Thursday, 6 October 2011 1:40 PM
Latin America is one of the best regions you could choose to visit if you want to take part in volunteer work abroad, as it boasts beautiful landscapes that you can help protect during your time overseas.
The region is home to winding rivers, breathtaking mountain ranges, abundant rainforests, pristine beaches and some of the most unique scenery you may ever come across.
As it is so naturally-rich, it is important that the flora and fauna are protected, and this is why conservation volunteering plays a big part in helping to prevent natural habitats from being destroyed here.
If you want to get involved by assisting with sustainability projects so that Latin America can remain as fascinating to visit for generations to come as it is now, you could become a volunteer in the Galapagos Islands.
This is an archipelago of isles off the west coast of Ecuador and is well-known for the unique species that live on and around the islands. It is home to lizards, nesting birds, sea lions, turtles, pelicans and penguins – all of which you are likely to spot at some point if you stay on the isles for a while.
Should you decide to visit the second largest island in the area, Santa Cruz, you may even come face to face with the Galapagos giant tortoise, which is definitely a sight you won't forget in a hurry!
There are many opportunities to volunteer here, as local communities need as much help as possible in order to protect their natural environment and keep this as a place where the creatures can live. Indeed, many of the animals on the Galapagos are indigenous to the area and cannot be found anywhere else in the world, including a variety of wild tortoise species.
Why not get involved with reforestation by promoting the importance of protecting the forests or planting trees yourself? This will ensure that the animals have a safe area to inhabit, protecting the entire food chain on these secluded islets.
Or, you could help locals implement sustainable methods on the volcanic island so that they do not do any long-lasting damage to the black sandy beaches, unique rock formations or climate.
San Cristobal is another island in the Galapagos archipelago and here you can take part in assisting local farmers, teaching people about looking after the environment and encouraging agricultural production. All these jobs will go far in helping the land, and subsequently the creatures here.
One Latin American country you might want to offer your assistance to is Costa Rica, as this one of the most naturally-abundant locations in the world. Indeed, it has more animals in its small area than any other nation, with 615 species per 10,000 sq km.
As well as a huge array of animals – including lizards, frogs, big cats and monkeys – it is overflowing with flora, and is home to volcanoes, mountains and rainforests.
You could get involved in helping to protect the natural environment, as efforts such as clearing up pristine beaches will help turtles come here to nest. Or, you might want to take part in directly rescuing some of its more endangered animals.
Volunteer at a sloth rehabilitation centre and you'll be able to care for injured or orphaned creatures, by feeding them, monitoring their health and helping local vets.
There are so many opportunities when it comes to South American volunteering that you might find that as soon as one project is over, it won't be long before you're itching to begin another.