Volunteering with us not only allows you to participate in programmes assisting disadvantaged communities or endangered ecosystems, but it also offers wonderful opportunities to travel in the local area in your down time or further afield either before or after your programme. Many decide to travel after volunteering, solidifying the lifetime friendships established during the programme.
Our long-term field staff are a great source of advice and are here to help you make the most of your time abroad. Remember to ask about discounts on local activities and side trips through your association with us. Our Yucatan field teams have helped us put together the following information on trips and travel options in Mexico!
Optional Side Trips
As a large and vibrant country, Mexico can seem daunting at first, but here are a few ideas to get you going in the Yucatan Peninsula on your weekends off:
In this region, you are spoilt for choice in the number of opportunities to try out different dive sites away from the expedition. Dive or snorkel within the unique cenotes (the underwater river systems); dive Cozumel, where the wall dives along the island have been voted as part of the world’s best top ten diving locations; or, for a full weekend, try Isla Holbox, a small island off the north of the peninsula. It’s a beautiful, tranquil place, great for a quiet weekend away. Whale sharks (the world’s largest fish) migrate up near the island from June to September and snorkelling alongside them while they filter feed is a truly breathtaking experience!
Alternatively, if you are looking for a break from the water, make your way to Río Lagartos where flamingos flock and river crocodiles abound; visit Bacalar - known as the lake of seven colours due to the various shades of blue; or visit prime breeding areas for the hawksbill, loggerhead, leatherback, and green turtle (May to October).
Immerse yourself in the surviving Mayan culture of the area and visit remote and untouched Mayan archaeological sites, such as the famous and easily accessible sites of Tulum and Coba, or visit the beautiful and majestic Mayan ruins of Palenque in the Chiapas region. And finally, the colonial city of Mérida is the peninsula’s cultural capital and the local artisans of Izamal will be sure to offer you some souvenirs of your trip.
Accommodation is in shared (mixed sex) dorms with shared rustic bathroom facilities. There is bottled water available for cooking and drinking only. Cold water is used for showering and there are bucket flush toilet facilities. Participants share base duties including cooking, cleaning and other chores.You need to bring your own mosquito net and bedding for example a thin sleeping bag liner.
If you need to stay additional nights before or after your project you need to book these separately, ask your travel consultant for help.
Most volunteers arrange international flights to arrive at Cancun International Airport the day before expedition starts. You can request a GVI staff member to meet you at the airport 14-18:00, and help you get to your accommodation via public transport. On the morning of the expedition the meeting time is 10.00 am at Hotel Colorado in Playa Del Carmen.
At the end of the expedition it will be your responsibility to get to Cancun Airport. Remember you need to wait 24 hours between your last dive and flying. We recommend you do not book a flight out of Cancun until at least 18:00, though you may want to leave time to explore a little more.
Meals while on project are included. Participants take turns to prepare meals for the group. Food is a very basic, mostly vegetarian diet, with meat available about once a week. Breakfast could be porridge, fruit or cereal, lunch is beans, vegetables, pasta and sauce, etc. and a typical evening meal may include lentils, pasta, beans, rice and vegetables.
You will have limited access to long-distance communications whilst on the programme. Internet is not available on base, but you will be able to reach a store with WIFI within 10 minutes by foot. Please advise family and friends that they may not hear from you on a weekly basis. Mobile/cell phone reception is limited on base. Reception is more reliable in the town of Tulum.