Tanzania, in East Africa, is a fascinating country and a great place to volunteer. It consists of a large area of mainland as well as three main islands: Zanzibar, Pemba, and Mafia where Frontier’s main projects are based. The Indian Ocean borders the country to the east providing ample opportunity for world class diving, while on the mainland your surroundings will alter from the coastal tropical lowlands to the inland deserts and northern mountains, including the famous Mount Kilimanjaro.
Frontier currently runs two dozen volunteering projects in Tanzania (see the full list on their site) – they broadly fall into these areas:
Marine and Wildlife Conservation
Diving projects are based within the Mafia Island Marine Park where volunteers stay on a basic beach camp – getting a chance to really get back to nature. Volunteers stay in communal bandas – huts made from makuti (woven palm leaves), poles and mud, sleeping on beds constructed from sustainably harvested wooden poles. The “shower” is a jug or a bucket of water and cooking takes place over an open fire.
As well as the diving and marine conservation work volunteers can also get involved with the community outreach and environmental awareness work in the local villages, taking turns to cook, tidy and clean the camp, clean and oil the compressor, rinse dive kit and help with a wide variety of other essential camp duties.
Visitors can experience camp life on the new wildlife projects which are based in the same area. The main focus is to learn a variety of techniques required to monitor local biodiversity effectively. This includes conducting a range of wildlife and socio-economic surveys to help gather the data required. Frontier use various (humane) trapping techniques allowing volunteers to get up close with stunning frogs, birds and maybe the occasional bush baby.
Teaching and Community Projects
Taking part in teaching and community projects can be a great way to really become part of and learn from a community – it will also give you plenty of opportunity to practice your Swahili! Whether you choose to work in an orphanage, school or within an NGO, you will make a real difference to the communities. Accommodation is basic but comfortable in volunteer houses near to the project sites. There is also the opportunity to take part in sports coaching for those with a passion for it (anyone fancy arranging a 5-a-side match with local school children?).
If you fancy more of a physical challenge then Tanzania Adventure projects – which includes climbing Mount Kilimanjaro – are perfect. On arrival volunteers stay in the safari town of Moshi which offers the first glimpse of Mount Kilimanjaro.
On the trek, accommodation is either tented or in huts along the trail. Challenging yourself with one of nature’s ultimate tests, reaching the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain – the “roof of Africa” – will be an experience you’ll never forget!
Recommended for… anyone looking to learn about Tanzania and wanting to give something back to the local people – there are a variety of projects for different interests and lengths to suit.
Be aware that… As with any volunteering project in a developing country, work can be hard (this isn’t a ‘lie on the beach’ holiday) but your help is of great support to the local community and wildlife.
- Frontier works alongside local communities and organisations to make sure that the Tanzanian people benefit and that the projects can continue after Frontier leaves
- Food for people on camp is sourced from local villages
- The projects help provide income for local people
About the author: Jenny Collins works for Frontier, an NGO dedicated to safeguarding biodiversity and ecosystem integrity, and building sustainable livelihoods for marginalised communities in the world’s poorest countries. Find out more about Frontier’s Tanzania projects see all their opportunities to volunteer or take part in ethical adventure travel by visiting http://www.frontier.ac.uk.
See our Good Work section for more reviews and profiles of volunteering projects.