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Marine Turtle Conservation and Creative Recycling in Zanzibar

Volunteering möglich
In Nungwi, at the northern tip of Zanzibar, on one of the most beautiful beaches of the island paradise, we offer an interesting projet which includes several activities around the conservation of endangered marine turtles, and more generally about environmental conservation with a focus on creative recycling. As part of a group of motivated volunteers from all over the world, you will join a range of activities which are planned and scheduled by our project leader Lisa. Tip: Please watch our participants' video about the turtle sanctuary in the tab "Videos"!

Project Details

Marine Turtle Conservation
All species of sea turtles are endangered and their population is constantly declining. Around 85% of all sea turtle deaths are caused by human intervention. This includes poaching for turtle meat, eggs, shelves and fins, which is also widespread in Tanzania. Also, gillnets and trawling nets for fishing are deadly traps for sea turtles. Heavy human construction activity along beaches and coasts for tourism purposes is often done without considering the needs of turtle populations. Plastic waste floating in the ocean is often swallowed by marine turtles, causing their death.
Five of the world's seven species of sea turtles can be found in Tanzania. The two species of Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) and Leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) are critically endangered, and the three species of Green turtle (Chelonia mydas), Loggerhead Sea turtle (Caretta caretta) and Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) are classified as endangered. Sea turtles have a long life and it takes them long to reach adulthood. This makes them particularly vulnerable to human intervention during all phases of their life.
The Mnarani Marine Turtle Conservation Aquarium in Nungwi is an initiative of local citizens, acting as a sanctuary following the principles of the "National Turtle Conservation Committee" (TTCC) since 2003.
At the sanctuary, in a large natural lagoon and several smaller pools, sea turtles are raised. The turtles are either rescued with injuries or hatched from eggs which have been collected from beaches, where due to human pressure, their survival is at risk. The eggs are incubated inside the protected area of the sanctuary and the young turtles are hatched and released to the open sea once they reach a certain size.
The sanctuary's conservation work is so successful because the villagers take ownership of the project. Due to the project's long-term presence, in Nungwi and the north of Zanzibar, due to the project's, poaching of marine turtles is far less common than at other areas of  Zanzibar, or on other islands and along Tanzanian mainland coasts.
The Mnarani Marine Turtles Aquarium is  financed through revenues generated from tourists visiting the lagoon, where they can learn about the life of marine turtles, and through the contributions paid by foreign volunteers that we forwarded to the project as an exclusive project partner.
The main tasks of volunteers at the marine turtle sanctuary include nursing and treating injured sea turtles, collecting food and feeding the turtles, cleaning the lagoon and pools, and guiding visitors (also in foreign languages if possible). No previous knowledge is required; anything you need to know will  be told to you.
You will join the activities at the marine turtle sanctuary for 2-4 hours per day.
"Trash to Treasures" creative recycling/upcycling project
In Zanzibar, waste is a problem of growing concern, as there are no functioning waste management systems in place. Since June 2016, World Unite! has been running several activities in Nungwi that have the aim to raise awareness amongst the local population about the waste problem and to support them in the creation of useful items for everyday life from recycled materials, which might even generate a small additional income to them.
Under the direction of our team member Lisa, volunteers are creating useful and decorative everyday items from waste materials. At the marine turtle bungalow accommodation you will find some furniture and decorative objects which were made by volunteers, just as at our Forest Camp near Jozani Forest National Park. We are regularly inviting local school classes to do upcycling handcraft activities with them.
The following image gallery shows some objects which were created. They include the use of "bottle cutters", which allow the cutting of strings from plastic bottles that can then be used to weave curtains, nets for chairs and many other things. Lisa and the volunteers are also making "ubuntublox": Soft plastic such as plastic bags and foil material are pressed in a self-made compactor to form blocks that can be used to build inexpensive and resource saving walls. The storage shed at our Forest Camp near Jozani Forest was built using this technique.
You will join these activities for 2-4 hours per day.
Accommodation will be in the bungalow which belongs to the sea turtle sanctuary. Should the bungalow be fully occupied, accommodation is arranged at further houses at the village. Meals are served for all participants on the terrace in front of the turtle sanctuary, 3 times per day.
Your arrival to join this project should be on a WEDNESDAY between 4am and 11pm. The project induction will then be for a small group on the following Thursday. You can also arrive on any other day, but in this case we would charge an extra of 60 EUR for additional effort and transportation costs.
Info Box
Location: Nungwi, Zanzibar
Availability: All year, arrival EVERY WEDNESDAY (see details above)
Minimum Duration: 1 Week
Maximum Duration: 12 Months
Language Requirements: English
Further Languages Of Advantage: German, Italian, and other languages
Accommodation: Complete boarding at Bungalow at the Conservation Station or further houses at the village
Supervision Possible: No
Minimum Qualification Of Intern:
No formal qualification required
Further Contribution To Project: None
Volunteering Possible: Yes
Required Qualification For Volunteer: None
Further Contribution To Project: None
Professional Conduct, Do you have the "right" attitude?



Watch this video about the marine turtle sanctuary made by our participant Daniel:


Video "Turtle Measurement Day" made by our participant André


This is another video, presenting the marine turtle sanctuary:


Comments of participants

“For 7 weeks, I worked as a volunteer in Mnarani Aquarium in Nungwi. This wonderful, informative time, I will never forget. The Mnarani Aquarium is a sanctuary for sick, very small, or other sea turtles that are accidentally caught by fishermen. The station is self-supporting and tourists are guided through the aquarium daily. From the first day I was welcomed warmly into the community. Thanks to the helpful literature from Suleiman, and the support of all dedicated employees, I already knew after the first week enough about the sea turtles to take guided tours in English, German and Italian. Daily tasks such as beach cleaning, freeing algae from turtles, feeding and caring, weighing, measuring and picking seaweed as food for green turtles, are done jointly by all employees. If too many turtles are brought by fishermen, or when there are several hatchlings, a new enclosure is built immediately. Each volunteer can commit oneself also to doing other projects than the sea turtle project. We were able to teach English, for example, to the children and teachers at a nearby nursery school in Nungwi. All these varied works in various fields made my stay very entertaining and exciting." Christine, Switzerland
Where can you spend a better holiday than at the crystal blue ocean with recently hatched turtles? I can't think of any other place, that’s why I decided to go for four weeks to the marine turtle conservation pond in Nungwi, Zanzibar. The welcome was pleasant; my room was clean and had everything I needed. The three meals a day were served directly at the beach restaurant and very often they tried to cook European style. Even more delicious was the freshly caught fish which was shared between everyone from one big plate in the evenings. I really started to love fish there!
The work was also very interesting, every morning the sand inside the aquarium was cleaned, the water of the small turtle pools was changed and medicine was given to the injured turtles into their eyes or skin. If necessary, I collected some seaweed which was the food for the big turtles, and I cleaned their carapaces. It is unbelievable how strong they are!
Also there was enough time to do some tours all over Zanzibar. Snorkeling trips or bicycle tours through small villages are just examples.
The four weeks passed too quickly. When I was back home I realized how much I miss that way of life, the warm welcome from everyone and the wonderful paradise-like nature. A visit to Zanzibar is absolutely worth it! Ulrike, Germany

Picture Galeries and Reports on Facebook and on our blog:




Accommodation in Nungwi



Shared Accommodation:

Bungalow at Marine Sea Turtle Conservation Center
The fantastic thing about this accommodation is the location - right on the northern tip of Zanzibar at one of the most beautiful beaches of the island. But the bungalow itself is also attractive - the rooms are spacious and relatively modern and each room has a private bathroom. You can choose between 4-share dorm rooms (2 bunk beds), twin rooms and single rooms (all subject to availability). Full boarding is included (except industrial bottled drinks) and food is served directly on the beach, on the covered terrace.



I. World Unite! Service Package

Mobile/Cell Phone Users: If you don't see the rates for your desired duration of stay, hide other (shorter) durations of stay.
  up to 31 Days
32-60 Days
61-90 Days
91-120 Days
5 Months or longer
 wu servicepackage
1 Person
450 EUR 600 EUR 700 EUR 750 EUR 850 EUR
2-4 Persons
(Rate per Person)
400 EUR 500 EUR 600 EUR 650 EUR 700 EUR
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The World Unite! Service Package includes:

  • Individual Consultation and Preparation prior to your arrival
  • Access to the World Unite! Online Resource Centre which has Preparation Materials including Intercultural Preparation, compiled particularly for your destination (PDFs, Videos)
  • Preparation Session via Skype, together with further participants
  • Arrangement of your Residence Permit, Work Permit or similar permit and other official permits (if required), but not the official government fees for it/them (See costs below)
  • Pick-up and Transfers from/to Zanzibar International Airport (ZNZ) on arrival and departure to/from Nungwi/Muungoni
  • Personal support staff at your location and at our international office
  • Orientation and Introduction in Zanzibar
  • Accompanying you to your placement on your first day
  • 24 Hours emergency support by local support team
  • 50 USD Contribution to your project
  • Local SIM Card with 10.000 TSH air time
  • Issuance of Confirmations/Certificates for your university, scholarship, insurance, etc. and filling out/signing Internship Contracts for your university
  • 15% Discount for Safaris, Kilimanjaro Climbs, Excursions and Watersports Activities offered by "Budget Safari Tanzania"
The environmental conservation programs in Nungwi and Jozani also include:
  • Our own World Unite! full-time program instructors
  • In Jozani/Muungoni: Once per week half-day cultural activity in Muungoni Village
  • In Jozani/Muungoni: Use of a Mountain Bike


The Rates do NOT include:

  • Accommodation and Meals (see below)
  • Travel to/from Zanzibar (you book it on your own; we can assist you)
  • Official fees for Visa, Residence Permit, Work Permit (see below)
  • Insurance (Travel Health Insurance, Liability Insurance, Travel Cancellation insurance; you book it on your own, we can assist you)
  • Personal Expenses
  • Vaccinations
  • Local Transport (Estimated amounts see below)
  • Please note that for supervised/mentored internships, some organizations charge further contributions. You find this information in the "Info Box" below the respective internship description.

II. Accommodation Costs

You can choose between the following options:
Mobile/Cell Phone Users: If you don't see the rates for your desired duration of stay, hide other (shorter) durations of stay.
All rates in US-Dollar!
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 Any duration
(7-180 Days)
In Nungwi
Bungalow at Marine Turtle Sanctuary on Full Board*
Bed at 4-share dorm room
20 EUR/Day
Bed at twin room
25 EUR/Day
Single room 40 EUR/Day
In Jozani / Muungoni
World Unite! Forest Camp (form tent) or Host Family of Simple Standard
(single or twin room) on Full Board*
Per Person
20 EUR/Day
* Full board = Breakfast, lunch, dinner (not incl. industrially bottled beverages)
For incomplete months you will pay the exact amount proportionally per day.
In case of 3-4 person: Same rate as in case of 2 Persons. 5 or more persons: Contact us for group rates.

Overview of other costs:

  • If meals are not included: around 130-220 USD/Month for self-catering (eating out at affordable yet good restaurants and/or cooking by yourself; you are much more flexible in this way compared to if we would serve food at your accommodation)
  • Official Permits: For placement duration of up to 90 days: Visa 250 USD (for most nationals; to buy on arrival at the airport in Tanzania) + Work Permit 200 USD (we arrange through Zanzibar Labour Office); For placement of 91-180 days: twice the costs as in case of up to 90 days
  • Small local expenses (e.g. Internet, local transport): around 30-50 USD/Month (Estimate)
  • Insurances around 30-50 USD/Month


How do I pay?

Once all your questions have been answered and you confirm that you want to participate, we will email you an invoice. You can pay it via bank transfer or via Paypal. You will pay a deposit of 200 EUR when the invoice is issued. One months prior to your arrival you will pay the remainder for your Service Package.
The payment modalities for rent and possible further costs (e.g. internship supervision fees, as stated in info box of the respective project description) depend on your host country and placement. We will inform you beforehand. In many cases these costs are paid on site, but for some countries and placements they need to be paid partially or fully in advance.



Other Projects That Might Interest You:

These projects are suggestions for alternatives that may interest you or those that could be chosen as COMBINATIONS. The combination of projects in different organizations is often possible and usually cheaper than two individual bookings. Please contact us to know more! Check out our other listings in the areas of "World Learner" and "Active Travel" at your travel destination to make your stay even more interesting.

Safaris, Kilimanjaro Climbs, Day Trips, Watersports

budgetsafaribannerAs "Budget Safari Tanzania" we are arranging cost-effective yet high-quality safaris, Kilimanjaro climbs, excursions, and watersports activities in Tanzania and Zanzibar. You will group with other World Unite! participants and further travellers.
As a World Unite! participant, you get a 15% discount on all offers of Budget Safari Tanzania. We will share a Discount Code with you that you can use with the online booking of your safari, Kilimanjaro climb, excursion or watersports activity.

Learning Swahili in Sansibar!

Swahili TeacherIt is always helpful to know Swahili while doing your project here. Swahili is a relatively easy language to learn. With our one-to-one teacher, after a short time, most learners are able to do basic conversation. You can choose the intensity of the lesson. If you are volunteering or doing an internship, we recommend a maximum of ten hours per week. 
The cost for Swahili lessons: 1 Student - 10 EUR
Groups of 2 or more people can join language lessons with an NGO at a rate which is a little cheaper per person!
Please check "Language Training Required" in the registration form, specifying the desired duration (minimum 20 hours).

Travel Health Insurance

We recommend the following travel insurance that is meant specifically for participants of internships, volunteering, language study, working holiday, and courses abroad. It is available for travelers of all nationalities and usable for all countries, except your home country. You can also add a liability and travel cancellation insurance.
Just click on the link, fill in the form and you will get an immediate booking confirmation.
Travel Health Insurance




Nungwi is a village on the northern tip of Zanzibar and one of the places where the beach tourism began, about 20 years ago. The difference between low tide and high tide here, is the lowest of all Zanzibar, which makes the beaches of Nungwi and Kendwa especially popular with tourists. There are luxury hotel facilities and small, local backpacker accommodations and especially during the season, tourist "Nightlife" with several bars along the beach. There are also several diving and water sports centers. The turtle conservation station at the lighthouse is a popular tourist attraction. The snorkeling and sunset cruises on a dhow, the traditional sailing ships of the Indian Ocean, which are built in Nungwi on the beach, are also popular. Since especially during the season many tourists walk through the village, many residents of Nungwi try to benefit from it through small shops for tourists, selling products and offering their services for tours.

Getting There


Getting To Zanzibar

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Some airlines fly from Germany, Austria and Switzerland directly or with an intermediate stop at Zanzibar (ZNZ). Remember to book your flight and share with us your flight details. From Zanzibar airport, we will pick you up and bring you to your accommodation in Zanzibar.
If the flights to Dar-es-Salaam (DAR) are much cheaper, you can also fly there. From Dar-es-Salaam, you can travel to Zanzibar by a connecting flight or take the ferry. We can arrange a transfer for you from the airport to the ferry for 30 EUR/35 USD. The ferry ticket costs 35 USD and the ferry takes about 2 hours. We will take you in this case from the airport to the seaport. In Zanzibar, you will be picked up at the ferry terminal and taken to your accommodation. A connecting flight from DAR to ZNZ only takes 20 minutes and costs 50-80 USD.
If your placement is on Pemba Island, you can either take a daily flight from Zanzibar to Pemba, or you can take a ferry (Azam Marine), which however doesn't have daily departures. In Pemba you will be picked up from the airport or ferry port and brough to your accommodation.



Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are there fixed start dates for the project, which I must adhere to?
No, you can arrive at any date and you can hence, plan your trip according to your availability and the prices of flights. We can pick you up from the airport even at night.
Can I stay longer at my accommodation after my volunteering/internship or arrive earlier?
Yes, this is possible and we will give you our best rates. Just let us know when you arrive and leave and we will let you know the costs.
During my stay, can I travel around the country?
Zanzibar is a relatively small island, and you can use public transport during the weekends to travel throughout the island; such as to the beaches of the north and east. In Moshi and Zanzibar, we ourselves often offer day trips, such as to Kilimanjaro or the national parks, for which you can join other volunteers and interns when you travel there. We share these trips with you in our monthly subscriber list and you can book them. Participants often organize on-site travel together. In Moshi and Zanzibar, you can stay at the same low rates as our Zanzibar or Moshi participants in accommodations provided by us. If you plan to travel during your volunteering/internship period, you should seek permission in advance. We recommend that you plan your travel after your volunteering/internship. For this, you can also stay longer in your accommodation at affordable rates.
Is it safe to travel in Zanzibar alone as a single female traveller?
Approximately 80% of our participants are female and many of them, only about 20 years old. Not a single instance of a serious security breach has occurred. Our coordinator will advise you on how you should conduct yourself in order to avoid problems - your dressing style, valuables, and in dealing with local men. Our preparation materials elaborate on this matter. If you follow these basic rules that apply equally to many other places, the risk in Zanzibar is not great.
Will I be the only volunteer/intern in the project or in Zanzibar?
The total number of participants that participate simultaneously with an organization depends on the size and activity of the organization and responsibilities of volunteers/interns. We try to avoid too many volunteers/interns in an organization at the same time. It may be that you are alone in your work site, but usually there are, throughout the year, other participants in Zanzibar, who you can meet in your spare time, if you desire so. Zanzibar Town is a small town, where you walk around quite a bit. In addition, there are well-known places such as the Forodhani Gardens, where you actually meet other participants. If you are in a different place (Nungwi, Mungooni, etc.), the probability is higher that there are more participants from us. You can access these places relatively quickly by public transport from Zanzibar Town, if you want to meet other participants of your country over the weekend. We also have regular meetings with all participants and you will get a list of participants who are in the country, with their contact information. You need not be concerned that you are "alone" in Zanzibar, nor must you stay away from the locals because you spend all your time with other foreign participants.
What vaccinations do I need?
Our Info-PDF that you get as a participant, gives detailed information on health care. Also refer to Recommended Vaccinations
Where do I live?
Please find details in the tab "Accommodation".
Can I choose my accommodation?
We give you choices (Most popular!, Comfort +, Adventurer) and you can tell us if you prefer a shared accommodation or homestay; we will then seek an accommodation for you. We organise accommodation, taking into consideration the distance from your work site. However, since Zanzibar is not a very big town, is relatively easy to reach locations in other parts of the city by public transport ("Daladala") or by bike.
How free or bound am I in my accommodation with the host family?
With the host family, you can have your freedom, and do not need to join them during meal times or have any other obligations. If you will return late in the evening, you need to let them know in advance, so that they can unlock the doors for you (which are locked at night for security reasons). Bringing home casual acquaintances is taboo. They look to integrate our participants into their family life, but you can determine to what extent you want to be part of it.
Does my accommodation have internet facilities?
In Tanzania, Internet is accessed via the mobile phone networks. With smartphones, you can use the Internet. For laptops, there are USB modem sticks for about 10 EUR. There are no flat rates; you use data packets, depending on your needs. You might consume 2 GB of data in a week, which costs about 4.50 EUR. In the centers of cities (Moshi Town, Dar-es-Salaam, Mwanza, Zanzibar Town, Karatu, etc.), the connection is good, the speed is satisfactory and sufficient for Skype phone calls. In the suburbs and in the country, there is connection, but usually almost impossible or very slow and unreliable. We will provide you information on the use of mobile Internet in Tanzania.
How can I do my laundry?
In general, laundry is washed by hand in Tanzania. You can ask your landlord or host family if they have someone who can wash your clothes. Usually, someone offers that to you for a small fee. Please ask your local supervisor, what the appropriate thing to do is.
I am a vegetarian. Can I get vegetarian food?
Host families are familiar with participants who are vegetarians and prepare appropriate food. In some restaurants in Zanzibar Town, there are vegetarian options. In the market, there are a wide variety of vegetables and fruits. Special dietary needs (e.g. Vegan, allergies to certain foods) can be specified to the host families.
What language skills do I need?
You should be able to make yourself understood in English. The national language of Tanzania is Swahili, but knowledge of English is widespread, especially among people who have a better education or work in tourism. In everyday life, there is usually no problem to be able to communicate in English; if you should come across someone who can not speak English, you can almost immediately find someone who offers to translate in English. If you are in a social project for a longer duration, you will have to deal with people who have little or no education. For this, it is useful to acquire at least a basic knowledge of Swahili before your arrival through any book (or audio CD). You can also take basic Swahili lessons while on site. We also have vocabulary lists with useful words that can help you.

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