GoEco

GoEco

About

GoEco is a leading eco-tourism company with a varied selection of affordable volunteer projects abroad. We act as a gateway to over 150 extraordinary community, wildlife and environmental initiatives all over the world thanks to our great partnerships. Join one of our rewarding projects and become a part of the global volunteer movement!

Reviews

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Elli
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

As someone who has been to many volunteer programs in Israel, I can honestly say they are all worth attending. From the Wildlife Center in the south to the Vegan Bakery in Tel Aviv, each program offers unique and immeasurable traveling experiences.

It's not often one has the opportunity to sink their teeth into Israeli culture using a completely different lens than that of a usual tourist. The work I accomplished, the people I met, and the places I visited made this experience hard to forget. If you're looking for a meaningful volunteer experience, GoEco will help you find the most suitable one for you as they did for me.

Happy traveling!

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guy
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Going to Sri Lanka and volunteering in the babies orphanage on Kandy was the best decision I have ever made. Being there and feeling the positivity of the work youre doing and the impact you have of other people's life is undescribable. That feeling you get when you pick a baby up from his crib and he is wrapping he's arms around your neck and not letting go is the best and worse feeling ever. You can actually feel how desperate those kids are for love and you can't even start to imagine going back home and leaving them there.
I had a lot of fun but I would really recommend trying to go for a longer period of time, since you also have introduction week at the start of the program, which leaves you with a shorter time for volunteer work.
Introduction week was truly amazing, befriending your roomates and volunteer colleagues while getting to know the sri lankan culture through trips to temples, cultural dance show, batik house, cooking lesson and more.
The food was very good though really spicy and very repetitive.
The accomodation was very clean, comfortable and safe.
I would advise on bringing your own medication as the hospital neraby is not very hygienic and it is worth to avoid the visit.
Registering through GoEco was amazing, you really feel like everything is being taken care of and the treatment was very personal.
Picturs unfortunately only available from intoduction week since you cant take pictures of the orhanage or the babies.

Silvia
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Volunteering with this programme was the best decision I could have possibly taken. It was such an amazing experience getting to wake up everyday to the lions roaring. The staff there was super nice and the volunteers were the most funny people I have ever met!
We got to prepare the food and feed all the animals everyday, water them ad help with the cleaning of the house. On weekends we helped with the tours that came to see the animals and we also had a lot of free time to spend time with some of the animals. Also, we did some trips to the city to have dinner out, go to the mall and buy the groceries.

Let's Meet My Valentine :-P
Kate
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

YES!
Volunteering in the strikingly homey desert wilderness, under a pacific supervision of well-fitting rangers, to cater for hygienic, dietary and safety well-being and convalescence of exotic and endangered animals, thereto reach far over to provide welcoming conditions for visitors so that they can peacefully mingle with locally typical, Bible-related species, and learn of their life cycle and threats of extinction. This is the CORE of your delightful input in the reserve of Hai Bar Yotvata and only a FRAME of your captivating experience.

UNEARTHLY PARADISE
Situated in the respectably CULTIVATED Arava borderline of the Negev DESERT, the animal reserve with its embedded residential area (incl. spacious volunteer bungalow), is encircled with picturesque range of mountains and a highway to Eilat, the longest Israeli road. Being a European with immoderate density of buildings and forests, I got astonished at the scenery, evocating both freedom and firmness at the same time. I fell in love instantly.

AFTER THE WORKSHIFT? SHIFT TO EXPLORATION
Topped with moderate climate of Israeli post-winter and pre-spring February stay, I felt fresh enough to EXPLORE the safe pathways to nearby kibbutzim of less than 20min of walking distance. Just be well equipped and let people know, for the health insurance was already your entry ticket anyway. Since you may volunteer in a group or most likely happen to be joining already active volunteers, eventual loneliness shall be nothing but your own choice. Let alone the MYRIAD of unique local trip opportunities, neighbouring rangers and fenced animal-run, sources of in-house fun from a guitar, books, board games, over YouTube channels on TV and Internet in general, to household or the porch, which appears to be the most favourite relax-zone. After all, peace and quiet is all you need after work sometimes.

WHAT IS, WHAT ISN’T ON DAILY MENU?
You are doomed to fall for mountainous valley, occasional acacias or palm kibutzes as they deliver an exciting scene, detached from dense civilization, yet close to Eilat. Wadi, caves and wilderness are just around the highway. Sun rises above the strap of nearby Jordanian mountain ridges. You are going to enjoy the daily pickup with a jeep, work side by side with experienced rangers and see how HANDY can be the shopping done once a week per your reserves, within generous budget for the whole board of the volunteer house. Everyone shall profit from healthy detachment from mass media, although still with fast wireless Internet access and telescreen. MODERN FACILITIES are deemed a ‘five star hotel’ amidst the desert and protected animals. WHAT’S INCLUDED? Housing, all energy supply, Internet, sufficient grocery stipend, gas for the jeep, eventual transfers should you need, liquids and bathrooms on workplace, working tools and first-hand expert explanations!!!

UNIQUE WORK CONDITIONS
Other than that, sand becomes a nostalgic article which the work leaves you with thereafter. All the year round, you will get a constant rangers’ care for organism hydratation. No worries about failing in the tasks - here the rangers see to the good work and so they actively partake in the alike physical work that we do and provide a constant unbiased supervision, not only to save the animals, but to protect the volunteers too. Stemming from situation, look forward to rare assignments of breathtaking character, with high responsibility and honour, for they require professional or emergent execution. Living next door to animals’ yard and continuously discovering diverse forms of reptiles and insects around entail the routine that many may find MISSING BACK HOME.

NEWIE-VOLUNTEERS, STRETCH YOUR EARS
Believe it or not, great diversity of local animals will occupy your mind on daily bases. Not only are you free to give a helping hand at weekends. Not only a beautiful grasshopper, a pert ant, an attractive lizard and other cute tiny beings may pay you a visit. Maybe that the rangers with their patient expert eye will help you see the WELL-CAMOUFLAGED WILDLIFE and international MIGRATING BIRDS, with which the very typical Hoopoe or fabulous Flamingos, for their PECULIAR story. Value added depicts the chance of being invited to extra tours within the regular inspections. So get ready, make sure your eye or photo lens are clean!

Appreciation is always the key to sustainable relationships rather than taking things for granted. Workplace is not a holiday resort. Rangers are there for the reserve, but for you too - SPEAK to them, NOTE them when you need to leave for the restroom, when you feel sick, if you are close to run out of food supply, if you plan to take a TRIP OUTSIDE (e.g. to Eilat with its Doplhine Reef, Underwater World, artistic downtown, its considerable airport and many cultural sites; to ancient Timna mining site and close canyon-like serpentines; to surrounding kibutzes; to a walking distance lookout point; a bus drive either to Dead Sea or Beer Sheva) and, of course, when you are not sure about UNDERSTANDING the instructions.

Do not be afraid to ask as they, too, appreciate openness, trust, cooperation, interaction, initiative, relevant questions (and compliments as everyone), for it enhances work experience and MOTIVATION on both sides. Load the phone numbers of recommended rangers onto your mobile CONTACT LIST.

Should you decide to apply through GoEco, remember that there is a person you can always turned to as well; plus they will see to it that you adapt yourself comfortably and introduce you to peculiarities of wonderful Jerusalem in the company of a friendly knowledgeable guide.

YOU ARE GOING TO SURVIVE WITH SMILE, BUT STILL
Wear heal-and-toe closed shoes, best possibly protecting your ankles too. Keep your head covered, as you are exposed to sun. Sunglasses may well protect your eyes from sand in eventual wind and sandstorm. Sunscreen may come handy even in winter months. Basically take all RECEIVED ADVICE before departure and meanwhile the stay into account, for the reserve has a lot to deal with inside and the wilderness around to take on another issue. Don’t underestimate local conditions in the first place as there might not be a vehicle available to take you to hospital WHEN IT IS TOO LATE or to do the shopping when you are already out of all the supply. Remember that running the reserve does not comprise mere ‘Good morning’ to animals, let alone they are not the only ‘beings’ there - an essential part features an embedded campsite, lodging huts and safari. Besides, also the cared-for wild fauna consists of both herbivores, as well as CARNIVORES (predators). Hence do not expect the hyena, leopard, wolfs, jackals, wild cats, caracals, vultures, eagles etc. to feed on SOYA MEAT.

POST-PROGRAM CONSEQUENCES
Grateful for each second and for the natural ‘embarkment’ on board of rangers’ brotherhood, I felt and do feel like showing my APPRECIATION here and there. The last night I went through nostalgic break-down as I realized the strong bonds with the fun, talented, intelligent, proud, respectful and hospitable people, as well as with Hai Bar wrapped in charming mountains and peculiar animals’ sounds (how was I supposed to DISACCUSTOM MYSELF from ostrich wooing, donkey heehaws and rangers’ quizzical comments). I have remained surprised how FRIENDLY the DESERT SETTINGS can be, how ‘at-home’ I felt the whole month, what a HEALTHY RESTORATION it was from stressful daily life, from the ‘omnipresent’ business surrounding, traffic and construction noise, from the air pollution and cases of ill-treatment or indifference to animals back home.

Like others, I REDISCOVERED my self-reliance and REINFORCED active listening. I should say that I SHALL COME AGAIN! For many international people I talked to, it is still a relatively UNIQUE RESCUE AND RECOVERY PROGRAM in Israel. Nor is the Internet explicitly ‘flooded’ with rich information on this distinct natural legacy and reservists’ endeavour after its nature SUSTAINABILITY in CONSTANT FIGHTS with the municipal, business and ministry deputies, searching for compromise with desired growth of infrastructure and income.

CHECK IT OUT!

What would you improve about this program?
A good word on experienced reality derives progress. Every volunteer already has the chance to express openly and leave a feedback. I personally learned on the place how the housing conditions, communication reserves and volunteers' imprudence have developed since program's first striving years.
It needs to get promoted in large, emphasizing that people with particular insight, interests, thinking green, enthusiasm and creative ideas may bring not only sustainability of the program, but its gradual development for good.
Default avatar
Neil
7/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I was a volunteer at a wildlife sanctuary for 3 weeks from November 4th until December 1st 2017. The sanctuary takes in orphaned or injured animals and looks after them with the aim for them to be released back into the wild. For some animals or birds release is not a practical option so they live out their lives at the sanctuary. There is a large range of animals and birds including lions, leopards, monkeys, antelope, crocodiles, sheep, meer-cats, eagles, owls and geese. The work is all directly or indirectly aimed at helping the animals, we did a lot of food preparation, enclosure cleaning and general improvements, but we also had trips offsite to look at camera traps or collect food/bedding for the animals. The sanctuary staff organized trips away for us as well, for example, we had three days in Victoria Falls.

What would you improve about this program?
The main issues were related to the economic situation in Zimbabwe, it was difficult to purchase things such as freezers as the currency is in a mess. It would also help to have a specific volunteer coordinator as it was done as part of another job.

Programs

Displaying 10 - 18 of 33

Alumni Interviews

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

Lara Schroeder

Lara is from Luxembourg, but currently studies English Literature and Italian in Wales. She loves reading, gymnastics, animals, and traveling. While volunteering in South Africa for a month, she was able to combine two of her passions.

woman with elephant

Why did you choose this program?

From the beginning, I knew that I wanted to go to Africa, because of the great variety of animals and because I was interested in the different cultures.

I looked through a few programs, most of them in South Africa, and finally found the perfect one -- Wildlife Sanctuary takes care of ALL kinds of animals, big and small, and the reviews previous volunteers had written gave me the impression that this would be the perfect place to go.

Another advantage is that you can go anytime during the year for as long as you want to. My parents were not too keen on me traveling by myself to Africa, but they were glad that I chose South Africa as it is clearly a more developed country.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

GoEco was very helpful and told me exactly what to organize, when and how. They booked the program after I had filled in some basic information and send me the documents I needed to fill out for travel insurance. I booked my own flights and send the details to them so that they could organize my transport from and to the airport and everything worked out perfectly.

They were always really quick to reply to my e-mails and even called after I had signed up for the program to shortly discuss it with me.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Be open-minded and talk to everyone, especially the locals, who are just lovely.

Do as many excursions as you can (especially skydiving), as they enable you to see a bit more of the stunning landscape and if you can, go to another program afterward, or travel a bit by yourself as you only see a tiny part of this huge country when volunteering at Glen Afric.

Bring gloves and gumboots and be prepared to do some hard work. It is so rewarding to see the results of your effort in the end.

Finally, don't be scared and enjoy every second. You will make great friends and have the time of your life!

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

The day starts at 8 am when you clean the elephant house and horse stables. After this is done, usually at 9, you go for breakfast (the food is always great), and after that, you will be split into groups.

One group does work that often consists of preparing new enclosures, while the other group has animal interaction: you can pet the cheetah, learn about the behavior of leopards, or maybe even train some animals. The next day, it will be the other way around.

An exception is Shitmonday! Sounds horrible, but is actually quite fun. You take all the shit and bones out of the enclosures and layer it on the shit trailer (yes, that is an entire trailer full of shit).

Two times a week you assist in the animal feeding, a great occasion to get a closer look at the lions, tigers, and hyena, and to take some stunning pictures. On Thursday afternoons and on Sunday you are off and can choose to go on an excursion. You also have the possibility to go horse-riding or to do elephant walks once a week.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

I was probably most worried when arriving in Johannesburg. The driver was already there waiting for me, but I had no idea what to expect and was nervous to meet the other volunteers.

As soon as I got to know them, I realized that I had no reason to worry. They were all lovely people and as we all had similar interests, we instantly connected. The flight is the only time you are actually by yourself, but as soon as you arrive, all of your worries just disappear as you become a part of the team.

Another thing I was worried about was the fact that I stayed for 4 weeks and I thought that the work might get monotonous, but now I know that 3 or 4 weeks is the perfect duration! Loads of volunteers return every year and often stay for 2 months or even longer and none of them have ever had any regrets.

If you should encounter any problems while you are there, I assure you that the staff there will do their best to help you! They are amazing people and do not just care about the animals (they absolutely love them!), but they also care about the volunteers and they will make sure that you get the most out of your time in South Africa!

What was your biggest question prior to going on this trip?

One thing that I really wanted to know when choosing a program was what animals were there!

At the moment, there are 3 elephants, about 10 lions, 3 lion cubs, a hyena, 4 tigers, a leopard, a cheetah, 4 giraffes (1 of them a baby), 1 hippo and the multiple zebras, warthogs, antelopes, horses donkeys, wildebeest and ostriches that just freely roam around the farm.

After I left, they started collaborating with another sanctuary that takes up smaller, injured animals, so there will probably be even more animals when you go!

What were the highlights of your time abroad?

We learned how to inject goats, which was an amazing and also really fun experience. Another time, we made a mud-bath for the elephants, which obviously ended in all of us volunteers having a mud-fight. And finally the animal interaction: you can get up close with tigers and lions, you can give Roxy (the super cute hyena) a scratch and we had the possibility to play with the lion cubs and train them on a little jumping parkour.

Those are just a few of the amazing things I have experienced this summer and I find myself thinking about Glen Afric every day!

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Staff Interviews

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

Cassandra Federbusz

Job Title
PR Manager
woman smiling

What is your favorite travel memory?

In October 2013, I spontaneously decided to join my friend in Nepal to do the Annapurna Circuit Trek after a three-month backpacking adventure in Europe. It was the most awe-inspiring journey I have ever taken. When I finally reached Thorong-La Pass (5416 m. high) I was extremely proud of myself (and stuffed from all the Dal Bhat I ate to get there)!

Which destination is most underrated? Conversely, which is most overrated?

I think any destination that isn't filled with tourists is definitely worth exploring.

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

Since working at GoEco, my knowledge of the world has expanded, from discovering new destinations to learning about issues I never knew existed. I've come to truly appreciate international volunteers' contributions around the globe and the role GoEco plays in the industry.

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

We hear some incredible stories from returning volunteers each year, but I think the one that stuck with me the most so far is from Lucas after his participation in the Medical and Health Care project in India. In his blog he wrote:

"The small hospital waiting room was crowded -- full of patients from the surrounding villages seeking medical treatment. The doctor and medical staff hurried to and fro, despite the stifling heat, to treat the overload of patients. This was the scene in Karan Hospital every day. The doctors are heroes there, working endlessly to observe, diagnose and treat the plenitude of patients––a job of at least five doctors in a Western medicine facility. This is what medicine, the pursuit of helping people, is all about."

Describe a time when you felt especially proud to be part of your current team.

GoEco was recently named "Top Volunteer Abroad Organization" of 2015. It was an extremely proud moment for all of us.

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