VOLUNTEER IN SEYCHELLES
Volunteer opportunities in Africa offer an abundance of wildlife volunteering and interesting cultures to explore. If you volunteer in Africa you will get a chance to make a difference in either South Africa or Seychelles – the beautiful island country surrounded by the Indian Ocean.
Where Does GVI Work in Seychelles?
We operate two bases in the inner granitic islands, both within National Marine Parks next to stunning palm-fringed beaches and forested areas.
On the island of Mahe we run critical marine conservationprojects where you can get trained from PADI Advanced up to a Divemaster. Speaking of which, check out our exciting and insightful blog article about 7 Ways To Be A More Responsible Diver!
Get involved in our terrestrial conservation programs on Curieuse Island. It’s surrounding waters are rich in wildlife, the perfect setting for your conservation adventure with a difference. The paradise of the Seychelles is the ideal location for your next volunteer trip!
The Guide to Volunteering in Seychelles
By Leigh-Anne Webster, GVI Seychelles Alumni
The Republic of Seychelles is an Archipelago of 115 tropical islands set in the middle of the Indian Ocean, 1,500 kilometres off mainland East Africa. The Seychelles is the tropical island paradise that many dream of, with its dramatic lush green landscape, a vibrant culture and a rich flora and fauna both above and below the water. The islands of Seychelles offer volunteers or interns an adventure of a lifetime not to be missed!
The capital of Victoria is your main centre point on the island of Mahe, and you can easily explore this beautiful island by public transport or private vehicle. The feeling of island life will sink in fast, and you will find the friendly local Seychellois happy to help and make you feel at home. Lying very close, but slightly south of the Equator, the abundance of wildlife and ecological diversity is phenomenal, which makes a conservation volunteering adventure in the Seychelles ideal. This also makes scuba diving in Seychelles one of many great choices of activities – you can do this whilst on your volunteering project in Seychelles, or in your free-time! Some of the best diving in Seychelles is around the main Island at Baie Ternay Marine National Park.
Baie Ternay Marine National Park is one of the primary areas that has sadly been affected badly by coral bleaching over the years, and is also home to the GVI hub on Mahe Island – where some of the top volunteer projects in Seychelles are based! This site is protected by the SNPA (Seychelles National Park Authority), one of GVI’s partners in conservation in the Seychelles. It is currently undergoing strong rehabilitation efforts to try to rebuild and regrow a healthier, thriving marine environment.
When you choose to volunteer in Seychelles with GVI you have various options, as GVI Hubs are based in two locations. Cap Ternay, the marine conservation volunteering base, is located on the main Island of Mahe, close to the Baie Ternay Marine National Park. This is where you’ll work on projects related to volunteering in marine conservation in the Seychelles, and can gain your PADI Advanced all the way up to your Divemaster!
The other base is located on Curieuse Island, a short boat journey across from Mahe. This is where the island conservation volunteering projects are run, and is a must for any conservationists who want to volunteer in the Seychelles, get practical field experience to help their future career, or just see some amazing wildlife whilst making a sustainable impact. A very popular project is turtle conservation in Seychelles, as well as lemon shark conservation in Seychelles!
Many individuals who come to GVI to volunteer on conservation programs in Seychelles end up realising that this is what they want to do with their career! If you’re looking to jump into the industry, it’s the perfect opportunity to begin your journey to start gaining conservation jobs in Seychelles, or elsewhere!
What to Expect
Life on base is exciting and nerve racking at the same time. This is a normal feeling – you have just encountered your new home for the next month or so!
You will arrive at Cap Ternay base to what looks to be a completely isolated area surrounded by jungle and green palm trees – this area is not really open to the public, but you do get the occasional tourist wandering in.
Curieuse however is a protected island, so you will see fewer tourists venturing around the island, especially after daylight hours. The base is secluded and located right on the beach!
The staff on both bases are very friendly and welcoming, and upon arrival you will usually have a meeting with most of the other volunteers on base and staff members. They’ll show you around and allow you to take in the tropical atmosphere that surrounds you before getting you started on the exciting work you will be doing over the coming months!
Accommodation on Base
So you’ve arrived at base and ready to set off on one of GVI Seychelles’ volunteer projects. But where will you sleep? Rooms on base are very basic dormitory style (mixed males and females).
There are 3 dorm rooms for volunteers on Cap Ternay, each with around 10 single beds. There are male and female bathrooms with cold water showers, which believe it or not is very much welcomed after a hot day in this tropical climate! It’s all part of the experience when doing conservation volunteering in Seychelles!
Curieuse hub is a little different from the Mahe hub. It has a smaller capacity of volunteers but it has basic living conditions, similar to that on Cap Ternay.
Both hubs are very active on environmental awareness as is most of the Seychelles – you’ll find that recycling is a biggy on base. Keeping up with the recycling is part of daily duties that every volunteer will partake in, this is usually split into groups and duties will consist of kitchen duties, grounds duties, tanks duties, boat duties etc.
Life on Base
You can’t be working 24/7! What else is there to our Seychelles volunteer programs? Base life is usually a very relaxed environment, and in your free time you can happily hang around just relaxing and reading in the hammock, or you can take a walk to the beach or to the nearby resort if you have enough time. Daylight hours are pretty minimal in the Seychelles with it being so close to the equator, but after a long day’s scuba diving or carrying out on-land field work, studying or maybe taking a stroll up the local Mount Matoopa, an early night is really appreciated by most.
Every week on Cap Ternay they like to have a BBQ night at the end of their working week, which is mostly Sunday through Thursday, with Friday and Saturday as weekends. This is a terrific way to break the ice and get to know everybody you haven’t yet spoken to. Working days are typically from 6am till around 4pm, dependent on studies and weather conditions.
Food on base is varied but mostly vegetarian. Lucky for Cap Ternay, they have an amazing local chef who prepares most meals, which you assist if you’re on kitchen duty (apart from weekends). Meals are usually rice or pasta based, and meat and dairy is a real treat so this is usually offered as a treat once a week. Breakfast usually consists of porridge oats and fresh fruit. Other foods and drinks available are fruit, tea, coffee and water which is drinkable from the tap on base, but there are shops available for those extra little treats you require.
The volunteer base, although basic, has a historical charm, which allows you to truly experience the incredible island. Almost 200 years ago Curieuse was being used as a leper colony, the old structures of the lodges are still in place (although they have had a bit of a revamp) which is where you will be housed. The lodges are meters away from your personal beach and you can hear the waves crash from your bed, you will also be sure to hear the furry fruit bats who are extremely energetic at night! There are communal kitchen and bathroom facilities, there is cold running water, bucket flush toilets and solar panels for electricity, with a back-up generator which is used on cloudy days – all of which prioritize conservation on the island!
Volunteers take it in turns to cook for the team, and there are plenty of recipes from banana bread to Creole curry on base if you are struggling for ideas! There is no shortage of coconuts on Curieuse so we like to find ways to incorporate them into meals. Friday night is always dedicated to BBQ night, everyone gets involved and makes dishes to accompany the job fish on the BBQ! There is even a Giant Tortoise called Obama who likes to spend his time near base and enjoy BBQ night too!
Weekends will be free – spend it with a backpack on, exploring the island searching for hidden beaches spotting Giant Tortoises along the way, there is even a small mountain to climb! The Seychelles is made up of around 100 islands, therefore it would be a shame not to explore a few of these during your stay. The closest island to base is Praslin which is around 10 minutes away via boat (we were lucky enough to spot Dolphins on our boat ride from Curieuse to Praslin), from here you can also catch a ferry to explore nearby islands, such as La Digue and Mahe to learn more about the Seychellois culture and enjoy some well-deserved rest and relaxation. On La Digue there are very few cars as at one stage one was not allowed to own a car on La Digue, this has since changed but most people get around on push bikes, so you can hop on your bike and explore CNN’s best beach in the world Grand Anse, or visit one of the most photographed beach in the world Anse Source d’Argent. You can also visit Veuve Nature Reserve home to the rare and endemic black paradise flycatcher bird. No matter which island you chose to spend your weekend on you will be guaranteed beautiful beaches and incredible tropical wildlife!
Info on Local Costs
Costs in the Seychelles can vary. The local currency is the Seychelle Rupee, but they do accept US dollar and Euro’s if you forget to change your money, but I would always recommend using the local currency. Cash machines are widely used in most areas on the main island.
Local produce in the Seychelles is mostly excellent value for money. If you are looking for food or beverages your best place to go would be the local markets – these are usually held weekly and found in the capital of Victoria. Supermarkets can be extremely overpriced on certain items, especially if they are imported.
Transport in and around Mahe Island is cheap – the bus fare especially is very reasonably priced and probably the most cost effective way of getting around the island. Hire cars are also available at relatively low prices, but transport to the outer islands is where it can be very expensive. Always ask your Base Manager about costs on certain trips when you are volunteering as this can change from time to time.
Off Base Accommodation
Seen typically as a honeymoon destination, the Seychelles has many varieties of accommodation to choose from, some of which start at a very reasonable price. They can vary substantially from basic chalets on the beach to the top exclusive five-star resorts. In order to not disappoint, if you are looking for good a value accommodation be sure to book well in advance. Here are a couple that are very popular and good value in Beau Vallon, which is the main tourist area, but still very peaceful. It is also the GVI drop off / pick up point so a convenient place to stay.
Georgina’s Cottages – This is right on the beach and in great walking distance of restaurants and shops. Great service and great hosts!
Beau Vallon Bungalows – This is also in a very close proximity to Georgina’s Cottages, great walking distance of all amenities.
There are many highlights to our volunteer programs in Seychelles, and most of these you will work out for yourself – that is the beauty of going to a new destination and exploring it in your own way – it’s the exciting part of not knowing what to expect!
Some of my own personal highlights of my volunteer work in Seychelles were scuba diving and snorkelling. If this is something you might be interested in I would strongly recommend it while you are in the Seychelles as the crystal blue waters are exactly as you see in the pictures! Diving is not its cheapest but it’s reasonable – do your own research on top dive destinations and dive schools as they will all have a competitive rate, but if you choose to do a project with GVI your Hub Manager should be able to suggest to you who is good to go with. My personal suggestion would be the Underwater Centre in Beau Vallon, but you also have many more to choose from in this area.
Beautiful beaches! Baie Ternay Marine National Park is of course one of the best, and Police Bay and Port Launay are just a few of the many beautiful beaches on the main Island. If you were to drive around the whole of the island by car it would probably take 2 – 3 hours. It can be easily done and you will see most of the coastline. If you would like to venture further away from the main island, all the outer islands that are accessible are breathtakingly beautiful and if within your budget strongly recommended. Bird Island, La Digue and Praslin are some favourite choices for the outer islands and closer than most. Praslin is famed for its spectacular Coco de Mer forest, and this in itself is probably worth the visit.
There are many more activities on-land in the Seychelles too, such as trekking through forest’s, seeing spectacular view points, visiting tea plantations, going to local markets, enjoying some real Seychellois culture at local festivals and many more, but I will leave some to the imagination! The rest is up to you and how you create your own adventure while in the Seychelles volunteering!
While you’re doing your Seychelles volunteer work, here are a few things you may need to keep in mind:
Health – If you are thinking of doing one GVI’s volunteer projects in Seychelles then I strongly suggest travelling a couple of days before and after the project has finished. Jet lag and heat exhaustion can be tough, especially in certain seasons of the Seychelles. it is hot all year round so look after your health, especially when diving. Drink plenty of water and keep hydrated more than usual.
Daylight hours – When you volunteer overseas in Seychelles with GVI, try not to be out after dark. Although the Seychelles is mostly a very safe place, the nights do come around quickly, so unless you’re in a group, it’s not worth the risk. There is minimal lighting in and around the hubs and no street lights on most roads, so better to be avoided all together..
Bugs – Insects are a part of this tropical climate unfortunately, so make sure you bring your mosquito net and insect repellent. Remember though – nothing deet based and only natural products such as citronella are allowed.
Mobile use abroad – Using your phone abroad can be difficult, and unless your contract provider offers cheap bundles, it’s not worth the hassle. Seychelles do have cheap and reliable pay as you go sim cards which are the most cost-effective way to stay in touch while you are away, but just make sure your phone is unlocked to do this. Alternatively you can buy a cheap phone to use if you are staying on the island for a couple of months or more – these are best purchased in Victoria before arriving on base. You can also find them in some shops in Beau Vallon.
Overall, the Seychelles is a spectacular place to visit. To be able to do a volunteer programme, internship or work placement here is an opportunity not many will have. The GVI team will offer support and guidance all the way through your programme and are happy to help however they can. The work they have carried out over the years has made a dramatic change, and we hope to keep this going for many more years to come. We just need more people like you who are willing to help! There isn’t a better place to do something so meaningful than in the pure tropical paradise that is the Seychelles.
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