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Raleigh International

Why choose Raleigh International?

Raleigh International run life-enhancing journeys and transformational experiences for young people through international volunteering Expeditions to Costa Rica & South Africa. At the heart of Raleigh is empowering & equipping young people to create positive change in the world.

So far we have supported more than 55,000 young people from over 100 countries on Expedition, creating a global community dedicated to taking action towards a fair, inclusive, and green world where young people confront the planet’s most urgent crises.

Our volunteering programmes are called Raleigh Expeditions for a reason. An Expedition is a journey taken by a group of people with a purpose. The purpose of a Raleigh Expedition is to provide the platforms and opportunities for young people to establish themselves and become global citizens.


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Yes, I recommend this program

A truly once in a lifetime experience!

Highly recommend the experience for gap year students. I spent 3 weeks in an indigenous community learning from and supporting them. The community was a 2hr bus then a 5hr trek into the mountains but so worth it. Everyone had the overcome personal challenges whether it was fear of insects or no phone signal for 3 weeks. As a group we came away so close after being there through the highs and the lows. The trek was amazing as well, tough mentally and physically, but such an achievement! Came away with so many friends, it was truly a once in a lifetime experience!

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Yes, I recommend this program

An experience I will never forget

Costa Rica is a beautiful country with amazing landscapes and a wide variety of animals. I loved that I was able to join an indigenous community I would have never been able to meet otherwise and prove myself to be capable of anything after completing the Adventure Leadership Trek. The people I did the projects with were all very hard-working, supportive and kind, which made the projects much more fun and easier. The challenging bit of my Raleigh expedition was having barely any personal space, which made me feel overwhelmed and drained from time to time. As an introvert, I need some time to recharge every now and then, but because I was always around other people I did not always feel like I could fully recharge. This, however, did also help me with opening up to other people and communicating my needs to them.

  • Good safety measures
  • Amazing people to work with
  • Beautiful surroundings
  • Lack of personal space + not much space to have some alone time and fully recharge
  • Chaotic/stressful atmosphere on Fieldbase (the place all volunteers meet before Expedition and in between projects)
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Yes, I recommend this program

Raleigh Costa Rica

I’ve always been a very quiet and introverted type of person so taking part in Raleigh was a really big thing for me. I knew no one before I arrived and was completely out of my comfort zone! Being surrounded by positive and likeminded individuals helped me to come out of my shell and just be myself. Working in indigenous communities and in wildlife parks was so worthwhile as you can see the positive difference that you make which was so special. Trekking 256km through the heart of Costa Rica was both physically and mentally challenging but also so fun and rewarding as it makes you realise how much you’re really capable of. I have made some of my best memories on Raleigh and was probably THE best thing I have ever done in my life! I have grown so much as an individual and made friends for life. If you’re not quite sure whether or not to take part in Raleigh just take the leap of faith because you will most certainly not regret it!

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Yes, I recommend this program

Raleigh Costa Rica - February to April 2022

For my gap year before university, I spent 10 weeks volunteering with Raleigh International in Costa Rica from February to April 2022. I didn’t have many expectations before heading out, only that I would be doing a community project, environmental project and a trek. Within 3 days of arriving, I felt really settled and had made friends I’d felt I’d known be years. First, I did the indigenous community project which I absolutely loved. We were so isolated, with no service and connection to the outer world which I loved! It was easy to connect as a group and mix in with the children. We helped repair a turmite-infested building, build a guard house, and then we taught some classes to the children about the environment, English and maths. We also did a few sports days which was really fun, and being able to speak Spanish, I could communicate with the children (who’s second language was Spanish too). We did an action day, in which we taught the community about the importance about keeping the water source clean, and then took part in a football match! The locals gave us a few Cabecar lessons (their language) and taught us about their culture, which was such a privilege! For my second project, I volunteered in a national park. We helped clear the paths of leaves and rocks, dig holes for new fence posts and make a new hot spring. It was a lot harder work, and we often only found out what we were doing that morning which could be frustrating. However, we were camping within a national park, where nobody else could stay and woke up to monkeys in the trees above us, and surrounded by amazing wildlife. It was honestly an amazing experience. Finally, I took part on a 19 day trek. It was a challenging experience, but one I can say that is very doable! We bonded so well as a group, and were always so supportive of each other. The VM’s and Field Base team helped us with any issues we had and made sure to cater for what we needed and when, even if it wasn’t the plan, which really helped when some of our team were ill. The views we had, and the towns we passed through was such an amazing experience, and one I would love to do again! I would so recommend Raleigh to anybody. It’s a once in a lifetime experience, where you make likeminded best friends which you will keep for the rest of your life.

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Yes, I recommend this program

Raleigh Costa Rica

I had the most amazing 10 weeks volunteering in Costa Rica for Raleigh. It had allowed me to explore a new country in a completely unique way, whilst at the same time having a genuine and positive impact on the people and the environment. I had the opportunity to camp in a national park; live inside a remote indigenous community and trek 260km across the breadth of the country, experiences that most people will never have access to. Raleigh has also helped me grow in confidence as a leader, and develop my communication skills in social situations. I have met so many amazing people, many of which I will stay in touch with for a long time.

  • Super safe and organised way to travel
  • Opportunity to see remote parts of a country
  • You will meet loads of new friends
  • Sometimes the structure can feel slightly restraining


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Alumni Interviews

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

Frederick Melaert

After experiencing the harsh reality of homelessness, Freddy was given an opportunity to go on Re:Green, a programme provided by Raleigh International set in the Scottish Highlands. Freddy is now back on his feet and currently works as Year Of Service intern at Raleigh
Frederick Melaert in a field with two other volunteers

Why did you choose this program?

I was actually offered to go on Re:Green through the charity that was housing me at the time: the Amber Foundation. The two charities had already partnered up in the past with very positives outcomes.

I guess the reason main reason I actually wanted to go was for the adventure aspect of the trip. I love being outdoors, doing physical stuff and being part of a team so this opportunity was a Godsend.

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

I was extremely lucky as I was granted Raleigh's access fund, which gives young people with low income the chance to go on Re:Green. Even the travel to the programme locations is mostly taken care of by Raleigh. All I had to do was prepare my personal kit and get physically ready for the trip. Both charities were all extremely helpful in that aspect: Amber provided me with the space and equipment to train while Raleigh was assisting me with all kind of enquiries and kept checking in to see how I felt.

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

Re:Green is just as intense as Raleigh's programmes abroad. If you want to have the best experience possible I would suggest to prepare for the diversity of activities. That being said you can always rely on your team to help you out. When I first arrived I was very apprehensive of others but very quickly we became each others pillars we could lean on.

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

Well, there are two types of days. On conservation (where we help a local partner in various ways) we would wake up at around 07:30 or 08:00, and have breakfast while getting a quick briefing of the day ahead. At 08:30 we would get our kit squared away and then engage in a teambuilding exercise. At 09:00 our local partner would pick us up and take us to where ever we were working that day. After a good day of work we would pack up and be back at our living quarters at around 17:00. From then some people might prepare dinner, and others will get some downtime. Dinner was always around 19:00. After clearing up and washing up we were free to do as we saw fit.

Now on a trek, it is a very different story. We would wake up as the sun would rise, get a quick breakfast and then pack up our tents and kit in our bags. We would walk on average 15 miles a day, crossing mountains, bogs, and a few rivers all the while carrying around 25 kilos on our backs. We would always stop and set camp at around 16:00 to get a good time of sunlight, enjoying a hard-earned dinner made of ration packs ( which are actually quite nice). We would then go to bed as soon as possible.

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 was being judged for my situation (I was still technically still homeless then). Very fortunately everyone, staff, and fellow volunteers alike were all so considerate and understanding. They made me confident enough to actually share my experience for the very first time with people who weren't in a similar situation as mine.

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.
Georgia Walkden

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

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