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Frontier

About

A world of possibilities awaits you with Frontier. You could be spending memorable days scuba diving off the brilliant white sand beaches of Fiji or discovering Madagascar on a conservation project with lemurs and chameleons.

Frontier has over 300 projects in 50 countries throughout Africa, South America, Europe and Australasia, giving you unlimited adventures and excursions in beautiful locations. WWith 25 years experience in managing volunteering and adventure travel projects, we can find you the perfect project whatever you want to achieve.

You can contribute to positive change in the future of marginalised communities with one of Frontier's development projects. Teach a class of neglected children in under-funded village schools, before adventuring through forests spotting bush babies and flying foxes, or scuba dive and take part in marine conservation in a protected marine eco park.

Go on a Frontier project and discover an adventure beyond your wildest dreams!

Founded
1989

Reviews

Alex
1/10
No, I don't recommend this program

Just doing my job to deliver this PSA... I have used frontier and without getting too long-winded STAY AWAY FROM FRONTIER. At best it's a completely disorganized, poorly functioning "volunteer service". At worst they are led by false advertising to steal your money. I sincerely believe it is the latter. I spent roughly 25 weeks in one form or another with Frontier. The London staff is laughable. They don't pay their field staff (some of which are terrible and others are good) or support the projects above the bare minimum. The living conditions are awful compared to how much you're paying and you can see the minimal investments into improving this.

The lodging/equipment was falling apart and constantly breaking. Also, don't expect the money to be used for the cause you actually signed up or care about. It's painfully obvious after my time with them that all the money goes to (misleading) advertising and lawyers (and I'm sure to the board members of this so-called "nonprofit" which is likely a front for tax purposes). They only survive by new volunteers getting tricked by their slick ads and website but be warned they will try to steal your money. I was swindled out of over 2000 USD. And they know the cost of trying to sue them is prohibitively expensive to try to do, and they purposely make you sign ambiguous contracts to make sure they don't have to refund you even if they cancel the project/trip on you. Bottom line. Avoid at all costs.

My recommendation, if you know where or what kind of project you'd like to do, search for local NGOs, etc. You'll save a ton of money, use your money to actually support your desired cause and it'll probably be much more functioning and pleasant. Also in regards to the terrible field staff, they hire anyone with or without any knowledge or credentials often. Had one "guide" that was harassing one of the other volunteers. Another that made up rules, at one point walked away while crying was just an absolute mess from day 1.

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Ida
1/10
No, I don't recommend this program

I found this week in terms of volunteering just a waste of time.
It was rather a cheap and not fun student holidays in a poorly maintened house. You will have a lot of free time and that house is far from everything. If you don't get a car, you will feel up your time with commuting by public transport.
We did very little of voluntering activities and the way everything was orginized was very strange if you think that you will be spending a week of your time to help a good change to happen. In principle out of 7 days: 2 are free, 1 is instructions and safety, and 4 are those lazy activity days.
Probably the most useful activity was beach cleaning. But very dumb as we were not allowed to talk to people unless they approach. We had t-shirts saying "Frontier", that says nothing to people, so it makes no sense to just clean a beach for 1 hour (the only activity for that day), tomorrow there will be more trash out there. But at least something happend: for that evening the beach was cleaner than before.
Next day we counted ships that were not behaving according to the rules. Just counted, didn't make pictures, didn't collect any prove that could be used later in order to talk to the government and force all ships to respect the rules. We were counting them for 1.5 hour with 17 people on top of the mounting. Do you need 17 people to count? No. Would that make more sense to make smaller groups and count for the day? Yes, but that is more difficult for the orginizers. So we counted them in turns, wrote down the numbers and then we were free again. One more increadible "volunteering" day was over.
The star activity of the program is to travel with tourist boats to picture dolphins. If you are lucky to get a place. Many times if the boat is full you will spontaneosly get another free day. Frontier guaranties that you will go on a boat at least once per week. All of us did 1 or 2 boat trips . On some of these boats you will be asked to serve food to tourists (hey plastic packages, bottles and cuttleries) and then help to clean. On the moment when they spot dolphins you are free to take pictures. Those pictures are meant to be used for a catalogue, BUT we had very unclear instruction on how to upload and catogolize those pictures that sooo many mistakes will be there, that it doesnt make sense either. Sad. Many of the participants just didn't do it at all, as it was not clear how to do it.
And so on, I dont want to make a discription of every detail that could be improved and waste more of anyones time, I can not recommend Frontier at all. I actually think that they harm the idea of volunteering, since after participating in such a program you will doubt that this type of "holidays" is something for you.

What would you improve about this program?
You will be asked during your stay what can be improved. Just it will not be improved. But you can steam it out. The program is not new at all and pretty much everything needs to be improved.
Response from Frontier

I am sorry to hear you found your volunteering week with us disappointing. A week’s schedule consists of an arrivals day, a full day of training, 4 activity days and a free day. The free day is to accommodate people to spend some time seeing the area.
The house is in a local community where many residents take the bus to work and surrounding areas. This is only about 15 min away from the main city and we are happy to be situated in an area that is not considered touristy and is more a part of the local community and the cost of living associated with this area is far more appropriate for the volunteer experience in general. Using public transport is standard in the area and works within our aims of reducing our carbon footprint in line with our ethos as a conservation organisation.
During beach cleans you were allowed to speak with local people and were actively encouraged to do so to raise awareness of the activity, its importance and the reason for the project as a whole. Many people in the South recognise the Frontier t-shirts and know what we are doing and have always interacted with us positively and are very grateful for the work our volunteers carry out.
Thank you for your feedback about the coastal surveys, ideally we would have split the group more but it was not possible so we decided to do this activity as with the full team. We will take the feedback of taking pictures into account, we are always looking for new ideas and suggestions for improving our activities and volunteer experience.
Our star activity is indeed the boat surveys. We try to plan people on as many boats as possible but we guarantee at least one. This guarantee we did meet. Yes, sometimes a boat trip can be cancelled by our partners due to weather or as a result of busy tourism and we try to rearrange the activity to accommodate these as best we can which we did on this occasion.
In training we go through how to catalogue the data thoroughly. During the time data is put in, a staff member is always around and we explain it again if necessary. If you do not ask for help, we do not know that you may need it. The project laptops also have a step-by-step guide which you could follow in case you were confused and a staff member was not present. Every boat trip’s data has been added and most participants took incredible pictures which we can use to expand our cetacean database and our quarterly science reports.
Furthermore, this Christmas Offer is designed as we want to provide opportunities to people that may not necessarily be in a position to sign up for this project otherwise. However, some activities can be affected by the festive period due to increased local tourism, local events causing disruption or reduced local services due to public holidays. Our staff team do all they can to accommodate these factors but sometimes these disruptions can affect our activities.
Thank you for your feedback about your time in Tenerife, all feedback is useful to our team’s efforts to constantly improve the project experience for our volunteers.

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Cosi
1/10
No, I don't recommend this program

I signed up for the healthcare programme in Madagascar for the month of February. My experience did not live up to this promise. I signed up for a two week project paying £399. They then paid an additional £200 to bring my volunteering forward a week. In the first 7 days i was at the project i spent in total 5 hours teaching English at a primary school, 6 hours teaching English at a youth club and 2 hours helping out at an orphanage I.e. just 13 hours in total volunteering and precisely zero hours spent as a ‘healthcare volunteer’. The lack of volunteering opportunities (in healthcare and more generally) was explained by the local staff as being down to the lack of a ‘Community Coordinator’. We were given a Forest Coordinator who was unfamiliar with the Community Projects and spoke neither Malagasi or French and as such was unable to communicate with locals to organise volunteering. An example of this disorganisation was on the Tuesday she took me to the hospital but there was no doctor to meet them or anyone expecting them so they returned immediately to the Community house.
Not only was the actual volunteering disappointing but the living conditions were diabolical. I slept on a foam mattress that has disintegrated so it effectively wasn't there. The roof was leaking and in order to flush the loo you had to put your hands in the cistern! DISGUSTING!! Furthermore the food budget per day was £1 which was not even enough for 3 meals a day which was what the website guaranteed me.
Please take this as a warning NOT to use the FRONTIER.

What would you improve about this program?
I would employ an actual community coordinator. Change the beds and buy new linen. Redo the kitchen. Fix the toilet and shower.
Response from Frontier

We are very disappointed to hear this reflection of your experience in Madagascar. Particularly as all details and conditions of our project are explained and listed in all our pre-departure information such as trip notes, field briefs and other materials provided by Frontier. This includes itineraries, food provided, conditions in town and accommodation, kit list, etc.

As we take volunteer satisfaction very seriously and are eager to provide the most wholesome experience possible, we have in country procedures such as one to one and group feedback chats with staff, conflict resolution meetings and feedback forms, as well as give all volunteers a point of contact with our UK office support to ensure the project is meeting expectations.

We feel that a lot of the issues you listed are directly linked to perhaps not consulting all the information provided and by also refusing to participate in some of the activities – both in the teaching and healthcare project – designed by our project manager and supported by local staff members. Sorry to hear that our food was not to your liking. We focus on providing locally sourced goods with the lowest possible carbon footprint and in general, our food is very much enjoyed by all our staff and volunteers. Our facilities although basic are in line with how the local community that host us lives and, in some ways, we even have better amenities than the average household as we offer western toilets in the volunteer house instead of a long drop.

It was a shame that you had to pay an extra admin fee but this was charged because there was a request for a short notice change to your project arrival date meaning that you arrived in country a week earlier than expected and we had to rearrange your schedule with our local partners, adapt our logistics and operations.

We take all our volunteer feedback very seriously and we acknowledge your concerns, it is just very unfortunate that you declined to take part in the tried and tested communication and feedback processes that are in place both in country and post project. We believe that ultimately, the problems listed boil down to potentially not fully reading all the pre-departure information, communicating your concerns with our staff either in country or at London HQ or allowing yourself time to digest and enjoy the opportunities offered by our Madagascar community project.

Our project is visited by hundreds of volunteers every year and after providing these types of holistic volunteer experience over the course of 30 years we are more than confident that if you were to have given us and the programme a chance, you would have had a fantastic time!

Frontier Madagascar Team

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Frontier Tenerife RA
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I love the people, who were just great, tried to be supportive and helpful. I loved the reactions of local people who often said Thank You. That means a lot! I enjoyed the boats and the staff trying to give us the most of the time we are here. I loved the food and vegan inspirations ;-) I loved the culture and all the help we received from posters hanging around the main room. We could always ask questions which was great. The passionate people from all over the world- so so great! The chance to see how it is like to collect data, (which is not simple) was important to me as well.

I would love to join other Frontier projects but I have to point out I would need more information about it, much more details about weather condition and life in the place as I am not a very experienced traveller.

What would you improve about this program?
TIP: I would like to be introduced to more details, for instance when we do the coastal and clean the beach we could hear someting, maybe a little bit of a history of the place or some specifics about it.
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Lauren
4/10
No, I don't recommend this program

The only reason I enjoyed this trip was the people who were in my group, my trail leader was lovely and she chose and booked great accommodation, and the countries themselves were incredible. Our leader only had online training and Frontier had not told her the process at all, it was not clear what trips/travel and transfer was included (and a lot was restricted). Breakfast and lunch (which was included) HAD to be incredibly basic, very cheap local food eaten together at the same time. However this didn't take into account any other circumstances such as illness, group size, availability, price fluctuations etc. Our budget was tiny for the whole trip and if we didn't use it all on a meal, we never saw the leftover money.

There was rules with drinking and you weren't allowed much personal freedom - it felt like a school trip really. The safety regulations were ridiculous: not being allowed to slide down a slide at a waterfall, go on a banana boat or walk by yourself unless you were 'signed out' from the company's care (this also meant you couldn't use the paid for company accommodation whilst signed out). We had to write a blog every week, which only around 2 of which were actually published.

Communication with the company was shocking, they never replied to any emails or queries no matter how urgent etc. They also failed to take appropriate action when it came to one member's mental & physical health, which had consequences later on.. They also made not a single penny donation to the local school we taught at, which is disgusting considering how much we paid - and very awkward when the teacher told us this.

Overall on the whole trip I could not understand where any of this money had gone and was hugely disappointed. So much so that I actually came back early. We had one leader for around 13 people, which is not acceptable and too much responsibility for one person.

I would greatly advise you find a different company to travel with! I regret going with Frontier.

What would you improve about this program?
Too many ways to list, please see my review for details.

Programs

Displaying 19 - 27 of 29

Alumni Interviews

Alumni interviews are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Joe Lau

Joe Lau is originally from Loughborough, England, but currently resides in Hong Kong, China. He formerly worked in the finance industry, but decided to try be less evil and find a better purpose in life. Now, he volunteers on various social and environmental projects when he is not traveling and exploring. He loves street food, trying new cuisines, and being out of his comfort zone.
Downtown Caye Caulker

Why did you decide to enroll with Frontier in Belize?

I was looking to do something meaningful during my career break, apart from just seeing more of the world.

The idea of volunteering stuck in my head, although I had little idea on what to do. In my research, I looked for a project that combined my main interests of conservation and ecology and found many to choose from.

However, Frontier's Belize project did elevate itself from the rest by being in such an interesting location and country. It also involved my recent adoption of diving as a hobby.

Moreover, as I learned it was a start-up project, I was attracted by the experience of helping to get the project running.

What was the most interesting cultural difference you experienced on your trip?

After being involved in a fast-paced career previously, living in Caye Caulker was a nice slowing down experience and let me live with more appreciation.

It was a long and much welcomed lesson. It was one of the main takeaways I have from this experience, along with being impressed by the enthusiasm and drive of my young colleagues.

Tell me about one person you met.

Anik Levac is the Project Coordinator on the project and most helpful in introducing and encouraging me during my time on the project.

For such a young woman, she was so assured in her role and is someone I am still inspired by today.

Her organization and commitment to the project shone through, along with the respect from her colleagues.

She was also very down to earth and approachable as a team leader, and easy to think of as a friend more than anything else.

Was it difficult to navigate around language barriers?

No difficulties at all. Belize is culturally diverse, but its heritage as a former British colony and proximity to the Caribbean means that English is widely understood even where Creole is commonly spoken.

Spanish is also useful in some areas of Belize, particularly along the borders and south, but not around the cayes.

What was the best moment of the entire trip?

Obviously, I loved the diving and would have been happy and willing to do much more during my stay. We were mostly limited to the shallow reefs, but these were still beautiful.

The opportunity to see the sealife, while also participating in proper science (in our marine surveys), was very satisfying. Probably seeing a manatee while on a practice survey with Sophie and David (the other two project staff) was the highlight of several highlights.

Staff Interviews

Staff interviews are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Guy Bezant

Job Title
Project Coordinator
Guy Bezant writing on a boat

What is your favorite travel memory?

Eating in a restaurant in Hong Kong with some colleagues. The food was great, the atmosphere, we'd only just arrived and the whole setting was just perfectly set up for a great few hours in an amazing city.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

Certainly grown in self confidence in my abilities to do my job well. I've been given the opportunities to test myself and to improve and my confidence has grown right along with that.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

Not one specifically, but some volunteers I've worked with have expressed interest in working with me and the organization again in the future. It speaks volumes about the time they spent here and the impact it had on them.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

One of the ethical trails for sure. The idea of seeing different countries and cultures and going from one to the next and seeing what might happen is a really exciting idea.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

The uniqueness comes from my colleague's ceaseless energy and enthusiasm for the work, regardless of the challenges or difficulties. Everyone is so positive, enthusiastic and hard working that it rubs off on everyone else creating an amazing atmosphere to work in.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

Paying attention to details.

More Interviews