It was the best experience, and I could not recommend it enough to anyone who wants to travel and become part of a really worthwhile project for even a short amount of time. So in this post I will tell you the following:
- Why I recommend Archelon
- How much it costs
- What you will do
Thousands of travelers take part in volunteering every year, and here’s why. You get to meet loads of people and really get to know them, you can live cheaply for a period of time as you’re not moving, you get to make a difference to the place you are volunteering in and it’s really fun! The problem? Most people that volunteer do this through a travel company who take a lot of money from you.
The reason I am a huge advocate for Archelon is because they are a CHARITY. They are not a business. The money you have to give them goes straight into getting the projects up and running, supporting them throughout the summer and paying for the rescue centre in Athens for injured turtles. It is an honest charity that really does make a difference and that’s why I chose to volunteer with them.
Once you have applied for Archelon and are accepted – and they accept pretty much anyone never fear – you have to pay the participation fee. Basically this covers admin stuff, as well as your t-shirt and insurance (so not an unreasonable cost as insurance can be high). It also, as I said, goes into running these projects.
- 150€ (£120)
ACCOMMODATION: You will be camping. The price differs for each project* but is generally 5-6€ per night. So if you were volunteering for 6 weeks:
- 230€ (£180)
*You’ll need to do your research for different sites, some include all costs (food and accommodation) in the participation fee (Zakynthos do this).
FOOD: My favourite part. As part of the volunteering team you all shop together and take it in turns to cook. As a result it is really cheap. It said on the website for my project to allow 25€ but we paid 15€ more often than not. Obviously you’ll want snacks and because our project was in a town we ate waffles. A lot. And gyros.
- 120€ +100€ waffle allowance (£175)
So they are the main costs with a total of €600 (£475). For 6 weeks. And as that includes the waffle allowance, it’s not a bad way to live for a month and a half. Not to mention you make a huge difference to the charity – the most important part.
On the projects You’ll get to do a variety of jobs and I thought I would just list the main ones to give you an idea of what life is like.
- MORNING SURVEY: The beach were managed in Koroni was called Zaga beach and was about 3km long. Each morning a group of 3 or 4 volunteers walk the length of the beach with the aim of finding tracks and protecting the nests. We do this very early in the morning because it’s cooler and a survey can take up to about 5 hours. We have to walk to the beach from camping koroni as well and then walk the beach twice so it’s about a 7km walk. It was my favourite part of volunteering. And I was lucky that because I volunteered from late June to early August I got to find nests, protect the babies, see one hatch and also see a mummy turtle!
- Once tracks are spotted and we see the nest, we have to dig down (sometimes taking up to an hour) and find the first egg – then we know the exact location. We then cover the nest again and protect it. To do this we put a metal grid down (to protect against dogs) and put up painted bamboo sticks as a way of making the nests visible to people.
- Half way through the summer it’s time to get ready for babies. We put up beach mats for each nest, creating a shaded ‘runway’ for the babies. It directs them to the sea as they can sometimes get confused when there are lights at the back of the beach from clubs and hotels. It also stops people stepping on them.
- Later on in the summer when all the nests have been laid and start to hatch, we look for baby turtle tracks. We keep a very careful record of how many babies we found and we have the opportunity to help the babies if we’re out when they are. (That’s the most exciting bit!)
- Lastly, and I didn’t experience this, the nests must be excavated. This is where all of the eggs are taken out and we can assess how many successfully hatched and how many didn’t.
- KIOSK: Not going to lie, this can be the most boring. But other times it can be most rewarding. On our project we did kiosk in the centre of the town twice a day. 11-1 (morning) and 7-11 (evening). The aim of kiosk is to make money for the charity and to make tourists and locals aware of the work we do. We sold all sorts and also offered adoptions. So many tourists return year on year and know and support our work which was really lovely. On kiosk you also get to know your fellow volunteers really well.
- SHOPPING: This is typically once a week and is another favourite of mine. The market! One of the best fruit and veg markets I’ve ever been to! We also used the local super markets and ate really well.
- COOKING: Every night one or two people have the role of chef and we came up with some quite lovely concoctions!
Doing all this made volunteering amazing and one day I will do it again! Please note that this is just the Koroni project. It’s the smallest one and this means some jobs are very different.
I loved every single day there.
PS. Waffles are €4 each – and most of the time we split them! Gyros are only €2!
A couple of letters I’ve already written about volunteering and Koroni:
I found turtle tracks – letter 2
I fell in love – letter 4