Volunteer Placement: Wildlife Research and Sustainable Tourism Development in Transylvania

14+ days
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Description

Project Summary

Step back in time to the Medieval landscapes of Transylvania, where bears and wolves still roam the hills around cobblestoned villages. We work with volunteers like you to develop sustainable tourism in the forests and meadows surrounding Transylvania’s tourism hubs to help protect wildlife and rural livelihoods. We are extremely grateful for your support in making these projects possible. 

In return, we promise you the experience of a lifetime, a letter of reference or certificate for your CV, and the opportunity to gain valuable skills to launch your career in conservation management. 

PLEASE CHECK ALL TABS ABOVE FOR FULL INFORMATION ON ACTIVITIES, COSTS, AND START DATES!

Based in the tiny hamlet of Angofa, our volunteers work alongside wildlife tour operator, Angofa Wildlife Tours, to develop sustainable tourism that protects unique European wildlife and ecosystems, as well as traditional agricultural practices. Our home base is the Angofa Wildlife Centre, a newly-restored schoolhouse that is run in partnership with a Romanian nonprofit called ADEPT to create rural income that supports the monitoring and conservation of unique species like bears, bee-eaters, little blue butterflies, and more. 

Angofa is located 15 minutes from the town of Sighisoara and 30 minutes from the village of Viscri, both international tourist destinations that draw thousands of visitors each year. Prince Charles even owns a traditional Saxon home in Viscri. The meadows, hills, and forests surrounding these towns are home to spectacular wildlife biodiversity, yet few visitors or even locals have the opportunity to view and learn about these species. Angofa Wildlife Tours works hard to monitor and protect these areas and it is our goal to support their work by building out wildlife tourism to boost rural income and incentivize conservation in Transylvania.

Programs in Transylvania run for 2-8 weeks and can be combined with work experience opportunities at our sites in Croatia at Silba (marine) or Krka (terrestrial). Start dates begin every Saturday and end on the following Saturday. Your fees include a transfer from the airport but not a return transfer, should you desire to continue your travel in Europe after finishing your volunteer work. Please see the ITINERARY tab above for a detailed description of dates, accommodation, and other logistical details. 

Volunteers will be involved in many different work activities, including tasks that are not animal or wildlife related, but are essential to conservation efforts. Examples of activities may include: wildlife monitoring techniques, creating marketing and sales materials, replanting native species, building trails, cleaning and decorating the research center, and clearing invasive plants. Specific activities cannot be guaranteed during any one volunteer’s stay as conservation management work depends on many uncontrollable factors such as weather, wildlife, and organizational needs. 

Please see the ACTIVITIES tab above for a detailed description of possible volunteering activities. 

How to Book

Please indicate the number of weeks, start date, and any additional courses in the form to the right of this section. Please fill in the number of weeks in the box that currently lists “2”. You must pay the flat deposit fee of €100 to hold your place. We will contact you with a full invoice once we receive your deposit confirmation. Discounts will be applied to bookings longer than two weeks. Please see the PRICING tab above for detailed pricing information.

You do not need to choose dates until January 10th, 2021.

Accommodation

angofa wildlife centre

All volunteers will be based at the Angofa Wildlife Centre, a restored homestead located just fifteen minutes from the center of Sighisoara. Accommodation will be in tents or shared bunk-style rooms with other volunteers. The center has running water, cold showers, flushing toilets, and a full kitchen. Volunteers are expected to help with cooking and participate in daily cleaning of the camp. Please note that the center runs mostly on solar power and therefore may occasionally have low electricity on cloudy days; volunteers should be flexible to the challenges of running a remote field site! 

Our camp is in a relatively rural area, about a fifteen-minute drive from the small town of Sighisoara, which has restaurants, shops, and pubs. While you may participate in activities near tourist attractions and in nearby villages throughout your stay, you should bring plenty of books, cards, and games to entertain yourself. This is not an ideal program for someone who needs to be in a big city!

Important: Covid-19 Statement

We are constantly analyzing the Covid-19 situation on the ground in Romania with the help of our local partners. We strongly encourage our participants not to purchase any flights prior to confirmation that they will be able to arrive in Romania without being required to quarantine for 14 days.

If quarantine is still required for visitors to Romania on your start date, we will enable you to change your start date free of charge for up to 24 months. Please keep track of any changes to quarantine measures approaching your start date and contact us if you have any questions or concerns.

The Angofa Wildlife Centre is located 15 minutes outside of the city on a large, rural farm. Participants will be accommodated in tents to promote social distancing and will be provided with facilities for proper hygiene, including running water at the Centre. The Centre will be cleaned and ventilated several times per week to avoid contagion risk and most group activities will be performed outdoors.

Itinerary

You may choose to volunteer in Transylvania for 2-8 weeks and may choose to combine your experience with volunteering opportunities at our sites in Croatia on Silba Island (marine) or the Krka River Valley (terrestrial). Start dates begin every Saturday and end on the following Saturday. Your fees include a transfer from the airport but not a return transfer, should you desire to continue your travel in Europe after finishing your volunteer work.

The Angofa Wildlife Centre will open on Saturday 3 April 2021 and will close again on Saturday 5 June 2021 in time to prepare for the extensive Opwall research program. The Centre re-opens in late summer on Saturday 14 August 2021 until Saturday 30 October 2021.

The expeditions start at Cluj Napoca airport at 2 PM on Saturday and finish at the same point at 12 PM on your final Saturday.  Transfers from the airport to the Angofa Wildlife Centre are included, but the return journey is not included in the price to enable you to continue traveling. If you are interested in a return transfer, please advise us at the time of booking. 

You are responsible for booking your own flights to Cluj-Napoca, which you can do through budget airlines like Ryanair and Wizz Air. Volunteers will be met at Cluj Napoca at 2 PM on the Saturday of their arrival and transferred as a single group to our research camp. It is approximately a three-hour journey from the airport to our camp. Volunteers that have arrived on earlier flights are therefore required to wait at the airport for later arrivals. We recommend that volunteers stay overnight in the town of Cluj Napoca if your flight arrives before our start date. 

You will not be transferred back to Cluj Napoca unless you specifically request this service for the end of your volunteer period.

Activities

Activities

Volunteers will be involved in many different work activities, including tasks that are not animal or wildlife related, but are essential to conservation efforts. Examples of activities may include: wildlife monitoring techniques, creating marketing and sales materials, replanting native species, building trails, cleaning and decorating the research center, and clearing invasive plants.

All activities will be conducted alongside scientists and wildlife tourism experts working with Angofa Wildlife Tours to protect the ecosystems of Transylvania. Volunteers studying specific areas of interest may be able to select or focus on activities within their interest area, with priority given to those participating in longer stays. 

Specific activities cannot be guaranteed during any one volunteer’s stay as conservation management work depends on many uncontrollable factors such as weather, wildlife, and organizational needs. We will make our best efforts to balance engaging wildlife activities with more mundane tasks that are essential to advancing our conservation work. However, we ask that volunteers remain flexible and open-minded about the kinds of activities they are asked to do, keeping in mind our long-term goals for the region. There will also be opportunities for touristic visits to natural and cultural sites of importance, either alone or as part of the group.

You can review a detailed description of activities below:

Wildlife Monitoring 

ringing at the angofa centre

Biodiversity & “bio-spots” mapping – We will use existing data to determine and map prime ‘hotspots’ for viewing wildlife in beautiful scenery, which can be used to promote tourism and conservation projects. You will be taught to use mapping software to produce attractive content to share with visitors and scientists alike.

Bird point counts – Volunteers will accompany skilled ornithologists during early morning walks to register species by call and sight to aid in conservation efforts. Point counts consist of standing still within a specific habitat area for a set period of time (usually 10 minutes) and registering all bird calls or sightings from that spot within a specific period.Point counts provide us with key information about local species abundance and diversity. Read more here.

Bear tracking and viewing – Romania is one of Europe’s last great bear habitats. Volunteers will join local hunters to track bears at dusk and observe them in their natural habitat without disturbing the animals. 

Camera trapping – Volunteers will help create and manage a network of remote cameras that are automatically triggered when they sense movement. These cameras are placed in the forest surrounding the Angofa Wildlife Centre to monitor wildlife with minimal disturbance. Volunteers will go out daily to specific cameras within the network to collect SD cards and change batteries, then process the photos in camp using ID kits and working with scientists to identify the species. 

Creating ID guides/maps – The Centre will serve as a hub for wildlife conservation and education in the region and therefore must provide ample information about the species that can be seen surrounding the area. These guides may include common butterflies, birds, mammals, and other animals of tourist interest, along with scientific information about each species. It is also important to create maps of the area to help tourists and locals find the best areas for viewing wildlife and learning about its importance.

Conservation Management

bear tour in romania

Creating bike trails – Several villages in Transylvania are connected with mountain biking trails that attract thousands of tourists each summer. These paths allow for day trips between villages or longer trips, with options to stay in guesthouses along the way. This project involves hard manual labor to clear and mark the bike path that connects to the Angofa Wildlife Centre to attract more tourists to visit the center.

Building nature paths – The Angofa Wildlife Centre provides opportunities for groups to join guided or self-guided tours through the nearby meadows and forests. There is a need to build shorter trails with signs and guides to wildlife viewing opportunities around the center. This work involves manual labor to clear, map, and mark the trails around the Centre for tourist use and wildlife viewing opportunities.

Angofa Centre management – The Angofa Centre is a new facility and requires constant upkeep given its rural location. This work will give you a taste of the daily effort of maintaining a research and tourism facility that attracts visitors who can support our conservation efforts. While it may seem less glamorous than wildlife viewing, the upkeep of the center is critical to our work, enabling us to raise the funding we need to pursue research and conservation in the area. This work might include fixing fences, clearing the yard, decorating the center, creating road signs, whitewashing walls, and other manual tasks that arise as needed at the center. 

Community & Cultural Development

viscri cattle at dusk

Angofa farm work – Transylvania’s agricultural systems date back to Medieval times and have helped preserve the region’s wildlife. Even today, farmers here use very few pesticides and use natural methods for protecting crops, like inviting white storks and owls into their fields to eat pests. The Angofa Centre is adjacent to a working Saxon farm where volunteers may be asked to help with daily tasks such as milking, weeding, planting, and caring for cattle.

Gradinile Malancrav – Malancrav Gardens are a fully-sustainable, traditional Saxon farm growing crops near the edge of ancient oak forests in ways that work with wildlife rather than against them. Volunteers have the opportunity to work at the farm by picking produce, weeding, or feeding animals to help the farmers protect Saxon traditional agriculture.

Community ecology workshops – Volunteers may work to organize an educational event in a local village to learn about local perspectives on conservation challenges. These workshops are an opportunity to educate local communities about the importance of biodiversity through interactive presentations or even content produced by interns. Volunteers may also train locals how to monitor certain species through citizen science techniques or set up conservation activities such as a rural waste cleanup or reforestation project.

Foraging in ancient forests – The forests surrounding Transylvania’s villages are full of mushrooms, berries, and grasses that can be used for medicines and food. Learn about native species and help gather plants to prepare a traditional dinner alongside our local team at the Angofa Centre.

Saxon villages – Towns like Sighisoara, Saschiz, and Viscri have been recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage sites for Saxon traditions and architecture. Walk the ancient cobblestoned streets, learn about fortified churches and the history of the region, and enjoy traditional food. Volunteers will also help share information and flyers about the Angofa Centre to share conservation opportunities with local communities. There may also be opportunities to learn about local crafts (like pottery making) and traditional jams, chutneys, and preserves.

Pricing

Pricing

How to Book: Please indicate the number of weeks, start date, and any additional courses in the form above. You must pay the flat deposit fee of €100 to hold your place. We will contact you with a full invoice once we receive your deposit confirmation. Discounts will be applied to bookings longer than two weeks.

2021 Pricing

Note: the price listed in the booking form is not necessarily the weekly price of your trip. You will be directed to pay a flat deposit fee (€100) via our website and will later receive an invoice to your email that corresponds to the pricing below. Discounts on the quoted weekly rate will apply for longer stays, as shown below.

Length in weeks Cost per week in € Total cost in €
2 510 1020
3 485 1455
4 465 1860

Each additional week will cost €420 for up to eight weeks. For longer stays, please send us an email directly.

Price:510.00

Book the tour

 Number ticket  × 510.00
Total = 1,020.00
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