Tenerife – part of the Spanish-owned Canary Islands – might not be the most obvious place for backpackers to head to on their gap year. But if it is working with whales and dolphins you’re after, it is perhaps the best place in the world! This amazing project will see you helping with vital conservation work, as you both complete field work and act as guides to eager tourists – the perfect chance to educate people about the threats facing today’s marine wildlife. For nature lovers, this is a truly stunning opportunity!
It wouldn’t be much fun if all you did was work though, so there’s plenty of chance to get out and about to explore the beautiful island of Tenerife. This includes hiking up into the awe-inspiring mountains, visiting the local towns and also sampling some of the country’s world famous nightlife! Tenerife might not be as exotic as a gap year in Thailand or Peru, but you won’t care when you set foot on this beautiful island…
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- Observe and monitor whales and dolphins
- Educate tourists about the threats to Tenerife’s marine wildlife
- Explore Tenerife’s beautiful countryside and mountains
- Experience the amazing nightlife of the island
- Meet fellow travellers and make great friendships
When you’ve finished this whale and dolphin conservation experience, there are many options open to the intrepid backpacker. Many choose to head back into mainland Europe and visit countries like France, Italy and Germany. Others head into Africa, which is only a few miles from Tenerife. Wherever you go, you’ll do well to find a more spectacular place than Tenerife though!
You’ll be in Tenerife for a minimum of 1 week, although it is possible to stay for 10 weeks plus. There isn’t really an itinerary as such for this trip, as every day will throw up a new challenge or experience – but they’ll all allow you to learn loads about the whales and dolphins of Tenerife! The two main responsibilities you’ll have are below.
Observation and Monitoring
For much of the time you’ll be observing and monitoring the different populations of whales and dolphins around the island. This involves photographing the different animals in order to build up a database of them, as well as entering all results onto a computer system at the end of the day. It’s important work that will help the experts understand as much as possible about these creatures, and hopefully allow them to help with the protection of these beautiful animals.
The other main job you’ll have will be that of a tourist guide. This will involve you taking groups of tourists out into the ocean and giving them information on the different species that they might catch a glimpse of. This is a vitally important job, as you’ll be able to influence them on their attitudes towards both whales and dolphins – something that can improve conservation efforts.
Aside from the two jobs above, you might be asked to help out in a number of other ways. And once the day has finished? You’ll get some time to yourself: time to explore the island and relax after your hard day of work! Then it’ll be back to work the next day – but you can’t really complain when your office is the beautiful sea surrounding Tenerife…
What is the accommodation like?
You’ll be staying in a volunteer house, which is located close to all three harbours used for whale watching. You’ll stay in shared rooms and there’s everything you’ll need for a comfortable stay. The house is also close to all local amenities, as well as some great bars!
Is food included in the price?
Every weekday you’ll be given two meals as part of the program. This is generally cooked by the volunteers and regular staff, so make sure you think up a few good recipes for when it’s your turn to cook! The local town also has some great restaurants, featuring traditional Canarian food – you’d be mad not to try some of this while on the island.
Are flights included?
Flights are not included within the price, so that the cost can be kept low for everyone. Tenerife has a large international airport though, so it should be easy to get there from almost every other location. Some budget airlines also fly to the island for very low prices.
When should I arrive?
Generally this project starts on a Sunday, so you should aim to be in Tenerife at least a day before, so you can get acclimatised and ready for the project to start. It is sometimes possible to start on a different day though, so please discuss this when booking. An airport pick-up can be arranged for your arrival.
What should I bring?
You should basicall y pack what you would normally pack for a trip to one of the Spanish islands – plenty of t-shirts, shorts and anything else that can keep you cool. Any special clothing you need for the work will be supplied. If you need some help packing, please check out our article on what to take on a gap year.