Archived entries for responsible tourism

Tiger Conservation Volunteer Taman Negara Feb 2014

Pictorial report on Tiger Conservation Volunteer Taman Negara February 2014 expedition.

By Sri Rao, Ecoteer Volunteer Coordinator

The first Tiger Trail expedition of the year kicked of in February and it was a trip that had a lot to be discovered. Besides animal prints, poachers camps were found and also the team heard poachers carrying out their illegal activities while the team was conducting jungle walks. It was anxious and a concerning situation to be in, but it was an important reminder that poachers are very clearly present in our forest threatening the tiger and other wildlife population in Malaysia.

Pictorial report on Tiger Trail Feb 2014_page2_image1One of the few poachers camp site discovered during the MyCAT walks. This one was left about 2 months ago and we found traces of ‘gaharu’ (eaglewood) from the site. Gaharu is listed as a potentially threatened species due to over harvesting and habitat loss.

Pictorial report on Tiger Trail Feb 2014_page3_image1Another new poacher’s campsite that was discovered on our way trekking to the camping site with the Bateks.

Pictorial report on Tiger Trail Feb 2014_page4_image1Classic jungle river crossing over a fallen tree!

Pictorial report on Tiger Trail Feb 2014_page5_image1A shelter built by our lovely guide Akol from the Batek village. The Bateks (a tribe of the Orang Asli) still take their children into the forest and teach them basic bush skills such as how to build a basic shelter like this one.

Pictorial report on Tiger Trail Feb 2014_page6_image1We found a Tapir foot print on our way trekking through the jungle to get the Padang Kawad for caving.

Pictorial report on Tiger Trail Feb 2014_page7_image1Caving!

Pictorial report on Tiger Trail Feb 2014_page8_image1We were all intrigued and mesmerized by the Batek ladies and by how natural they were in the forest with their bare foot and we had to catch up to them!

Pictorial report on Tiger Trail Feb 2014_page9_image1The Batek ladies love their flowers and will go to great length to get them. This person climbed up a tree, chopped the whole branch off to get them. Now you know what to get if you want to impress a Batek woman.

Pictorial report on Tiger Trail Feb 2014_page10_image1English classes with the locals.

Pictorial report on Tiger Trail Feb 2014_page10_image2The kids were too shy to come near us. So we just had the male adults from the village participating our class. They learn how to do greetings and count from 1 to 20 in English.

Pictorial report on Tiger Trail Feb 2014_page11_image1Camping – Batek style!

Pictorial report on Tiger Trail Feb 2014_page12_image1Making a bamboo table with the Bateks.

Pictorial report on Tiger Trail Feb 2014_page13_image1Collecting wood to make fire.

Pictorial report on Tiger Trail Feb 2014_page13_image2Starting the fire without using a match method! Muscle strength needed!

Pictorial report on Tiger Trail Feb 2014_page14_image1A sumptuous dinner cooked in bamboo by the Bateks.

Pictorial report on Tiger Trail Feb 2014_page15_image1Testing the Batek bamboo raft.

Pictorial report on Tiger Trail Feb 2014_page16_image1BBQ dinner to bring a nice end to the trip.

Pictorial report on Tiger Trail Feb 2014_page17_image1Durian taster.

Want to be part of the tiger team? Find out more about the program and the expedition dates at the Volunteer Tiger Conservation Taman Negara project

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Rainforest Conservation Volunteer March 2014

Pictorial report on Rainforest Conservation Volunteer March 2014.

By Sri Rao, Rainforest Awakening Volunteer Coordinator

The March expedition was the first Rainforest Awakening trip of 2014 and it was a success filled with sweet memories and great personal achievements for each volunteer. The Fuze-Ecoteer team had a wonderful time hosting the volunteers and would like to share bits and pieces of the expedition. Like the saying goes, “Sharing is caring!”

Pictorial report on Rainforest Awakening March 2014 (1)_page2_image1Rachel (left) being taught how to tie a hammock by Pie.

Pictorial report on Rainforest Awakening March 2014 (1)_page2_image2Rachel in her hammock!

Photos below shows the basic crash course on setting up tents, tying knots, making fire, sourcing wood and bamboo, using compass and navigate using a compass.

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Evening leisure activities – trying the water sport equipment at Bukit Kinding Resort. The Aquaskipper is a must!
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Traditional Malay dinner with Ada’s family at her home. All of the volunteers are in sarongs to blend in!
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Ada’s new member of the family
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Cycling uphil 6KM into Kg Tonggang on a typical hot Malaysian weather is no easy task, but we did it! Well done Rachel & Sri Rao!
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What can be better than catching your own fish using a BUBU! (A traditional fish trap made by the Orang Asli).
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The panoramic view of Kg Tonggang from Pak Long’s, the village chief bamboo house
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Collecting tapioca from the farm in the forest
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Teaching the Orang Asli kids how to name animals in English
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Balloon fight!
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Hitting the target with the blowpipie. Not bad for a beginner.
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Packing prior to 5 day hike
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Steep climb to ‘Bus Stop’ camp on Bukit Nenas with heavy load.
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Arrived at Kem Pacat a.k.a Leech Kingdom and for the first time in the history of Pav & Co found not a single leech on site! No rainforest experience is complete without a leech bite!
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Taking a rest at Bukit Penat (Tiring Hill). Next stop – Bukit Lagi Penat (The Even More Tiring Hill).
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Our wonderful Forest Chef – Nodi and his indispensable assistant Pie
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Nothing beats a lie in the hammock after a long day hike
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Camera trapping nearby Seroja Camp
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Upon reaching Botak peak. Another 3 hours before reaching Korbu’s highest peak.
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Nodi’s ladder. Courtesy of Nodi himself who single handedly carried the ladder all the way up here after 10 hours of steep uphill & downhill hiking.
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Scrambling up to the top.
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Dramatic use of camera filter with Simon by the gorge at Korbu Peak
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Simon is arguably the first male white person to reach the Korbu’s peak on his 50th birthday. So Pav got him a cake to celebrate his achievement.
Pictorial report on Rainforest Awakening March 2014 (1)_page26_image1One last group photo at the peak before descending.
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Well done to Rachel who have done her first major hike in the Malaysian rainforest and conquered the 2nd highest peak in Peninsular Malaysia! No complaints despite hurting her knees and having to limp all the way back to the starting point. We will miss you!
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Steamboat and grill buffet to gain back all the weight lost after the hike
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Want to know more about this program? Come join us for our next expedition! Find out more at Rainforest Awakening Conservation Volunteer

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The Elephant Diary

Chandima Fernando is the Field Projects Manager of the Sri Lanka Elephant Research & Conservation project. The studies he is conducting at the project site in Wasgamuwa is providing insightful and enlightening information to understand human and elephant behaviour in a landscape that both people and elephant use for their survival. Through the Elephant Diary we hope to provide a window into this world of people and elephants.

elephant researchSinha approaching the tank

September 08th 2013: We were at the Weheragala Tank and the time was around 6:30 in the evening. A dominant bull elephant that we had named Sinha (lion) started to move towards water, frequently glancing at us. We noticed that he was in musth. The discharge from his temporal glands was a dark stain on his face. He started to drink water and then another bull that we had named Bahu appeared suddenly from the jungle and started walking towards Sinha. We noticed that Bahu was also in musth. My guess was that the strong musky odour from Sinha must have attracted Bahu.

elephant research2Bahu rubbing his incisors

When Sinha noticed Bahu he started to walk towards him, but there was a waterhole between them. So they stood on opposite sides of the waterhole. Initially they both pretended that they were drinking water, but they were actually trying to intimidate each other by splashing and hitting the water, especially Bahu who started rubbing his incisors against a dead tree trunk nearby.

elephant research3Showing agonistic behaviors

After this initial display of non-violent aggression Sinha started to walk towards the forest and Bahu followed him. They walked with their heads held high and ears spread wide to show off their physiological state. This is what is called the “Musth Walk.” Shortly they both disappeared into the jungle.

elephant research4Trying to scare each other

In the meantime we were observing another lone bull that was not in musth when suddenly Bahu appeared from the jungle and came towards us followed by Sinha. It was obvious that they were chasing each other. Once again they stood on opposite sides of another waterhole displaying threatening gestures towards each other and then again they disappeared into the jungle.

Bulls in musth are extremely aggressive however serious fighting between two bulls in musth is very rare. In general they show agonistic behaviours towards each other such as threat displays (similar to the ones these two bulls displayed) and resorting to chasing each other. It is amusing how sometimes the bull that is been chased pretends to maintain a dignified deportment while trying its best not to break into a run to prevent an inglorious and undignified exit.

Want to be part of the program? Check out the project page Sri Lanka Elephant Research & Conservation Volunteer project. Want to volunteer in other projects in Sri Lanka? Check out our Sri Lanka volunteer project page.


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Choosing the right volunteer opportunity

How to choose the best volunteering project for you?

There are lots of volunteering opportunities available but it’s important that you find the one that suits you best. It is a good idea to approach your volunteer search like you would a normal job search. However place your focus at looking for an enjoyable way to spend your valuable time – with the added bonus of helping others.

There are important factors to consider while looking for volunteer opportunities, so what you find is important to you and fits into your personal and professional life. The more you know about what you want to do, the more valuable you will be to the organization you join as a volunteer. So here are some valuable questions to consider before you make a commitment:

What causes or issues matter the most to you?

Do your research and find the organizations in your community whose missions are in line with your own values. Exploring the organization to find out exactly what they do will allow you to evaluate whether they are doing a credible job and deserve your support. Choosing a cause that you’re passionate about will make your volunteer experience that much more significant to you and give you the motivation to make an enthusiastic contribution to your chosen organization.

Do I want to volunteer for something that uses skills I already have, or do I want to do something completely different?

A good starting point is to consider what you can bring to the organization. If it is a specific skill, such as writing or bricklaying then you can find projects that can benefit directly from your expertise. Do you want volunteering to be an extension of your current job or a departure from it? What skills do you want to use?

Sometimes volunteers want to do something that is completely different, an opportunity to experience new environments and this is fine too! So whether you’re contributing professional skills, additional qualifications, recreational talents and hobbies, your skills will make a positive impact. However, not all positions require specialised knowledge or skills and the majority of voluntary work simply requires good “people skills” – like being a good listener, offering supportive advice, being positive and friendly.

What would you most like to learn by volunteering?

Volunteering is a great way of using your skills but at the same time a chance to learn something new, which could even lead to a qualification or career progression. Is there something you wished you had the opportunity to learn? Volunteering throws up many original possibilities so it is worth thinking about what you want to do and what you want to get out of it.

What don’t I want to do as a volunteer?

The more content you are with what you’re doing, the better you will perform. Don’t be afraid to identify the things you want to avoid as a volunteer and this will make you happier in the projects you choose to do. You don’t have to say “yes” to everything that is offered to you, so negotiate if necessary to get the best out of volunteering.

Do I want an ongoing, short-term or one-off assignment?

Many people think that volunteering will be time-consuming and they will be tied down to an obligation, but it doesn’t have to be this way. If you are unsure about your commitment then you can opt for temporary or one-off assignments. Other organizations will require a strong commitment so take time to evaluate your availability. Volunteers are invaluable to organizations and they will depend on you to maintain your scheduled promise, so be realistic about the time you have. A good idea is to start off with a limited amount of hours and then increase your availability if you feel you can give more hours or contribute for a longer period.

Who do I want to work with?

It may be worth considering the type of people you will be working with, if you will be working on your own or with others. It is important to think about these factors before you commit if you have preferences. If you are the type of person that thrives in team situations, working with different personalities, then you should avoid projects that require lengthy periods of individual activity.

Also think about the people who will be benefiting from your help. Do you want the end recipients to be a particular group, such as children or the elderly, or do you want to help a wider section of the population. Be aware that you may have to adhere to legal requirements if working for specialised organizations, for example references and criminal background checks, so be ready for them!

It is important to consider your needs before volunteering and thinking about these questions will help you find the right volunteering place. The closer you match your needs, the more satisfying and meaningful your volunteer experience will be.

Finding the right opportunity for you by Susan J. Ellis of Energize Inc.

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Erin & the Bali Starlings

Erin Rice - Teaching other staff to use the GPSErin (center) teaching a volunteer and a staff how to use the GPS

Mapping roads and villages, and planting seedlings are just some of the task Erin Rice, a 36 year old American, tackled as a volunteer in the Bali Starling Conservation project at Nusa Penida, Bali, Indonesia.

Erin, from Perth Australia, took three weeks out from her job as a geographical information system analyst, to volunteer on the island, a 45-minute boat trip from the mainland Bali.

“I was looking for a place to volunteer and Bali and this project was the most informative – and I had always wanted to go to Nusa Penida because that’s where everybody in Bali told me I should never go.” She was told by Balinese people that the island was once inhabited by ghouls, demons and dark spirits, and this supernatural battle of light and dark that gave the island its name.

“I have taken a GPS that staff have thought to be broken.. I got it to work and mapped many of the roads and villages in the north-east of the island,” said Erin. The data collected will be used to map important aspect of the island, she said..” I will also take the data back to my office, use my software and hopefully produce a more professional-styled map.”

Nusa Penida, a tiny island with a hilly interior is surrounded by coral reefs, has so far been rarely touched by tourism. It is home to around 45,000 people, though far fewer live permanently on the island.

Erin Rice - Working at the greenhouseErin with other volunteers at the greenhouse

Everywhere you look on the island, like in Bali, women stroll along with basket and boxes – full of offerings to the Gods of Balinese Hinduism – balanced steadily on their heads. And every now and then you hear the faint tweets and chirps from some of more than 100 Bali Starlings – one of the world’s most endangered birds – that live freely on the island.

This unique sanctuary takes in the neighboring islands of Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan and the 41 villages across all three island have introduced traditional regulations agreeing to protect the birds. Along with geographical mapping, Erin helped plant seedlings to re-establish the island’s forest cover. The seedlings will eventually feed and shelter the birds after release so they can survive and breed.

She also attended English classes which the project runs for the school children on the island. She said it was a rare and wonderful experience. Rubbish pickup is another job the volunteers take on. The excessive garbage polluting the coastline of Bali is and increasing problem that many NGOs are trying to address.
“I work with many environmental scientist and ecologist and consider myself environmentally aware and I think it’s great to help retain biodiversity in Bali,” said Erin. She said she loved volunteering on Nusa Penida,” I enjoyed talking to the people the most; it can be frustrating, it can be fascinating and it can also just be a lot of laughter and fun.”

Words by Rosa Hall


Find out more about the program at Wildlife Protection, Habitat Restoration & Community Development on Bali, Indonesia

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My Volunteering Experience in Nepal

Rizal recently volunteered in the Educate the Children in Nepal volunteering program and here he shares his experience.

“Surrender” – the one and only advice given to me by a fellow volunteer an hour after arriving at the Tribhuvan Airport. While the word itself was simple, the weight of it was tremendously felt the morning of the second day. Fifteen hours of two bus rides and halfway through my six hours hike to Chisapani Village, I kept repeating that word in my head like a mantra. “Surrender”, the only way to enjoy this retreat is to surrender to the experience, totally. I wasn’t there to be cuddled by the comfort of home.

When I reached my destination, all the hardship of the journey were washed away with beautiful sceneries and wonderful people. Even if my stay there was rather short, everyday was filled with such amazing experiences. The students were very eager and highly energetic, the teachers were very helpful and motivated, and the villagers were just warmth and welcoming. Each passing day, I began to understand the magic of the academy and the great positive impact it has to the community there.

Now that it’s over, I have to admit missing the positive vibe of giving more than myself, of being a part of something bigger, the movements towards revitalization of the education system. I’m sure I’m going back to the project again in the future.

For more information on this program, please visit Educate The Children In Nepal or contact us here

For other volunteer projects by Ecoteer Responsible Travel, please visit Ecoteer Responsible Travel at www.

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Visiting Orang Asli at Kg.Tonggang

The morning that we set off on our bikes to meet the Orang Asli tribe, we each felt very excited as we knew that we were very honoured to be invited to meet the tribe at the Tonggang Village.

Bike ride with the FuzeEcoteer Team

The bike ride was a little tough, but the scenery along the track was well worth the effort as we meandered alongside a river into the jungle. Upon conquering the last steep hill, the village came into view –and what a wonderfully tranquil place it was ! Upon arrival we were warmly greeted by the tribe chief and by Pak Long , who is the most respected and senior person in the village, kindly opened his home for us to stay for the night. After these introductions , Pak Long demonstrated his skills with a blow pipe and challenged us to give it a try. After some practice, we each got the hang of it well enough to hit the target at the other end of the bamboo hall which we were practicing in.

Blowpipe Practice Session with Pak Long

Next , we were introduced to some of the women in the tribe who showed us how to weave bracelets from leaves. They made the process look so effortless and joked with us as we fumbled around trying to work out how it was done.

Me & roxy trying to crack the code :)

In the afternoon ,Pak Long showed us how to make and set the traps that the tribe use for hunting. The engineering of the traps left little room for error yet each trap was crafted solely from twigs and cords from the immediate area. Standing outside Pak Long’s home, we could see a variety of fruit trees and remarked how wonderful it must be to live so closely with nature.

Pak Long Teaching us about Animal Traps

Moments later , Pak Long’s son arrived with a gift of freshly gathered coconuts for us to drink and snack on! That evening , we ate like kings; Pak Long and his family offered us an array of fresh fish from the ‘Bubu’ trap that was placed at a stream the night before , meat, and vegetables all cooked over the fire in a way that preserved the flavours beautifully.We also dressed up in their traditional attire called the ‘Sarung ‘ for the ladies as a respect to the culture and the family .

The Best Freshly Gathered Coconuts !!

That evening, we sat out on the porch of the house telling stories and joking with one another, never had we felt so relaxed. In the morning , we each woke to the sound of the cockerel and opened our shutters to the view of the village nestled into the mountainous jungle in the morning sun.

Traditional Malay Dinner

Following breakfast, Pak Long came to sit with us and showed us some of his hand crafted tools and generously offered us some fresh honey which he had skillfully extracted from a nearby hive. He then began to explain to us that many of the traditions that we had seen over the past few days were at risk of being lost due to the intrusion of modernisation and admitted the great sadness that this caused him. Having spent time with him and his family, and having seen how happy and welcoming they are, it saddened us too to realise that all that we had been taught over the last few days – and so much more – was being threatened. Once we had left the village we reflected on how much the Orang Asli people had taught us, not just about bush craft and the environment but also about the importance of community and tradition. Their way of life seemed rich in comparison to the modern world that lay just a short bike ride away.

If you’re interested in having some great experience living in the Orang Asli village for three days and educate them about the importance of sustainable living and conserving the animals in the jungle , please visit our page at Rainforest Awakening for further details .

For other similar charity challenges and expeditions please visit us

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Sharna’s two months with the turtles!

Sharna was volunteering 2 months at Perhentian Island for the Diving, Turtle & Coral Conservation. Here she shares her memories volunteering as head volunteer early this year.

” Where to begin? Well, I thought that getting involved in a conservation programme would be the perfect way to end my travels. Originally I was only meant to volunteer for two weeks at Bubbles, however, this didn’t really work out and I ended up staying for an extra six weeks making my stay a grand total of two months, which in my opinion was still definitely not enough time. To try and summarise what I did during my stint at Bubbles would be impossible, I learnt an incredible amount not only about marine life, turtles and diving, but also about myself and all the amazing people who I shared my time with. In spite of this, I shall try and put into words the past two months as best I can.

When the boat first pulled into the bay it looked completely deserted, with the resort hidden behind the trees all that was visible was a beautiful secluded beach, a few hammocks and the pure, crystal sea. Making this my office for the past two months was no problem whatsoever. During my first week I settled in completely, everyone was so welcoming and we were introduced to the project by getting stuck in right away. Before coming to Bubbles I was not aware of all the problems faced by sea turtles in Malaysia and one thing that I think the programme excels in is raising awareness. Guests of the resort are always informed about the turtles which nest on Bubbles beach, either through turtle talks, white board notices or posters in their room. All of which I was lucky enough myself to be involved in.

As I arrived quite early in the season it wasn’t until my third week that I saw a nesting turtle. Having the opportunity to watch a turtle nest was probably the most extraordinary experience during my whole stay. The whole process is incredible but my favourite part is definitely when she uses her back fins to dig the chamber, I never realised a turtles fins were able to move in that way. The fact that I could get so close to these amazing creatures and see how they lay made staying up until 3am completely and utterly worth it. Even if sometimes the nests were almost impossible to find that you ended up getting covered in so much sand and effectively became a part of the beach yourself. One turtle in particular stands out for me, when she was leaving her nest she managed to fall down a hill of sand, being confused and not realising that she had fallen so far, she continued to try and cover up her nest next to the tide line, even though it was a good ten metres away. As a consequence we called her Bridget Jones.

Diving was another experience that I was introduced to during my time at Bubbles and I am now completely hooked. In the beginning I had no clue of the difference between a bamboo shark and a sting ray (slightly exaggerated) but by the time I left I could spot and sign a number of different species of fish, I shall never however live down the time that I thought that an Indian Walker was a crab. I completed both my open water and advance courses during my stay and this meant that I was able to help out with another aspect of the project, the coral nursery. A few times a week Gareth, one of the conservation facilitators, and me would dive down to the nursery and attach broken corals to the frames and give them a good clean at the same time. At the end of each dive we would practice a ‘skill’, this included ballroom dancing, running without fins (this ended in a fit of giggles), making a swim through with our legs and doing summersaults. It is moments like these that I definitely miss the most.

After my first month I was given the position of Head Volunteer. This effectively put me under the bracket of staff but I continued to have all of the responsibilities that I had previously as a volunteer, apart from the fact that I was able to take my own snorkel tours. The snorkelling round the islands is incredible, I snorkelled with different species of turtle, black-tip reef sharks, barracuda and many other beautiful fish hidden beneath the coral. As a volunteer you also get to go on one of these snorkel tours and I can safely say it is one of the best places I have snorkelled in the world. Not only is there a copious amount of marine life, but the wildlife above the water is everywhere to be found. Both flying lemur’s and dusky langur monkey’s will interrupt you whilst you are trying to eat by swinging through the trees next to the restaurant. Monitor Lizards, Whip Snakes and Geckos are constantly hiding around the resort and you are able to get so close to these fascinating creatures. The island is a hot spot for wildlife and I was lucky enough able to be right amongst it.

The days at Bubbles were filled with beach cleaning, hatchery maintenance, jungle trekking, palm weaving and covering up turtle tracks. You were never bored, there is always something to be fixed, built, drawn etc and I learnt so many new skills during my time volunteering, including how to use a power-saw (slightly worrying for my Mother). However, you are always given some downtime, either to go for a swim and a snorkel or simply to read a book in a hammock and watch the sunset on the beach.

The evenings are filled with swapping stories about what goes on during the day, having a game of cards or a few drinks, bbq’s, malay dinners and patrolling the beach for turtles. You would think that a seven hour nightshift would drag, but the patrols flew by, especially when you were with someone else. If there wasn’t a turtle to distract you, you would end up talking until the sun would come up. Some of my best memories of my time spent volunteering are of the nightshifts; we would make up star constellations, take photos using lazer pens, we saw a moon that looked exactly like a jaffa cake and played in the brightest bioluminescence I have ever seen. You really get to know people properly when it is just the two of you sat on a beach at night and I loved how sociable the project was.

Oh and just a side note, the seafood curry that the kitchen staff make is just delicious, I have taken the recipe home in hope that when I make it, it will be at least fifty percent as good as theirs.

One of the main things I have taken from my two months volunteering is the people I have met. They are some of the most incredible characters with the most insane stories to tell and I will continue to keep in touch with them for a long time to come. I got to know people working in all aspects of the resort and I really felt like I had been welcomed into the Bubbles family.

This program has shown me that you can make a difference in one place, no matter how small, and how rewarding it is to see the work that you do having such a positive impact. I would recommend this conservation programme to anyone, it has so many different aspects to it that there is something for everyone to enjoy, no matter how long they wish to stay for. It has completely opened my eyes and becoming involved with conservation projects all over the world is currently where I would like my life to lead, as a result I am looking into returning to Bubbles to continue to help the turtles.”

If you are interested to volunteer in this programme, visit Diving, Turtle & Coral Conservation Volunteer at Perhentian Island or email

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Page volunteering in Bali to teach English

Page has just recently completed her volunteering trip with the Bali Ecostay & Teach English volunteering programme. Here she shares her experience with us.

When planning my trip to Bali, I knew I wanted a more unique, meaningful experience that would allow me to really see the culture and lifestyle of the Balinese. After two weeks living with Alit and his lovely family in a tiny village up in the mountains, I knew I could have not picked a better program! Volunteers really have it all; a cozy room to themselves, delicious home cooked Balinese meals, the luxury of having the EcoStay resort just a ten minute walk away.

I have to admit, being fresh out of high school with no teaching experience, I was a little daunted by the idea of teaching English to the kids and going to the school. But after meeting them and seeing how friendly and happy and truly interested they were, I realized my job was easy; to remain engaging and interactive. They’re such amazing kids and I feel so lucky to have been able to connect with them.
During my downtime I had a variety of wonderful things to do, whether it be walking along one of the numerous trails through gorgeous rice paddies and jungle, swimming in the stream below the resort, meditating by hidden waterfalls, playing with the local kids, treating myself to a slice of delicious chocolate cake at EcoStay, or just relaxing with a good book enjoying a phenomenal view, I always felt that there was something to do (or not do!).
I think my favorite part of the program was just really getting to know Alit, his wife Ayu, their son Agus, and the grandparents, Ibu and Bapak. They were the most welcoming family, and I even got to take part in the ceremonies while I was there! Spending time chatting and laughing with them after dinner was so much fun–it’s such an incredible feeling when you can connect with people even with language barriers and completely different backgrounds.
I would strongly recommend this program to those seeking a unique, non-touristy, rewarding experience.

For more information on this programme go to Bali Ecostay & Teach English or email

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Shaun volunteers with in Namibia

Shaun Astbury shares his experience volunteering in the Safari Guest Farm in Namibia

I volunteered at this safari guest farm for 10 weeks in 2011, after years of dreaming of a trip to Africa. A great thing about this programme is that you design your own project to fit with your skills e.g. education, tourism, wildlife. So with my background in ecology and an interest in big cats, I conducted a survey of the wild leopards on the farm. For this project, my day to day activities were to survey the farm for leopard tracks, deploy infra-red cameras, and analyse the GPS data collected. In addition to a primary project, volunteers work closely with the local staff, helping with the general running of the farm and assisting with the catering and entertainment for paying guests.

As a farm worker, hard work and self motivation is expected of you, and lodgings are basic (although certainly adequate), although the food is excellent. So the days are long, but in your free time you do get to go out on safari drives or walks and see a great variety of wildlife amongst beautiful scenery. I’d say that whilst this placement is certainly not for the faint of heart, it will give you a taste of the real Africa that most tourists don’t get to see and a real understanding of the local people. Overall, I’d recommend working here to anyone with an adventurous streak who’s not afraid of a little hard work and is looking for an unforgettable experience in Africa. I just wish I had saw more of the continent while I was there.”

If you are interested to volunteer in this programme, go to Safari Guest Farm in Namibia. For other farming projects, go to Farm Volunteering

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