FAQs

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Frequently Asked Questions

The opportunity to help some of the world's greatest landscapes and cultural sites has its own rewards. We get a great mix of people on our trips with a variety of motivations. Here are a few:
  • Conservation of natural and cultural resources
  • Advocate for Special Places
  • Hikers who want to 'Give back' by repairing trails
  • Enjoy the sense of accomplishment from working on an important project
  • Work with locals to better understand the local culture
  • Travel to a foreign country without needing to learn the language
  • Travel to an important destination without having to make all the travel arrangements
  • Bird-watching (condors in Torres del Paine!)
  • Photography
  • Enjoy the outdoors
  • Have a fun adventure
We do not want to burden the park or the people who welcome us in any way. This is why we pay for food, lodging, and local transportation. It costs money to arrange the trips. We pay for liability insurance, web hosting, and fees to the various agencies that regulate nonprofits. We work hard to keep expenses down. All of our staff, including trip leaders, volunteer their time. As a nonprofit, we gratefully accept donations, which help cover some of our expenses. The fees you pay cover the rest.
Conservation Volunteers International Program and REI Adventures share similar values and missions. Like us, REI is committed to caring for our planet by protecting shared natural spaces and engaging others in making a difference. REI’s mission is to inspire, educate and outfit for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship. ConservationVIP® and REI Adventures have skills that complement each other. Under our agreement with REI, they advertise most of our stewardship trips on the REI Adventures website. REI Adventures handles the logistics of signing up volunteers for Conservation VIP/REI Adventures trips. They can also assist volunteers with airline arrangements between the U.S. and the foreign meeting place for the trips.Teaming up with REI Adventures enables ConservationVIP® to focus our small volunteer staff on the activities where we have special skills and real passion, such as organizing and managing volunteer activities in the world’s greatest landscapes.
Our trip descriptions include an itinerary, which will give you a general description of activities you can expect on the trip. Please note, however, that every trip is unique. As volunteers successfully complete conservation and restoration activities, new activities or new areas can be targeted on subsequent departures. Because local conditions and the Park’s needs continually evolve, detailed plans are often finalized or revised after the group arrives and the trip leaders review the conditions at the site in light of the capabilities and special interests of the volunteers. Just prior to each trip, volunteers will be given updated information that includes details about where their specific group will be based, and an outline of the activities which are planned. Although we do our very best to adhere to that schedule, the itinerary is also subject to change for numerous reasons beyond our control, including weather. A detailed discussion of specific activities will take place daily on the trip. Our volunteer trips offer the opportunity to experience the Park in a unique way not available to the average tourist. Our trips are a good fit for adventurous travelers who are comfortable with a flexible itinerary and truly want to make a difference.
Emergency medical and evacuation insurance is mandatory for all volunteer trips. For our ConservationVIP/REI volunteer trips, you can purchase emergency medical and evacuation insurance through REI Adventures. See details. For volunteer trips offered exclusively through ConservationVIP®, most of our travelers use either World Nomads, MH Ross, or Travel Guard.

In addition to the mandatory medical and evacuation insurance, many volunteers also buy other travel insurance, which covers things like trip interruption or lost baggage. Since we don't make specific company recommendations, we leave your choice of company and other travel insurance strictly up to you.
We are not allowed to give tax advice, but for tax guidance we direct our volunteers to Internal Revenue Service Publication 526 (Charitable Contributions), which says:

Generally, you can claim a charitable contribution deduction for travel expenses necessarily incurred while you are away from home performing services for a charitable organization….The deduction for travel expenses will not be denied simply because you enjoy providing services to the charitable organization. Even if you enjoy the trip, you can take a charitable contribution deduction for your travel expenses if you are on duty in a genuine and substantial sense throughout the trip.

Conservation Volunteers International Program is a 501 (c)(3) qualified charitable organization. We try to structure our trips to ensure that participants are given the opportunity to contribute in a genuine and substantial sense throughout the trip. Please see your tax advisor to confirm the appropriate tax treatment for your trip expenses.
We need people who are physically fit and who want to volunteer.
No. Prior experience planting vegetation, or doing trail maintenance and restoration isn’t necessary. We provide training on each trip. As long as you are physically fit and are willing to learn, we welcome you!
You must be 18 or older. Your health and safety is very important to us. We work with sharp tools, and need to concentrate while using them. We’ve had volunteers in their late 70s — some of whom worked harder than people half their age! The bottom line is, you must determine whether your body — regardless of age — is up to the tasks. For more information about project tasks, check out the Project Details of the trip you’re interested in, or read the trip reports about past projects.
We all have different capacities for physical work, so we offer a variety of tasks. You choose the one(s) that suit you, and work at your own pace. We trust you to take a break whenever you need it. We want you to have happy memories of your trip, and return as fit and healthy as when you arrived — if not more so!
Most trips have one or more couples, but many people come on their own. It is easy to strike up new friendships on the trip.
No, unfortunately. The trips involve complex logistics. Trip leaders need to focus on organizing the work and handling logistics for the group. If you can’t stay for the entire trip this time, we hope you will sign up later when your schedule allows.
Plentiful, nutritious, and as delicious as possible! Food choices are dictated by the trip. The restaurants around Machu Picchu are able to take advantage of plentiful fresh fruits and vegetables, while the refugios in Torres del Paine do a remarkably good job of preparing food which must travel great distances to reach this end-of-the-world location.
Yes. Our trips generally offer non-meat options. If you are vegan or have food allergies, please talk to us about your restrictions before the trip.
No. Each trip begins and ends at the meeting place specified for the trip (Punta Arenas, Cuzco, etc.) You are responsible for getting yourself to and from that meeting site. Our partner, REI Adventures, can help you with travel arrangements: call 1-800-622-2236.
Please read the details of our disclosures below regarding responsibilities and cancellation.

Management and Responsibilities Disclosure
The responsibility of Conservation Volunteers International Program, Inc., a California non-profit corporation, 501(c)(3), is strictly limited; Volunteer Project participant agrees that maximum liquidated damages shall not exceed the Volunteer Project price. ConservationVIP® is responsible only in the capacity for making arrangements for the Volunteer Project services offered, including hotels, transportation (whether by motorcoach, boat, train, airplane or any other means), guides, porterage, and meals from various suppliers (collectively Suppliers). The itineraries shown are subject to revisions, including substitution of hotels, activities and routes. If a service is not provided, and ConservationVIP® is unable to substitute a service of similar value, ConservationVIP’s liability shall not exceed the actual cost of the services not provided. ConservationVIP® does not own or operate any of these Suppliers. The Suppliers are not agents, servants, employees or joint ventures of ConservationVIP, but are Independent Contractors providing travel services to ConservationVIP®.

ConservationVIP® is not liable for any damage, including personal injury, accident, personal loss or other expense, from any cause, act or omission by Suppliers or third parties. Volunteer Project participant agrees that by utilizing the travel services of Suppliers, that Volunteer Project participant will look to Suppliers for any damages of any kind. ConservationVIP® is not responsible for any purchases made during the Volunteer Project.

ConservationVIP® is not responsible for the costs of any medical treatment required during your Volunteer Project, nor is ConservationVIP® responsible for the quality, or lack thereof, of medical care you may receive while on your Volunteer Project. ConservationVIP®, Inc. and/or its agents are not responsible for any damage, expense or inconvenience caused by late departures, change of schedule, strikes or other conditions.

ConservationVIP® is not liable for any wrongful, negligent, or unauthorized acts or omissions of any travel agent or travel agency. Legal proceedings by or against ConservationVIP®, Inc. may be instituted only in a state or federal court within the State of California, and any claim involved in such proceedings shall be decided in accordance with the laws of the State of California. ConservationVIP® reserves the right to decline to accept or retain any person as a member of a Volunteer Project at any time before or during the actual operation of the Volunteer Project. ConservationVIP® reserves the right to cancel any Volunteer Project at any time. In computer or human billing error, ConservationVIP reserves the right to re-invoice with correct billing. ConservationVIP® is not responsible for printing errors or other errors.

Cancellation Disclosure/Travel Consumer Restitution Fund
We must state in writing and with specificity all terms and conditions relating to the transportation or travel services we sell. Whatever cancellation policy applies must be conspicuously and completely made known to the purchaser at the time of purchase. Any cancellation penalties not so disclosed in writing are unenforceable. Upon cancellation of the transportation or travel services, where the passenger is not at fault and has not canceled in violation of any terms and conditions previously clearly and conspicuously disclosed and agreed to by the passenger, all sums paid to the seller of travel for services not provided will be promptly paid to the passenger, unless the passenger advises the seller of travel in writing, after cancellation. This provision does not apply where the seller of travel has remitted the payment to another registered wholesale seller of travel or a carrier, without obtaining a refund, and where the wholesaler or provider defaults in providing the agreed-upon transportation or service. In this situation, the seller of travel must provide the passenger with a written statement accompanied by bank records establishing the disbursement of the payment, and if disbursed to a wholesale seller of travel, proof of current registration of that wholesaler.

The cost of delays is not included if any trip is delayed due to bad weather, trail conditions, river levels, road conditions, transportation delays, government intervention, sickness or other contingency for which Conservation Volunteers International Program or its agents cannot make provision.

Trip Costs and/or Land Costs are subject to increase without prior notice, even after you have signed up on the trip. We often publish our prices more than a year in advance. Between that time and the time of the trip’s actual departure, we are occasionally faced with significant cost increases that we cannot absorb, for example international currency fluctuations, fuel surcharges, or increases in cost of services. We regret this situation, and we do everything we can to avoid raising prices, but sometimes it is unavoidable. We will do our best to limit such increases and will notify you as soon as possible about any necessary changes.

 

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Note: All submissions are sent to info@conservationvip.org.

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