Where to go on a habitat conservation vacation


Make the most of your time

Habitat conservation projects are underway around the world and all year round, so you can volunteer in a dizzying array of countries both near and far. Some projects focus purely on restoring and supporting habitat, other include the local wildlife, too – a morning building paths complemented by some tortoise monitoring, for instance. Even when you don’t get up close to the local birds and beasties, you can be sure any work to preserve and support habitat always benefits wildlife, too. So just decide what you’re passionate about, pick a place and get ready to make a difference.
Australia Belize Greece Peru Scotland The Seychelles

Australia

Numerous habitat conservation projects run in Australia, involving planting trees, clearing areas overtaken by foreign weeds and promoting conservation through work with local farmers, councils, parks and land care groups. Projects take you off the beaten track to explore the country’s vast landscape and epic beauty and if you have time, it’s possible to combine working on two different projects, for a broad experience of Oz.

Belize

Volunteering in Belize is win-win. You help protect the local ecosystem and explore the waterfalls and jungle of wild, little visited regions, such as Toledo. Volunteers assist Belizean scientists, educators and park rangers with a huge range of activities, from reforestation and trail maintenance to wildlife monitoring. You will also work closely with local communities, empowering them to become environmental stewards.

Greece

Numerous volunteer projects take place on land and sea in Greece, and a two centre break can give a taste of both habitat and wildlife conservation in a single week. Volunteer at a sea turtle rescue centre then help maintain historic, scenic trails on the island of Poros. You’ll learn heaps about the cultural and natural history of Greece, and enjoy its beaches, food and wine, too.

Peru

Manu National Park is home to cloud forest, lowland jungle and Andean highlands. It’s also the base for conservation and research projects which welcome volunteers, who help with recording data on flora and fauna during early morning hikes and nighttime sound surveys. Just getting here is wonderful – crossing the Andes that overlook the Sacred Valley – plus there’s time to visit plantations, spot birds and relax.

Scotland

Help to restore the ancient Caledonian Forest that once covered much of the Highlands and was home to many rare creatures. Plant trees, fence, remove non-native species and collect seed, under the guidance of two fully trained leaders. Muck in with cooking a veggie meal each night, too, and fill up on the fresh air and fantastic views that come as standard.

The Seychelles

It’s work, but not as we know it – helping restore North Island to its former pristine beauty after years as a coconut plantation left it marred by unwanted species, from rats to invasive weeds. Work on ecosystem restoration alongside staff based here, as well as monitoring species such as tortoises. Then enjoy the private staff beach, watersports and exploring the other islands.

Habitat conservation vacations travel advice


Tips from our experts in the field


Anne Smellie from our leading volunteer vacation supplier Oyster Worldwide has advice on volunteering experiences, from how fit you need to be to choosing the right trip for you.

How to choose a habitat conservation vacation


“It can look a bit overwhelming when your first start researching this kind of vacation. Think about the geographic considerations first. Are you just interested in conserving absolutely beautiful habitat, or wildlife as well? In Borneo, for instance, you might be working on improving conditions for orangutans, so you’d get that wildlife conservation side in there too. In Australia or New Zealand projects can be more exclusively about habitat, but you are also going to be blessed with amazing views and landscape on a vast scale which you wouldn’t experience in many other locations. Are you really passionate about planting trees and improving habitat, or is it more flora and fauna tied together?”

Fitness advice


“All our conservation vacations are accessible to everyone, 18-80, so long as they have a general level of fitness. Habitat conservation can be tiring. Building a boardwalk, digging holes, planting trees and cutting back alien vegetation is pretty demanding, but the trips are organised so the hard work might happen first thing when it’s not too hot, say, with easier activities in the afternoon, like sowing seeds. The itineraries are always carefully considered. After all, most of us are coming from desk jobs! A trip that is only about habitat conservation can be a bit draining, but when coupled with monitoring wildlife it’s a good balance.”

Tips on combining volunteering with traveling


“Some people just have a two-week break, volunteer and then go home, but those that are more flexible and have three or four weeks generally start with the volunteering project, just to meet new people, get comfortable in a new country, and learn about a new culture and language. They then take the confidence they pick up and use it as that springboard into traveling. It’s easy to assume before you arrive somewhere that everyone speaks English or is culturally similar, but when you live and work in a country you can pick up on different nuances, gain an awareness of how to behave respectfully, eat with local people and try local food. So volunteer, then travel. That’s the best way round. Get an insight first.”

Habitat conservation travel advice


Tips from our travelers

At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travelers are often... other travelers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do – and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful habitat conservation vacation tips that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your vacation – and the space inside your suitcase.
“Take time to get to know everyone on the island, everyone is so interesting and holds so much knowledge. Always have a camera with you. Take plenty of bug spray and once you pack your case, open it back up and take out half of it, camera, good shoes for climbing the trails, flip flops are all you really need, your live in staff uniform, you receive a list of what they advise and if just going to island that is all you need.” – Louise Banks in the Seychelles

“Be happy and confident enough to be able to enjoy the moments when you are alone with nature. Everything is provided so travel light. Free laundry, three meals a day, your own wooden hut in the jungle village with own bathroom, shower and fan, the clothes you wear etc. You gain as much as you put in. I loved it. THERE IS NO AGE LIMIT. Anyone can earn and enjoy the fullfilment.” – Linda Vernon in the Seychelles

“Don't forget your midge repellent... I would say because it was conservation and well being, it had a good balance of work and health. Since my return I have continued being vegetarian and have made several improvements to my life. Great experience and no downsides whatsoever.” – Lisa Scott, volunteering in Scotland

“This was a great vacation, where I managed to forget all about the stresses of work for a week. I didn't know anyone when I arrived, but I made some great friends who have given me a slightly different perspective on life.” – Andrew Silander, volunteering in Scotland

“I was camping the first time in my life and did some research beforehand. However I did of course made a few mistakes. The next time I would definitely bring a bigger tent and 2 very strong head torches. My tent was ok for 2 weeks but for a longer period it would be to small. A very strong head torch is a must if you want to be able to spot lemurs and insects in the dark. And be prepared for wet feet if you don't have waterproof ankleboots…” – Patricia, volunteering in Madagascar

“There was a lot of walking and physical activity so it’s really important to expect to do lots when you get there and probably need reasonable fitness! I really enjoyed the construction of the bird hides and biogarden even though sometimes it was really hard work!” – Melanie Veal, volunteering in the Peruvian Amazon

“Speak to the guys who have done it already for advice! A camera, comfy inner soles, good Headtorch, organic mosquito repellent, waterproof bags were the items I was glad I had the most! It was such an incredible experience, expect it to be really hard work but you get out what you put in.” – William Haward, rainforest conservation in Peru
Written by Joanna Simmons
Seychelles Island conservation vacation

Seychelles Island conservation vacation

Volunteer on an exclusive island paradise in the Seychelles!

From US $2600 4 Weeks ex flights
Family volunteering with turtles in Costa Rica

Family volunteering with turtles in Costa Rica

Family turtle conservation volunteering in Costa Rica

From £709 7 Days ex flights
Australia conservation volunteering vacations

Australia conservation volunteering vacations

Conservation volunteering off the beaten track Down Under

From £609 7 Days ex flights
Rainforest conservation in the Amazon, Peru

Rainforest conservation in the Amazon, Peru

Conservation in the Amazon

From £1695 14 Days ex flights
Volunteer with turtles in Costa Rica

Volunteer with turtles in Costa Rica

Protect nesting turtles on Costa Rica's beautiful beaches

From £969 7 Days ex flights
South Africa wildlife volunteering vacation

South Africa wildlife volunteering vacation

Conservation & animal care in a South African Big 5 Reserve

From £935 14 Days ex flights
Elephant & wildlife conservation volunteering in Sri Lanka

Elephant & wildlife conservation volunteering in Sri Lanka

Help wild elephants and wildlife in Sri Lanka

From £945 7 Days ex flights
Madagascar conservation holiday

Madagascar conservation vacation

Help the community with your vacation

From US $3250 13 Days ex flights
Help rebuild Dominica after hurricane Maria

Help rebuild Dominica after hurricane Maria

Help rebuild an eco lodge and a local community,

From US $70 7 Days ex flights
Family conservation volunteering in Malawi

Family conservation volunteering in Malawi

Family vacation exploring the wild places of Malawi

From £900 14 Days ex flights
Wildlife conservation in South Africa

Wildlife conservation in South Africa

Aid lion, elephant and rhino research in South Africa

From £995 14 Days ex flights
Rhino conservation volunteering in Uganda

Rhino conservation volunteering in Uganda

Conserve endangered rhinos in Uganda before a 3-day safari

From £1695 15 Days ex flights
Malawi conservation volunteering experience

Malawi conservation volunteering experience

.Two weeks exploring the Wild Heart of Africa

From £1800 14 Days ex flights
Amazon rainforest conservation holiday in Peru

Amazon rainforest conservation vacation in Peru

Short for time come and volunteer for a week in Manu Peru!

From US $1280 7 Days ex flights
Victoria Falls conservation volunteer project, Zimbabwe

Victoria Falls conservation volunteer project, Zimbabwe

Work with Victoria Falls' wildlife and communities

From £725 8 Days ex flights
Photo credits: [Page banner: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region] [Map intro: USFWS Mountain-Prairie] [Belize: Chris H] [Greece: Frontierofficial] [Peru: Corey Spruit ] [Scotland: Western capercaillie ] [The Seychelles: So Seychelles] [How to choose: Joe Hunt] [combining volunteering with traveling: U.S. Department of Agriculture] [Review 1 - William Haward: happymillerman] [Review 2 - Louise Banks: So Seychelles]
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