Raleigh Expedition logo

Raleigh International

COVID-19 Program Updates

Due to global health & safety concerns and travel restrictions related to the coronavirus, Raleigh International has decided to offer flexible booking options for some of their upcoming programs. Learn more about COVID-19 updates to stay tuned regarding program information.

About

Raleigh International is a youth-driven development charity with more than 37 years of expertise in working with young people.

We believe young people everywhere are able to change the world. So, we create youth-driven change that lasts. We empower young people with the skills, experience and connections to be leaders of change.

One of the ways we do this is through Raleigh Expedition, an international volunteering program open to all and engaging young people from around the world.

The program engages volunteers (aged 17-24) in creating long-lasting change through hands-on projects that tackle environmental issues, access to education for all, and alleviate poverty. Expedition is delivered in Costa Rica, Tanzania and Nepal for 4, 5, 7 and 10 weeks throughout the year.

Raleigh Expedition is one of the first UK programs to be accredited by the Gap Year Association (GYA) and recognized by TeenLife as a Top 15 most popular Gap Program in 2020.

Volunteer abroad in 2021 - Build the Kind of World You Want to See

Now more than ever, the communities and partners we work with around the world need our support. So, get in touch today to find out how you could be making a real lasting difference next year and join our community of over 45,000 change makers.

Founded
1984
Headquarters

52 Horseferry Road
Third Floor, Dean Bradley House
London
SW1P2AF
United Kingdom

Reviews

Default avatar
Holly
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I flew to Tanzania in February 2020, hoping to participate in a 10-week Raleigh Expedition. (My time was very sadly cut short due to the covid-19 pandemic, however I'm so grateful l got 5 amazing weeks.)
Arriving at our induction in Morogoro, I was initially struck by the warm welcome and the sense of community among the staff and volunteers. These were people who hardly knew each other, coming from many different countries, and yet everyone got along so well!
My first few weeks were spent trekking through the Iringa region, led by two local guides who were both brilliant. It was definitely a challenge, but our group managed to remain in good spirits throughout! The days were filled with stunning views, deep conversations and endless card games. On our rest day, we got to visit a Maasai village and learn all about the Maasai culture and way of living, which was really exciting!
I spent my final days in the country (before returning home due to coronavirus) living in the wonderful little village of Mtwango. We were working on a Natural Resource Management Project, which involved working alongside the villagers to plant trees for the village. We were also planning and carrying out primary school lessons and village meetings to raise awareness about climate change and the importance of replanting the trees in the future. A highlight for me was definitely living in my host home. I felt so welcomed by my lovely host mama and her daughter (who was a few years older than me). They made every effort to make us feel comfortable and at home, and I was touched by their kindness towards me when I was unwell on one of my first nights staying in their home. I'm still in contact with them now!
I made some amazing friends and experienced some amazing things- and I'm planning to return to Tanzania next year with Raleigh!!

Default avatar
Sarah
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I couple goals I had for my gap year were to make a difference in the world, and to grow as a person. In just 7 weeks, my Raleigh expedition completely exceeded these expectations! I was fortunate to be part of a 7-week expedition in Nepal and those weeks were some of the most memorable weeks of my life. Initially I was nervous to be away from home for this period of time, but after a few days, I regretted not signing up for the 10-week expedition! Raleigh does an exceptional job of providing a balance of learning, hard work, personal growth and fun for their volunteers.
My community placement was in a 30-house village, and by the end of the 3 weeks I was heartbroken to leave. My host family was so welcoming, the food was delicious and the community was so appreciative of our work. We worked alongside members of the community to ensure they got what they wanted and they were able to teach us so many tips and tricks.
The second half of my expedition consisted of a 17-day trek through the stunning Ruby Valley. The trek was an incredibly rewarding experience. I learned just how strong I am both mentally and physically, all while walking through jaw-dropping scenery.
My top memories from my Raleigh expedition include interacting with the children at the local school in my community, playing volleyball with locals while on trek, and making lifelong connections with fellow volunteers. Overall, my experience with Raleigh completely changed my outlook on life and left me wanting more.

Default avatar
Bart
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

After I decided to take a gab year, I realised that I had the opportunity to do something special. An enthusiastic acquaintance of mine adviced me to have a look on the website of Raleigh International, because he had a very cool experience with them a few years ago. And now I totally agree with him. I went on Raleigh expedition to Nepal in the winter of 2019. Being placed in an hostfamily in a rural community while working at valuable sanitation-and hygieneprojects is an experience I will never forget. Especially because we made a big difference and we did that as a team. Living with the community members and experience their hospitality was very inspiring. And last but not least, you also got to know a lot of nice people who live all over the world.

All in all, I would highly recommend going on Raleigh expedition.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Appreciate your time in Nepal because the time flies!
Default avatar
Anna
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Raleigh Expeditions are amazing. Honestly, when I went on this 10 week expedition back in Feb 2018, I was not expecting to enjoy it quite as much as I did, whilst also positively impacting the Nepalese community and making real change with the projects we did. I went on this programme during my gap year, after working and fundraising for the first half of it. I felt welcome and part of the group from the very first day - it was so easy to make friends, as majority of the volunteers were also school leavers, or had just left Uni, so we found we all just clicked.
I know how difficult it is to chose which volunteering programme to go on. However, I would urge you to consider Raleigh, because it IS different to the rest. Raleigh is a trusted company and out on expedition I genuinely felt safe - the staff were supportive, I was able to get contact from home, and the whole programme was extremely well organised. With the expedition I went on, I spent two phases (3 weeks each) working in community and the middle phase (also 3 weeks) trekking in the Ruby Valley. In community we were staying in home-stays with a host family, and another Raleigh volunteer, which was such an amazing experience - it allowed us to fully immerse ourselves in the Nepalese culture. During the working days our main project was digging a pipe line and a hole for a water tank, to replace the one that was damaged from the earthquake in 2015. This was super hard work, but enjoyable as a a group, and we always debriefed after and planned activities for the evenings.
My highlight was Trek - of course the scenery was beautiful, but not only that. Walking and camping for days on end gives you the time to chat, and get to know everyone in your group. I'm still in contact with so many of the people I met on Raleigh Nepal. I'd 100% recommend it, and if given the chance, I would love to do it again.

Default avatar
Felix
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I went on my Raleigh Nepal expedition the winter of 2019. I really wanted to see this country, because my mother went here 30 years ago. I thought Raleigh would be the best way to go here, because you get to really see the country which most tourists do not. The trekking fase through the ruby valley is absolutely breathtaking, although sleeping conditions are something you have to get used to :). I won’t spoil to much but just take my word for it that the views will be worth it. The community is super fun, working together with the locals is a blast. You also get to experience what life is like for a Nepali, we even went to a local wedding!

What would you improve about this program?
Keeping people who work well together, together throughout the program

Jobs

Programs

Displaying 1 - 2 of 2
Raleigh International
Volunteer abroad in Costa Rica with Raleigh International - Best Gap Year Program
Costa Rica
9.15 •20 reviews

Raleigh Expedition is an international volunteering program open to...

Raleigh International
Volunteer abroad in Nepal with Raleigh International - Best Gap Year Program
Nepal
9.07 •14 reviews

Raleigh Expedition is an international volunteering program open to...

Alumni Interviews

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

Why did you choose this program?

I already had experience with Raleigh International following a 3-week expedition to Borneo with them while I was still at school, so I knew that their expeditions were well structured and organized. When I decided to travel during my gap year between school and university, I knew I wanted to do something worthwhile that would also allow me to see parts of the world that were off the tourist trail, as well as push me to do something that was out of my comfort zone - Raleigh was perfect, and from my previous experience with them I knew that I would be supported and kept safe the whole time.

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

As soon as my application to join an expedition was reviewed and accepted and I had paid my deposit, I was sent an information pack by Raleigh International which contained all of the information I needed to know about how to prepare for my expedition.

The guidance touched on everything, from which vaccinations I required and what kit to pack to how much money to take with me and when and where to book my flights to and from. I was given the contact details of a member of staff at Raleigh head office who could help me with fundraising ideas and provide me with support in the lead up to my expedition. Raleigh also set up a Facebook group for all of the volunteers that would be traveling on my expedition so that we could get to know each other beforehand and coordinate our flights so we didn’t have to travel alone.

Raleigh covers all in-country expenses, including travel insurance for all volunteers, so the only things I had to organize myself were vaccinations and flights, but as mentioned before, Raleigh was on hand to offer guidance on this where required.

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

Try and make the most of every single day on the expedition! Accept that, just as in your day to day life, some days will be better than others and realize that the highs and lows you experience will be heightened but don’t forget where you are. You may never again get the opportunity to have those experiences and they only make you a stronger and more rounded individual. It’s so easy to trek for 19 days and stare at your feet the whole time but remember to look up because the views will take your breath away! Play with the local children, try the food you’re not sure about and embrace the adventure!

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

No two days are the same on a Raleigh expedition and the structure of each day is dependent on whether you are on your environmental, community or adventure (trek) phase. Typically, days on expedition start early so that you can avoid the midday heat whilst working on the project sites or trekking. Breakfast will consist of porridge or rice pudding (or whatever else you can concoct from the ingredients provided to you by the Raleigh team) or, if you are sleeping in a homestay, maybe more traditional local food. Lunch and dinner will also be cooked by yourself and your fellow volunteers so try and get creative where you can!

During your downtime, when you are not working on the project sites or trekking, you can choose to do what you like, although most volunteers opt to play card and other games together in the evening. Some use this as an opportunity to write in their journals or take some time alone or reflect on their day. If you are staying among the local people, you may have the chance to attend church services, teach English and even play a game of football with the children during your time off. Days on Raleigh are tiring and more often than not quite physically demanding so most of the time you will find yourself tucked up in your sleeping bag well before 9 pm!

The projects themselves involve a lot of manual labor such as digging trenches, mixing and laying concrete and occasionally carrying heavy loads but guidance is provided throughout and Raleigh works closely with the local people and cooperatives to ensure that everyone is supported and knows what they are doing.

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

My biggest fear before going away on the expedition was that I would feel really alone and homesick and wouldn’t make any friends. Once I arrived, however, I quickly realized that everyone else shared my fears and we were all in the same boat, and from that point onwards, my worries disappeared.

Nobody knew me beforehand; therefore, no one had any preconceptions about who I was and I was free to be myself without people judging me for the shy, somewhat guarded girl I was at school. This helped my self-confidence immensely because I was able to see that I could make friends easily and I did have a good sense of humor or I was likable (which I had never fully believed when I was growing up).

Because of Raleigh International, I am so much more confident in myself now and whenever I travel now, one of the last things I worry about is whether I will make friends because I know that I most likely will.

Any last thoughts?

A Raleigh expedition is a challenge and most volunteers are tested mentally, physically and emotionally at some point during their time away. However, my expedition was undoubtedly the most rewarding thing I have ever done.

I will never be able to shake the pure unadulterated joy and excitement I felt when I turned on the taps outside of our host family’s house (following the construction of a gravity-fed water system) and was told that it was something that they had waited their entire lives for, something they considered to be a dream come true. Raleigh expeditions not only have a lasting impact on those who volunteer: they also have a lasting and established impact on the communities involved in them and that is what I love the most about this charity.

My expedition was over 5 years ago now, but I still speak at information events for prospective volunteers in London because I still remain so passionate about what they do and the experiences they offer through their programs. It’s safe to say Raleigh International was and still remains a big part of my journey!

Staff Interviews

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

Georgia Walkden

Job Title
Events, Recruitment and Marketing Coordinator
The Events, Recruitment and Marketing Coordinator is responsible for hosting the information events, visiting schools to deliver presentations on gap years and helping anyone who is thinking of applying to go on a Raleigh International Expedition.

What is your favorite travel memory?

My favourite travel memory has to be from my Raleigh Expedition to Tanzania. My favorite phase was by far the trek. It was something at the beginning that I was so nervous about. I am not a trekker, but I loved the opportunity to see so much of Iringa, while meeting new communities everywhere we went. I did get quite bad blisters on trek but my team really helped me. We really worked together and I remember at one point they took everything out of my bag so that I didn't have to carry any weight. I was so thankful to them for that.

In order to get to our trek route, we had to travel through a national park. As soon as we entered the park, we saw elephants, giraffes and zebras! It was amazing to see the animals in the natural habitat and something I will remember forever. We had guides with us on our trek who were amazing. They were pointing out weird and wonderful things that we otherwise wouldn't have even looked twice at.

Overall, trek really helped me develop as a person and it is something that has changed my life.

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

I have definitely grown since working for Raleigh International. Before my job here, I had some experience of public speaking, but I had probably never delivered a presentation to more than 50 people.

At Raleigh, this is something I do on a weekly basis to groups as big as 200. It has helped my confidence grow massively and each time I can feel myself growing even better.

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

The best story I have heard from a returning student was from one of our Dutch volunteers. She went to Tanzania and had an incredible time and had an amazing bond with her home stay family. They welcomed her in with open arms. The following year after Expedition, she independently travelled back to Tanzania to visit her home stay family again.

She told me that Raleigh has changed her life, and going forward she wants a career focused in sustainable development. What an amazing thing to come out of a 10 week Expedition.

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

I have already been on a Raleigh International Expedition to Tanzania before I worked for them. I had such an incredible time that it lead me to apply for this job so I can share my experiences with as many people as possible.

If I was to go on another Expedition, I would chose Costa Rica. The opportunity to work right in the heart of the national parks would be a once in a lifetime opportunity. I'd also really love the opportunity to speak with the communities members about organic composting, including how they can make their own organic composting patch at home.

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

Being a part of Raleigh International is being a part of a family.

Because we have been running our Expeditions for 35 years, we know what we're doing and safety is still to this day at the heart of everything we do.

When our volunteers go on an Raleigh Expedition, they're living right in the hearts of the communities. They also get the opportunity to visit incredible parts of the countries that we work in that aren't accessible to tourists.

We offer a number of different projects to our volunteers, including community, environment and adventure. The community and environment focus very much on the sustainability of the countries that we work in, and then there's our adventure project. This is all about the volunteers personal development. They will work in a team navigating their way across stunning landscapes. They will also get the opportunity to be the leader of the group for a day. They will decide things such as how far they plan to walk, where it is they want to set up camp and once they have arrived, who's doing which jobs. Who will be cooking that evening, collecting the water, putting the tents up etc. There is a lot more to trek than just trekking.

Another thing that makes a Raleigh Expedition unique is that it is available for people all over the world. As an international organisation, we have volunteers come from the UK and we have volunteers come from each country that we work in. We also have volunteers from the US, The Netherlands, Germany and Australia, to name a few. It is an incredibly international programme.

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

Safety. As I previously mentioned, safety is at the heart of everything we do. Volunteers go on our Expeditions knowing that they will be safe and will have an amazing experience.

I also think that offering a variety of lengths for our Expeditions is a great factor. Sometime volunteers want just a couple of weeks away during the summer months and we can provide them with that. I personally would always recommend going for 10 weeks if they can. Then they have the opportunity to get involved in everything.

What's great about Expedition as well is that the volunteer have the opportunity to travel before and after our programs too. Most often, they will do it after; they will make such incredibly friendships on Expedition that they will spend their time after Expedition visiting neighboring countries with each other, creating even more memories.

Professional Associations