Big Beyond
94% Rating
(17 Reviews)

Big Beyond

Big Beyond offer bespoke high-impact volunteer opportunities taking you to incredible East African destinations many dream of. You’ll discover how it's easy to integrate right into the heart of the communities Big Beyond work and you’ll be astounded how your personal abilities will be transferred to solve real challenges in Africa. The team are experts at that.

You will experience being a genuine part of sustainable development and conservation projects, contributing to a range of innovative grassroots empowerment initiatives and the protection of national parks. A range of projects need volunteer support and there are roles suitable for all levels of ability. Your personal program can focus on one impact area or work across a few. Many programs are skills-based. All work is creative, engaging, fascinating and exciting.

UGANDA: Mountain gorilla conservation & community empowerment, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

ETHIOPIA: Hamar Tribe in the breathtaking Omo Valley



From the moment I arrived in Ethiopia, I knew that I was in good hands. I volunteered for 10 weeks and I loved every minute of my time living and working with the Hamar tribe. The food, the people, the weather, and the culture are incredible... The staff will create projects for you based on your skills and preferences, so that you can help in the accomplishment of exciting and massive goals. There is also plenty of free time, and the pace of life is pretty relaxed. If you are thinking about volunteering then go to Ethiopia with Big Beyond, it was a fantastic experience for me and I would do it again in a heartbeat!

Yes, I recommend
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I volunteered with Big Beyond for 2 months, mid 2015. I am a seasoned traveller, who has been to Africa a number of times. I am also very involved with an NGO that works in Africa - but which has a strict policy of only people of the country work in the country. I wanted to feel what it was like working embedded in a community, and hopefully feel that I could offer something useful. I have also trekked in to see the Mountain gorillas twice, so felt this was a good place for me to do some give back!

So those are my biases!

I really wanted to find an organisation that knew the community it worked in well, because it had worked there long enough to have great community input. BB has been in the community well over two years and employs members of the community as project coordinators and as staff. However in the two months I was there it was not evident that there is large scale community rapport.

The business of volunteer tourism is a new model and I am sure a very tricky one to get right. There was a new management team when I was there - and this certainly may have been causing hiccups! But the comments in previous reviews about better lines of communication - should be heeded.

I have thought long and hard before putting up a review. My honest experience was that I had a lovely time meeting and getting to know craftspeople there - something I would never have been able to do in any other way. I 'worked' with the craftspeople in the area. I saw a little tiny slither of what life is like to live in a small remote African township. And I certainly enjoyed the landscape, birdlife, and long walks along dirt roads in the area - also the hairy scary bike rides.

But like it or not, BB has not broken the mould on 'whitey knows best' - there were way too many examples of the project coordinators not being respected as the thoughtful and innovative local leaders they could be. There was too little evidence that programs had grown out of deep community consultation or request - but a lot of evidence it was shaped around volunteer's interests - maybe great busy work for us, not so good for locals.

I worked with the crafts people. I carve bowls, and have a knowledge of many aspects of different craft areas - so I loved sitting with the carvers and seeing how they worked and what they did. I spent time with the weavers, beadmakers and a blacksmith - all delightful. We talked, I tried some of their skills, offered some of mine, and we tried some new designs. But seriously, they were not asking for a volunteer to come to them. They wanted us to buy the work they were producing, or tell them what to make so we would buy it from them, and there it stops. Volunteers roll through there, changing over all the time some rapidly, some stay longer, but what the craftspeople wanted was a good way to speak with management, and they did not have it.

The tricky thing is, Big Beyond must have happy volunteers - because that is what brings in the money to pay management, infrastructure costs and programs - so they need to make the volunteers feel useful and worthwhile, but what happens when the community doesn't want or need what the volunteers want to do??? For BB - who is your real client? the volunteer or the community? I don't envy the management team trying to resolve this dilemma - and they are trying. I wish them all the very best. They offer an access point into an experience which is unique.

Community lunch is a very successful induction activity - enjoyed by every volunteer as a highlight - in fact the first two induction days are excellent, whomever in the team planned those two days, should be congratulated and PLEASE get involved in how volunteers can be better integrated through language lessons etc, so the barriers get chipped away. If volunteers contribute nothing else, they could at least help break down the myth that westerners know more than the locals about what's best for a community.

No, I don't recommend
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This trip was a first for many things for me, my first time traveling alone, my first visit to Africa and my first experience volunteering. Going, I wasn't fully prepared for what I was about to experience (I packed a hair straightener!..there was no electricity) but I don't mean that to sound negative, this was without doubt one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, I can honestly say I've never felt more welcome and at home in any other country that I've visited.

Yes, I recommend
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My time in Uganda was a truly heart warming, eye opening experience. It is difficult to write a fresh review as Its now been two years since I spent my summer out there. However I still find myself looking back to those experiences and they still influence the way I see my life now.

Looking back I honestly couldn't have changed a thing, having that opportunity to travel to this beautiful country, so far away from the well known tourist spots, having the ability to see, understand and experience rural Uganda. Then to be completely free whilst having all the support in the world was totally unique. I am a keen traveller and have been to many places and carried out tons of research on the topic and nothing I have ever come across has ever come close to what big beyond offers.

Having arrived out there, the ball was placed in my court and they asked me what I wanted to learn, what I was good at, what I wanted to do, what I wanted to get out of this experience and what I wanted to give back. Then from that point onwards my time was spent focusing on achieving those goals, and in that short time I did just that and so much more. My 4 weeks out there was just an appetiser of what could be possible, it was so rewarding seeing the way my skills had influenced people and improved their quality of life.

Being so heavily immersed in their culture you learn so much and make so many special friendships with people. It is a feeling unlike any other when you are accepted into their world as an equal, not just a passing tourist.

I learnt so much about myself during my time with Big Beyond, It has made me appreciate and enjoy my life on a totally new level.

Thank you Big Beyond, I will be back!

Yes, I recommend
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There are so many amazing experiences in the activity, so I believe that you will be able to enjoy them very much. Sometimes, you might be struggling with difficulties such as the inconvenience of access to the water or unfamiliar taste of foods though, it will definitely be great memory. Also African scenery is spectacular and wonderful. Beautiful sunset, strong sunshine, and uncountable shooting stars, those moments can release you from stress that you have in hometown.

In addition, you can enjoy working with BigBeyond staff and Hamar in Shele. They are very kind and nice guys! They teach you how to survive and to enjoy there.
When it comes to the activity, BigBeyond does not push you to do something. They gave us insight of local situations and it is totally up to you what to do. You can maximize your experience as much as possible.
I know it is a little bit (??) far from your home, but it is worth to visit. Hamar people will accept you as long as you have open mind.

Yes, I recommend

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