Navigating Ancient Shores

Volunteer with Turtles in Greece

Join our vital sea turtle conservation project on Greece’s Mediterranean coast.

Durations:  2 - 12 weeks

Program information

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.

undefined 31 May 2022

Included in your program

Make the most of our unique programs with these exclusively curated local adventure and wellness experiences.

Take a walking food tour of Kyparissia

Enjoy the sunset from the Old Town

Go stargazing and learn Greek mythology

White-water raft through a tunnel of trees

Trek the Neda river gorge

Hike through a gorge to a local spring

Explore the birthplace of the Olympic Games

Visit a local farmers' market

Connect with our alumni
Want to connect with some of our past participants about their adventures? Get in touch with hundreds of friendly ambassadors all over the world who would be more than happy to answer any questions.
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Alice Hunter

27 Sep, 2021
Overall, I had a wonderful experience with GVI in Greece and wish I could have stayed longer than just 2 weeks! I feel incredibly lucky to have seen hatchlings during every one of my morning surveys, and even witnessed a mass hatch of over 20 turtles which all made their way to sea. After observing and recording data from several excavations, I was able to perform my own excavation and even spotted a rare twin embryo. It was so rewarding to be working on a project which is making a difference and I can't wait for my next GVI adventure!

Justine Bullot

27 Sep, 2021
This program was amazing. I think that my best memories were meeting the turtle in the beach, in the water, during the day, during the night and even in the camp ! And I met so many people, from so many countries. It's a rich experience ! Life in a camp is rudimentary but that's what makes it so charming ! Everyone helps and participate in the proper functioning of the camp. It was an amazing experience for me ! I learned so much, I leave this program more fulfilled.

Megan Orledge

27 Oct, 2020
I am Megan, from England and am studying Animal Welfare and Society at the University of Winchester. I found GVI through a simple Google search of volunteering opportunities abroad. I have always loved travelling and am particularly passionate about wildlife/marine conservation, and so the programs offered by GVI sounded like the perfect opportunity to get involved in some practical conservation efforts during my break from studying! In June of 2019, I volunteered in Greece for two weeks on GVI’s turtle volunteer program. A day in the life of a volunteer mainly depended on the survey timetable for that week. For example, whether you are on a morning or night survey would impact your day significantly. If placed on a morning survey, you would be leaving camp at around 5:45am, so as a volunteer you need to have the motivation and self-discipline to get up and go this early in the morning. Also, at least once a week you are placed on base duty to carry out camp maintenance and cook for the rest of the staff/volunteers. In general, it was pretty chilled out and there was a good balance between work and free time. If you were not out doing surveys, it is likely you would be completing activities/tasks around the camp, for example one day me and another volunteer painted a sign to hang on the entrance of the GVI camp. After lunch, between around 1pm-3pm, there was free time where all the volunteers usually headed to the beach and went for a dip in the sea to cool off! My experiences with volunteers and staff were nothing but positive! There were many different reasons for the volunteers wanting to take part in this program, however we were all passionate about the work we were doing and I think this helped unite us as a team. I felt safe throughout my time as a volunteer and felt comfortable talking to any of the staff whilst out there. The training in terms of conservation was mostly out in the field, but we did have a couple of presentations, such as how to identify the different parts of a turtle nest. The other training, was a course on first aid where we had to perform certain first aid procedures on each other, such as bandaging a broken arm with a jumper. I had so much fun on this GVI program, and my favourite part was definitely whilst out on the beach making an impact and helping to conserve turtles. I love the outdoors, especially the beach, so I would have been happy to spend all day on the beach helping to protect turtle nests! My advice to someone joining a GVI program would be to keep an open mind and to throw yourself into every opportunity you can! I would really recommend volunteering with GVI, as I believe they are an incredible organisation to support and help create sustainable change with. This experience has impacted my future career as it enhanced my passion for marine and wildlife conservation. As a result, I am now considering conservation/research as a potential career path after I graduate. I hope to embark on more adventures with GVI in the future!

Jodie Sawbridge

27 Oct, 2020
My name is Jodie Sawbridge and I currently live in a small village in Northamptonshire, working as a gardener whilst I study Bsc Environmental Science with the Open University. I have always wanted to work with animals but as I grew up and came to understand the global impacts that humanity is having on this planet, and all the beautiful species it is home to, my dream of working with animals became a more actualised dream of a career as a conservationist. In order to turn this dream into a reality I have had to dedicate myself as a student and a volunteer for conservation charities; this is where GVI came in. In 2018, I was researching conservation projects online and came across GVI on a working overseas website. Hoping not to travel too far I picked GVI’s turtle conservation program which takes place in Giannitsochori, a tiny place on the Greek Peloponnese, and signed myself up for two weeks volunteers work in June that year. June is the time that the turtles lay their eggs, so I knew I was there to protect those nests and assure that the eggs inside them hatch without being disturbed. Actually travelling to Greece could have gone a little smoother than it did… After being denied boarding on my flight due to overbooking, I contacted a member of staff at GVI and filled her in on the situation. Very thoughtfully, a staff member waited hours and hours for me at the airport, missing her bus back. This lovely woman then sorted accommodation for us both in Athens in order for us to travel to Giannitsochori the following day. I had had a long day and was a little irritated at the airline, however the greeting I got at the airport made me feel so welcome and appreciated, I knew I was in safe hands. The warmth and appreciation I got from this first staff member continued throughout the trip. Any questions or concerns that I, or anyone else, had were answered with passion, knowledge and care. This approach also followed through with the training I received once the volunteer work had started. A typical day meant a very early start and a survey. Surveys meant walking along a beautiful stretch of beach, enjoying the sunrise, and discovering turtle tracks all along the beach. The staff explained how to read and understand the tracks, as well as showing us how to record the GPS location of the nest we had found, and how to safely cover the nest with a cage so it couldn’t be dug up by animals. Admittedly, some days this was hard work with a lot of nests having been dug, but at least it was an early finish after that early start! The rest of each day was spent enjoying the amazing scenery, the refreshing sea, the local area, and most importantly, spending time with the other volunteers and staff that were there. I met some really lovely people from all over the world during my stay, some of which are still dear friends of mine now. Our time spent together included collecting plastic from the beach and upcycling it to create decorations for the camp, art, yoga and card games. We each also took it in turns to cook and clean the site for everyone there. From start to finish, (excluding a very delayed flight) my trip to Greece was two of the best weeks of my life. Not only did I make new friends in a truly stunning part of the world, the gratification and reward I felt for helping the turtles and their nest’s safe is incomparable to any other feeling I have had. During my stay we reached the 1000 nest mark, meaning 1000 nests had been located and protected, and the chances of healthy hatchlings that year was dramatically increased. I already knew I wanted to be a conservationist, but the experience I had really reaffirmed this. Not only did I have an incredible personal experience, my trip is something that is on my CV, and most importantly gave me experience in the field I want to work in. GVI is a company I really hope to work for one day, and I would quite happily go back to Giannitsochori to do so. My advice for anyone considering volunteering or working here is to do it! Arrive with an open mind, an open heart, and be ready for a lot of fun whilst gaining extremely valuable experience.

Alyn McKenzie

26 Nov, 2019
Picture it: I'm in the Chemistry computer lab, a struggling third-year in a degree I don't enjoy. To the right of me a dozen of my peers doing rather better and to my left, a poster advertising a volunteering organisation specialising in conservation. Picture me; a small-town Scot who has never travelled alone and a moment in which I think hang on a minute. I could go out and do that. With GVI I spent 4 weeks in Giannitsochori, Greece, learning things about wildlife conservation that have for years eluded me. We were given training for field surveys, data collection and animal handling (how to touch a loggerhead turtle: don't). The variety of activities kept things interesting; some mornings start at 5am for a morning survey of the beach to record new nests or hatchlings, some nights finish at 6am after a night survey to observe and measure nesting females, some days are spent in camp cooking for twenty people and others are spent out on the beach litter-picking, putting out shading to protect emerging hatchlings and engaging both tourists and the local community in conservation efforts. The staff were incredible; a small team of experienced and motivated individuals who gave the whole place a welcoming atmosphere. Fellow volunteers came from all over the place and all stages of life; it was nice to run into some very new characters and ways of looking at the world. The feeling of community on camp was incredible, as was the passion of staff, volunteers and locals alike and the tangible help we achieved. It let me understand more about what I want from my life and where I want to be quite aside from giving me a decent stepping stone experience toward a field I love; I think for anyone really who wants to give toward our planet's species this is a worthy way of helping.

Lilly Vlassopoulos

11 Oct, 2018
My Greece experience was one that I will cherish for the rest of my life. I learned so much not only about the Loggerhead Turtle and conservation, climate change, pollution and it’s marine biology but also gained skills such as teamwork/collaboration. I also learned about different cultures, people and ecological footprint. The experience of living in a camp with strangers from all over the world and working with them for this common goal was one that I just can’t put a price on. I believe this has improved my employability as I was able to work with others, using communication and verbal skills, as well as practically come together for a common goal. I was also able to learn about what we can do to help this endangered species on a day to day level – increasing my knowledge and education about the topics mentioned above. - The impact of the program The program had a huge impact on myself as well as those around me. I have been actively expressing my appreciation for the program as well as educating people about the Loggerhead turtle and the program experience itself. The program has also had an impact on my values and beliefs, going back to work in the corporate world in the city of Melbourne – I am much more conscious of my ecological footprint, as well as what else there is out there for me to actively be involved in conservation. I also appreciate the simple things in life that we are so lucky to have a lot more – such as my comfy bed & mosquito free house! - How you feel the support from GVI has been throughout the experience I have felt so supported throughout the whole process, the staff and everyone involved were so welcoming and warm – which is so important in something like this, it’s the only way it will work and be successful! A special mention to Ana – who is an incredible program leader, her friendly and great nature is something that made my experience particularly memorable – so thank you.

Daisy Madgwick

11 Oct, 2018
Hi Im Daisy, Im from Britain and I have just done a month with GVI in Greece working with turtles. I have seen things that I never thought I would see and made life long friends from all over the world. With this program we did a variety of things from seeing turtles laying nests at night to seeing baby hatchlings hatching in the morning, the feeling of knowing you have helped an endangered species is probably one of the best things you can feel.  The day to day life in camp if your on a morning survey is you get up about 5.30 then at 6ish you head off down to the beach. You would check for tracks and nests or for hatchlings etc and then protect and make note of what's happened. Once your morning survey was done you head back to camp this is normally around 9.30 10 then you have free time until about 5.30 which is when you have presentations. For me free time was napping in the hammocks but for most it was heading to the beach and tanning or sitting at the taverna. For the first 2 weeks of your trip there's an education program and this taught me so much about the world and epecially conservation and what effects it so much for example plastic pollution, since learning about that and seeing photos of how it harms turtles I try my hardest not to use plastic. After 2 weeks you do other activities like shading where you put shading up to shade the hatchlings from lights you also do data logging or beach profiling. You get the weekends off and getting to experience the Greek culture is amazing, the whole GVI environment is relaxed and welcoming, from the moment you meet the staff in the airport even after leaving the camp, the staff are very supportive and extremely passionate about what they do it makes you want to do more. For me it's made me want to go on other GVI programs doing conservation for animals and also welfare for children. The staff are brilliant and very knowledgeable so any questions you have they can answer.  My favourite thing in Greece was being able to see and help the turtles then building protection for them in person, its a once in a life time opertunitity. Eventhough the smell was hard to cope with exevations were fun to see and do too, seeing what happens to the eggs and nests after they have hatched is very interesting. I would totally recomend GVI Greece to anyone  who loves conservation or science but even if your like me who didn t know anything about conservation but loves sealife and wildlife its amazing and i wasnt in the best of places before i went to greece but now its completely changed my life for the better and the way I see things now. Don't hesitate just go for it.

Bruno Habart

11 Oct, 2018
The two weeks what I have spent in the camp in Greece literally change my life. It was an unforgetable moment and I will remember this experience forever. During my time I made a lot of friends and for the first time, spent my summer doing a productive thing for the planet what I have always dreamed of doing. It also help me choose my future career which is to become a wildlife conservationist and help me get used to long walks on beaches  I can only say good things about the GVI staff who cared for us during the event. They are all wonderful people and I can’t wait until our paths will cross again.

Lariza De Guman

11 Oct, 2018
I have learnt so much about sea turtles and the threats that are posed to them and in the broader context of climate change and the significance it has to their survival. I had the chance to hear many stories from around the world and got to meet and volunteer with amazing people. It was such a rewarding experience to be involved in this organisation and I left knowing that I've done something worthwhile during my semester break. This experience has encouraged me to pursue organisations which are related to my engineering degree in the context of climate change. It was important to see the many different aspects in which climate change and marine conservation impact the world. Throughout this experience, I got to work on the field where we were each person was designated a task. As a team, these tasks were efficiently completed. These skills are essential in career I hope to pursue where you would often work in teams when managing a project. Volunteering with GVI made my first volunteering experience less daunting. The support from GVI for both prior and during the. This opportunity would not have been possible without GVI, and I'm looking forward to become involved in future projects

Zaineh Dahlan

11 Oct, 2018
I always wanted to save the world, I think we all do growing up. It felt like that the first time I carved a path in the sand for the little hatchling to crawl to sea. I felt like I was where I was meant to be, truly. It felt like I was saving the world one baby turtle at a time. 2017 has been a year of coping and moving and heartbreak. I had just gone through my first real heart break when I got an email from the National Society of Highschool Scholars about GVI. I thought wow, this is just what I need because I don’t want to be here, and I don’t want to think about me, I want to do something selfless, change my state of mind. When I got an email from NSHSS and GVI that my application was successful I genuinely cried I was just so overjoyed. Getting to Greece I was a bit nervous but that quickly passed when I met my fellow GVI team members, once there it was honestly the most beautiful 2 weeks ever. We saved the sea turtles and I kid you not it saved my sanity because I was down and I felt so alone and suddenly I was making a difference surrounded by the most gorgeous scenery, with the loveliest people ever and the cutest little turtles. It was really an unforgettable journey and I cannot wait to have many many more with GVI.

johanna jadwiczeh

11 Oct, 2018
My GVI experience was absolutely amazing. I’ve met so many great people and saw so many fascinating things. I’m not gonna lie, I was really nervous because I did this all by myself, but in the end, it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. GVI really makes a difference and it is great to be a part of it. Almost every day, we had presentations about environment issues and talked about ideas to help. We talked about plastic pollution, Bycatch, Global Warming and many more important topics. The staff has been nice and welcoming ever since the very first day. Meeting them at the airport was absolutely no problem, neither was the bus trip to the camp. It was never like a teacher- student-relationship but more like a friendship. We’ve had a lot of fun together, played sport, went swimming in the ocean and learned a lot about the turtle conservation. Insert a picture that captures your experience here! I wouldn’t want to miss or change anything about my whole experience with GVI. I am very thankful!

Henry Smith

11 Oct, 2018
My experience with GVI Giannitsochori was the best few weeks of my life. I got to work alongside a bunch of amazing people in a team and was taught so much by a group of educated individuals who showed me what life can be like. Working with the wildlife was an experience in itself as it gives you a shock seeing a turtle emerge from the sand and begin making its way down to the ocean but I had the opportunity to see so much more than that as the first hatchling I ever saw was close to a lucky chance out of the corner of my eye, one little guy flipped over on his back on top of the nest. Odd to see but a great experience learning how to problem solve and bury him until he was ready to emerge again stronger a few days later. It’s also a weird sensation with 6am wakeup for a 6.30 beach survey seeming like a daunting task but in reality was the most soul-calming thing ever imagined. This program has made me so much more aware of what’s happening in this world and that something has to be done to protect these little guys.

Annika Gurrola

11 Oct, 2018
What made you want to volunteer in Greece with GVI?** I wanted to volunteer with GVI this summer to help make a positive change for my generation and future generations by protecting the environment while experiencing the Greek culture. I have always been passionate about the environment and I felt that by joining this project I could spread my knowledge and learn from others about the world we live in and how to protect it. **What was the best part of the project?** The best part of this project was meeting new people from all around the world who ended up in the same place because of a shared passion. By connecting with others, I was able to share my culture with the volunteers and staff while they taught me about their culture and their way of life. It amazed me how passionate the staff members were about the project, and their extremely positive attitudes made me more invested in the project. **Describe your favourite moment on the Greece project.** My favourite moment on the Greece project was my first relocation. While counting the eggs and transferring them from egg chamber to bucket, I realized that because of my actions, I could be saving the one turtle in one thousand that survives to adulthood. The first-hand experience of relocating the eggs made me really care for the turtles and changed a description about the project to a real-life situation with emotional ties and memories that I will never forget. **How were GVI staff and Archelon volunteers? Did they make the project enjoyable?** The GVI staff made the project enjoyable because of their overall enthusiasm for the project and positive attitudes. No matter the situation, the staff members stayed enthusiastic, making the project more exciting for volunteers. Finally, the staff truly cared about us as volunteers and made sure our experience was both safe and pleasant. **What have you learned during the course of the project?** I have learned how to inform the public about the issues related to the loggerhead turtle population and to respect others intentions while teaching them about how a simple change in their lifestyle could make a great change in the lives of sea turtles. Not only this, I have learned how to identify nests and find the actual chambers containing the eggs. **How do you feel the work you have done here has made a difference?** The work I have done here has made a difference because only one turtle in one thousand turtles survives to adulthood. I have protected hundreds of eggs in the past few weeks, and believe that I saved the one turtle that lives through future generations. **What would you say to a friend who is thinking about joining next year?** I would tell them to realize how their work is truly making a difference and that really getting the most out of the project will make investing their time worth it. Life is what you make of it, and knowing you are making a difference that will affect your children and grandchildren is an action worth making. **Do you have any last messages for the GVI team and Archelon?** Keep traveling and making the world a better place! Thanks to GVI for a wonderful two weeks and showing me how investing my time and work can make a huge difference.

James McKie

11 Oct, 2018
GVI's partnership with Archelon is amazing and to actively help protect the Loggerhead turtle is very rewarding. Having been on a package holiday and seeing a turtle I was inspired to get involved on a conservation programme. This unique project involved searching for new nesting turtles and fresh tracks. Once we found a nest we protected it with a metal grid to prevent wildlife digging up the eggs. Techniques such as this gives hatchlings the best chance of survival with only one in a thousand generally making it to an adult. Camp life could be challenging but it was key to be so close to the area we was surveying. From the moment I arrived all my fellow volunteers were in high spirits and excited. It was especially nice to interact with people from all over the globe with a passion for marine life. All of the staff was very inspiring and I certainly aspire to be involved for an entire season. Volunteers learn about the conservation/scientific aspect of the work undertaken. In addition this we was also taught about the social side which is interdependent with tourism. I highly recommend this project and feel it would be the perfect alternative to a package holiday.

Zoe Connelly

07 Aug, 2018
Volunteering with GVI Greece in conjunction with Archelon was my second GVI program. The project focuses on loggerhead conservation in the Kyparissia region. The days begin with a morning survey; the group sets off at 6am walking 5km along the beach searching for tracks. When a set of turtle tracks are located they are followed up the beach to the nest. The digging then begins and the race to find the first egg is on! The feeling of finding the very first egg chamber is amazing, and very rewarding. Measurements are then taken before the nest is reburied or relocated. Protection in the form of metal grids and bamboo is put over the nest. During hatching season hatchling tracks are counted and recorded. The days are spent relaxing at the beach, cooking, and learning about turtle biology and conservation threats. Night surveys are another kettle of fish all together. The surveys begin at 10:45pm, volunteers walk along the beach looking out for turtles and tracks. Seeing a female turtle make her way up the beach to nest is one of the most incredible thing I have ever seen. The dexterous back flippers easily scoop sand up and out of the nest chamber reaching a remarkable depth. She then enters a sort of trance while laying and covering her eggs. Measurements of the carapace can then be made and the turtle can be tagged. She then makes her way back to the ocean until her next batch of eggs are ready to be lain. This project has really opened my eyes to the dangers turtles face and has further inspired me to continue my work in conservation. Particularly focusing on educating the public in the ways in which they can help.

William Hughes

25 Nov, 2013
It is hard not to regurgitate all that has been said before – ‘how the time has gone’, ‘the amazing people’, ‘combining a beach holiday with volunteer work’. All these things are true. The one thing that will stay with me is the work with the hatchlings; watching them power down the beach, watching as they get battered by the waves but always manage to overcome them and of course the times I had the privilege to hold these tiny hatchlings. So thank you to everyone who has made this time one I will never forget.