The Turtle Conservation Program
Guatemala has reopened to international arrivals. See the 'Additional Info.' section for procedures in place during the pandemic.
This program plays an essential role in conserving the sea turtle population on Guatemala’s Pacific Coast, which through decades of indiscriminate human plundering, has been drastically reduced in number to a point where it is now on the endangered species list. Sadly, without the help of widespread conservation efforts, including environmental, research and re-education programs, the great sea turtle could be lost forever. Working with several of the main species of sea turtles to inhabit the Pacific, the main focus of this project is to protect and nurture the clutches of eggs laid across vital beach nesting grounds. Volunteers will provide support to local biologists and staff on this dedicated sea turtle program, helping on any number of tasks required to help these amazing creatures. Along with hands on work assisting turtles who may be injured or in need of help, volunteers will also play a huge role in the hatchery. There are many tasks associated with this work and volunteer help is greatly needed and appreciated. The turtle season runs from June – December, and shuts down from mid December – early January. Volunteers can still assist at other times, however this work will be with iguana and alligators.
Goals of this Project:
- To save the sea turtle from extinction
- Work on projects to improve the environment for nests and to make the hatchlings journey to the Pacific Ocean safer
- Research these wonderful creatures so a greater understanding of how to save them can be gained
- Enable inter-cultural exchange between international volunteers and locals.
How You Can Help
Volunteers will find this program to be an amazing experience and will learn a huge amount about sea turtles, conservation programs and about Guatemalan people and culture. This program is dedicated to the preservation of these magnificent creatures and requires volunteers who love the marine environment, working outdoors and with animals. The work may at times be dirty, so be prepared to get stuck in! A medium level of Spanish language is required to participate in this program. Lessons may be obtained in Guatemala before undertaking this program if required. This is a wonderful program that has a direct impact on the safety of sea turtle populations on the Pacific Coast of Guatemala. Like many conservation programs, funds are greatly lacking, and a willing volunteer labor force is essential to its success. By volunteering their time, participants on this program and making a direct and tangible difference to the sea turtle population and truly play their part in this endangered species protection.
Volunteers will contribute in a number of ways and can expect to undertake the following tasks:
- Collecting and reburying eggs in safer locations
- Relocating nests to the hatchery
- Counting eggs and turtles
- Beach clean-ups
- Preparing the turtles for release and releasing them
- General maintenance of the hatchery and museum
- Feeding and cleaning the iguana and alligator areas.
Love Volunteers welcomes all those 18 years and over who wish to give their time and energy to help protect and conserve the native wildlife of Guatemala. This project is best suited to those who are either pursuing a career in animal conservation/zoological studies, or who simply wish to explore an interest in this field. However, the project is open to all and does not require participants to have specific education, qualifications or experience, as you will be shown everything you need to know by one of local project leaders. Importantly though, all applicants must first and foremost have a genuine willingness to help, show drive and initiative, and bring a positive 'can-do' attitude. If this sounds like you, we want you on the team!
Additionally, volunteers applying to join this program will be required to supply to following documentation:
- Emergency contact
- Police check
The town of El Paredón (located 2.5 hours away from Antigua Guatemala) is situated on the Pacific coast of Guatemala in the department of Escuintla. Known for its volcanic black sand beaches and annual influx of majestic Giant Sea Turtles. The town also serves as a major weekend beach resort for people coming from Guatemala City or other countries and is a good place for practicing surfing. (While it is the best place in Guatemala, it's not in general a surfing country). The town is a small community with very limited resources. The closest big town with banks, supermarkets and ATMS is Sipacate.
Start Dates & Duration
This project is available year-round and programs typically start every 1st and 3rd SUNDAY of each month. Volunteers can choose to participate for periods ranging from 2 weeks to 12 weeks. Longer stays can be arranged directly with the local team, but will be subject to availability and individual visa conditions.
Spaces on this project are limited and therefore subject to availability. Early booking is recommended.
For current available start dates please check the calendar on the right.
Arrival & Orientation
Upon your arrival in Guatemala, you will collected at the airport (or bus station) by a member of the local project team and taken to your accommodation. Here you will be welcomed by your host family and settled into your new surroundings.
On Monday morning you will be collected and taken to the local team offices where you will receive a full project and safety orientation. A representative from the local team will fill you in on local and regional customs, traveling, rules and recommendations, and of course, what to expect from your volunteering experience. This is a great opportunity to get to know your hosts, meet your fellow volunteers, and ask any last questions you may have. You will then be taken to your projects site where you will be introduced to the onsite project team, ready to start work. Easy!
- Project Arrival Day: SUNDAY, 8AM TO 10PM
- Project Departure Day: SATURDAY
- Arrival Airport: La Aurora International Airport, Guatemala City, Guatemala (Code: GUA)
Accommodation & Meals
The project is based in the beautiful seaside village of El Paredón on the Pacific Coast with volunteer accommodation provided with a local Guatemalan family which is a great way to be immersed in the culture. All families have been fully vetted by our local team and have experience hosting international volunteers, however volunteers must be aware that accommodations provided are 'basic/rustic' and some standard amenities (such as running hot water) are not always available.
Depending on the time of year it may be necessary to share a room with other volunteers, but private rooms are often available upon request (additional fees may apply). Volunteers will be provided access to a shared bathroom. Host families are often happy to wash clothes for volunteers for a small fee to cover the additional electricity, though mostly volunteers will use a local laundromat. Wifi is limited in the area, so we ask volunteers to make their own arrangements for personal use, including the purchase of a data sim for use in smart phones. It is recommended that all volunteers bring a mosquito net.
Breakfast and dinner will be provided throughout the placement, including weekends. Guatemalan food typically centers on the key ingredients of corn, chillies and beans. A traditional dish is tamale which consists of a starchy corn-based dough wrapped in a leaf and steamed. The sweets made in Guatemala are well known, containing condensed milk, nuts, fruit and honey, they are considered a delicacy. Volunteers in Guatemala have the opportunity to savor these and other delights in the homes of ordinary local people famed for their friendly dispositions.
*In addition to the program fees listed above a Registration Fee is payable to secure your place. The registration fee is USD 299 for those volunteering with Love Volunteers for the first time or USD 149 for any subsequent volunteer placements. The registration fee includes: lifetime LV Alumni Membership, fundraising support & advice, dedicated pre-departure support, certificate of completion (on request), and exclusive access to the LV Trip Planner.
Some things are not included in the program fees listed above, such as flights, visas, vaccinations, travel insurance, additional foods and snacks, spending money, local transport, in-country trips and excursions, return airport transfer (unless mentioned above).
Please note that prices are subject to change without notice. Please ensure you have read the Love Volunteers Terms and Conditions & Refund Policy.
Changes due to COVID-19
Effective September 18th Guatemala is open to international arrivals with the following requirements:
- Passengers must provide a medical certificate showing a negative COVID-19 test result issued no more than 72 hours prior to arrival.
- Passengers must complete a Health Pass form at https://servicios.igm.gob.gt/pasedesalud/en/
Keen to learn Spanish?
Spanish lessons can be arranged in conjunction with volunteering. A block of 20 hours (ie 4 hours per day Monday - Friday) is US$129. This can be paid directly to the local team when you arrive.