Volunteering in Sea Turtle Conservation in Central America

The sea turtle conservation program is great for volunteers looking to help marine Eco-systems by protecting one of its most vulnerable species as well as spending time outdoors. Sea turtles are endangered due to many factors like pollution, sea turtle nest poaching, plastics, by-catch, and injury due to motorized vessels. Sea turtle numbers are decreasing at a shocking pace, and that is why many projects around the world have been created to help slow down or hopefully stop this decline. As a volunteer in sea turtle conservation in Central America you will encounter these species:

Leatherback sea turtle:

The Leatherback sea turtle does not have a hard shell, but instead has a rough rubber-like skin that protects it along bone plates giving it a leather-like look. They are the largest sea turtles with an average size of 5 feet 9 inches to around 6 feet 3 inches in length and weighing 550-1650 pounds. They also have large migrational patterns crossing Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The Leatherbacks’ diet consists mainly of jellyfish helping control the population.

Their lifespan usually ranges around 50 years, although more exact numbers are not yet known. The leather back turtles usually nest in the same area where they were born or may choose another one in the region.

Sea turtles info-graphic

Olive Ridley Sea Turtle :

The Olive Ridely sea turtle has the largest population of all, and it gets its name from its olive color. It ranges from around 4 feet to 5’6 in length and weighs no more than 100 pounds.

This sea turtle returns to the beach where it was born to nest and only nests in a few places around the world, making it more vulnerable to changes in its habitat.

The Olive Ridley sea Turtle eats Jellyfish, crab, shrimp and occasionally algae. Volunteers in the sea turtle conservation program will encounter this turtle more often.

Hawksbill Sea Turtle:

The Hawksbill Sea Turtle lives mostly in shallow water making it more susceptible to predators and human harm, in fact, this turtle is now critically endangered.

The Hawksbill gets its name from its pointy nose, and is omnivorous but prefers eating sea sponges. They average a size of this turtle is around 3 feet and weighs around 90-150 pounds.

Volunteers working in the sea turtle conservation program can expect to task like :

-Support in cleaning and keeping in good appearance the installations.
-Support to the staff with activity planning.
-Help with building infrastructure as necessary
-Assist visitors to the project. (explaining turtles life and cycle, answering questions, etc)
-Help monitor hatchery and night turtle patrols (only during sea turtle season)
-Help in Mangrove conservation
-Assist to the staff with the egg donations in the mornings.
-Assist the staff with the activities for the release of turtles.

The turtle season ranges from July to December.

If you like simple living, being outdoors and love wildlife the sea turtle conservation program is for

Exploring the Mayan ruins of el Mirador – A Brief Overview

While volunteering in Guatemala we encourage all of our volunteers to travel as much as they can
while in the country. For the more adventurous folks we recommend visiting this jewel of in the
middle of the Jungle, the Mayan Ruins of el Mirador.

Why go there?

If you truly love adventures, going to el Mirador is a must. El Mirador boasts “La Danta”the largest
pyramid of the Mayan civilization with a bigger volume than the Egyptian pyramids! .

Not totally uncovered El Mirador has mystic feel to it , as opposed to other parks that have been turned
in to more popular archaeological sites.

El Mirador is unlike anything we have visited before, along the hike you will see many wild animals
including toucans,foxes, coaties and more. The hike itself is challenging but quite worth it. The Mayan
ruin complex is amazing with a nice mixed of dug structures and untouched ones. The most amazing of
all the structures is the massive pyramid of La Danta, that travelers can go up to and gaze at the sunset
in a very untouched and magic environment.

The park rangers are very knowledgeable and helpful and will gladly show you other parts of the

volunteering in Guatemala

How many days will you need?

When you are volunteering in Guatemala, most of your week is spent working at your project so this
trip is better off after your project work or during a long holiday.

We recommend at least a week , the hike itself is 4 or 5 days depending on your pace .

Day 1-Travel to the city of Flores
Day 2- Transport to Carmelitas village
Day 3- Hike to Mayan Complex el Tintal . Camp out at el Tintal
Day 4 -Hike to Mayan complex el Mirador.Camp out at el Mirador
Day 5-Time to Explore el Mirador.Camp out at el Mirador
Day 6-Hike back to Carmelitas. Over night stay or camp in Carmelitas.
Day 7- Transport from Carmelitas to the city of Flores

How to get there?

While you are volunteering in Guatemala, you will be lodged around Antigua Guatemala. We
recommend booking the hike in advance either from Antigua and/or a reputable tour agency. There is
also the option to book this hike once in Flores, which is the starting point for this adventure.
To get to the city of Flores first as it will be your starting point for this adventure. The city of Flores
can be reached by bus or shuttle from Antigua Guatemala in about 10 hours or it can be reached by
short 45 min flight from Guatemala city.

Once you have booked your guided tour you are set to go. I would not recommend this hike on your
own as the logistics are quite daring. The tour will assure you have water, food, tents, and support
through the trip.

Mayan ruins of el Mirador

A few things to consider:

• Go during the dry season(late Oct-May), unless you like hiking in really tough and muddy
• Mosquito repellent is your friend.
• Boots are must. Bring an extra pair of shoes or sandals to walk around el mirador as most likely
your boots will be very muddy and dirty
• There is no water in the hike, so you must bring all of the water for your trip. The good thing is
that if you booked a tour your guide will most likely have a donkey where you can carry your
• Bring red-filters for your lamp and backup lamp. It’s good if you spot some wildlife and don’t
want to scare them off.
• Bring a first aid kit. There is nothing on the hike.
• Hydration is key as the jungle can get very hot, so bring some hydration salts that you can mix
in your water.
• Pack as light as you can.
• If you booked a tour, they will give you food, but bring some extra as there are no stores on the
whole trek.

Medical internships abroad with INLEXCA


Medical Internships abroad: Esther’s story

Medical internships or medical volunteering hours are a key to starting your career in medicine. Every year thousands of medical students and pre-med students go abroad to take part in a medical program because of:


  1. Hands on experience:  Not every medical internship is the same. In Central America qualified interns are usually given more tasks and responsibility than in their home country. This is due to the amount of patients and lack of extra qualified personnel.
  2. Spanish: A lot of interns and volunteers come with the idea of improving their Spanish. This is very important to interns coming from the U.S  as the amount of Spanish speaking patients rises each year.
  3. Cost: The cost can be important when choosing an internship abroad. Luckily the Central American region has  low cost of living making making  the programs affordable.
  4. Other conditions: Medical interns find that a lot of the conditions that they treat in Central America are conditions that they would rarely find in a developed country, so the experience to treat this conditions adds an extra layer of learning.

Don’t take our word for it, see what Esther has been doing in her medical volunteering trip in Guatemala.



Volunteering abroad and packing light. A small guide.

Packing light for your trip abroad as a volunteer


When traveling abroad it’s best to pack as light as possible, this will not only be easy to carry but will help you avoid costly fees charged by airlines. Here are a few things to consider when preparing for your volunteering abroad trip:

1. Type of luggage

During your volunteer trip you will be traveling through many types of transports, walking and moving through different conditions. Avoid boxy rigid luggage ,what we know works best is a good hiking backpack or travel backpack. We recommend one ranging from 45-75 liters in size.

Here a few reasons why backpacks are best for traveling:

  • You can be hands free !
  • It’s flexible so it can be crammed more easily in to spaces , and can be made smaller if it’s not completely full.
  • They are sturdy.
  • They are often waterproof of water resistant.
  • They have lots of pockets.
  • They don’t attract attention.
  • Some have wheels if you really need them.

Some of the cons is that they are not as rigid and protective as their boxy counterparts, but surely they make this up by a lot of other positive features. Check some quality packs here.

Hiking backpack


2.Pack only what you need

Sounds easier said than done, right ? Often we find that volunteers bring so many things thinking they won’t find them here, but the truth is most stuff can be found through Central America. Pack what you need and maybe one or two things more, but remember that you can always get it at your destination. So before you pack a second charger in case you loose one , remember: pack light.


3.Bring dual purpose items

When trying to save space for your volunteering trip, bringing stuff that has two uses or more can be a huge space saver. Pants that convert in to shorts? Great! Boots that also looks casual? Perfect !.


4.Keep electronics simple.

Do you really need your laptop , tablet ,phone and camera? So why bring them on this trip? Really ask yourself what you will actually use and take this as a chance to disconnect a little from electronics.


5.Leave extra space

Always leave a little space in your bag ,so when you return you can stuff some souvenirs in there.


6. Pack dark colors

Try to lean your wardrobe towards dark colors as they tend to look cleaner for longer and will give you the chance to have more time in between washes while volunteering .


7.Pick the right shoes

While volunteering abroad, you will certainly do a lot of walking , so shoes are probably the most important items in your bag . Pick shoes that are comfortable,sturdy and that can go with pretty much anything . A good winning combo is: Everyday boots or sneakers, nicer but compact shoes, and flip flops. That way you will only pack two pair of footwear at a time.


8.Look at camping gear

Camping gear is great when traveling. It’s usually designed to be light, resistant and functional. For example camping towels are light, easy to dry and roll in to small pack.


So now you know! Less is more sometimes, specially when traveling. Not only will your back thank you but in the long run you will realize that you can make it with a lot less than you are used to.