nesting season (May to middle of August), you will spend most mornings at sunrise walking the beaches to identify and record fresh sea turtle tracks and nests. All nesting attempts are recorded and successful nests are marked and protected. On a regular basis you will also patrol the beaches during the night looking for turtles coming ashore to nest – there is nothing more spectacular that the sight of a large loggerhead turtle making its way up the beach!
Nest monitoring and baby turtle release
Identified nests are constantly monitored to ensure they are still safe and cannot come to any harm. When they’re ready to hatch, volunteers are there to gently assist the turtles to the sea, where they begin their lives. The hatching season generally runs from late July to the end of October.
On an adhoc basis, you will get the chance to sleep out under the stars on the beach to monitor the nearby nests – no words can describe this!
Sea turtle monitoring
We are also keen to observe the behaviour of sea turtles swimming around the bay and harbour. This unique aspect of the programme gives you an up-close look at adult turtles and how they interact with each other. Sadly, this isn’t a natural hang out for them and they’re there for food. It’s not the natural diet they should have in the wild, as it consists of food from tourists and the scraps from the fishing boat. Your time by the picturesque harbour will be spent recording the activity of the adult turtles and educating tourists about the dangers of feeding the turtles.
Light pollution surveys
Sadly, as with many other turtle hotspots, the areas are polluted by light from nearby sources. This can cause hatchlings to crawl in the wrong direction and never make it safely to sea. You will spend time identifying harmful light pollution sources and use what you have learnt to help educate the local communities in the damage it does and how it can result in the emerging hatchlings becoming disorientated.
You’ll also be involved in many other activities that may include:
- Early morning harbour research
- Nest inventories
- Nest protection
- Early evening harbour surveys
- Beach surveys
- Night time sleep outs – watching over the nests
- Tagging turtles – to be able to monitor their health and progress
- Adult turtle health checks
- Hatchling rehab
- And so much more…!
Volunteers do not need prior experience but should be enthusiastic about conservation and committed to the cause. All volunteers are trained on protocols and techniques to ensure quality data collection and the welfare of the turtles.
You will have some free time during the late mornings/early afternoons. You can use this as you wish – whether you want to chill out in your room or head to the pool bar – you will always find another volunteer looking to fill their free time too!
Due to the location of the accommodation and the nesting beaches, it is essential that you are able to ride a bicycle. There is a small bike-riding test when you arrive just to ensure your safety whilst out on shifts.
Set in the hills of Kefalonia, you will be spoilt by the beautiful views and by the local peaceful beaches, only a few minutes’ walk away. Being such a tranquil area, the nearest shops and amenities are a 15-minute car ride away. Share the cost of a cab with fellow volunteers, or borrow one of the bicycle fleet and enjoy the ride.
The local area is truly stunning, and we cannot think of a more picturesque place to volunteer.
You will share a spacious and comfortable room with up to three other volunteers, of the same sex.
A communal pool and bar area are very popular with the volunteers during their siesta times. Only a 3-minute stroll away, it’s the perfect place to unwind and form new friendships with your fellow volunteers.
Once per week, the field leaders arrange a night of fun. This could be anything from a movie night to a charades tournament.
Be sure to pack some mosquito spray, and a mosquito net! You will also need a sleeping bag as you will be required to sleep out on the beach once or twice during your stay.
This really is an incredibly fun place to stay, and you should expect to make some lifelong friends!
Wifi – Yes
People per room – Up to 4
Single sex rooms – Yes
Nearest ATM & shops – 15 minute drive
Airport Transfers – 15 minutes
Meals are organised on an optional meal share basis and are not included in the cost of your stay. You will need to set aside around €20 per week to contribute to the meal share, if you wish to.
Meals are vegetarian/vegan and there is the option for a gluten free diet also. Meals are cooked by the volunteers on a rota basis, so make sure to research some tasty vegetarian recipes for your trip.
Groceries can be expensive as they are shipped from the mainland, so the meal share was created solely for the benefit of the volunteers and their budgets.
If you would prefer not to partake in the meal share, we estimate that you should budget €40-60 per week for your meals.
What are the requirements to join?
We welcome all volunteers from any background, religion and nationality, as long as you have no criminal convictions and are able to supply a clean criminal background check. In order to join the programme you need to be at least 18 years old on the programme start date.
Individuals need to have a good level / understanding of English but it dose not need to be your first language. As some programmes can be quite strenuous, we recommend that you should be physically fit.
What date should I arrive and leave?
You should arrive at Kefalonia “Anna Pollatou” Airport (EFL) on your selected start date, being a Sunday or a Tuesday. You will be met by one of our local team members or an appointed driver who will be holding a named sign and will take you to our accommodation.
The programme ends on a Sunday of your final week and you should depart the accommodation on this day. Our local team will be happy to help organise any onward journeys or book transport back to the airport.
Are there any age restrictions for solo travellers?
The only age restriction in place is that you have to be at least 18 years old before your programme start date. Anyone over this age is welcome. Generally the average age range for our programmes is 18 – 25, although this is by no means definitive and we regularly have volunteers of all ages.
When should I apply for the programme?
You can apply for this programme at anytime, however we advise that you apply as soon as possible to have the best chances of securing your placement on your selected dates. Some of our programmes have limited capacity and spaces can get filled up quickly.
If you are wanting to volunteer within the next few weeks, then please contact us and we will do our best to accommodate your needs.
It is possible to change your start dates once you have been accepted, however this is subject to availability and can attract a small administration fee.
What duration would you recommend?
On gaining feedback from previous volunteers, we believe 2-4 weeks is the ideal time to get settled in and really involved with the programme. This also allows you to make the most of your free time, to explore this beautiful country and to participate in any activities.
Is there Internet and phone signal?
There is Wi-Fi within the volunteer accommodation although this can be intermittent. Most UK network providers offer data roaming within the EU. Please double check that your provider offers this before using your phone abroad.
Will I get an in-country orientation?
Yes. Your orientation will be on Day One and will go through everything you need to know for your time in Kefalonia.
Our local coordinator will go through all of the important health and safety information that you should follow during your time in Kefalonia. You’ll learn about the Greek way of life and the cultural differences.
Can I volunteer if I live outside of the UK?
Yes of course. We welcome volunteers from around the world, no matter how far away from the programmes you are. The majority of volunteers that we host, come from the UK, US, Germany, Canada and Australia.
Can I go with my friend / partner?
We have many volunteers that travel with their friends, family members or with their partner. If required, we can ensure that you are based on the same project and stay within the same accommodation. On request, we can normally organise a private room to.
Before You Depart
When do I pay? Can I pay in instalments?
To confirm and guarantee your placement on one of our programmes, you need to pay the registration fee of £129 within 7 days of receiving confirmation that your application was successful. The remaining balance is then due to less than 60 days prior to your programme start date.
Payments can be done all at once or be spread out over several months and can be paid via BACS (bank transfer). We do accept additional payments methods, such as debit and credit cards, although there may be additional fees.
Do I need any vaccinations and / or malaria tablets?
As we are not trained medical experts we cannot tell you exactly what vaccinations or other medication you may need for your trip. You will need to consult with your local doctors or travel clinic.
You can also find additional information on the NHS Fit For Travel website.
How do I arrange my flights?
All flights need to be booked by you, although we can point you in the right direction on where you may be able to find the best prices.
Before booking any flights, we strongly recommend that you wait to have confirmation that your application has been successful.
Do you offer travel insurance?
Travel insurance is a compulsory part of your volunteering trip, that’s why we have teamed up with Endsleigh to create an affordable and comprehensive travel insurance policy. It is suitable for all of the programmes we offer and can be taken out at any time. You can read more about our insurance here.
If you decide to purchase your travel insurance from an alternative provider, please ensure it covers you for everything you will be doing. Adequate travel insurance must be in place no less than 60 days before your programme start date. Without proof of this insurance, we will not be able to accept you onto the programme.
When will I receive my volunteer handbook?
You will receive a welcome email from us as soon as you have paid the registration fee and your placement has been confirmed. The welcome email will include the volunteer handbook that provides a wealth of information that will help you better understand all aspects of your upcoming trip as well as details about our insurance policy.
Please note, that all material is sent via email and hard copies cannot be sent.
On Your Trip
Can I arrange a private room?
The majority of our accommodation only offers shared rooms that are usually same-sex. However, if you would prefer a private room please let us know and we will at least try for you.
Can you cater for my dietary requirements?
We will try our best to cater for any dietary requirements. When you submit your application please include any required details within the dietary section and we will liaise with our local coordinators.
Are there any public holidays that would effect the project?
Although we try to be as clear as possible of all holidays that effect project availability, due to the nature of some countries, holidays can often be sporadic or prone to change.
If such a holiday falls when you are on your placement, this is generally a good time to experience unique festivities where you can join in with the locals.
What is the dress code at the projects?
We ask that all volunteers take the approach of a smart and responsible image during your time in the communities and on projects. It is best to also take some older clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty.
Generally, it is best to avoid tight and very short clothing and anything that may have offensive slogans on it. Its recommended that you take some nicer clothes for weekends or any free time you may have.
We do not wish to impose strict regulations, however we do ask that you respect the local culture and do your best to adhere to the clothing guidelines within the volunteer handbook.
How much spending money will I need?
For general expenses and some travelling, you should find that £50 – £100 per week is sufficient. However, this can vary greatly depending on the amount of activities or trips you do and if you are eating out during the week..
Will I be able to travel whilst on the programme?
There should be plenty of time to travel while on your placement and we actively encourage that you do! The local coordinators will be able to give you lots of travel tips and provide any help needed for your independent adventure.
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