Volunteer Work Abroad Since 1997

Help a dolphin conservation project by tracking and research dolphins in the Shimoni Archipelago

Project Overview

Join a team of international volunteers and assist with valuable dolphin research in the stunning Kisite-Mpunguti marine protected area in the Indian Ocean.

The surveys are conducted from a boat and data is collected on dolphin populations, behavior and location. There are a range of different dolphins species such as bottlenose, humpback and spinner. In addition to this you may also snorkel colourful coral reefs to survey tropical reef fish and turtles. Relevant training is provided by GVI's full time research staff.


We are always looking for enthusiastic and dedicated people to join our team. This project offers qualifying and high-performing volunteers the chance to stay on the project for a longer duration on a GVI Scholarship free of charge and as part of the staff team in the field. If you would like to work towards a field career and make the very most of your time abroad, you might want to work towards a place on a GVI Scholarship. Successful scholars may find themselves offered full time employment with GVI, and many of our current staff have come through this route. Contact us for more information!

Please note, the awarding of scholarships is at the sole discretion of GVI and may be offered immediately after the completion of your program or at a later date.

GVI is real volunteering

Our projects are constantly evolving according to the needs on the ground at any given time. All the information displayed here will give you an overall feel for the project, but you should be prepared for any changes in the field when you travel. An evolving project means that we can constantly meet the needs and requirements of our partners, who dictate the work that we do. The way it should be.

Project Life

You will be living on Wasini Island, known for its coastal forest, mangroves, sandy bays, coral reefs and friendly locals. Conditions are basic and accommodation is shared with volunteer teams from several GVI programs.

The survey work takes place in and around the Kisite-Mpunguti Marine Protected Area. When dolphins are sighted you will make note of general environmental conditions, conduct a dolphin behaviour survey and if possible photograph dolphins to help identify specific individuals.  The afternoons generally consist of data entry into the computer and trips to the mangroves to carry out bird surveys or mangrove clean ups.

Project Details

Due to extremely limited knowledge of East African dolphins, local and international researchers have initiated the project, and GVI is focusing on examining the population ecology of local dolphin species from the Shimoni and Kisite-Mpunguti area.

The project work includes:

  • Collecting population and distribution data on marine mammals
  • Determining residence rates and habitat relationships
  • Assessing current human impact on dolphins and whales
  • Assisting partners in developing a 'code of conduct'

Once the basic data on population ecology is gathered, GVI and our local partners will assess the levels of human impact to identify potential issues and (if required) propose appropriate mitigation measures.

How this project makes a difference:

GVI’s education, environmental awareness and wildlife research work with the local community has helped build capacity, assisted in the development of sustainable tourism practices and finally it has helped protect the area’s whale and dolphin species.


I had a truly wonderful time during my stay in Kenya. I was so impressed by how well run the program was and how accomplished, yet totally cool and friendly, the staff were. I enjoyed contributing to...
Devon Tighe, USA

I had a truly wonderful time during my stay in Kenya. I was so impressed by how well run the program was and how accomplished, yet totally cool and friendly, the staff were. I enjoyed contributing to our small living community (water runs, chores, meals, etc.) and although I was only there for two weeks, I felt a part of the family. The volunteers and staff were a pleasure to spend time with. I am thoroughly impressed by how well run the program was. GVI offers such a wide range of opportunities, both in terms of location and length of program.

The whole experience was just amazing. Living in such basic conditions, our contact with nature, the local community and other volunteers made this experience even more memorable and unforgettable. I...
Mira Kardys, United Kingdom

The whole experience was just amazing. Living in such basic conditions, our contact with nature, the local community and other volunteers made this experience even more memorable and unforgettable. I would say it's the best thing I've done so far (and I've experienced many challenges) - thank you!!! I just loved every single minute of it! Great staff and atmosphere. The whole organisation is very well run and organized, which is very important. Your website is fantastic and gives lots of important info.

Free Time

Volunteering with GVI not only allows you to participate on programs assisting disadvantaged communities or endangered ecosystems but it also offers wonderful opportunities to travel in the local area in your down time or further afield either before or after your program. Many decide to travel after volunteering, solidifying the lifetime friendships established on program.

Our long term field staff are a great source of advice and are here to help you make the most of your time abroad. Remember to ask about discounts on local activities and side trips through your association with GVI. Our Shimoni field teams have helped us put together the following information on trips and travel options in Kenya!

Included Side Trips

During project you will embark on the fascinating community-based eco-tourism Slave Cave Tour in Shimoni village, exploring the natural caves that are currently home to bat colonies but over the years have served as a refuge for local people during tribal clashes, a slave holding pen on the way to markets in Zanzibar and more recently a kaya shrine.

Optional Side Trips

Please note these additional side trips are not included in the program but can be easily organised on the ground after arrival.

Closer to base, you can support various eco-tourism initiatives in the surrounding communities, such as traditional fishing trips with the Mkwiro fishermen in their dug-out canoes, Swahili cooking classes or trips through large underground limestone caves at Tswaka.

An amazing day trip is to Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary, a community reserve in the hills near Shimba where game drives will bring you close to herds of protected African elephants. You can also see how the community turn elephant dung into recycled paper products for sale to tourists as an income generating scheme.

For something longer than a day, you should consider an overnight trip to Shimba Hills National Reserve, home to African elephants, buffalo, giraffe, warthog and Kenya’s only breeding population of sable antelope. The south coast of Kenya is dotted with several stunning white sand beaches where some of the more popular beach towns offer ocean sports such as kite-surfing, kayaking and diving. Tiwi Beach offers a more relaxed experience with very few tourists present.

Mombasa can also be visited over a weekend, a city that combines the historic old town and traditional Swahili culture with modern city life, restaurants, bars and clubs. As well as its beautiful beaches, the nearby Haller Park is an ecological restoration project that offers opportunities to get close to giraffe, hippopotamus, buffalo, waterbuck, crocodile and the giant Aldabra tortoise.

Further Travel Opportunities

Kenya is a large and extremely diverse country in terms of both culture and nature. Over three to four days you can undertake a safari that takes in the vast Tsavo East and West National Parks, or the famous Amboseli or Maasai Mara National Parks, all home to incredible wildlife viewing opportunities. You can journey further up Kenya’s coastline to visit Watamu and Malindi home to the Gedi Ruins and Arabuko Sokoke Forest National Park. Or for something less active, try Lamu Island, a tranquil getaway, steeped in Swahili history, tradition and culture.

Even further afield in Kenya including Lakes Naivasha and Victoria and national parks such as Nakuru, Hell’s Gate and Samburu. Our operations lie close to the Tanzanian border and onward travel here offers some of Africa’s most famous names; the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Mt Kilimanjaro and the Zanzibar Islands.


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Program Details

Volunteer with Dolphins in Kenya

Build Your Program

Program Cost

  • £1125.00
  • €1350.00


(GBP250 / USD425 / EUR300 / AUD425) (4 week minimum program duration) Add a GVI internship certification to your program and receive additional training specifically designed to develop your leadership skills and prepare you for a career in the field. Interns receive one-on-one mentoring and complete focused assessments throughout their program. Participants will receive formal recognition and a professional reference on completion of the internship.
(GBP18 / USD31 / EUR22 / AUD31) The myTsafe online document store keeps copies of your most valuable and private information safe and you can share them easily and securely with others.
(GBP15 / USD26 / EUR18 / AUD26) By making a small contribution to GVI's Charitable Trust you will support conservation projects that can offset the impact of CO2 emissions associated with your international flights.  Visit www.gvi.org for more information.

What's Included

  • Pre-departure support and discounted services
  • 24-hour emergency phone
  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • Arrival orientation
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • All meals (unless otherwise stated in field manuals)
  • Welcome meeting
  • Location orientation
  • All necessary project training by experienced staff
  • All necessary project equipment and materials
  • 24-hour in-country support
  • Immersion in traditional coastal Swahili culture
  • Living on an African island adjacent to Kenya’s finest marine protected area
  • Snorkeling some of Kenya’s finest coral reefs in search of turtles
  • Experiencing the amazing mega-fauna of the island that includes whales, whale sharks and manta rays (seasonal)

What's Not Included

  • Flights
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Visa costs
  • Personal kit
  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • Extra local excursions
  • International and domestic airport taxes
  • Airport Transfers