Frontier

Program Reviews

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Charlotte
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Ellen was an outstanding member of staff who made me feel very welcoming. She has supported me throughout tough times and was a massive help when going up coastal due to my fear of heights. She not only does an incredible job of training, but the data collection and uploading the data was explained and was easy to do. She has been kind and she is very motivated to do the best she can in her work, while taking on other responsibilities which are not in her job role. I would like to thank Ellen for making my time here very enjoyable and she should be proud of the work she is conducting here!!

What would you improve about this program?
The house needs a lot of work doing to it, including a new fridge, washing mashine and more baot
partnerships.
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Rachel
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This year I decided to do something a little different for Christmas and help with some conservation work on the Osa peninsula Cost Rica. Instead of spending Christmas eve by the fire in Scotland, I was in the jungle looking for reptiles and amphibians and having close encounters with big cats (an ocelot!). This will be a Christmas I will always remember, and feel a sense of accomplishment having pushed myself far out of my comfort zone and done something valuable in the process.

What would you improve about this program?
I think the camp could be made more comfortable for those who live there. Even a small investment would provide the capital needed to make the living conditions more comfortable. Its okay for those who are there short term, but long term I think it becomes more of a problem.
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.
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Max
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

i Volunteered with frontier after finding them online as i wanted to do something exciting with my gap year, i found the frontier Tenerife whale and dolphin conservation trip and it looked amazing from the reviews so i booked it. upon arrival i was greeted at the airport by the frontier staff and some other volunteers, the house was alive with laughter, fun and people from all over the world getting to know each other, the boat trips were amazing as you got to see the short fin pilot whales out in the wild and they are so relaxed around the boats, you also get to see many different types of dolphins swimming along the side of the boat and jumping out the water showing off. them memories will stay with me forever as a mother and a calf swam right along side the boat and looked straight at me. other activity's include beach clean ups which were a lot more fun than they sound as you get to see the physical impact your having and how you as an individual are helping not only the community but also the environment as a whole. on your free days and time off after activity's you can go down to the local towns and go kayaking, snorkeling, climbing and exploring. i went snorkeling every singe day i was there as i just loved being in the warm water surrounded by marine life and its a great way to bond with new volunteers as you all share the same love for the sea life. i would 100% recommend this trip to anyone who wants to explore a little more of the world and its marine life, iv been back 4 months as of now and i still haven't stopped going on about my time out there and i do not think i ever will.

What would you improve about this program?
the only way i can think of this project being even better would be if the accommodation was improved slightly.
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Wanda
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I was on the Costa Rica project for four weeks and found it amazing! the camp location is absolutely stunning; it is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been in my life. The staff and volunteers were great company and always ready to help if necessary. I benefited from lots of presentations during my time and being on the surveys was always interesting. Most of the volunteers were from different backgrounds, but during our time here, we became great friends. Four weeks was not really enough to explore this astonishing area. I saw monkeys and other wildlife every day, woke up with the sounds of various bird species, and tracked frogs during night walks. I would recommend the project to anyone who wants to an unfoegettable wildlife experience with lovely and passionate people.

What would you improve about this program?
More variety of food would be nice but I appreciate that it's hard to get resupplies to remote locations.
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Ambi
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This was my first trip abroad on my own for 4 weeks, i was very nervous as a first-timer and frontier provided me with support on flights to book, what to take, and how i could raise the funds to afford the costs. When i arrived in country, a local was collecting people from frontier and took us to the safe hostel for the night, felt very comfortable. The flights down to Puerto Jimenez are great and the town is gorgeous. Getting the travel to the camp was like something out of david attenborough, driving through the dense jungle was incredible. The camp was clean and i had a bed of my own, the food was great and the staff were amazing! The volunteering involved mostly survey work and some beach cleaning. It was easy work but well organised by the Project leader that the time, she also organised loads of extra activities for us to do, most which were very low price, such as horse riding down the beach, boat rides in the bay dolphin watching, paddle boarding with green turtles and loads more. My favourite was a trip into corcovado national park, where i saw my first puma and tapers! The people that go are amazing too, i couldn't have wished for a better crew, we still meet up in the uk! Leaving was really hard, but i hope to go back again for longer!