Multiple Locations +11
  • Ghana
    • Accra
  • South Africa
    • Cape Town
    • Limpopo
  • Seychelles
  • Nepal
    • Pokhara
  • Cambodia
  • Laos
  • Thailand
  • Mexico
  • Costa Rica
  • Fiji
  • Peru
    • Cusco
1 - 2 weeks

Program Details



Starting Price
Dec 16, 2019
Sep 16, 2022
62 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

GVI offers a variety of opportunities for young adults between the ages of 15 and 17 to gain first-hand experience in cultural immersion, marine and wildlife conservation, and community development. This is a great way to become a global citizen with a better understanding of social and environmental issues. It’s also a gateway to improving your future education and employment opportunities, as you will acquire soft and hard skills in your chosen GVI focus.

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to dive in oceans of Greece, explore the jungles of Costa Rica, or the rolling Incan valleys of Peru, all while contributing to ethical impact, this is for you. This is an opportunity to connect with a network of people who share similar passions for sustainability, while also expanding your knowledge of different linguistic practices, and cultural customs. Each project is aimed at reaching sustainable objectives that align with the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).

Video and Photos

Program Highlights

  • Improve your education and employment opportunities with practical skill development in cross-cultural communication, marine and wildlife conservation, and community development.
  • Have an opportunity to receive the University Award by ASDAN, for participating in a GVI teen program.
  • Expand your knowledge and experiences of coastal Greece, biodiverse Costa Rica, Carribean Mexico, limestone isleted Thailand, and Incan influenced Peru.
  • Contribute to the 17 UN SDGs, and learn about ethical volunteering and impact.
  • Become more familiar with global issues collectively affecting the environment, community, and wildlife while also making friends with like-minded teens from around the world.

Program Reviews

4.33 Rating
based on 12 reviews
  • 5 rating 83.33%
  • 4 rating 0%
  • 3 rating 0%
  • 2 rating 0%
  • 1 rating 16.67%
  • Growth 4.35
  • Support 4.35
  • Fun 4.25
  • Housing 4.25
  • Safety 4.35
Showing 1 - 8 of 12 reviews
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

GVI U18 Tenerife Program

I did the GVI Tenerife U18 program for marine conservation and I genuinely had the experience of a lifetime. It was two weeks of immersing into marine life, conservation and GVI's mission. Being in the U18 group, you also get to experience the island's culture, such as visiting Teide, surfing and going snorkeling. At the same time, you are able to get field experience by going out into the boats, collecting data on the cetaceans we viewed, and doing fin identification as a group when we got back. We helped clean the beaches we were near, and entered our collections into data. This combination of both fun and also serious scientific study is what makes GVI so appealing and perfect for teenagers to also become involved in helping the environment. I think we all have lost a bit of hope when it comes to protecting our planet, but GVI helped reconstruct it for me, and the lessons I learned there have helped me take small steps in assisting the environment from home. You also make the friendships of a lifetime. I can't wait to do it again next summer, and hopefully become a core group volunteer.

36 people found this review helpful.
Response from GVI

Hi Elektra,

Thank you for your lovely review!

It is so amazing to hear that you had such an amazing experience with us on base and got the opportunity to explore the island's culture. Your hard work and efforts have certainly impacted this project in a meaningful way. It is so great to hear that you have taken the skills you learned and you are implementing them in your community.

We would love to see you back on base, in Tenerife or somewhere else, soon!

Default avatar
No, I don't recommend this program


I have waited a few weeks before posting this review to allow the dust to settle and also to give GVI time to respond to my direct emails with them. The response I have had from GVI has been wholly unsatisfactory and I hope that parents read this and think carefully before booking with GVI and sending their children abroad with this company.

Pre Trip

Beware… When signing up you will receive mountains of paperwork to complete. Immigration forms, numerous T&C’s, doctors forms, solicitors forms, police checks, references, covid passes etc etc.
I am sure most of this is necessary but GVI could streamline this somewhat, instead they just throw it at you and to make it worse communication with them once the booking and PAYMENT has been made is non-existent, this leaves parents panicking that something may be missing or filled out incorrectly as the trip approaches.

We were also blatantly lied to by GVI.
We specifically asked would there be any add-ons/extras once the trip is paid for, the verbal response was that apart from the flight was NO. This is incorrect….
You will need to pay for a private medical note from a GP, you will need a solicitor to fill in a Notary form (at least £100). We were booked on a diving trip and to all the parents amazement it only comes to light when booked that we need to supply the majority of the diving equipment. All of the wetsuits & masks etc as well dive watches & maker buoys have to be purchased in advance and taken on the trip. It would be much more environmentally friendly if this could be hired/borrowed whilst on the trip as is usually the case when diving abroad. What made it worse that some items weren't even required or used, such as the marker buoys or the expensive diving watch. These didn't even make it out of the box!!

During the trip.
After the hassle and never ending expense we never the less sent our sons in the hope that they got out of the trip what was promised… Not the case.
The trip quickly turned into a farce, it transpires that the majority of the staff in Mexico were themselves just volunteers, I believe they offer some of the adult GVI participants free board etc to assist in looking after the teenage group. These volunteers had absolutely no experience or qualifications in looking after younger people, they couldn't be bothered and some of them became quite threatening. At one stage we were getting reports home and were worried for the safety of our children. Thankfully some of the staff decided to walk out and this was a relief, they were obviously not suitable and we were worried that something terrible could happen.

When getting to Mexico the group were amazed that they were then confined to the compound for large parts of the day, after an hour or two of the so-called activities they were just expected to sit on their beds all day in something similar to “House Arrest”. The whole trip was in then danger of disintegrating, the group were contacting home complaining of the situation and GVI contacted the parents admitting that there were issues and gave a load of spurious excuses.

In the end they didn't do half of what was promised and it certainly wasn't the marine conservation/ diving trip we all paid a lot of money for. It turned into a beach holiday with a bit of diving thrown in!! The group enjoyed each others company and got the most out of it that they could but many things like coral monitoring/conservation & beach cleaning were non existent, they were meant be there to volunteer but not one volunteering duty was undertaken.

When they got home we were waiting for an in-depth email & post mortem from GVI perhaps explaining what happened and some admission of fault..Perhaps even an expected partial refund, instead they just went silent.

I then emailed GVI and their response was appalling. They choose to respond in a very legalistic manor and not apologetic at all, of course they quote various T&C’s, its probably why they bamboozle you with paperwork when booking.

On the trip itself they basically blamed the participants for the lack of coral research they said the group couldn't be trusted....Incredible!! Lots of parents & group met at the airport and you couldn't wish to meet a nicer bunch of pleasant and well educated young people, some of the group were even studying marine biology so to insult us and treat the group who had paid an awful lot of money for the trip with such disdain tells you a lot about GVI.

The response from GVI has led me to the opinion that they are bordering on being a “Rogue Company”. I wouldn't be surprised if they are in financial troubles, they obviously severely cut back on what was promised and what we paid for. It has now only come to my attention that there are groups of people not just from this trip but many others that are considering legal action against GVI for various reasons..
As the company is based in South Africa remember that they are not covered by ATOL or ABTA, if they fold you will loose your money.

Think twice.

  • Meet new people
  • Terrible company
38 people found this review helpful.
Response from GVI

Hi there,

I am really sorry to hear that this was your experience. We place a huge emphasis on participants' experience with us, and as such, take all feedback very seriously.

Our team has conducted a full review of this situation and has responded in line with the terms agreed to when booking. However, if you are willing, please email this feedback to me at amanda.stone@gviprograms.com and I will personally ensure that your feedback on how we can improve is implemented where possible.

As an organisation, we are committed to our participants, staff and the communities we support across the globe. Our decisions are always based on taking all stakeholders into consideration.

Thank you again for your honest feedback, and I am sorry that your recent experience did not meet your expectations. We appreciate it and are taking it into consideration moving forward.

Amanda (Head of Alumni services - Global)

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Experience of a Lifetime!!

In the summer of 2017, I participated in the construction volunteer program based in Pokhara, Nepal and had an enlightening experience. From the moment that GVI Nepal representatives met us at the airport in Pokhara, I felt safe. This stood out to me mainly because when first looking for volunteer organizations I read that: "GVI's number one priority is safety". This was reassuring and true throughout my time in Nepal, thousands of miles away from my home.
One of my favorite aspects of the program was that it was structured. Each day we had an agenda that the GVI representatives and our team had come up with based on respect for the community and environment we worked in. GVI's influence in the town we visited was not abrasive or controlling, nor was there any savior mentality attached to the work our group was doing. In no way did working for GVI feel like a mission trip, and that's what I valued the most about my experience. I knew that working with GVI was promoting a long term sustainable development project, that relied very heavily on communication and collaboration with the community where projects were centered.
Every day was a new adventure. Our project lasted for roughly two weeks renovating a government school. When we first started, the classrooms had old paint jobs, huge spider webs (and kind of enormous spiders!) on the walls, cockroaches on the floors, and most of the benches designed for students to sit on were broken. We painted all the walls of the classrooms, deeply swept and washed all of the walls and floors. Some of the adults in our team worked on fixing the seats. Throughout each day on the project, I became much closer to my team. I formed lifelong friendships and relationships that I value and maintain today.
I fell in love with the parts of Nepal that I was exposed to. The rooftop of the hotel we stayed at felt like a second home, the endless fields of glimmering rice paddies along all of the roads, the delicious vegetarian meals, the kind greetings we received everywhere we went, the luminous mountains you could see from anywhere.
Participating in this program through GVI allowed me to experience Nepal safely, respectfully and mindfully. After this trip, my view on global travel drastically changed. Our GVI representatives emphasized the importance of respectful visitation and having a constant awareness of your impact with a person, environment, or community as a whole.
I am so grateful for having the opportunity to spend time in Nepal and learn about Nepali culture while experiencing some aspects first hand. Going to Nepal and experiencing its intense beauty lit a fire inside of me. Through this volunteer trip with GVI, I learned a lot about my passions and future career ideas. So much so that I registered for another program for a longer duration of time, teaching in Nepal this summer.
Overall this was an incredible experience with no bumps or mishaps. To anyone looking for a safe, responsible way to volunteer abroad, I would highly recommend GVI. GVI is also a credible organization that has helped build my resume. This was later an added bonus to volunteering through GVI.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
The most common dish in Nepal is called Dal Bhat. It usually consists of rice, some sort of pickled veggies, some lentil curry, some curried potatoes and various other assortments of hard-to-identify foods. This dish is traditionally eaten with your hands, throughout my trip I gathered that there was definitely a technique in not dropping all of the rice picked up with your hands.
75 people found this review helpful.
Response from GVI

Hey Taylor, thanks for your great review! I am thrilled to hear that you enjoyed your time with us as much as you did. Your hard work and efforts have certainly impacted this project in a meaningful way. Please do keep on spreading your love for GVI. And obviously, we would love to see you back on base soon!

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Volunteering in Thailand at 16

This is my second experience of going on a under 18 programme with GVI ( Global Volunteering International). In my opinion they know what they are doing and have specialism in getting it right for under 18s. I enjoyed seeing the beauty of Thailand and having the opportunity to help protect and preserve it, both directly by looking after turtles but also working with local children to increase their understanding of recycling, and how they can look after their world .
This GVI programme provides a perfect combination of holiday fun and adventure ( canoeing, swimming, hiking, sleeping in tree and raft houses ) with cultural visit to temples and Buddhas with meaningful work with turtles and children.
Meeting, living and working with the other GVI volunteers from across the world was fantastic and our leaders were great.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Go with an open mind and a view on making a difference
78 people found this review helpful.
Response from GVI

Jessica, thanks for your review! I'm so happy to hear you had such a great experience with us. We welcome you back to base again sometime in the future. In the meantime, please do keep on spreading your GVI love!

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

My first under 18 volunteering in South Africa with GVI

From start to finish this was an incredible experience.I would highly recommend GVI South Africa to any young person It provides adventure and a opportunity to work with, and for some amazing people , other volunteers and leaders.You get to experience working as a team,giving time and energy to make difference to children.You will get to see Cape Town at its best and also see. the problems the country faces. I went just before my sixteenth birthday and was very pleased with how GVI got the balance between supporting us as under 18 year olds and giving us responsibility and challenge. The practical arrangements , accommodation and transport were good and our trips at the weekends were inspiring and eye opening. It has had a lasting impact upon me .

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
This trip is perfect for any young person with an open mind looking for adventure and challenge.
79 people found this review helpful.
Response from GVI

Hey Jessica, thanks for your review! I'm thrilled to hear you had such a positive experience with us and enjoyed your time on base as much as you did. We'd love to have you back on base sometime soon!

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Magical experience!

When I first arrived in Thailand in the first day of the program I had no idea what to expect. It was one of those thing where no matter how ready you think you are you never will be quite ready enough. I was so nervous as I had only come with one friend. Immediately the staff who had come to pick us up put us at ease. This made us feel welcome and they were so friendly. This experience has taught me so much in terms of being more independent as well as showing me how much of an impact our everyday decisions have on others around the world. My favourite part of the experience was working with sea turtles because we were able to help them by cleaning their tanks and giving them medicine. I also really enjoyed the sightseeing of the second week as we did so many awesome things such as sleeping in treehouses and in huts in a lake.

72 people found this review helpful.
Response from GVI

Hey Mia, thanks for your review! I'm thrilled to hear you had such a positive experience with us and enjoyed your time on base as much as you did. We'd love to have you back on base sometime soon!

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Life Changing

I wish everybody could have an experience like these trips. Going to a foreign land working with people that don’t speak the same language as you, traveling to places outside of your comfort zone, connecting with people you never would’ve met otherwise. These trips have shaped me as a person, taught me how to be more grateful, how to learn from my experiences and the people around me. I couldn’t ask for anything else in this world than to travel and GVI gave me that opportunity.

The world would be a better place if everybody could have these experiences and learn about different cultures with hands on experiences. It’s a completely different feeling to learn by experience than sitting in a classroom watching videos from places we’ve never been to or problems that don’t perosnally affect us. It’s a completely different thing to see people struggling in person, to lend a helping hand to someone in need, to understand that even though we may have it so good that we can pay to help others, there are people out there that need that help.

It was also extremely refreshing to go to an area that appeared to be stuggling only to learn that the people there are happier than those in my home time. The people and the kids I got to work with had better attitudes and more spirit for life than any person I had ever met in my day to day life. It’s incredible what living in poverty can do to someone’s life. It does not obviously equal unhappiness, but motivation, appreciation for the things they do have, and a simpler expression of happiness.

I will forever cherish the experiences I have received from these programs.

81 people found this review helpful.
Response from GVI

Hey Izzi, thanks for your review! I'm thrilled to hear you had such a positive experience with us and enjoyed your time on base as much as you did. We'd love to have you back on base sometime soon!

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

GVI Thailand Under 18

My experience with the GVI Under 18 program was quite unique compared to my fellow participants. Although we all did the same activities, my experience is one that I will never forget because although it was rough it was one of my best memories and my dumbest actions. It was the second and last week we would be in Thailand so we went to see as much of it as possible and we stayed at a new housing every night. This particular housing was one of the best, the view was mountains and greenery, actually breathtaking. After we ate dinner we all went to our rooms and my room had a porch so my roomate and i were talking and having fun with everyone. They sat out on the lawn and we were on the porch. For some reason I needed to run back into my room and I didnt see whether or not the glass door was open. Running towards the room it seemed open. It was not open, my whole body smacked right into door and i just felt numbness everywhere. I fell back and when i got up I could not stop laughing, the thought that I had actually done something that dumb was shocking. My lesson to future participants is to not make the same mistake I did. Be aware of your surroundings. When I got home I went to the doctor and we discovered my busted lip, bruised knees, a concussion and a fractured nose. The next morning the staff saw what had happened and automatically raised concern. As it was my last week I didnt want to miss out on any activities but the staff definitely took care of me the best way they knew how. I would not change a thing about my experience and I would definitely continue with more GVI programs in the future.

79 people found this review helpful.
Response from GVI

Hey Ana, thanks for your review! I'm thrilled to hear you had such a positive experience with us and enjoyed your time on base as much as you did. We'd love to have you back on base sometime soon!

Questions & Answers

It is actually not necessary to speak the language of the country you are going to, all programs will feature guides in English. If you desire to speak the language, there will be lots of opportunities to practice and learn.