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Most Popular Volunteer Abroad Programs of 2019

Posted by: Daniella A.
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Wow, what a year! Nearly two thousand volunteers have come to GoEco, searching and eventually finding their dream volunteer opportunity abroad! In this year alone, GoEco has proudly sent both individuals as well as corporate and university groups, to various destinations across the globe.

GoEco’s programs have grown as well, and are relishing in their achievements. Our rescue center in Malawi released 88 animals from rehabilitation back into the wild.Our most popular sea turtle conservation program released over 700 turtles, and the list goes on.

Check out the most popular volunteer programs of 2019 and their accomplishments!

The Most Popular Volunteer Abroad Programs of 2019

Zimbabwe- African Wildlife Orphanage

Female volunteer bottle feeding a baby monkey in Zimbabwe at a sanctuary

For the third year in a row, our African Wildlife Orphanage has been our most popular, and highest-rated volunteer opportunity! This family-run wildlife sanctuary is an outstanding program, with volunteers constantly raving about the hospitality of the family as well as their experiences working closely with various wildlife species. In this year alone, the local staff and volunteers rehabilitated and released a hyena, rescued three crocodiles from tourism exploitation, rescued an injured vulture, took in an orphaned vervet monkey and baboon and have helped countless other animals! 

Anyone seeking to provide care for a variety of wildlife species should look no further.

Bali - Bali Sea Turtle 

Female volunteer in Bali holding a sea turtle

Another most-loved program (and not just from 2019) is of course our opportunity to care for sea turtles on the beautiful Nusa Penida Island, just off the coast of Bali! This program has succeeded in releasing sea turtles each and every Friday. Released turtles are those who have been in the center for 8-12 months following hatching. Turtle eggs are brought into the center by local fishermen, therefore protecting them from poachers. The turtles are cared for by volunteers until they are strong enough to survive, and then released into the ocean. In 2019 alone, 600 turtles hatched at the hatchery and more than 700 were released!

GoEco volunteers flood to this program during the summer months, and year-round for the chance to discover a beautiful island and work hands-on for marine conservation. 

China - Giant Panda Center

Giant panda at a volunteer sanctuary in China

This panda sanctuary in China, with the help of staff and many volunteers,  assisted in reviving the dwindling giant panda population! This program has been loved by both individual volunteers, as well as by groups of families who have joined this opportunity. Families should check out the family-friendly version of this program for an unforgettable wildlife conservation experience! Isn’t the dream of every child to be able to feed a giant panda?

Thailand - Learn, Volunteer and Travel

Male volunteer with a student in Singburi Thailand

This culturally-immersive teaching program has been another long-standing favorite of GoEco volunteers. A recent volunteer stated “My last day at school was like a movie scene...I was struck by the way the kids progressed during my stay and it was quite hard to say goodbye to them. The program helped me get familiar with the local culture and customs, and I met amazing people!”

South Africa - Cape Town Community Projects

Female volunteer in South Africa with a student

Cape Town Community Projects has steadily remained one of GoEco’s most popular humanitarian and community aid programs since its creation. Volunteers enjoy a two-day orientation that includes incredible sightseeing before heading to their project. The volunteers can choose whether to teach in a school setting, or in the settlement.

This year, this program welcomed its first university group, which was a small group of students from Israel’s Tel Hai College. The students, staff and children all enjoyed the experience immensely. 

Costa Rica - Animal Rescue and Conservation

Male volunteer providing care for a sloth in a Costa Rica wildlife sanctuary

The iconic sloth program! This amazing program has placements at two separate wildlife sanctuaries, in which volunteers prepare food, feed and care for sloths and other indigenous animals that have been rescued. One of our October volunteers, Geena, wrote, “The volunteer project was everything I wanted and more, the staff, the treatment of animals, the work, the other volunteers, accommodation, everything was wonderful!”

Thailand - Eco Clay Community Construction

Two female volunteers building with sustainable clay in Thailand

GoEco is proud to announce that this sustainability program is up, running and growing! Volunteers who are very eco-minded love volunteering (and staying) in a small community that is composed of completely sustainable buildings! 

This year, the Eco Clay Community Construction program won the GoAbroad “Most Innovative Volunteer Program” award for its sustainable and innovative mission and goals.

South Africa - African Wildlife Ranch

Two volunteers cage diving with a crocodile in South Africa

It comes as no surprise that this program has yet again made our top-rated list. Our volunteers absolutely love the diverse experiences they can have here, from cage diving with crocodiles to feeding lemurs! Check out our Instagram page and you will be able to see for yourself how much our volunteers are enjoying their stay.

Thailand - Elephant Forest Refuge

Volunteer and her son feeding a rescued elephant at a sanctuary in Thailand

With over 40 acres of bamboo groves, forest, swamp and grasslands, this refuge allows its rescued elephants to roam freely. The elephants at this sanctuary were retired from the abusive logging industry, and are cared for by staff and volunteers. The refuge prides itself on its ethical values; there is no riding, bathing with, performing with or abusing of the elephants in any way, shape or form. 

Our August volunteers Trisha said, " It felt good to be a part of a community that really puts the elephants needs first in a country where there is a lot of animals being exploited for tourism. This place really sets a great example for how wild animals and humans should coexist."

This program welcomes families with children of all ages, so let your family know!

Belize - Private Island Marine Experience

Volunteer scuba diving near a coral reef in Belize

A volunteer opportunity on a private island? Why, yes, we do have such a thing! An important part of volunteering abroad is the opportunity to experience being abroad, as well as assisting in the areas you are visiting.

Our volunteers rave about this private island opportunity. An August volunteer, Rachael, said, "The island was amazing and serene and a paradise which made everything more special."

This project is not just in a paradise location, but is also the leader in invasive species (lionfish) removal in all of Belize!

All in all, 2019 has been amazing and successful year at GoEco! We have sent many satisfied volunteers across the globe, and collected some great statistics from our teams on the ground. If you want to be a part of making a difference in the world, join us in 2020 and help us have an even more impactful year!