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2019 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Conservation Volunteers International Program, Inc.

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Environment, International, Natural Resources Conservation & Protection, Philanthropy, Promotion of International Understanding, Voluntarism Promotion

Mission: Conservation Volunteers International Program is dedicated to helping sustain some of the world's greatest landscapes, cultural site and biodiversity. We accomplish our mission by providing opportunities for ordinary people to perform extraordinary volunteer services. Our projects include maintaining and building trails, restoring archaeological sites and protecting and restoring critical habitats.

Target demographics: people everywhere and future generations

Direct beneficiaries per year: the world's greatest landscapes, cultural sites and biodiversity

Geographic areas served: wonderful sites in the U.S. and abroad

Programs: Volunteer trips to Torres del Paine in Patagonia, Machu Picchu in Peru, Yosemite National Park in California, Alaska, the Galapagos Islands, the Scottish Highlands, Costa Rica and U.S. Virgin Islands.

Community Stories

37 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I simply love going on volunteer trips with this group. I have gone on three trips with them Machupicchu, Galapagos and Torres del Paine and have had the experience of a lifetime on every single one of them. The trip leaders are amazing guides and lead by example. They work just as hard as the volunteers and strive to make sure everyone has a positive experience. I will be going on more trips with this group as time and finances permit. I have recommended them to all my friends. Best group of people and I am proud to be associated with them!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been to the Virgin Islands and to Macchu Piccu with CVIP and will be working with them again in Scotland in September. I have been impressed with the knowledge and dedication of CVIP management, volunteer leaders and the special relationships they have developed at each of our worksites. ON each trip I feel we learned the importance and value of the work we were doing as well as building understanding of the culture of the area. Definitely time and money well spent!!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

We are so glad we found Conservation VIP and their Machu Picchu trip. I had always wanted to spend several days at Machu Picchu and to get a more intimate feel for the site and history. Conservation VIP has a great itinerary, allowing us to have enough free time to explore plus get to be into areas that needed work.
They had great trip leaders, who were experienced and made everything run smoothly and made our trip very fun. We had an amazing local guide who seemed to literally know everything about Peru and the people, past and present.
The other volunteers we met on our trip was really the icing on the cake. I felt like I was traveling with a group of long time friends, and right from the very first day.
I had always wanted to see Machu Picchu, but the work we did, the appreciation from the Peruvian people, our great leaders and guide and the friendships made, are what really made this a once in a life time experience. We are already looking at other Conservation VIP trips to take, we are hooked.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My Wife and I have taken 2 trips with this company. The first to the Virgin Islands in 2014, and the second to Patagonia in 2018. Their dedication and commitment to creating a sustainable situation for the environments they bring volunteers into through education and a great work ethic is fantastic. We found these trips to be well organized yet relaxed and team building oriented to create an environment of cooperation and "fun on the job". We learned a great deal about the places we worked and the culture we were helping to sustain. If you are looking for a trip to get you out in the world, make great new friends, and feel you have been part of taking care of this earth, then this is the trip for you. We look forward to our next one!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I went on a work trip with CVIP in October of 2014 to St. John, Virgin Islands. I've never had this kind of experience before. As we cleared aged ruins and trails to be enjoyed by locals and travelers, I felt blessed to enjoy a new experience, to be making an impact in a beautiful location and to meet new people. We worked hard during the day and enjoyed great food and fellowship in the evening. Accommodations were great and the organization of the trip helped us to accomplish much during the 13 days we were there. It was a beautiful place to work and play and feel like we made a difference!

Mtrekker

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Have you ever PAID to volunteer on an International adventure trip at an ecologically protected site? I hadn’t, and I’ve been lucky enough to travel under a variety of circumstances over the last 35 years. Reading the online ConservationVIP trip description made me curious and a little excited. My spouse, the yang to my yin, had questions and doubts.

Hmmm….. Curiosity, excitement, doubt and the unknown. Sounds like the beginning of every great adventure. I decided to enroll in this non-profit 2018 trip to Machu Picchu.

Questions that arose at my house included:
Will food and lodging suffer due to focus on work schedule?
Will I get my money’s worth?
What kind of people take a trip to the sacred site of Machu Picchu in order to work?
Will I have adequate time to hike and explore the ruins and peaks along the Incan trail?
Will I get my money’s worth?
How good are the trip leaders at balancing logistics, group safety and quirky individuals?
How knowledgeable and reliable is the native Peruvian guide?
Will my volunteer time add measurable value to this ecological site?
And oh yeah, will I get my money’s worth?

I’m not an extremely frugal guy, just pragmatic and trying to get the most value from every dollar I’ve managed to save. So I’ll address each of my concerns below and when I’m done you be the judge of the money question.

First, the food was astounding and our ConservationVIP leaders guided us through a daily moveable feast. Excellent cafes and restaurants abound from Cusco – the ancient Incan capital where all volunteers meet - to Aguas Calientes – the park town at the base of the Machu Picchu Ruins. Try the Quinoa soup with any fish, meat or vegetable entrée for a taste bud delight. After eating like Incan royalty, you’ll enjoy the clean and comfortable lodging arranged by trip leaders that comes with a hardy breakfast buffet. The rooms are not frilly but you’ll only be sleeping and showering in them. They offer secure and ample space, clean bed linens and a good Wi-Fi connection. Bring ear plugs if you’re a light sleeper to offset occasional street noise or your favorite snoring roommate.

I know each trip will be populated by its own unique troop of volunteers, but I was surprised by how our group diversity ranged from business entrepreneurs and cubicle conquerors to work-at-homeys and retirees, both reserved and adventurous, who still ride road bikes and surf along the Pacific Coast highway.

After a warm welcome from our group leaders, we all gelled, regardless of individual backgrounds and life experiences, since we all had a common goal: take a magical 10 day sojourn to Machu Picchu and surrounding areas AND give back the best of ourselves through volunteer efforts by clearing Incan trails of invasive plants and debris strewn by the last flood stage along the Urubamba River.

Upon arrival at Machu Picchu, we took a guided tour that included free time to climb Huayna Picchu, the Sun Gate and the Incan Bridge. Four days were then devoted to the volunteer activities that added value to the countryside and to my life. We worked closely with the park biologist and his crew, safety first, and no volunteer performed trail duty he/she was not comfortable with. We gathered several dump trucks worth of debris and detritus. We stemmed the spread of aggressive plant species that choked native plants throughout the park.
Bring an extra pair of gloves to donate to the crew on the last day. Like any government entity, the Park crew have a tight budget and are grateful for all of our help. There is plenty of time to spend leisure time in the Ruins after work ends each early afternoon. Definitely check your camera batteries and memory card. Not one of us could get enough photos of this sacred site that is filled with colorful native people and docile llamas beside 15th century block walls climbing up Incan terraced mountainsides to misty granite peaks.

And still, this trip would not have succeeded without the unflappable ConservationVIP trip leaders, Janice and Karla along with our Peruvian guide, Santiago. They are so organized, they are so professional, they are so concerned about safely providing an unforgettable experience for the volunteers that it’s easy to take them for granted. The schedule and travel plan runs so smoothly that even when there are minor hiccups like the occasional train delay, it’s solved on the fly in alternative restaurants or on extended cultural tours. Logistics and entry permits for these trips are arranged and secured months in advance by these trip maestros – and it shows. All three should be sainted for performing daily miracles and always practicing the virtue of patience. YOU try entertaining 18 people while herding them down a crowded Cusco street, around the guinea pig vendors and relic shop keepers toward enlightenment at the Sun Cathedral. Janice and Santiago led the way while Karla picked up all the strays!

A special word about Santiago, our Peruvian guide; He secured a university degree as a Professional Tour Guide, meaning he is knowledgeable in every cultural site that we visited, along with the geology, biology, astronomy and gastronomy of every village, ruin, monument, church and native home we visited. He has a sort of mythical charm that may come from his own Quechuan ancestry. He didn’t just answer our questions, he seemed to anticipate them. Never lost, he had friends wherever we went.
I can’t say enough about him.

So go, sign up for your own ConservationVIP experience at Machu Picchu and volunteer a little of your own effort to save this site and its trails for yourself and your fellow travelers. It was a stunning cultural and adventure trip, gift-wrapped with an environmental conscience. You’ll get MORE than your money’s worth. You’ll meet great people. You’ll eat incredible food. You’ll walk in the footsteps of Incan royalty. And you WILL gain more value in your life.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have taken 2 trips with CVIP, one in the U.S. and one abroad and both were excellent. The professionalism, content, attention to detail and the ability for volunteers to work outdoor assignments that are meaningful and different make these trips very special. In the Galapagos, we were assigned to take underwater pictures of the sea turtles to help the local university establish a sea turtle baseline. We also did habitat restoration and beach clean up. In Yosemite, we cleared trails including drain and scale and helped prepare CCC and NPS for the tourist season. CVIP engages with the local organizations and leaders allowing us to not only DO but also LEARN about the initiatives, concerns and projects. We are able to visit the place of the research and receive overviews from local scientists. In Yosemite we were teamed up with CCC youngsters allowing for a social experience in addition to the conservancy. So far the experience has been very positive. CVIP board members and leaders care and strive for a positive experiences for everyone. They all have a love for the outdoors and are experienced in resource management and conservancy. Their focus on safety, well being and group cohesion results in camaraderie and making a difference and provides for a very rewarding experience for the volunteers.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Being a volunteer with Conservation Volunteers International Program (ConVIP) exceed my expectations. Having lost my wife, Carol, of 42 years to Ovarian cancer 9 months prior to this trip and I was searching for a new purpose in my life. I wanted to give back to a National Park system that provides me with so much joy and honor Carol's love of travel. I loved the daily challenge of the physical labor, learning new skills associated with building a boardwalk and the team work required. It helped me stay focused on the tasks at hand and not think about my grief. Our two leaders were extremely patient, enthusiastic, organized and skilled in motivating and teaching a diverse group of individuals and with limited building skills. Everyone had an opportunity to learn and contribute to every aspect of the project. In addition, we worked along side young Chilean men and women who volunteered through CONAF. What a rewarding experience meeting these young people who love their National Park and want to be part of the solution to environmental overuse. The comradery was immediate and genuine. And their love of their National Parks gives us Seniors hope that the future of our world's treasures are in safe hands. I'm proud of the boardwalk that we built and the fact that generations of hikers will enjoy the beautiful view of Los Cuernos del Paine that the boardwalk provides. On a personnel note, this trip provided me with a vision of how I could combine my love of nature, travel, backpacking and my need to give back by volunteering in future ConVIP trips.

Shelley Spencer S.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is an amazing organization that provides invaluable service to some of the worlds most precious places! When you volunteer with Conservation VIP, you not only give back, but you also get an opportunity to immerse in the area and culture of your project. You meet amazing people, travel to incredible locations and work along side others that value this work as much as you.
I have traveled to Peru and Costa Rica with Conservation VIP, and have every intent to continue my relationship and support of this cause!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My 1st participation with CVIP was last year (late May 2018) in Alaska for 11 days. I loved every minute of each day - the work, the shared meals with new friends, helping one another, laughing with one another all the time, learning from excellent team guides and the amazing forrest service staff as together we waded in streams to clear away fallen limbs, removing piles and piles of sticks and limbs along the trails collected over the months from work done to breakdown beaver damns, helping restore hiking trails, chopping wood with an axe and even learning how to operate a log splitter. Our group worked so well together - young and old, working skilled professionals and retired team members - all becoming friends along the way. I still share communications with several team members. I've registered for my 2nd CVIP to Machu Picchu this fall!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Truly an amazing experience with Conseevation VIP. Travel ignites the spirit and engages the soul! And, Conservation VIP takes care of everything.

I've been fortunate to participate in 3 trips so far and can't wait to see other places with this amazing organization.

Pictures from recent trip to Scotland!

Emilio C.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've participated in three volunteer trips with Conservation Volunteers International Program (Conservation VIP). Each better and more fulfilling than the last, not because one is better than the other, but because the experiences and the feeling of doing good keep building on each other with each trip. My first was Galapagos! Such a special place and it needs our help and protection. Next was Torres del Paine National Park, in Chile. Stunning, and again, the park really needs volunteers in order to help maintain the trail network and infrastructure from overuse. Lastly, and most recently, Scottish Highlands. Scotland was once covered in forests..... not so today, but with the help of organizations like Conservation VIP and our allies, Trees for Life, maybe some day in the not too distant future, Scotland will again look like it once did. It is so rewarding to give back to the environment in all these wonderful places. Thanks Conservation VIP!!!

Barbara K.2

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have been involved with ConervationVIP for about 5 years. I am so impressed by the absolute commitment if each person in the organization to volunteerism and natural resource conservation. The work that has been accomplished in Patagonia from long suspension bridges, boardwalks and trails is amazing. Trip leaders, themselves volunteers, are dedicated to make sure each volunteers has the best experience possible.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've done three volunteer trips with CVIP--two to Torres del Paine and one to Machu Picchu--and they have all been wonderful experiences. The leaders are not only knowledge about the work to be done, but also know how to manage volunteers so that everyone can contribute to the project in a way that feels significant. They do a tremendous amount of prep work behind the scenes, working with local partners to make sure each project meets the needs and expectations of the local organizations in a respectful and culturally sensitive way. The volunteers develop great friendships and teamwork skills, and most of us come away with a deeper understanding of the land and culture. We have the satisfaction of accomplishing something really special while experiencing truly extraordinary places in a way that very few people do. After doing a CVIP trip, it's hard to be "just a tourist." Not just idle words...I've already signed up for my fourth CVIP trip, and this time I've convinced a friend to come along too!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Great group to work with. I have found that the folks who run ConservationVIP are dedicated, fun, knowledgeable, interesting....and they work hard. It's not easy to plan, prepare and pull off trips to Galapagos, Machu Picchu, Scotland...and more...all in the same year. I mean think about it. A group of volunteers putting together work efforts at all these place. And what we do with them means a lot. Torres Del Paine had no one tasked to maintain trails...and ConservationVIP and volunteers stepped in. At Machu Picchu we put "hands-on" where no outsiders have ever done. Plus arranging food, drink, lodging, travel... It's been great to work with them and I hope to do more with them in the future. A+

pauldadams2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

ConservationVIP is one great organization doing real good and making a real difference around the globe! Every trip I've taken has been top shelf with the best leadership who are always safety aware, knowledgeable, and kind and thoughtful about all-things-conservation. The increase of awareness about the impact of tourism and importance of sustainability on their destinations is more than enlightening; it's life-changing! Volunteers take home more than a memorable experience. We take home vital principles of caring for our planet and making a difference that lasts. Whether oceans to land or to highlands to trails, appreciation for and the necessity of a healthy and thriving environment is job one for this org!

K2Scotland

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have done two trips with CVIP - trail maintenance at Yosemite National Park in the fall of 2015 and conservation work with Trees for Life, Dundreggan Estate, Scotland, in the Highlands, September 2018. I chose this organization both times because this is how I vacation...by giving back to where I want to be, by being a positive influence. And, well, you can't beat Yosemite or the Highlands of Scotland for beauty in the wild. Both trips found me among amazing, kind, smart and collaborative folk who worked together like we had known each for years. Wondrous. The Scotland trip was perfection with the 'focalizers' from Trees for Life and our Leaders preparing and guiding the volunteers with finesse and enjoyment. I felt useful. I felt like I could now hang out in Scotland (which I did for a few days after) and feel like I had given something in return for all the hospitality and beauty. It is not simple for me to take trips like this. Money must be saved, traveling arranged, and time off work taken. I chose CVIP twice for going some place on earth I had not been and I would choose them again if the stars align. The organization has integrity and deep commitment to making a difference with their programs both to the land and to the people who are a part of each trip.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Machu Picchu was on my bucket list and when I saw the CVIP volunteer trip listed, I signed up! In addition to great leaders, the other volunteers were so interesting. We worked with local organizations to fix Inca trails, cleaned and reclaimed some Inca sites plus we got to hike parts of the Inca Trail!
After this great experience I went on CVIP trips to Torre del Paine, the Galapagos and Alaska. Each trip was different but basics were the same: great trip leaders, work with local organizations, interesting fellow volunteers. On each trip we learned about history and traditions of the area from experts. Plus we saw the positive results of our work and were thanked by locals for our work. I always left feeling a connection to the area that you never get with traditional travel.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I went on a CVIP trail-building trip to Torres del Paine in 2007. I had the opportunity to work in a stunning physical environment with a wonderful group of volunteers and park staff. It was a truly memorable experience.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

Conservation Volunteers International Program (CVIP) operates entirely with hard working board members who donate their time and money to lead trips of volunteers to help preserve and protect Yosemite National Park in California, Machu Picchu in Peru, and Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia, Chile. The work that the volunteers have performed in these parks have made significant improvements to the environment, enhancing visitor safety, and reducing the impact that heavy visitation has produced. This organization has been recognized by the US State Department as contributing to, and fostering, excellent relationships between our host governments and the US. Our volunteers take pride that they are acting as Goodwill Ambassadors while helping preserve three of the most incredible parks in the world.