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Volunteer opportunities in MEXICO

Protecting the Marine Turtles in La Penita
La Peñita, Nayarit          December 9 - December 22, 2015
La Peñita, Nayarit          January 6 - January 19, 2016
La Peñita, Nayarit          January 27 - February 9, 2016

Volunteer project: The aim of this project is to protect the endangered marine turtles working in close collaboration with the local population of La Peñita Town or as they say “the place where turtles come at night”. Volunteers, along with local people and a team of professional biologists and trained staff, will develop activities to protect the turtles, and will help to ensure the survival of the turtles for the future generations. The volunteers will also help rebuild one of the most important turtle camps in the region. There are five species of turtles arriving to this area: Negra (Black Turtle), Golfina (Olive Ridley Turtle), Laud (Leatherback Turtle), Carey (Hawksbill Turtle) and more! The size of the turtles varies from 1 meter to 2.4 meters long and the weight from 40 kg to 500 kg. Every turtle makes a nest of around 150 eggs.
If you like nature, enjoy spending time in an astonishingly beautiful beach close to a nice beach town, and are willing to witness the magic that nature had made for millions of years, this project is for you!

There is a team of up to 5 experts that will be working with the volunteers in order to show them the beauty of the turtle’s life. The turtle camp has been in operation for over 23 years now.

The main work consists in patrolling the beach at night. The working hours are from 5:00 pm to 3:00 am. The goal is to find the adult turtles and collect the eggs, burying them in a secure place (vivero in Spanish) and set the baby turtles free back into the ocean when they hatch. Volunteers will also help collecting statistical data in order to learn about the evolution of the species. Activities must be carried out at night since turtles do not go out of the ocean during the day (because of natural predators, it is safer for turtles to get out of the ocean in the dark). In collaboration with local people and biologists from La Peñita, volunteers will seek for the turtles, taking care of their eggs and the baby turtles. The group will also take part in the rebuilding of a very important turtle camp in Guayabitos Beach. Locals and experts are very friendly and working with them is very pleasant as they explain to the team what to do. We need very motivated volunteers for this project.

Language: The official language of the project is English but some Spanish would be appreciated.

Leisure time: The volunteers will have free time during the day to do many fun and interesting activities and to discover many marvelous places close to the turtle camp. The volunteers can learn to surf, go fishing, visit and help in shelters for protection of endangered species (crocodiles), visit local towns, get to know and enjoy the local culture. Rincón de Guayabitos is well connected by bus to localities and cities around.

Volunteers will have the opportunity to visit solitary beaches and towns with an extraordinary natural richness. Among those places are Flamingos, with its three beautiful lakes; Bucerias, with a long beach and cobblestone streets; La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, a picturesque fishing town; Destiladeras, a paradise for surfers. Volunteers will have the chance to visit the Islas Marietas - one of the most beautiful places on earth, take surfing classes and travel to Sayulita, a bohemian town ideal for camping. The beaches of Rincon de Guayabitos with crystal-clear waters and calm waves resemble a large swimming pool. Nearby, participants will find the pre-Hispanic sanctuary of Altavista and the semi-virgin beach named Chacala, the perfect site to be amazed by nature.

Accommodation: The volunteers will stay in a hotel in La Peñita de Jaltemba. They will have full access to two swimming pools and the beach. The volunteers will stay in quadruple rooms with air conditioning. Free Wi-Fi is available. Three meals a day are provided at the hotel restaurant consisting of nice typical Mexican food. Transportation from the hotel to the turtle camp and back is also provided for the volunteers.

Location: La Peñita de Jaltemba is a small beach town with approximately 20,000 inhabitants, located on the Pacific coast of Mexico, in the state of Nayarit. It is the main service community for the popular beach resort area Rincón de Guayabitos. The closest city is Puerto Vallarta.

Nestled on the imposing Western Sierra Madre, and washed by the Ocean Pacific waters, the Nayarit Riviera is shaping to be one of Mexico’s most attractive tourist destinations. The area is actually a 192 mile stretch of coastline, backed by jungle-clad mountains and facing offshore islands. There is plenty of remote backcountry for those wanting to see a more rustic side of rural Mexico. Banderas Bay, on the southern section of the Nayarit Riviera, is famous for being the destination spot of thousands of humpback whales that offer an unmatched spectacle. In addition, Puerto Vallarta is famous for its long seafront walkway and its vibrant nightlife. The Huichol Indians are the most famous ethnic group within the region. They are characterized by their eye-catching clothing, hats adorned with feathers and their colorful handcrafts, such as masks and animal figurines made of beads.

Nearest airport: Aeropuerto Internacional Benito Juárez in México City

Age range: 18 and over

Extra fee: 295 Euro

The extra fee is intended to support the hosting organization who does not have sufficient funds. It is due upon arrival on the project.




My Trip to Colola, Michoacan, Mexico:

"The paperwork wasn’t lying when they said you’d be sleeping in a palm hut! The beds are made of wooden boards, so it is behoove of you to bring a sleeping pad! The place itself is pretty secluded. Town is maybe 10-20 minutes walking distance from the camp. There are a few small stores with the bare necessities and a computer lab. Outlets in Mexico are the same as in the United States; the camp didn’t have any but the town did have a few. Don’t be surprised if you have horses, donkeys, or cows walking through the camp.

 The locals work by the week; so each week you work with a different group of people. They always have at least one person there ‘on watch’. Generally, depending on who their team leader was, we would start work between 2000 and 2100. Work would last 4-7 hours. One to two volunteers are usually assigned to a local. There are four zones on the beach; two of them are collecting and two are marking. Depending on who you work with and certain zones, you can mark the turtles with a metal tattoo / tag that contains a tracking number. The collecting zones involve waiting for the females to lay their eggs, helping move her out of the hole, measuring the length of the female’s shell, noting if she has a tag, the time, zone, and digging up the eggs (anywhere from 1 to over 130) for transport. Once collected, the eggs are transported back to camp where they are buried and marked. There is also a group assigned to release. Once the babies come to the surface, you collect and count them before taking them down to the ocean for release.

 Our group got up between 0900 and 1000 for a late breakfast. Some people went to the town for food, supplies, or internet. Others stayed at camp to read, clean up, nap, or enjoy the beach. Swimming is not authorized at the turtle camp; however, you could go just beyond the town and go swimming there. On the weekends we would usually go to a beach either farther east or west of camp for different scenery. There are some walls in the town that could use a nice mural or something on them… we didn’t have time. A few of us did post signs along the road marking how close the camp was (500 m, 1000m, and 1500m). Don’t be afraid to hitchhike, by far the cheapest and quickest way to get around.

 The trip was an amazing time. I met some awesome people from all over- Finland, Wales, South Korea, France, Mexico, and the United States. I’d recommend this kind of volunteer project to anyone that loves the outdoors, beaches, and turtles! "

Natalie D.,
Cadip volunteer 2010


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