10 Best Volunteer Programs for 2023

Posted by: Daniella A.

New Year, New Travels!

As borders open and travel becomes more accessible, now is the time to plan that volunteer trip you’ve been wanting to go on! Going into 2023, we want to offer our best. And by doing so, we have curated a list of our 10 best volunteer trips to kick off the new year!

See our pick of 10 best volunteer programs that are open for 2023:


1. Marine and Turtle Conservation in the Maldives

If you’ve been on the GoEco Instagram account, you have definitely seen photographic proof of our volunteers having an unbelievably amazing experience in the Maldives! Aside from living in the most dreamy, tropical oasis, our volunteers work alongside professional marine biologists to rehabilitate sea turtles at a local center. Volunteers get involved in all aspects of the rehabilitation cycle- it simply depends on what is occurring at the time of the volunteer session. Our volunteers have taken part in everything, from rescuing turtles caught in ghost nets, to feeding and measuring turtles in rehab, to taking part in swimming rehabilitation sessions, to finally releasing healthy turtles!

Travel tip: Combine this with one of our volunteer programs in Sri Lanka for a truly diverse experience.


2. Volunteer in Zimbabwe at the African Wildlife Sanctuary!

Would you consider yourself an animal lover, looking for a meaningful way to spend your vacation? Then look no further. Our African Wildlife Sanctuary in Zimbabwe could use your help! Countless documentaries have featured this program, which is one of Africa’s most successful rehabilitation centers. Volunteers work closely with a wide range of animals, specializing in the release of tortoises, hyenas, vervet monkeys, leopards, genets, and so many more. Not only will you get to feed and care for the brilliant wildlife, but you will also get to learn how to collect data and conduct research.

Travel Highlights: Victoria Falls, Great Zimbabwe ruins, Lake Kariba, Explore Harare


3. Sea Turtle Conservation in Costa Rica – Beach Patrol and Eggs Protection

Nearly one week of each month, thousands of nesting sea turtles emerge to lay their eggs along the rich beaches of Costa Rica. They call this natural phenomenon arribadas, directly translating to “arrival by sea”. When this cycle happens, we need volunteers to safeguard their eggs, collect data, and ensure the beaches are clean of any debris or clutter. Egg poaching, coastal development, plastic pollution, and other human-related activity have proved detrimental to the sea turtle’s existence. By joining this program, you are not only conserving sea turtle populations but making lasting memories with volunteers from around the world!

Travel Highlights: optional Spanish immersion week, Arenal volcano and hot springs, white river rafting, Doka coffee plantation, Poas volcano, and La Paz waterfalls.


4. Sri Lanka – Women’s English Literacy and Empowerment Program

Make the most out of your travels by empowering middle to lower-class women, strive for a better career and education. English is fast approaching the far corners of the world, being widely spoken by many countries as their second language. By helping aid these women improve their English skills, you are creating more job opportunities and career choices. This program is on the southwest coast of Sri Lanka, within the beautiful city of Galle. The volunteers have access to gorgeous beaches, get to explore the charming city, and take part in rooftop yoga sessions, nighttime fishing trips, movie nights, bike tours, and barbecues.

Travel Highlights: Adventure tour, (additional recommendations:) Elephant safari, rainforest hike, surfing lessons, whale watching, cooking class, Fort Galle visit


5. Wildlife Veterinary Internship in South Africa

Our wildlife volunteering internship in Oudtshroorn, South Africa, is a great way to enhance your resume and gain incredible, hands-on experience! Volunteers will feed and care for the animals, all whilst having the opportunity of learning animal husbandry and an introduction to veterinary work. This program is open to all interns, with or without previous experience, and it is flexible to fit each intern’s specific requirements.

Travel Highlights: Explore the Cango Caves, Rust-en-Vrede Waterfall, and Table Mountain National Park.


6. Volunteer in Ecuador, Galápagos – Giant Tortoise Conservation Program

Do you feel you want to make a positive impact? Join our Giant Tortoise and Sea Turtle Conservation program! Help our prehistoric friends come back to fruition by aiding in their everyday care. From feeding, caring, and maintaining the tortoise’s enclosures to guiding eco-tourists that visit. This volunteer program is a guaranteed way of getting in touch with nature, in one of the world’s most leading locations for wildlife viewing. The Galapagos Islands sit just off the coast of Ecuador and make for the perfect island-hopping adventure!

Travel Highlights: Explore, Darwin’s lake, Tagus Cove, Tortuga Bay 1


7. Volunteer in South Africa at the Teach and Surf Project

Discover the beauty of South Africa whilst making a positive impact on the community! By joining this program, you will teach the underprivileged youth of Cape town how to swim, surf and skate! This volunteer program hosts an adventure club for disadvantaged children in townships, where facilities and resources for outdoor activities are not readily available. As a volunteer, you will learn how to surf with an instructor, and don’t need prior experience! Not only will you spend your time on the beach, but also in the classroom; assisting in local schools and helping educate on important topics. Working alongside these children takes more than just being a volunteer, but it also requires being a mentor. Join us in inspiring the youth of Cape Town!

Travel Highlights: Shark cage diving, kite/windsurfing lessons, game drive through the Big 5 Safari, Abseil Table mountain.


8. Volunteer in South Africa at the Wild Cat Sanctuary

Wake up to the roar of big cats at our wildlife sanctuary in South Africa! Spend your days caring for lions, panthers, cheetahs, servals, and more. As a volunteer, your primary tasks will promote the health and welfare of all animals living on the grounds. From preparing food to cleaning out enclosures, these big cats could use your help! You’re not only helping to rehabilitate and release wild cats, but you’re also learning about them hands on, through experienced keepers and daily tasks.

Travel Highlights: Explore the African safari, Trips to Johannesburg or Cape Town, Travel the Kalahari Red Dune route up to the borders of Namibia and Botswana.


9. Volunteer in Peru with the English Teaching Experience

Help us provide free educational enrichment and cultural diversity to local communities in Peru. Our focus for this volunteer program is not to interfere with the Peruvian school system, yet to add educational enrichment. After public school finishes, volunteers help the students complete their homework or work on improving their English, math, and reading skills. Joining this program guarantees a cultural exchange between you and the students. Volunteers also have access to daily Peruvian cooking classes, bicycle tours, camping, hiking, and photography trips with a local university club.

Travel Highlights: Optional Spanish classes and culture week. Weekend trips to Machu Picchu, Chiclayo, Huanchaco, Chan Chan, Kuelap, Gocta.


10. Belize – Private Island Marine Experience

For the ultimate marine conservation vacation, look no further! Protect and explore the Belize Barrier Reef from the home-base of a private island. Volunteer tasks include survey dives, removing invasive species, and contributing to a whale shark database.
This volunteer program is much more than a paradise location, it is also the leader of invasive species (lionfish) removal in all Belize! Start your adventure with a beginner, advanced or Specialty PADI diving course.
We include the cost of becoming PADI certified (beginner level) in the program fee! Our volunteers rave about this private island opportunity, and it has been our most popular program during 2021.

Travel Highlights: Explore Belize on weekends, Cockscomb Basin wildlife sanctuary, Tikal Mayan Ruins, Monkey river nature tour, Cave tubing, and zip lining at Jaguar Paw