Caribbean Conservation

Belize

Our award-winning Caribbean Conservation team in Belize protect the local ecosystems, their research findings guide government legislation and decision making to protect the environment.

You will assist the local team by collecting data on native animal and plant species, helping to create environmental awareness materials and contribute to reforestation efforts. You can learn about tropical conservation efforts by working alongside passionate local experts in the field.

Explore the stunning waterfalls, forest and jungle surroundings in the wild Toledo district whilst promoting the wellbeing of the local environment.

Volunteers are needed to assist the conservation team’s efforts to preserve the ecosystem.

Apply

Key Info

key info
  • Location: Toledo District
  • Start dates: Every Sunday
  • Duration: 1 – 12 weeks +
  • Age requirement: 18+ (12+ for families or groups)
  • Availability: Spaces available
  • Cost: From £945 / €1105 / $1210 - see fees table below

Project Information

Volunteer role: What will I be doing?

From the lush rainforests of the Maya Mountains, to the coral reefs of the Snake Cayes, the Maya Mountain Marine Corridor encompasses 830,000 acres of some of the most pristine ecosystems in the entire Mesoamerican Biodiversity hotspot. There are 43 distinct ecosystems which provide habitats for 108 mammals, over 350 birds, over 100 reptiles and amphibians, and more than 50 species of global conservation concern in the area where the project is based. The project collects data on specific species to guide the management of these ecosystems.

Training in research methods and conservation activities is provided when required and is delivered by project staff members who are experts in their fields.

Volunteers join the local team and work alongside them on their current conservation project. The volunteer role therefore may change weekly and include the following:

  • Camera trap downloads and monitoring (year round)
  • Cutting areas of transect along monitoring trails and fire boundary lines (year round)
  • Construction e.g. creating educational signs, helping to build boardwalks, bird boxes (year round)
  • Reforestation – which includes cutting areas around reforestation sites, collecting seeds, working in the nursery and planting trees along the riverbank (year round)
  • Education and outreach – includes creating educational signs for nature trails and printed materials (Monday, year round)
  • Maintaining nature trails (year round)
  • Yellow-headed parrot nest box installation, and roost count monitoring (mainly January)
  • Assisting with the community summer camp for children (July)
  • Assisting with data entry in the office (Mondays and rainy days)

As the research is carried out in a wild environment, volunteers are not hands on with the animals. Click here for more details about the volunteer role.

Working days and hours

Each day varies but you will generally volunteer for 5 days per week (Monday to Friday) between:

  • 8am - 4pm on standard days
  • 4am - 12 midday for camera trap monitoring

There are breaks throughout the working day (or night).On Monday the team are based in the office in Punta Gorda.

At the weekend you will be based in Punta Gorda, relaxing or taking part in some of the amazing free time activities that Belize has to offer.

Other volunteers

There are usually around 1-4 volunteers at one time with a maximum of 4. Volunteers work alongside local experts in the field; Belizean scientists, educators and park rangers.

Volunteer reviews

Read about volunteer experiences and challenges in our Belize Caribbean Conservation reviews.

Why are volunteers needed?

Volunteers enable the project to sustain and expand its vital conservation and development efforts. Volunteers carry out important field research, education and conservation actions that are making a significant contribution to the project’s mission: protecting wildlife and its habitats, raising awareness, empowering local communities and sustaining natural resources. This means all volunteer activities make a real contribution to the management of these spectacular areas and benefit the people who live closest to them.

“Our science and ranger teams work tirelessly, protecting some of the most pristine and diverse ecosystems in Central America. There is always work to be done and it is a constant struggle to achieve our goals with limited resources. Our volunteers help us to bridge that gap, by providing additional support on the ground where help is needed most, ensuring that we continue to sustainably manage our rich resources for tomorrow.”
Caroline, Project Manager

Closure dates

The project is closed to volunteers between 1 Feb - 31 April every year. The project is closed from the 23 Dec 2018 to 6 Jan 2019 and 22 Dec 2019 to 5 Jan 2020.

Location, free time and accommodation

Belize

Belize is a small country on the Caribbean coast nestled between Mexico and Guatemala. It is a relaxed country and a great place to volunteer and explore the beautiful scenery and diverse nature.

With over 60% natural forest cover, and 40% of its land area under protection, Belize is one of the most pristine countries in the world. Popular activities in Belize include:

  • Diving at the Blue Hole
  • Visiting the Maya ruins
  • Exploring the cayes (offshore islands)

To find out more, see the Lonely Planet Belize.

Local area and free time

You will be based in the Toledo District which is in the south, Belize’s least developed, wildest district. It is one of the few places left in Mesoamerica where you can still see unbroken forest stretching across the horizon. The project has two bases (Creek Base and River Base) which you will be allocated to depending on the current work. Creek Base volunteers stay at the base during the week and a homestay on the mainland at weekends. River Base volunteers stay at a homestay on the mainland throughout and travel to the base each workday.

Creek Base is a rustic field station within a National Park, located in fragrant pine savanna by the banks of an intricate lagoon system where manatees are a common sight. Mammals and bird life are abundant, and endangered yellow-headed parrots are your alarm clock! There are no local amenities so it is a relaxed atmosphere where volunteers spend their free time playing football, volleyball, relaxing with a book and getting to know the local team.

River Base is a nestled on the banks of a large river that runs through many communities before reaching the Caribbean Sea. The riverside habitat changes from mangroves to dense tropical forests, with lush trees looming overhead where iguanas and howler monkeys are frequently spotted.

The homestays are in the mainland town of Punta Gorda, this is a chance for you to relax, have some internet time and eat out. It is also a great opportunity to sample laid back Belizean village life in your homestay.

There are lots of activities in the area which the local team can help you with as they have many years’ experience providing tours and know all the best spots! Volunteers also receive a 15% discount. You can get involved in exploring the Maya temples, visiting waterfalls, making your own chocolate or zip-lining through the jungle tree tops where you may spot howler monkeys and a huge variety of bird life. These activities are best booked locally once you are at the project.

Accommodation

During the week, River Base volunteers stay on the mainland in a family homestay and Creek Base volunteers stay on site at the base. All volunteers stay in homestays at weekends.

At the homestay, volunteers may share a room with another volunteer on a single sex basis. There is WIFI available.

At Creek Base, volunteers share basic rooms, which are clean and comfortable and have fans. There are communal areas to relax, eat and socialise in.

Read volunteer reviews from the Caribbean Conservation project

Lizzie

“I would massively recommend anyone with any interest in conservation. It’s a fantastic organisation with really friendly people and every single day we did something different and interesting, ranging from making signs, surveying in the jungle, helping out with the summer camp field trips to sustainable farms and clearing jungle pathways with machetes. The rangers were constantly sharing their knowledge with us.

A few highlights include holding a tiny turtle that we found in a puddle, going swimming by a waterfall and watching the sunrise over the savanna on an early morning trek into the jungle. The homestay family was an absolute joy to be around and cooked the best food! It really helped me to feel more of a local and less like a foreigner.”

Diarmuid

“One of my favourite aspects of this project is how immersive it makes the volunteer. I worked very closely with the local members of the team and really felt as though I was contributing. The setting was so surreal and picturesque. The main goal of my trip was biodiversity monitoring to ensure the health of the surrounding environment and ecosystem. I worked closely with the team to perform tasks such as bird-watching and monitoring that stations transect.

It was fantastic to work so closely with such knowledgeable people. I got the opportunity to work with a bird-watching veteran, who had 13 years’ experience. I got to see or hear almost 40 different species of exotic birds, majority of which are resident to the Belize ecosystem. I couldn’t rate the experience highly enough. Especially Curtis from the local team and Ms. Sylvia from my host family. They made me feel so welcome and really looked after me.”

Kathy

“We had a great variety of experiences, something different every week! Our first week was spent visiting local schools to look at their conservation projects and we helped the children plant trees. We created a large banner to advertise Reef Week, went on a mangrove-counting exercise on the cayes, helped clear a nature trail, identifying trees and birds and creating signs and information for the trail, and finally we took part in a bio-diversity project.

Our host family was delightful and made us very welcome and we spent weekends exploring the town and on trips including kayaking, snorkelling and a visit to Guatemala. Despite having no previous conservation experience we were keen to make a real contribution to the work of the teams, and they all made us feel valued and useful. All our hopes and expectations were fulfilled, the staff at the project and everywhere were really friendly and helpful.”

Jonathan

“This was a truly memorable experience. I went down there on my own for a short stay and everyone really went out of their way to make my experiencing interesting, relevant and fun. Everyone was knowledgeable and enthusiastic to talk about their work. I was amazed at how much they seem to be doing on such a skimpy budget.

Chez Muschamp was just the warmest place imaginable for a home stay - my fondest to Miss Sylvia and Mr. Julio! Punta Gorda must be the most welcoming town I’ve ever visited. Love their 3-finger wave - it perfectly captures their laid back friendliness.”

Read more reviews

What's Included?

Before you go:

  • Carefully selected and vetted volunteer project
  • Support from our friendly and highly experienced Pod UK team
  • Single point of contact - Gemma is your dedicated Pod Volunteer Specialist
  • In-depth volunteering and planning your trip guides
  • Travel information - visa, health and safety advice
  • Help arranging criminal records checks
  • Access to specialist travel insurance at exclusive rates
  • Recommended travel agency for flights and tours
  • Access to special deals and resources
  • Fundraising guide and support
  • Financial protection for monies paid to Pod

On your placement:

  • Conservation volunteering placement
  • Airport pick up (Punta Gorda)
  • Return boat transfers to the research base
  • Accommodation
  • Food - all main meals
  • Induction and conservation training
  • Bicycle for use during placement
  • Mobile phone for use during placement
  • T-shirt
  • Onsite support from local team
  • Support from Pod UK office by phone and email
  • 24/7 emergency back up
  • Incident Management and Emergency Response Plans

On your return:

  • Contact from your Pod Volunteer Specialist
  • Feedback scheme
  • Volunteering certificate (on request)
  • References (on request)
  • Member of the Pod community

Not included: Flights, travel insurance, visa (if required), criminal records check. Budgeting guidance is provided in our Volunteering Guide which we will email you when you apply.

Pod Volunteer is run as a non-profit organisation. Fee levels are set to match costs and any surplus monies are distributed to the projects we work with via the Pod Charity.
Price table
1 week £945 GB Pounds
2 weeks £1445 GB Pounds
Extra weeks £445 GB Pounds
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Fees in currencies other than GBP are indicative only and volunteers are invoiced in GBP. For current exchange rates please see www.xe.com

22,000

acres protected

"It was an amazing experience that will stay with me forever! Pod Volunteer provided the ideal amount of support and guidance"Satvinder

Gemma

Pod UK Specialist

Apply and you'll hear from Gemma soon!

We look forward to receiving your application! There is no commitment by applying and we will send more information.

Apply

VOLUNTEER REVIEWS

  • Belize Caribbean Conservation volunteer – Adam

    “I had such an amazing experience! I was able to learn more than just conservation. I was able to grow culturally, learn new skills and even had time to relax and enjoy the many different sites of Belize!”

    Read more volunteer reviews
  • Belize Caribbean Conservation volunteer – Alison

    “My 4 weeks in Belize has to rank amongst the most amazing experiences of my (60 year) life. I felt privileged to be working as part of the community research team conducting ongoing valuable monitoring and conservation work.”

    Read more volunteer reviews
  • Belize Caribbean Conservation volunteer – Hannah

    “My 9 weeks have been one of the most enriching and enjoyable experiences of my life. I can’t recommend the experience enough and hope one day I get to do it again”

    Read more volunteer reviews

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AWARDS AND ACCREDITATIONS

  • Tourism Concern
  • Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust
  • Right Tourism
  • DOFE
  • theguardian
  • the independent
  • Sunday Times
  • Year Out Group
  • Best Volunteering Organisation
  • Wall Street Journal