The project site is a 10 minute walk from the village of Giannitsochori, a small and traditional village in the municipality of Zacharo, southern Elis. It is situated in the narrow coastal plains along the Ionian Sea, 2 km north of the mouth of the river Neda, at the foot of the western extensions of the mountain Minthi. It is a known beach resort with amazing Greek historical ruins close by.
Discover historic Greece when you live and work alongside a team of international volunteers and staff, and make a real contribution to the conservation and protection of one of the most important loggerhead turtle nesting areas in the region.
Based in the beautiful Bay of Kyparissia in the western Peloponnese, you will be involved with conserving and protecting one of the most important loggerhead turtle nesting areas in Greece. You will be involved in surveying the nesting activity of female turtles, this will happen daily, as the turtles come out to nest during the night. Once a nest has been located you will have the task of protecting it from predation and flooding by the rising ocean tides. From these activities, volunteers will be able to provide vital conservation information in workshops to international visitors and the local community members.
GVI works in conjunction with our local partners to ensure you receive all the necessary training to meet the project's objectives as well as providing opportunities for you to explore the fascinating Greek culture and sights of the surrounding area in your free time.
Hands-on work with one of the most endangered species in the Mediterranean;
Seeing turtles lay their eggs and watching the hatchlings head for the sea;
Exploring nearby nature reserves and admiring the local architecture
Experiencing Greek culture first hand in a beautiful area which you can explore in your free time
Taking your first steps towards your career in conservation and making a lasting contribution to the preservation of endangered turtles.
Cancel anytime and receive a full refund minus your deposit.
Life On Base
Our base’s campsite provides you with breathtaking scenic views to wake up to each morning, and, the sound of the crashing waves to fall asleep to at night. In between your shifts on project, you will have plenty of time to soak up the sun on the sandy white beaches right on your doorstep, or relax with your fellow volunteers back at the campsite. Although the climate will be hot and can get very humid, by living so close to the beach you will be able to cool down with a quick dip in the sparkling waters of the Mediterranean.
24-hour in-country support
Meals while on project
Accommodation is in shared tents at the campsite, allowing you to be in the thick of things and meet new interesting people who are also enjoying Greece’s coastal beauty. Activities available on base include a ping-pong table, a pool table, and, table-football. The campsite also has a number of facilities, including a mini-market, a self-service restaurant and a small shop where you can get snacks and drinks. There is cold running water available for cooking and drinking, and flush toilets and bathroom facilities are also available. On a GVI base,participants share camp duties, including cleaning, cooking and other chores – it’s part of the GVI experience! A 15 minute walk away is the town of Giannitsochori, where there are a pharmacy, bakery and a few smaller shops.
We provide transfers from the airport to our base in Giannitsochori, which is about four hours drive. The beach is at our doorstep so there is many activities to complete within footsteps. To travel around, you can make use of a taxi.
You will have limited access to long-distance communications whilst on the programme, so make sure friends and family know how often they can expect to hear from you. Participants typically use WiFi in the camp, to keep in touch, however, be aware that the internet at the campsite can be very slow as it is shared between everybody. Cell phone reception is fairly good so you may want to buy a Greek SIM card in Kyparissia, to use with your unlocked cell phone.
From Monday to Thursday volunteers take it in turns to prepare meals for the group – this is the perfect opportunity to brush up on your cooking skills! Due to differing schedules, each participant typically makes their own breakfast, and for lunch, sandwiches with salad and fruit salad is common. Dinner is usually made with a combination of healthy and varied Mediterranean local products, butn Friday evenings we typically enjoy traditional Greek dishes at the campsite taverna, a chance to sample some of Greece’s more well known delicacies, and meze. On weekends there are many cafes and restaurants in the area where you are free to go out for additional meals at your own expense.
Greece gets very hot during the summer months of June to August (sometimes reaching up to 40ºC!), so make sure to bring your bathing suit. The sea in Greece is warmest in August, making it perfect for swimming while on project. Temperatures can drop however during the night to offer a pleasant reprieve to the heat of the day.
Enhanced cleaning and social-distancing measures in place. Learn more.
Health and Hygiene
For over 20 years, GVI has prioritised the health and safety of our staff, participants, partners and local community members. In response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, GVI has created the GVI health and hygiene team to put in place new standards of cleanliness, norms and behaviours that meet or exceed international recommendations to ensure the ongoing safety of GVI’s participants, staff and communities around the world. Internationally recommended practices, such as advice from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the governments Australia, UK and US, continue to be monitored and the standards are likely to change if and when international advice changes.
The work GVI is contributing to across the globe remains important and the following measures allow our participants to continue to join GVI’s programs and continue impacting positively on their world and the communities we work with. The following changes to our existing protocols have been made by the GVI health and hygiene team to strengthen our health and hygiene protocols and ensure that international standard safeguards are in place to protect our participants, staff and host communities.
If you’d like to find out what the experience of joining a GVI project is really like, simply contact us and we’ll put you in touch with one of our many Alumni.
We’ll try to match you to an Alum based on your location, nationality, age, stage of academic career, gender, and program interests. This allows you to gain insights into the experience that is most relevant to you.
Depending on your location you might be able to speak to an Alum over the phone or online, or meet up with them face-to-face at a coffee shop nearby. We also run a series of small events around the world where you can speak to GVI Alumni, Ambassadors and staff members.
Follow GVI Giannitsochori's Facebook page for live updates straight from the field. Get an idea of the types of projects you might be involved in, meet our staff and participants, experience life on this GVI base, hear about free time activities, and learn about the local culture and environment.
When it comes to support, we ensure that each participant is provided with unparalleled, 360 degree support, from your initial contact with the GVI Family, all the way through your program, and even after, as you become part of the GVI Alumni Team.
As part of this promise, we will ensure, whenever possible, that one of our dedicated staff will be available to meet you at the airport. In most locations, we also set up a Whatsapp group to help with managing airport arrivals. We will arrange with you prior to your departure that, should you arrive in the agreed upon pick up window, a member of our staff will be there to welcome you, easily identifiable in a GVI t-shirt or holding a GVI sign and wearing a friendly smile. This means there will be someone there to greet you as you land, and from there you will be transported to your GVI base to start your adventure and meet the rest of your team.
Please note that the above images were taken pre COVID-19. All airport pick-ups and program operations now run with enhanced cleaning and social-distancing measures in place. Learn more.
Please note that if you use this service delivered by Student Universe and / or if you buy your ticket
Your agreement regarding flights will be between you and Student Universe or as per their terms and conditions.
As GVI is providing this portal as a service we are not responsible for the accuracy of this site.
We are also not responsible for any loss, damage (including loss of profits or consequential damages), injury, illness,
harm or death in relation to your flight and travel arrangements.
All of our programs have short, mid and long-term objectives that fit with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or UN SDGs. This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualise their contribution to the UN SDGs.
Upon arrival to base, you will be educated about the history of the UN SDGs. You will learn about the specific goals of your location, the long-, mid- and short-term objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these goals on a global level.
Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to act as active global citizens after your program, helping to fulfil our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.
GVI’s programs in Giannitsochori work in collaboration with a local Greek organisation that has been conducting research in this area since 1983. This makes it one of the oldest conservation projects in the Mediterranean, and an important partner of ours.
We work to safeguard the sea turtles and their breeding sites on the coast of Greece, which is done by monitoring nests and turtle activity, collecting data and creating structures to protect nests. In so doing we can create awareness in the local community and increase their protection.
This allows us to offer support to our local partner, assist in the conservation of these endangered sea turtles, and to address many of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, such as #14 – Life Below Water, #15 – Life On Land, #17- Partnerships For Goals and #11 – Sustainable Cities And Communities.
Our Partners In Giannitsochori
GVI Giannitsochori Long-term Objectives:
1. Expand the monitoring area of nesting sea turtles in northern Kyparissia Bay (Neda and beyond).
2. Contribute to the efforts of our local partner to make Kyparissia Bay a marine protected area.
3. Reduce the amount of plastic pollution in the turtles nesting area.
4. Educate participants on environmentally sustainable practices and the importance and impact of climate change.
Below is a list of core ethics and best practices we believe are essential to the operation of high quality, ethical volunteer and sustainable development programs. We believe that all responsible volunteer and sustainable development operations should focus upon these principles. If you are considering volunteering, these are some of the key considerations you should question, to ensure that your time and money contributes towards positive change.
We want to constantly develop our own understanding of ethical best practice. In so doing, we aim to provide an exemplary industry standard for other education institutions, international development organisations, and social enterprises. Our Badge of Ethics stands for the drive to always do good, better. Find out more, click on the Badge below.
Our 10 Ethical Commitments
Locally Driven, Collaborative Projects
We aim to design all our projects in collaboration with local organizations and communities and ensure that they are locally driven.
Clear Objectives & Sustainable Outcomes
We aim to clearly define short-, mid-, and long-term objectives with sustainable outcomes for all our projects.
We aim to track, record, and publish the impact of each of our projects.
Working Against Dependency
We aim to build in-country capacity by assisting local organizations in becoming self-sustaining.
Responsible Exit Strategies
For each local organization we work with, we aim to have a plan in place for withdrawing support responsibly.
Clear Roles & Specialized Training
We aim to ensure that ever participant is assigned a clear role and that they are fully trained and supported to carry out their work by specialized staff.
Respect for all
In all our actions we aim to respect the skills and efforts of all and seek to protect the rights, culture and dignity of everyone who engages with GVI.
We work to ensure that credit for the results of any project, along with any data collected, research conducted, or Intellectual Property developed, remains the property of local organizations.
Transitioning from the Orphanage Model
We do not condone and aim to withdraw support of orphanages and residential care centers.
Child and Vulnerable adult policies
We will live by our Child Protection and Vulnerable Adult policies.
As an organization, GVI is committed to striving toward best practice, and to educating both our potential participants, our partners, and the world at large about them. Both the volunteering and sustainable development sectors are increasingly, and rightly, under scrutiny. Many recent local and global articles highlight poor practices and questionable ethics. GVI is widely recognized for striving to apply global best practice in the volunteering, education and sustainable development sectors throughout our operations by reputable organizations such as ChildSafe.
However, global best practice is always evolving and we dedicate both time and resources to engage with internationally respected experts and learn from the latest research to ensure our programs both fulfil their potential to create maximum positive impact, and minimise their potential to create unintentional negative impact. Along with and as part of the sustainable development and volunteering community, we are constantly learning and applying this learning to practice. We do not always get everything right, but we seek feedback from our community members, partners, participants and our staff, and react accordingly. We know are already doing a great job, and feedback we have received confirms this, but we aim to do even better and are continuously refining our operations to improve upon our already excellent reputation.
NO ENTERTAINMENT-BASED ACTIVITIES
We don’t support the use of wild animals for entertainment purposes. This includes riding animals, having them perform tricks, feeding or bathing them or getting close to them to take photos
NO ORPHANED ANIMAL SANCTUARIES
We don’t encourage, support or allow the rearing of “orphaned” wild baby animals kept at a “sanctuary”. The conservation value of these types of programs is negligent and would only ethically be used in extremely rare cases
GUIDELINES FOR TOUCHING OR MOVEMENT RESTRICTION
When wild animals are restricted for conservation purposes we follow the guidelines of Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa (FTTSA), approved by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.
ANIMAL WELFARE GUIDELINES
We ensure that the Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare are followed. These include the freedom to express normal behaviour and freedom from distress, discomfort, hunger, thirst, fear, pain, injury or disease.
LOCAL COMMUNITY EMPOWERMENT
We ensure that conservation efforts are also always locally led, that community needs are front-and centre of any conservation effort and that our participants, projects and partners work to increase local community engagement in local conservation efforts.
A GVI program is an investment in your career. No matter which you choose, you will be working toward improving your employability by mastering new social skills, gaining further technical expertise and earning qualifications in many cases. Most of our staff are, in fact, GVI Alumni, and we have helped many of our Alumni discover, move toward, and earn their own personal dream jobs. Each program includes introductory workshops, ongoing presentations, as well as on-the-ground professional support provided by our very own trained staff members. In addition, our training programs are critical for helping us to ensure the long-term impact of our sustainable development projects around the world.
For All GVI Participants
Orientation: Your Health, Safety and Wellbeing
Learn about COVID-19 pre-departure guidelines, base expectations, personal and area hygiene practices and what we are doing to keep you safe.
Orientation: Travelling Responsibly and Ethically
Learn about the importance of child and vulnerable adult protection best practices and how to apply them while on project.
Orientation: UN Sustainable Development Goals
Introduction to the history and evolution of sustainable development, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) and how these related to your project work.
Orientation: Further Opportunities for Impact
Learn about our country locations and further opportunities available to you during or after your program.
For All Participants at Giannitsochori
Conservation: Survey Techniques and Logistics
An introduction to different survey techniques and best practice guidelines for surveys; introduction to different types of data and how to record information via a datasheet.
Conservation: Biodiversity & Target Species Identification
Learn about biodiversity and how biodiversity is measured, and classifying different species and how to identify species that indicate the health of the habitat.
Marine Conservation: Pollution and Plastics
Learn about issues with plastic and measures that can be taken to help reduce plastic consumption.
Marine Conservation: Coral Reefs
Learn about what a coral reef is, its importance, how it is formed, how this ecosystem works.
Public Speaking and Demonstration Training
How to conduct demonstrations on the impacts of plastic pollution on the natural environment and human health.
Learn how to conduct research, such as monitoring the beach for turtle tracks and nests, and where to find the egg chamber. You will also learn how to put measures in place to protect nests and capture data, such as the number of nests on the beach.
Monitoring Induction training from our local partner, that has been conducting conservation research in this area since 1983.
If you have a passion for wildlife conservation then this course will provide you with the foundational skills and understanding needed to achieve your conservation-related goals. You’ll learn about the various methods of wildlife monitoring, as well as exploring the delicate balance involved in terrestrial ecosystem management. After successfully completing the course, which you have the option of doing prior to your in-country program, you’ll receive a certificate from the University of Richmond.
This online course, valued at R4995, is included in all volunteering programs. Full course details can be found here.
Joining a program not only allows participants to collaborate with communities or work toward preserving unique ecosystems but it also offers plenty of opportunities to explore the surrounding area or travel further to see what other parts of the region have to offer.
Long term field staff are a great source of advice, and have helped us put together the following information on local travel options. Many decide to travel before or after their experience (subject to immigration restrictions), solidifying the lifetime friendships established on program. Please note that the below suggestions are not included in the program fee, and are for the individual to organise at their own expense.
Areopoli is the second-largest town in Mani and is one of the few areas in Greece that was not under occupation rule. The inhabitants, in the past, built their homes like small fortresses in order to feel secure. Now you will find narrow streets, majestic tours, markets, and a small port.
Monemvassia is a well-known medieval fortress with an adjacent town, located on a small peninsula off the east coast of the Peloponnese near Laconia. Its remains include the defensive structures and the small adjacent town and Byzantine churches. Its name derives from two Greek words, ‘mone’ and ‘emvassia’, meaning “single entrance”. Many of the streets are narrow and fit only for pedestrians.
The Archaeological Site of Mystras is now a world heritage site. It was built as an amphitheater around the fortress erected in 1249 and since then has been conquered, re-conquered, occupied and abandoned. Now only the medieval ruins remain.
Visit Kyparissia and Kalo Nero which are both very close to the campsite. Kalo Nero is a little town with a few lovely beach bars with stunning sea view where you can see one of the most beautiful sunsets in Greece. From the top of the Kyparissia castle, the entire bay can be seen.
Local village visit and surrounds
Whilst not part of the program most volunteers will have the opportunity to visit the villages of Giannitsochori and Elaia.
Further cultural exploration
Visit the traditional villages of Metsovo and Kythira, take in the ambiance of Nafplio or Corfu town, or investigate the royal tombs at Vergina.
Experience first hand the spiritual atmosphere of Ancient Delphi. A unique archaeological site where you can view the sun bleached ruins of this World Heritage site, on the slopes of Mt. Parnassos.
The Acropolis and Parthenon
Arguably one of the most important and well known ancient ruins in the world. A must see with its marble pillars and breathtaking views over Athens.
Travel between some of Greece’s most stunning islands, such as Santorini, Mykonos Ios, Delos, Andros or Amorgos. Take the opportunity to soak up the sun and the history. Ferries depart from Gythio to Crete twice a week, and from there it is possible to island hop back to Athens.
The well known capital of Greece is a blend of archaic ruins and the modern edginess of urban art and music.
Engaging intimately with a new context teaches not only global awareness but adaptability and critical thinking, skills highly valued in the modern marketplace. Local and cultural immersion is encouraged on all our programs around the world, and is also one of the most enjoyable aspects of your experience. Luckily, there are many activities you can get involved with in your free time, or before and after your program. On our community programs the focus is on cultural topics, while on marine or wildlife programs the emphasis is more on the environmental element. Use your evenings and weekends to explore diverse and eclectic topics like Theravada Buddhism in Laos or how plastic pollution and climate change affects Indian Ocean coral.
Spirituality and Religion
The official religion of Greece is Eastern Orthodoxy, which is the practiced by the majority of the population, who belong to the Greek Orthodox Church.
Cooking and Dancing
A large part of Greek cuisine features fresh Mediterranean ingredients, often featuring staples such as pita bread, olive oil, and feta cheese. Some of the traditional dishes Greek food is known for include moussaka, tzatziki, the classic Greek salad, spanakopita, and souvlaki. Greece is a food lovers delight, with a rich selection of tastes to be enjoyed.
Traditional Greek folk music incorporates popular songs and music from across Greece and its islands. This music is often used by Cretan dancers in their performances and is danced on special occasions by Greek families.
Greece has a thriving tourist souvenir industry, and make many locally made souvenirs such as hand woven carpets and rugs, beautifully decorated jewelry and leather items. Greece is also known for producing the highest quality virgin olive oil and olives.
The Greek people’s most notable holiday is the celebration of Greek Independence Day on 25 March. There are also many festivals throughout the year, such as the Patras Carnival and Athens Festival.
Greek – This is the official language of Greece and it’s people and is spoken by roughly 13.4 million people across the world.
‘If only every student could do this. It changes your life in all the right ways,’ says Chris Heritage, parent of Luke Heritage, one of our teen volunteers who has participated on two GVI programs, one in Costa Rica and another in South Africa.
We are a parent-run organisation that is incredibly serious about health and safety, and increasing the impact, as well as the long-term career benefits of our programs. Our programs help young people develop the skills to select a career path that is personally fulfilling, and live a life aligned to the well-being of our planet and the global community.
Ken and Linda Jeffrey, whose son Sam volunteered with GVI in Thailand, talk about how the experience affected Sam. He also went on to volunteer with GVI again in South Africa. ‘I know it sounds like a cliche but in a sense, he did go away as a boy and he came back as a young man. Both of us could recommend GVI without any hesitation to any other parent thinking about exploring an opportunity for their children to explore the world and to see different parts of it.’
Parent Info Pack
Download the Parent Pack and learn more about:
Our staff: All our projects are run by staff, selected, vetted, trained, and managed by our central office. Health and safety: Our safety practices include a child and vulnerable adult protection policy and high participant ratios. Staying in touch: See what’s happening on base, by following a hub’s dedicated Facebook page. Free parent consultations: We would love to talk to you about exciting opportunities available for your child.
Support & Safety
We won’t sugarcoat it — traveling abroad is usually a complex process that carries an element of risk. But this is exactly why we’re passionate about providing extensive support throughout the process as well as the highest safety standards during the in-country phase. We believe that volunteering abroad should not only be impactful, but an enjoyable experience that carries as little risk as possible. This is exactly how we’ve been able to maintain our reputation as the most highly respected volunteering organisations in the sector over the past two decades.
Enhanced cleaning and social-distancing measures are in place throughout each GVI program. Learn more.
Once a participant books, they will be assigned a personal support coordinator who will oversee their pre-departure journey. The support coordinator helps to bridge the gap between program enrolment and arrival at one of our field bases. Your personal support coordinator will ensure that you are provided with all the necessary information required to apply for visas, background checks, and any other documentation.
Upon arrival at the airport, participants will be greeted by a GVI staff member. All GVI staff are our own and all our programs around the world are run by our staff. All GVI field staff are background checked, Emergency First Response and safety trained. The minimum staff to participant ratio on GVI’s programs is one to six, although on several bases we have a ratio of one to three. When finishing the experience, participants will provide feedback on all aspects of their program.
It takes courage to book a GVI program, get on a flight, and head off to somewhere new. Volunteering offers a level of cultural immersion that typical backpacking or holidays just can’t achieve. This is why thousands of people around the world participate in paid GVI programs.
As the saying goes: ‘Expect the best, plan for the worst’. Cliched or not, we take it to heart. This tenet is at the core of how GVI operates when it comes to promoting the health and safety of our participants, staff, and local community members at all of our 20+ bases around the world.
The weather isn’t just a topic for polite small-talk here at GVI. We have emergency action plans in place for all scenarios. So when the weather, or other natural forces, takes a nasty turn, we are prepared to respond to stormy situations.
Once GVI has matched a participant to a program that suits their passions and goals, our team aims to set the right expectations for them. In the event that false expectations around a program are created, the GVI team takes immediate action to ensure that the situation rectified.
24-hour emergency phone
24-hour in-country support
Access to Alumni Services and Discounts
Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
All necessary project equipment and materials
All necessary project training by experienced staff
Long term experienced staff
Meals while on project (except on work placements for long term internships)