Belize

Frontier

I had just completed my degree in Marine Biology and Coastal Ecology and I decided to go to Belize to try and gain some field experience to improve my CV. And I'm so glad I did.. Belize has some really successful marine reserves and it was inspiring to see the contrast between reefs within the reserves and outside. I learnt how to survey fish, corals, seagrass and mangroves as well as getting experience teaching fish identification to the high school kids.

We did all this whilst living in at a camp on the northside of Island Caye Caulker, which is the most beautiful place I've ever seen. However, I feel like people should be warned it's no five star accommodation, in fact its not even a 1 star, as everyone sleeps in a hammock in a shed, your constantly being bitten by sandflies or mossies and there's no internet or running water. So you only get the internet around 2 or 3 times a week when everyone goes into town and you shower using a bucket full of rain water! But now I miss my hammock and I miss showering with rain water! Plus, from the camp pier I saw Bottlenose Dolphins swimming just 2m away from the pier, we would constantly spot the Southern Stingrays, Nurse Sharks and we even got to see the Spotted Eagle Rays jumping right out of the water. So if you can handle the sometimes overwhelming amount of bites then you'll get the opportunity to see some spectacular wildlife.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Belize
Posted: Feb 22, 2015
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
8

A Broader View Volunteers Corp

My experience with ABV at the orphanage was better than I ever could have expected. As a 17 year old who had never been off the continent, I really didn't know what I was getting myself into with my trip to Belize. As soon as I got there, I saw immediately how different everything was. It was a bit shocking at first, but I kept an open mind. The kids and other volunteers at first intimidated me, because many of them were a bit reserved and they all knew each other so well. Slowly, though, I began to get to know them. So many of them have such interesting stories and wonderful personalities. From the 5 year olds to the 16 year olds, I miss each one of them dearly. I consider those people my friends, and I think of them all the time and hope to return to them soon. I never thought I could get so attached to a group of 30 + children in a span of 10 days, but I was completely wrong. Leaving Belize was so sad for me, and I wish I could have stayed longer. I can't recommend the trip to the orphanage enough. You will fall in love with those kids and be so happy that you did.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Belize
Posted: Sep 25, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

A Broader View Volunteers Corp

I took a leap of faith by coming across this opportunity to volunteer with A Broader View by simply searching on the internet. In speaking with the kind folks at ABV, I knew it would prove to be a remarkable experience and they put all my initial uneasiness to rest. Questions were answered and advice given. I made up my mind in a matter of days from finding ABV and booking my arrangements.

Equally, the Belize in country ABV coordinator was so warm and welcoming from the time that I arrived for pickup at the airport until departure. She brought another volunteer which I thought was very helpful to show me around and let me know how things have been going and should be done.

The children are lovely, happy, and my time there was so rewarding. I truly felt that I got to know many of them individually and their personalities. During my first week, the children were still on summer break, so most of the time was simply spent on play, fun, and conversations. We did do many helpful things around the campus to assist the director, caregivers and other staff.

I also brought some donation items for the children that were greatly appreciated like flip flops, socks, etc. In addition, I brought many activity things to play with the children like cards, puzzles, books, balls, play dough. My recommendation to ABV would be to hone in on an updated wish list, so folks who would like to bring donation items with them, can really know what is meaningful. Now that I have experienced life there, I really can see what types of other things are needed . I wish I could bring the world to everyone there. They are so deserving, truly!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Belize
Posted: Sep 24, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Global Nomadic

Upon my arrival in Belize, i had no idea what to expect. I couldn't wait to arrive at at the house where i would be living for the next month. After a long, long journey to Sarteneja i was greeted by Paul and Zoey in the village. Myself and three other girls, who had also just arrived, piled into the back of their truck and we were off down a long, bumpy dirt road. The sun had just gone down so it was dark with not much to see, but the stars were as bright as ever. We walked into the house to see girls sprawled around the living room doing eachother's hair and some even had baby monkeys sitting on their head. Everyone was very friendly and pleased to see some new faces added to the group.

Baby manatee Kahleesi had arrived a few days prior to us and the night shifts were long and tiring. All the newbies jumped right into work the next day, with lots of help and support from the vetrans who had been there weeks and even months longer than us. Each day started bright and early with the first monkey feed at 6:30am. We all met in the manatee house and would chop fruit and prepare their breakfast. It was my job to take care of the 3 howlers, Sparticus, Coffy, and Paz. working with them was a great hands on experience i would never get anywhere else and i am thankful for getting that unexpected position.

When we weren't feeding the monkeys, our other responsibilities were with the manatees. Rameses, Duke and baby Kahleesi. Kahleesi was still being bottle fed by Paul and Zoey. Each had their daily feedings as well as tank scrubbing. Working with the manatees was my favorite part. Seagrassing was also an important task we had to do. Boat rides into the lagoon to fill buckets with Seagrass, then we would fill each manatees square with seagrass so they could munch like in the wild.

This experience was probably the hardest and most memorable thing i have ever done. I met the greatest people from all over the world who gave me great laughs and support through the whole month. Coming out of this experience i am more independent and open to more things that i never thought i could do. A big thanks to Paul and Zoey who have opened their house, lives and hearts to all the volunteers coming in as well as all the animals they care about dearly. The project is a diamond in the rough. I would also like to thank Global Nomadic for helping me find them and giving me the experience of a lifetime.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Belize
Posted: Jul 1, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Frontier

Two weeks in Belize, experiencing Frontier's new marine and forest conservation project on the idyllic Caye Caulker.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Belize
Posted: Jun 14, 2014
Overall:
8
Support:
7
Value:
8

Frontier

Spending time in Caye Caulker, getting PADI certified and scuba diving has been an amazing experience. Spending time on the gorgeous reef, as well as being able to identify the fish and other wildlife species has been a huge plus. The staff here has made it all worthwhile; they are very supportive and make you feel right at home. All in all this has been a fantastic experience.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Belize
Posted: Jun 4, 2014
Overall:
7
Support:
10
Value:
7

Frontier

I've done a lot of travelling in the past few years, and I must say if I ever imagined island life than Caye Caulker is definitely a perfect representative. The village on the south island is small enough to get around in a jiffy, while still having secluded spots on the beach where you can read a book. The locals are all familiar with one another, and I've made quite the contact list of my own along the way! At camp on the north island, you get a feel for the true nature of Belize - quite literally! There are trails to walk, activities on site which of course include snorkeling off the pier, in addition to PADI training and surveys. At the end of a long day my favorite thing to do is to chill in a hammock, and enjoy the breeze.
I sill have quite a while to be here, but I'm sure I will enjoy it and learn so much more than I have already!

Program:
Location: Belize
Posted: Apr 16, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Frontier

Un'belize'able. The only way to describe my experience in Belize scuba diving with Frontier on their marine conservation project.
The project is very conveniently located at Caye Caulker - the base station is a traditionally built wooden station with palms and mangrove trees with a spectacular view for watching the sunset. It's also great to be able to enjoy the hostels and restaurants near the village on the South Island on the weekends.
The work is a great mix of scuba training and scuba surveys, beach clean ups, forest walks and environmental education at the local high school. Social time is swinging in a hammock, volleyball or swimming near the base station. Cooking as a group is enjoyable and sociable; rice and beans is a food staple in Belize and one you will grow to love! Pineapples and papayas are a rare treat when they can be picked up locally. The fresh juices which can be purchased from cafés on the South Island are amazing!
The project staff and local partners are so friendly and helpful and always happy to help.
I would recommend Frontier Belize if you are looking to gain experience on a marine conservation project, to enjoy come Caribbean sunshine and see some amazing marine and forest wildlife!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Belize
Posted: Apr 13, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Frontier

I can’t believe my time here in Belize is coming to an end already! The time has flown by but I guess that's what happens when you are having so much fun! I’m very sad to be leaving but am taking many great memories with me like arriving to camp the first time, swimming in the crystal blue waters, my first taste of rice and beans(!) and of course the incredible marine life! Camp life is basic but great fun and Caye Caulker is easy to get to on your free time if you want to do some shopping, get online, or just soak up the laid back Caribbean atmosphere in a hammock on the beach. My trip wouldn’t have been the same without the excellent support and organisation of the Frontier staff, who are so passionate about what they are doing, and the warmth of the locals who are very welcoming and appreciative of the work that is being done here. If you are looking for a project that offers much needed and hugely rewarding work in a paradise location, look no further than Frontier Belize!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Belize
Posted: Apr 12, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

MMRF - Maya Mountain Research Farm

I spent 6 weeks at MMRF last summer and, looking back on the experience exactly 1 year later, I could not recommend it more highly. The time I spent there was challenging. It was mentally and physically taxing and within my first week or 2, there were definitely moments where I questioned whether or not it was an internship for me. However, the culmination of things I learned form the farm and my time there (self- knowledge, permaculture, appreciation for nature, work ethic, community values, etc) I now consider to be invaluable and one of my more important formative experiences thus far.

The Maya Mountain Research Farm is without a doubt one of the best examples of a working, small-scale permaculture farm available to young travellers interested in an alternative to picking fruit for 8 hours straight in large fruit orchards. Chris truly believes in the permaculture system. Rich polycultures cover the active acres of farm which staggering levels of biodiversity. He is more than happy to walk you through the various plant life in any part of the farm and explain the various ways in which they are mutually beneficial to one another. At the same time, he makes a point of showing each intern the first area he started planning/ planting when he bought the farm and the various mistakes in long-term planning he made. His willingness to point out his own early shortcomings impressed me and emphasized firsthand his honest desire to share his experiences with permaculture in order to aid others in discovering/ understanding this wonderful alternative to popular agricultural techniques.

The accommodations are rustic, but eventually come to feel like home. Let's be honest, you're in the middle of the jungle. The "pods" where the interns stay are small dormitory-style adjoining rooms a short walk away from the main house and communal area. Sleeping under bug nets, the sounds of the jungle and the midnight rainfall on the tin roof all take getting used to, but inevitably feel fantastic after a few weeks of hard work. The open-air kitchen and main house are breath-taking, made of river rocks and a whole lot of hardwork and ingenuity. There is access to electricity and internet, but both are dependent upon weather as they run off of solar panels and in the event of cloudy weather, must be used sparingly.

The food is good! While the beans and rice are sourced from the local village, all of the fruits and vegetables come from the farm. Elvira, the cook at the time, provided three savory meals a day, and on her day off, Chris would often make his pad thai, which was always a treat. Pizza day, as I'm beginning to realize is the case all around the world, was always the best day of the week! Everyone makes their own pizza in the wood burning clay stove with a wild assortment of anything and everything you could find on the farm (fresh pineapple and cactus, yum?!). First one up every morning starts the fire and puts the coffee on. Maybe it's the circumstances which really make the taste... but I never enjoyed a coffee more.

One disclaimer I feel it is incredibly important to make (after having read some of the more negative reviews) is the difference between doing an internship at MMRF and participating in their Permaculture Design Course. Those who expected to be taken by the hand and walked through permaculture step-by-step are bound to be disappointed as interns. Interns join the farm and become an integrated part of the daily life, learning about permaculture by leading a truly permaculture-oriented life. During the PDC, the participants are Chris' sole focus and receive all of his attention. During internships however, which are continuous with overlapping stays as interns come and go, Chris, Celini and the Mayans who help run the farm are all busy, as you can imagine, keeping up a working farm. As a result, you become integrated in the experience, sometimes working with the Mayan guys planting or clearing, helping Celini with the medicinal plants, the garden or other upkeep of the land, collecting food for Elvira's dinner plans or heading into a neighboring town with Chris to help install a new photo-voltaic (solar panel) system at a school. The internship allows you to learn through integration, it is not a concentrated crash course.

Chris is running a huge farm and an NGO. One of the ways in which my partner and another intern chose to help was through taking on some administrative tasks for him, such as putting together a press package. This is a key example of the ways in which you can integrate yourself into the farm life. Interns who are there for over a month are encouraged to pick a project to work on. Our friends/ fellow interns Emily and Tait built a 3-part composting structure to centralize and improve the efficiency of the composting. Past interns were responsible for the dual chamber Vietnamese style composting toilets that have become so integral to the Farm. I honestly feel that the independence you are given, coupled with the resources, support and knowledge provided by Chris and the others on the farm, provides for a greater learning experience than a more regimented internship could ever provide.

Despite being busy running the farm, Chris makes a point of giving the interns a good 5 to 10 talks on various key aspects of permaculture (agroforestry, humanure, "the big picture", etc). These all help to fill in some of the more specific areas of knowledge required to grasp permaculture systems. The talks are very useful and engaging, but more often than not, you will find yourself learning the most from the random conversations you have with Chris while he shows you the proper technique for planting Arachis Pintoi, hearing stories from Celini as she looks for a specific plant to help with (insert intern)'s rash, or having the local guys tell you about their culture while teaching you to properly use the machete while clearing a section of field.

This is an internship for someone who wants to feel like an essential part of a permaculture farm, not just a passing visitor. An absolutely worthwhile experience which think of every day and miss dearly.

Oh... and they have a trampoline!

Program:
Location: Belize
Posted: Jun 24, 2013
Overall:
10
Support:
8
Value:
9

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