One of the most beautiful beaches in Zante, Zakynthos Greek islands,
Gerakas beach in Vasilikos. Due to the efforts of the National
marine Park of Zakynthos Gerakas beach is really untouched, without many sunbeds or any beach bars.
Gerakas beach in Zakynthos is one of the main nesting grounds for
caretta caretta loggerhead sea turtles in Zante.
While you are at Gerakas beach be sure to visit the Earth Sea
and Sky Eco Centre, alkso known as the Earth Sea and Sky Turtle
Rescue Centre, located about 100 meters up from the beach on the
right hand side of the road.
This Eco Centre in Gerakas is one of the only Wildlife information
Centres in Zakynthos. Volunteers at the Eco Centre will help to inform
you about the natural wildlife on the island of Zanmte.
During your holiday in Zante, you can
support the SOS Turtle Appeal from the Eco Centre. They are currently
involved in raising funds to build the first Sea Turtle rescue station
in Zakynthos and will help a great deal with injured and sick turtles in Zante.
Gerakas beach is one of our favorite beaches during the summer
in Zante, Zakynthos Greek islands. Gerakas is located at the most
of the island of Zakynthos, forming a link in the beautiful bay of
Laganas. Gerakas beach is spectacular, with
jagged orange and white cliffs framing the horizon.
The National Marine Park of Zakynthos
closely monitors this beach to ensure that the turtles that lay their
nests here are well protected. One of the benefits of this for humans is
that the beach is always clean and tidy, even in the busiest month of
There are a limited number of sun beds and
umbrellas at Gerakas beach, and no development or buildings along the
shoreline is enabled, again to protect the
Caretta Caretta turtles. This helps to
ensure that Gerakas maintains a really natural and untouched feel.
Gerakas beach in Zante is located just five minutes’ drive
around the coast from St Nicholas, the last beach on the South coast of
Zakynthos. The region of Gerakas is natural, with a few stone villas
dotted around and one snack bar close to the Eco Centre.
Gerakas beach in Zante is one of the most important beaches
within the National Marine Park of Zakynthos as it is very popular with
the native Loggerhead turtles who choose to lay their eggs here year
after year. Access to the beach is forbidden between sunset and sunrise
- the time of day that the turtles nest and later that the baby
hatchlings emerge from their nests and make their way to the sea.
Earth Sea & Sky Volunteers on holiday helping in conservation
projects gerakas zante Zakynthos
Island-based Wildlife Research, Conservation and Tourist Awareness
The aim of this volunteering programme in Zante Zakynthos int eh
Greek islands is to show how conservation and sustainable tourism can
work together to benefit tourists, the locals and wildlife alike. When
you come to do voluntary work on Zakynthos, you will be part of a small
team to research and record the affects of tourism on the local
environment, provide information on the local flora and fauna to
visitors, rescue injured animals and participate in beach and forest
cleans. This warm and lush island is a haven for all sorts of wildlife,
the forests a stopover for migrating birds, the beaches a favoured
nesting destination of the Loggerhead sea turtle, and the home of over
6,000 species of rare and delicate flowers.
WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES THIS CONSERVATION PROJECT MAKE IN ZANTE?
The scenic island of Zakynthos has attracted numerous package
tourists and is battling to cope with the huge summer influx of bodies,
waste, traffic, noise, litter and pollution. Tourism is fast taking over
from other more traditional industries such as the production of raisins
and olive oil. The tourist industry provides a far more lucrative way of
life to the locals yet its exploitation is to the detriment of wildlife
Eco-Tourism is the best way to encourage locals and tourists alike to
change their attitudes and habits. Promoting tourism year round,
informing the public, encouraging ethical conduct, and lobbying for the
Greek government to act on these important issues will help immobilize
this limitless destruction.
FIELD & LIVING CONDITIONS
The accommodation in Zakynthos Zante is in a group of 5 small,
freestanding cottages situated amongst an olive grove in Gerakas, each
sleeping 3 people. There is only a short walk to Gerakas beach and the
Rescue Station, where volunteers will be spending the majority of
allocated shifts. Despite the popularity of the south of the island, the
area is delightfully peaceful. Each cottage is fully equipped with
kitchenette, separate bathroom and combined living/dining area. There is
one bedroom per cottage which is shared and fitted with bunk beds and
mosquito nets, sleeping max 3 people. There is access to a washing
machine and BBQ on site.
Volunteers are required to keep their accommodation clean, and share
shopping and cooking duties. Please note: Food and a Cook are NOT
included!! Volunteers are responsible for budgeting and preparing their
own food – we estimate you consider €5 to €15 per day, more if you
intend to eat out regularly. Shopping and food prep can be done
individually however, we recommend sharing and working in one large or
smaller teams to make the best use of your shopping budget. A car and
driver will be provided once a week to take elected volunteer shoppers
to the large supermarket in Town, good organisation is a must! Advice
and guidance to organise and plan will be provided by the Project
Volunteers get a free day for every 10 worked. A fortnightly barbeque
party will be organised and prepared for the volunteers by the Project
Leaders. During free time, activities available to volunteers include
walking, swimming, horse riding and diving. A visit into Zakynthos Town
is a must. There will be plenty of time to relax on the beach and enjoy
the local surroundings.
SKILLS AND EXPERIENCE
No previous qualifications or experience is required. Training is
provided on site with the majority of participants able to undertake
most duties with minimum supervision within a week.
A driver’s license is desirable although not essential. However,
preference will be given to applicants holding a manual driver’s
license, and have been driving for at least 1 year. Additional languages
are particularly useful for communicating with tourists at the Rescue
Station and during workshops and excursions.
If you have specific training in any field, work or study; or are
confident with or have a particular hobby or interest i.e.: handyperson
skills, writing, photography) then please let us know.
Applicants are required to be 18 years or over at the time of
Enthusiasm and commitment for the protection of the natural
environment is necessary.
A good understanding of English is essential, and potential
volunteers will only be considered for participation if able to
communicate in English on at least an intermediate level.
Applicants must carry a valid health insurance policy, or
equivalent, for the duration of their placement. Proof of cover must
Minimum period of project placement is 2 weeks, however longer
term participation is highly encouraged.
Participants must be prepared to work under hot summer
conditions on a daily basis.
Flexibility is a must, as conditions or required tasks and
shifts can change at short notice.
Volunteers are selected on an individual basis. Groups of more
than two persons are not accepted for the project in the same period
Volunteers must be prepared to experience communal life, of
living and working in a shared house, and operate as members of a
The ability to live and co-operate with people of different
cultures and backgrounds is essential.
Volunteers are trained and supervised by Project Leaders and
experienced members. They must be prepared to participate in every
aspect of the work. Duties are allocated on a weekly rota and may
include working throughout the night or long hours during the day
Volunteers are expected to behave in a civil and responsible
manner at all times, whether on or off duty. Unsociable,
inappropriate or risky behaviour, or failing to follow the
Coordinators instructions, will not be tolerated and may result in
expulsion from the project.
VOLUNTEERING ROLES ION ZANTE & PROJECT LIFE
The project is currently open from April to October; due to extend over
the whole year once the Rescue Station is completed. Volunteers will be
required to work between 6 and 8 hours per day - split into either 2 or
4 hour shifts. These shifts include very early mornings and/or late
nights. Allocation and frequency of shifts are dependent on time of year
and number of available volunteers.
All volunteers carrying a license will be required to share driving
duties, which will involve driving to and from research areas several
times a day. TASKS & RESPONSIBILITIES – ALL YEAR ROUND. Volunteers will
be involved in the cleaning and upkeep of tanks and enclosures, as well
as the basic care of aquatic and land animals including: fish,
terrapins, snakes and birds.
General maintenance and handyperson work at the Rescue Station
and volunteer accommodation requiring low to medium skill sets.
Throughout the season, volunteers will be actively involved in
visitor and tourist education, through information sessions, of the
issues facing the animals and habitats of the Zakynthos National
Rescuing any injured wildlife, providing basic medical
assistance if necessary, and reporting injuries or fatalities to the
Specialised technical support with a focus on providing
maintenance duties, like painting, basic carpenter work, operating
the water-supply system, etc. These volunteers will need to have
previous experience in technical or tradesman work.
Writing of reports, articles and copy for publication on
websites and submission to various wildlife protection organisations
and management bodies.
Research, collection and collation of data on the endangered
flora and fauna species of the Ionian Islands. Entering that data
and findings into databases.
As well as all this, the team will help with the fundraising for
the Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Station and are encouraged
to create and suggest ideas to raise money.
In addition to the above, seasonal based tasks will include:
EARLY SEASON (APR-MAY)
Island surveys, beach and forest walks to assess damage on wildlife
habitats from: dune destruction, illegal development, pollution,
hunting. Regular forest and beach cleans. Public awareness and Rescue
HIGH SEASON (JUNE, JULY, AUGUST)
Public awareness and Rescue Station duty - involves acquainting
tourists with our conservation work, providing information on the
many unique species of flora and fauna of the Ionian, how they can
contribute to our protection efforts, and selling merchandise to
raise funds for the project.
Habitat and population assessment of the Loggerhead sea turtle
and the Mediterranean Monk Seal to assess damage and pressures of
Volunteers may also accompany tourists on catamaran sailing
trips, island tours and nature walks, providing them with vital sea
turtle, monk seal and wildlife conservation guidelines.
Regular beach and marine cleans, as part of the PADI Aware
International Cleanup Event – includes skin diving and snorkelling.
LATE SEASON (SEPT-OCT)
Public awareness and Rescue Station duty.
Migrating bird species population assessment – early mornings and
Identify and report areas that have been affected by human presence
– pollution, light and sound disturbances.
Beach and forest rubbish clean-ups, to tidy up after tourism
Island surveys, beach and forest walks, to assess damage on wildlife
habitats: dune destruction, pollution, hunting.
WINTER MONTHS (NOV-FEB)
After completion of the Rescue Station in spring 2012, on-going
maintenance, handyperson and technical support work will be
If there are injured sea turtles is care, tasks include
preparation and administration of food, operation of the sea water
supply systems, carrying and cleaning the animals, as well as
cleaning the facilities and equipment.
Public awareness activities include the running of exhibition
area and providing information.
Island surveys, beach and forest walks to assess damage on
wildlife habitats from dune destruction, illegal developments,
It is essential that you accurately evaluate your own ability to meet
the conditions detailed below in order to safeguard your health and
safety, and ensure that you can participate fully and effectively.
Following is a list of conditions you need to be aware of and to
consider before committing to the project:
While there are no extreme physical conditions or psychological
demands, you should be fit and confident enough to walk at least 3-5 km
(2-3 miles) of beach and/or uneven forest trails for up to 3 hours at a
You must have good night vision; you will be walking with very
limited light and/or a red light, during night time patrols.
You must be able to wake up early and carry about a 2.5 kg (5 lb)
pack - backpacks are used to carry the team’s field equipment - while
walking on sand and forest paths.
Walking on uneven ground is difficult and not recommended for people
with heart conditions, prosthetic limbs, or limited mobility.
Phobias to snakes and insects will pose a problem, although
encounters with snakes in the wild are unlikely.
If you are allergic to insect bites, bees or wasps please come
prepared with appropriate medication or epi-kit.
To avoid dehydration and other heat related conditions, you are
advised to bring a reusable water bottle in order to stay hydrated
during field activities.
Minor injuries or scrapes due to falls or tripping over obstacles on
unsealed paths can occur while working.
Allergies or phobias to domestic pets will be problematic. There are
resident domestic and farm animals living in and around the volunteer
Volunteers will spend a considerable amount of time outdoors, often
exposed to the elements. Appropriate skin and sun protection is highly
Temperatures in the height of summer - July and August - can go
beyond the average highs of 40°C (104°F). If you are sensitive to heat
or strong sun, consider participating on the project outside of peak
Submission of a Medical Clearance Form is required from all
volunteers wishing to participate on the project.
FURTHER INFORMATION FOR VOLUNTEER CONSERVATION PROJECTS IN ZANTE
The main aim of the project is to protect the local flora and fauna and
promote sustainable tourism. The Wildlife Information Centre was built
in 1996 - the only one on the island - to encourage visitors to take a
closer look at the rich heritage, natural beauty, wildlife and culture
of Zakynthos, and to promote the need for sustainable tourism. Gerakas
is one of the beaches from where the volunteers operate providing
important information to the many people who visit each year, as well as
doing research and monitoring work, and providing first aid should any
of the creatures need it.
One way to try and persuade locals that conservation and eco holidays
are beneficial to them is to promote Zakynthos as a great destination at
any time, not just in the summer during the turtle season. Winter is
just as amazing when wildflowers proliferate, birds are in abundance and
Monk Seals are breeding. Another project the NGOs are concentrating on
is to ensure illegal hunting is well and truly banned. Some people in
Greece love shooting birds of any size and species, and do so
indiscriminately, totally ignoring the illegality of it or whether the
species is protected or not. One of the best ways to oppose the hunting
is to extend the tourist season and promote bird watching and rambling
activities throughout the Ionian, and cleaning up the countryside from
the litter and shells left by the hunters. Sustainable tourism such as
this would create jobs off-season and provide an alternative to the
uncontrolled hunting. The publicity will also hopefully persuade the
Greek government to enforce this European directive.
Participation fees include administration and training costs;
accommodation; bed linen and towels; project enrolment and donation;
information pack, and a 1 year individual membership to Earth, Sea &
Earth, Sea & Sky is not in a position to offer financial assistance or
give refunds. Participants cover all their travel, food and insurance