The project focuses on sea turtle conservation on the beautiful Greek island of Kefalonia, by monitoring and protecting the island’s endangered loggerhead sea turtles.
Volunteers get involved in a range of hands on conservation activities such as surveying nesting beaches, observing and identifying turtles, measuring light pollution and rescuing hatchlings. These support the project’s work to identify and reduce the threats to the turtle population.
You’ll be living on the friendly island of Kefalonia, with its sandy beaches, rugged scenery and surrounded by the warm crystal blue waters of the Ionian Sea.
Join the team and help save the sea turtles of Greece from extinction.
Every year loggerhead sea turtles migrate to Kefalonia to feed and reproduce, with female turtles laying their eggs on the sandy beaches of the island. Unfortunately the turtle population is now under great pressure from both human and natural threats and has become endangered.
Volunteers support the work of the local conservation team and tasks may include:
All of these tasks help to directly protect the turtles as well as continuously improve the project’s conservation methods to improve the chances for Kefalonia's sea turtle population.
Learning is hands on and you will gain knowledge, practical experience and skills on a range of research and conservation practices.
You should be comfortable riding a bicycle, as this is the way you will travel to different nesting beaches in the mornings (beaches are up to 8km away). The bikes are also a great way to get around and explore the island!
In your first week you will have field training sessions to allow you to understand more about sea turtles and the scientific methods being used. You will be trained on procedures and techniques to ensure the quality of data collection and the welfare of the turtles.
Working days start early and usually begin by cycling to nesting beaches at sunrise to identify and record fresh sea turtle tracks and nests, or observing the behaviours of sea turtles swimming in the bay. Afternoons may involve measuring changes in beach width and slope, collecting plastics from beaches and you will spend some evenings and nights on the beach to measure light pollution, tag nesting turtles or rescue hatchlings in danger. Work is split into shifts and volunteers normally work 2 shifts per day.
Volunteers have 2 days off per week and during your free time, you can explore the many attractions of the island or simply relax on the beach near the volunteer accommodation!
There is always lots to get involved in but some key elements of the work vary throughout the overall season, which runs from April to October. Mating season is April to May; Nesting season is normally from the end of May to around mid-August; and Hatching season is normally from around mid-August to October.
In the mating season (April-May), at the start of the nesting season (late May-early June), and at the end of the hatching season (October), surveys focus mainly on the harbour turtle population where you will observe and record information on the turtles who swim near the harbour front. Over 300 different turtles have been recorded in the harbour!
During nesting season volunteers get involved in finding and protecting nests. Then during the hatching season, the work transitions to hatchling rescue and completing nest inventories.
Beach profiling, plastic collection and measuring light pollution take place throughout.
Click here for more information on the roles by season and sample work rotas for each Field Station:
The project has two different Field Stations, each with its own volunteer accommodation and a research focus in different parts of the island.
Field Station A covers surveying beaches during the day as well as monitoring an active harbour where sea turtles come to feed and interact. The beaches visited do not have nesting night surveys. There is a 1-5km bicycle ride to some beaches.
Field Station B focuses mainly on beaches and includes night surveys in the nesting season (late May - July) where volunteers walk the beach for the entire night and may get to see nesting sea turtles. There is an 8km bicycle ride to some beaches.
Volunteers at both Field Stations are involved in hatchling rescue during hatching season, which can be at any time of day or night!
Field Station A has up to 35 volunteers and Field Station B has up to 25 volunteers.
If you are coming with a friend or partner, please note that it’s not always possible to be placed together on the same shifts although it’s no problem to have the same days off. You’ll be based in the same field station and can request to stay together in the same room (subject to availability and gender as rooms are single sex).
This placement has been approved by the DofE as meeting the requirements for the Residential section of the Gold Award.
You will be working alongside the local team, including field leaders and assistants. Staff live alongside volunteers in each field station.
“Without the help of volunteers we wouldn’t be able to carry out all the resource intensive daily research and observation required to understand and put in place measures to help protect this special species of loggerhead turtles” Chanel, Program Director
The project has two different Field Stations, each with its own volunteer house. The houses have simple furnishings and several communal cooking areas. Volunteers share bedrooms (on a single sex basis) which mostly have bunk beds and there are shared bathrooms.
Each house has a large balcony, perfect for group gatherings and evening meals.
Meals are not included in this placement. Volunteers prepare their own meals and are able to buy groceries locally. You may also like to visit some of the local restaurants or order some souvlaki (traditional grilled kebab) for an evening meal on the beach!
There are vegetarian and vegan options available, including vegetarian souvlaki!
The water on Kefalonia is safe to drink or you can buy bottled water.
You will need to fly into Kefalonia (EFL).
You will be met on arrival at Kefalonia Airport and transferred to your field station. Field Station A is approximately 10 minutes’ drive from the airport; Field Station B is approximately 15 minutes’ drive followed by a 30 minute ferry across the peninsula.
Kefalonia is an island in the Ionian Sea, west of mainland Greece. The field stations are in beautiful locations near the nesting areas being monitored and near to the beach which you can visit to swim, sunbathe, and relax during your free time.
When not working, volunteers enjoy socialising together and regularly have movie nights, quiz nights and get creative with henna designs. It’s also nice to head into town and have a meal out and even try out some Greek dancing!
Volunteers have 2 days off per week to relax and explore the island.
Field Station A is located near to Argostoli airport and walking distance to several beaches. There are beach bars and restaurants which you can walk to, including one with a swimming pool. There are a couple of mini-markets and a café within cycling distance. You can take a taxi into the main town of Argostoli (approx 7km away) to find supermarkets, tourist shops, cafes, bars and restaurants.
Field Station B is located in Lixouri town, on a peninsula across from Argostoli, and is close to a lovely town square where you can walk to enjoy restaurants, bakeries and cafes, as well as banks and pharmacies. There is a hotel with pool that volunteers often use, as well as beaches nearby and many more to explore across Lixouri. There is a ferry to the main town of Argostoli which runs frequently and takes about 30 minutes, a nice way to travel!
Kefalonia has a Mediterranean climate with mild, rainy winters and dry, hot summers with long sunny days. From May-October, temperatures range from around 24 to 30+ °C, peaking in July and August.
Popular activities in Kefalonia that you might like to combine with your project are:
For more information on Greece and some of the things we loved when we visited there please see our Greece country page.
The minimum age for this project is 18 years old and the minimum duration is 2 weeks.
Start dates with availability - 2024
Field Station A: Sunday start - 14 Apr, 28 Apr, 12 May, 26 May, 9 Jun, 23 Jun, 7 Jul, 21 Jul, 4 Aug, 18 Aug, 1 Sep, 15 Sep, 29 Sep, 13 Oct
Field Station B: Tuesday start - 28 May, 11 Jun, 25 Jun, 9 Jul, 23 Jul, 6 Aug, 20 Aug, 3 Sep, 17 Sep, 1 Oct
|2 weeks - Apr and Oct start dates||£649||GB Pounds|
|2 weeks - May, Jun, Jul, Aug and Sep start dates||£789||GB Pounds|
|Additional 2 weeks||£699||GB Pounds|
Your fee covers the overseas costs of volunteering and the costs of running our organisation in the UK, on a non-profit basis. For more details and a breakdown of our costs please click here.
All monies paid to us are financially protected through The Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust Limited (ABTOT).
Fees in currencies other than GBP are indicative only and volunteers are invoiced in GBP. For current exchange rates please see www.xe.com
“One of the best experiences I have had! Alongside the great project itself, you meet so many people as well as plenty of free time to do what you want. Also, there are evening activities to get to know everyone better as you make friends with people from around the world.”
"I’m having an absolutely amazing time!! I was on hatchling rescue last night so slept on the beach, we had 15 hatchlings so it was exciting! I’m so so glad I made the decision to come! This is an incredible organisation!"
“i just want to say a big thank you for all your help and support in organising this trip i really appreciate it. I got back yesterday and im already missing it. It was a truly magical experience! seeing hatchlings find their way to sea and watching the adult turtles interacting in the harbour was honestly incredible. Kefalonia is a beautiful island i will definitely be back.”
"It’s going better than I could have hoped. The work is very well organized and meaningful. We get a fair amount of free time too. Have met some great people. And kefalonia is spectacular. Thanks for checking in and for helping to facilitate this wonderful experience."
"I was quite nervous coming here on my own, but everyone was so welcoming and I immediately made friends with other volunteers. The work itself was exhausting, but so rewarding at the same time. I really felt like I was making a positive impact and my work was needed. My favourite thing were probably morning surveys on airport beaches because I got to see so many hatchlings there! It’s such an amazing feeling that some hatchlings only made it to sea because of us.
I also really enjoyed exploring the island by car with other volunteers on my day off. Sleeping on the beaches was also a unique experience. I think I will be able to sleep anywhere after this!
All in all, this was probably one of the most memorable experiences of my life so far and I’m so grateful for the amazing friends I’ve made and the meaningful work I could do here."
"I never thought I would be able to be so close to a turtle in person and actually be able to play a part in their conservation first hand. Also, never thought I’d be able to meet such like-minded people. This has really helped me learn a lot about myself from this experience to … and not giving up.
I have loved every moment and all the people I will miss all of you so much. I think this project will also really help towards my degree in Marine Biology."
"It took nearly a week before I saw my first turtle, but as i watched over 60 pour out of a nest, I knew i was involved with something bigger and more important than me. I made several lifelong friends and I'm thankful I got to spend time doing someting I love with people who felt the same way."
"It has been one of the best experiences I’ve ever taken part in, it was beyond anything I could have imagined it would be. At first I didn’t know what to expect, but everyone was so lovely and ensured that I knew exactly what I was doing. I have enjoyed every moment of this incredible experience, but for me the highlights of the trip have been releasing a rehab turtle, relocating lots of nests, scuba diving with a turtle and exploring the beautiful island.
It has been a pleasure to work alongside the most amazing and passionate people from whom I have learnt so much. Without clear guidance and the amazing skill sets from the leaders I would not have gained as much."
“I have never enjoyed anything so much in my life. Working with the loggerhead turtles has been amazing and has taught me so much about them. My highlight was swimming a hatchling out to sea and watching it swim into the distance knowing you helped it!”
"This has really been a life changing experience. All the activities and all the people I got to meet just made this two weeks unforgettable. I have to say that the most memorable time was during my first night survey when we saw a turtle coming out of the water slowly but surely making its way up on the beach trying to find a place to nest."
"These past two weeks have been absolutely incredible. I came to get some experience doing field work and conservation and have left with so much more; lifelong friends and a new found love for turtles. The assistants are all so lovely and made sure to help me out wherever necessary. Everyone is so dedicated to the project and I feel honoured to have been part of it. You get a real sense of what field work is like and learn a variety of skills doing so. Seeing so much turtle stuff in 2 weeks was an absolute pleasure and I fully intend on returning."
"First look at the house and staff was really good. I felt like I was welcome. The talks were really long but were told with so much excitement and you learn so much from them. The group we had was great, everyone seemed to get along with each other. I got new friends really fast. I really liked the harbour, seeing turtles, watching their behaviour and telling tourists about them. The beach was also amazing, searching for tracks, digging in holes, finding eggs and sometimes relocating them. It’s an adventure, with learning, fun, new friends and seeing and doing cool stuff."
hatchlings helped to sea in 2022
"It was an amazing experience that will stay with me forever! Pod Volunteer provided the ideal amount of support and guidance"Satvinder
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"Don’t doubt it, just book it! I choose to do turtle conservation as part of my DofE gold award. You make the most amazing friends in one of the most beautiful places ever! It was the perfect balance of turtle conservation and free time to explore Kefalonia."Read more volunteer reviews
"I have never enjoyed anything so much in my life. Working with the loggerhead turtles has been amazing and has taught me so much about them."Read more volunteer reviews
"One of the best experiences I have had! Alongside the great project itself, you make friends with people from around the world."Read more volunteer reviews