Hike up to the natural amphitheater of Annapurna Sanctuary, surrounded by the Annapurna peaks, one of which, Annapurna I, is the 10th tallest mountain in the world. Spend nearly two weeks trekking through the surprising tropical slopes up to the icy regions above 3000 metres elevation. Afterwards, volunteer on a range of sustainable development projects.
Journey to the mythical Annapurna Sanctuary, traditionally held to be the home of the gods. Your trip starts in Pokhara, a meeting place for international visitors looking to climb the Himalayas, with a tour of the old bazar and several Hindu temples. You then start your trek to Annapurna Base Camp through the Annapurna Conservation Area, known for its unique biodiversity and diversity of cultural communities that speak their own distinct languages. It is home to the world’s largest rhododendron forest and the world’s deepest river gorge both of which you pass on your trip up to the Sanctuary.
There is the opportunity of an immersive cultural experience on the Annapurna trip. The population along the trail to Everest Base Camp traditionally subscribe to a mostly Tibetan Buddhist way of life, while The Annapurna Sanctuary trek features Gurung, Thakali, and Manangba communities, among others, and practice a range of cultural and religious traditions.
Home to the tallest mountain range in the world, and known internationally as the gateway to the Himalayas, the city of Pokhara is well-loved by hikers, paragliders, kayakers and other adventure enthusiasts. On a clear day, you have a spectacular view of the Annapurna Mountain range. When you hear people say that the fishtail is out, it means the sky is clear and the sacred Machhapuchhre Mountain (also known as Fishtail) is visible. Surrounded by snowy mountain peaks and built around the picturesque Phewa Tal (Phewa Lake), the city is a unique mix of natural beauty and urban convenience.
Our GVI base in Pokhara is situated in Lakeside, which is lined with great eateries serving local Nepali cuisine and international fare. You’ll also find shops selling local crafts unique to the region, such as intricately patterned pashmina shawls and vibrantly coloured Buddhist thangka paintings.
There are a range of shops offering rugs, bags, and other items woven by local women, artwork (such as mandalas hand painted by local artists), trekking equipment, and many other locally produced goods. There are also many cafés where you can relax, catch up with new friends, or use the Wi-Fi to keep in touch with friends and family back home.
There are many activities to enjoy which are close to base. From watching the sunset at Fewa Lake, which is less than 10 minutes’ walk from the base, to the Movie Garden where you can watch outdoor movies – with the backdrop of the lake and mountains. On a clear day, you realise the enormity of the Annapurna range as you see the snow covered mountains as you walk down the street.
The base has a relaxed, friendly, and fun vibe. We have a shared undercover area outside where participants meet and mingle. There are tables and chairs on the two balconies where participants meet and play cards, plan lessons or chat about their day. Our dogs (Seti and Kali) are always happy to greet the participants at base. Our base is climate-friendly – solar panels are used for hot water, we recycle what we can, food scraps are collected by local farmers, and all foods are produced locally.
In the mornings before work, there is time to walk or jog near the lake and enjoy the morning views. Participants often use this time to exercise or pick up a Himalayan coffee at one of the local cafés. In the afternoons, when participants have returned from a project and prepared for the next day, they tend to go out for a walk, enjoy a coffee, or stay in touch with friends and family. This is also the time when participants plan their weekend adventures. They meet up with our partners at Skylark Himalayan Tours and Travels and plan their trek or tour for the weekend. After dinner, participants often stay around the base and play cards or other games such as Bhaga Chal, a traditional Nepalese game. After dinner many participants go out for a drink or a dessert at a local café and soak up the atmosphere. Or they might watch a movie at the Movie Garden. Once a week, there is a social night, which is either a quiz or another social activity at the base.
Our base in Pokhara provides homestay-style accommodation that gives participants the opportunity to gain first-hand insight into Nepali culture....
Some project work sites are a short walk from our accommodation. For others, transport is provided. We walk to and from some of our projects, an ...
Wi-Fi is available at the base and at local cafés. Participants often use the Wi-Fi at cafés as a chance to catch up on their social media and ot...
The host family prepares breakfast and dinner. Breakfast includes cereals, toast and eggs. Pastries and pancakes are served on some days. Evening...
Nepal has six seasons rather than the four you may be used to.
Basanta Ritu is from mid-Ma...
Enhanced cleaning and social-distancing measures in place.
For over 20 years, GVI has prioritised the health and safety of our staff, participants, partners and local community members. In response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, GVI has created the GVI health and hygiene team to put in place new standards of cleanliness, norms and behaviours that meet or exceed international recommendations to ensure the ongoing safety of GVI’s participants, staff and communities around the world. Internationally recommended practices, such as advice from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the governments Australia, UK and US, continue to be monitored and the standards are likely to change if and when international advice changes.
The work GVI is contributing to across the globe remains important and the following measures allow our participants to continue to join GVI’s programs and continue impacting positively on their world and the communities we work with. The following changes to our existing protocols have been made by the GVI health and hygiene team to strengthen our health and hygiene protocols and ensure that international standard safeguards are in place to protect our participants, staff and host communities.
Reef Conservation UK 13th Annual Meeting, Zoological Society of London
Reef Conservation UK 13th Annual Meeting, Zoological Society of London
If you’d like to find out what the experience of joining a GVI project is really like, simply contact us and we’ll put you in touch with one of our many Alumni.
We’ll try to match you to an Alum based on your location, nationality, age, stage of academic career, gender, and program interests. This allows you to gain insights into the experience that is most relevant to you.
Depending on your location you might be able to speak to an Alum over the phone or online, or meet up with them face-to-face at a coffee shop nearby. We also run a series of small events around the world where you can speak to GVI Alumni, Ambassadors and staff members.
When it comes to support, we ensure that each participant is provided with unparalleled, 360 degree support, from your initial contact with the GVI Family, all the way through your program, and even after, as you become part of the GVI Alumni Team.
As part of this promise, we will ensure, whenever possible, that one of our dedicated staff will be available to meet you at the airport. In most locations, we also set up a Whatsapp group to help with managing airport arrivals. We will arrange with you prior to your departure that, should you arrive in the agreed upon pick up window, a member of our staff will be there to welcome you, easily identifiable in a GVI t-shirt or holding a GVI sign and wearing a friendly smile. This means there will be someone there to greet you as you land, and from there you will be transported to your GVI base to start your adventure and meet the rest of your team.
Enhanced cleaning and social-distancing measures in place.
All of our programs have short-, mid- and long-term objectives that align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualise their contribution to the UN SDGs.
Prior to your arrival on base, you will be educated about the UN SDGs. Then once you arrive on base, you’ll learn about the specific goals we have in this particular location, our various objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these.
Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to be an active global citizen after your program, helping to fulfil our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.
Early Childhood Development and Education
We support several educational facilities for young students in Nepal. GVI participants contribute by assisting with improving the infrastructure of learning environments, developing educational resources, and assisting students to achieve their learning objectives. Subjects we support include English language learning, maths, science, and computer skills. For younger students we facilitate arts and crafts lessons to promote fine motor skills development. Sports lessons help gross motor skills development, teamwork, and a healthy lifestyle.
Our public health participants work with local partners in setting up and implementing health and hygiene practices across sites within the community. Based on the needs identified by the community, we assist children and adults through fun, informal educational workshops. GVI participants support health in Nepal by leading workshops on a wide range of topics, including WASH (Water, Sanitation & Hygiene), road safety, puberty and menstruation, waste management, and self-care.
Staff and participants who contribute to our women’s empowerment program in Nepal participate in a number of educational and professional development workshops. Lessons cover topics such as English language, maths, resumé writing, and alternative income generation. We support women’s health workshops and address issues like self-care and family health. We also work with local partners to raise awareness of issues such as human rights and human trafficking.
Women’s empowerment workshops provide a social outlet for many women and assist them in building a network within the community. The workshops also assist in developing English skills, which can open the door to potential work opportunities, particularly in tourism. These learning opportunities also build confidence in the women of the community.
With our partner SASANE, our participation in the Sisterhood of Survivors (SOS) programme gives women in the community an opportunity to practice their English and presentation skills. The funds we pay to participate go towards training women to become paralegals. We also facilitate workshops with the SASANE team that focus on English and personal development skills.
Our construction volunteers assist with refurbishment and improvement projects within the community. We aim to improve the facilities for students and teachers. We particularly support semi-rural government schools just outside the city. They’re small, usually less than 100 students, and are frequently under-staffed and under-resourced. All work depends on the needs of the community at the time and can include: building desks for students and teachers, making storage units and shelves for the classroom, and developing waste disposal areas. Other examples include creating handwashing stations to support health programs and general classroom refurbishment.
We also aim to provide economic support. All construction resources are purchased locally and local people are employed to work with us. If we are working in a village, we purchase supplies from that village, where possible. To support the community businesses, we have our lunchtime meals in one of the village cafés.
All of these initiatives offer support to the community and local partners, and address many of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, such as Goal 4: Quality Education, Goal 3: Health and Wellbeing, Goal 5: Gender Equality, and Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation.
GVI Pokhara long-term objectives:
1. Support students to reach learning goals appropriate to their age, grade level, or individual needs.
2. Support the community with improved facilities, with an emphasis on educational facilities.
3. Increase the knowledge and understanding of health in the community, with an emphasis on prevention, and developing health-related skills such as emergency first aid.
4. Increase professional and vocational skills held by women in the community, through education and empowerment.
Below is a list of core ethics and best practices we believe are essential to the operation of high quality, ethical volunteer and sustainable development programs. We believe that all responsible volunteer and sustainable development operations should focus upon these principles. If you are considering volunteering, these are some of the key considerations you should question, to ensure that your time and money contributes towards positive change.
We want to constantly develop our own understanding of ethical best practice. In so doing, we aim to provide an exemplary industry standard for other education institutions, international development organisations, and social enterprises. Our Badge of Ethics stands for the drive to always do good, better. Find out more, click on the Badge below.
We aim to design all our projects in collaboration with local organizations and communities and ensure that they are locally driven.
We aim to clearly define short-, mid-, and long-term objectives with sustainable outcomes for all our projects.
We aim to track, record, and publish the impact of each of our projects.
We aim to build in-country capacity by assisting local organizations in becoming self-sustaining.
For each local organization we work with, we aim to have a plan in place for withdrawing support responsibly.
We aim to ensure that every participant is assigned a clear role and that they are fully trained and supported to carry out their work by specialized staff.
In all our actions we aim to respect the skills and efforts of all and seek to protect the rights, culture and dignity of everyone who engages with GVI.
We work to ensure that credit for the results of any project, along with any data collected, research conducted, or Intellectual Property developed, remains the property of local organizations.
We do not condone and aim to withdraw support of orphanages and residential care centers.
We will live by our Child Protection and Vulnerable Adult policies.
As an organization, GVI is committed to striving toward best practice, and to educating both our potential participants, our partners, and the world at large about them. Both the volunteering and sustainable development sectors are increasingly, and rightly, under scrutiny. Many recent local and global articles highlight poor practices and questionable ethics. GVI is widely recognized for striving to apply global best practice in the volunteering, education and sustainable development sectors throughout our operations by reputable organizations such as ChildSafe.
However, global best practice is always evolving and we dedicate both time and resources to engage with internationally respected experts and learn from the latest research to ensure our programs both fulfil their potential to create maximum positive impact, and minimise their potential to create unintentional negative impact. Along with and as part of the sustainable development and volunteering community, we are constantly learning and applying this learning to practice. We do not always get everything right, but we seek feedback from our community members, partners, participants and our staff, and react accordingly. We know are already doing a great job, and feedback we have received confirms this, but we aim to do even better and are continuously refining our operations to improve upon our already excellent reputation.
Meet Roshani, who is our Teaching Coordinator in Pokhara, Nepal. She really enjoys working with and meeting new people through GVI. She is involved with the day-to-day projects ...
Construction Coordinator and Community Liaison
Introducing Bribek, who is our Construction Coordinator and Community Liaison in Pokhara, Nepal. He enjoys getting stuck into construction projects with the participants such as...
Meet Tara, the Project Manager at GVI Nepal. He is passionate about tourism and loves to meet new people from around the world. He was born in Pokhara, Nepal but his favourite h...
This is Hannah, the Program Manager at GVI’s base in Pokhara, Nepal. Previous to working with GVI she had been visiting Nepal for several years, mostly working in ...
Meet Sita, she is one of the Project Coordinators in Pokhara, Nepal and has truly become part of the GVI family. Her role involves working with community members a...
This is Rhythm! He was born and raised in Pokhara, Nepal. He was originally a trekking guide, but when the opportunity to become a Teaching Coordinator popped up, he got involve...
We don’t support the use of wild animals for entertainment purposes. This includes riding animals, having them perform tricks, feeding or bathing them or getting close to them to take photos
We don’t encourage, support or allow the rearing of “orphaned” wild baby animals kept at a “sanctuary”. The conservation value of these types of programs is negligent and would only ethically be used in extremely rare cases
When wild animals are restricted for conservation purposes we follow the guidelines of Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa (FTTSA), approved by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.
We ensure that the Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare are followed. These include the freedom to express normal behaviour and freedom from distress, discomfort, hunger, thirst, fear, pain, injury or disease.
We ensure that conservation efforts are also always locally led, that community needs are front-and centre of any conservation effort and that our participants, projects and partners work to increase local community engagement in local conservation efforts.
We don’t offer any veterinary programs or animal rescue and rehabilitation programs. We don’t allow participants to do any work they would not be able to do in their home country.
We don’t support or allow participants to work in institutional residential care facilities, also known as orphanages. We partner with ReThink Orphanages and Freedom United.
Our Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy requires all our staff and participants to complete a criminal background check and to learn why you shouldn’t reveal a child’s identifying factors in photographs. We support the ChildSafe Movement.
We don’t offer any programs where our participants engage in medical treatment. This is because our participants aren’t typically qualified to do this work and would therefore not be able to do this work in their home country. Our participants only assist with public health programs.
We don’t offer any programs where our participants work directly with people with disabilities. This is because our participants aren’t typically qualified to do this work and would therefore not be able to do this work in their home country.
In this course, you’ll explore the most common pitfalls of community development initiatives so that you can avoid them. You’ll also learn how to carry out community development work effectively and ethically and how local context impacts program development. After successfully completing the course, which you have the option of doing prior to your in-country program, you’ll receive a certificate from the University of Richmond.
This online course, valued at £295, is included in all volunteering programs. Full course details can be found here.
A GVI program is an investment in your career. No matter which you choose, you will be working toward improving your employability by mastering new social skills, gaining further technical expertise and earning qualifications in many cases. Most of our staff are, in fact, GVI Alumni, and we have helped many of our Alumni discover, move toward, and earn their own personal dream jobs. Each program includes introductory workshops, ongoing presentations, as well as on-the-ground professional support provided by our very own trained staff members. In addition, our training programs are critical for helping us to ensure the long-term impact of our sustainable development projects around the world.
Learn about COVID-19 pre-departure guidelines, base expectations, personal and area hygiene practices and what we are doing to keep you safe.
Learn about the importance of child and vulnerable adult protection best practices and how to apply them while on project.
Introduction to the history and evolution of sustainable development, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) and how these related to your project work.
Learn about our country locations and further opportunities available to you during or after your program.
Learn about gender equality, skills development and examples of income generating activities.
Learn about our empowerment principles.
Take a short boat trip to Barahi temple at the center of Phewa Lake, introducing you to Hindu culture. Then visit the Buddhist temple in Hemja, a Tibetian settlement.
SASANE is a local anti-human trafficking organisation. Here participants attend a session educating them about human rights and the stat of human trafficking. Participants also complete a cultural cooking lesson, learning how to make momos, Nepali dumplings, using traditional methods.
Complete two lessons with a local Nepali teacher.
Joining a GVI program not only allows you to collaborate with communities or work toward preserving unique ecosystems – but it also offers plenty of opportunities to explore the surrounding area or travel further to see what other parts of the region have to offer over weekends.
Field staff are a great source of advice and have helped us put together the following information on local travel options. You can choose to travel before or after your experience with GVI (subject to immigration restrictions), solidifying the lifetime friendships you’ve established on the program. Please note that the below options are not included in the program fee, and would be up to you to arrange at your own expense.
Take a day or overnight trip to the village of Bandipur, a mountain village 2.5 hours from base. This small village caters well to visitors. Hike...
Work with our partners at Skylark Himalayan Tours and Travels to plan a trip that’s right for you. From one-day treks to more challenging t...
You can access several of Nepal’s most abundant wildlife parks via Pokhara. The Annapurna Conservation Area is home to Annapurna I, the 10th high...
Paragliding is incredibly popular in Pokhara and one of the best ways to view the spectacular natural landscape. There are many tour operators in...
One of the newer activities available in Nepal, mountain biking allows visitors to experience many of the same landscapes as those trekking throu...
While you are in the region, why not take the opportunity to explore some of the other nations bordering Nepal. Visit India’s capital, New Delhi,...
Known for its historic religious sites, Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal (and it’s largest city) is a short flight from Pokhara. Visit the sacred ...
Nepal is well-known as the location of Mount Everest, the world’s highest mountain above sea level. Mount Everest forms part of the Himalayan mou...
Engaging intimately with a new context teaches global awareness, adaptability and critical thinking – skills highly valued in the modern marketplace. Local and cultural immersion is encouraged on all our programs around the world, and will also be one of the most enjoyable aspects of your experience. Luckily, there are many different activities that you can get involved in during your free time, or before and after your program.
On our community programs, the focus is on cultural topics, while on marine or wildlife programs the emphasis is more on the environmental element. Use your evenings and weekends to explore topics like local cuisine and religion, or how sustainable development challenges are affecting local contexts.
February: The Tibetan New Year celebration, Lhosar, is held in February. Buddhist monasteries decorate their temples, known as stupas. In Tibetan...
Yoga and meditation are a part of life for many Nepalis and the region is popular for those who seek to develop their skills and understanding of...
Possibly the most well-known Nepalese dish is dal bhat, a lentil stew served with rice. It is a smoky, spicy, wholesome dish which is also vegeta...
Most of Nepal’s population identifies with Hinduism, specifically the Shaivism sect. You will find many Hindu temples throughout Nepal. Nepal is ...
Although Nepali is the official language of Nepal, over 100 languages are spoken throughout the country. Our participants have Nepali language le...
‘If only every student could do this. It changes your life in all the right ways,’ says Chris Heritage, parent of Luke Heritage, one of our teen volunteers who has participated on two GVI programs, one in Costa Rica and another in South Africa.
We are a parent-run organisation that is incredibly serious about health and safety, and increasing the impact, as well as the long-term career benefits of our programs. Our programs help young people develop the skills to select a career path that is personally fulfilling, and live a life aligned to the well-being of our planet and the global community.
Ken and Linda Jeffrey, whose son Sam volunteered with GVI in Thailand, talk about how the experience affected Sam. He also went on to volunteer with GVI again in South Africa. ‘I know it sounds like a cliche but in a sense, he did go away as a boy and he came back as a young man. Both of us could recommend GVI without any hesitation to any other parent thinking about exploring an opportunity for their children to explore the world and to see different parts of it.’
Download the Parent Pack and learn more about:
Our staff: All our projects are run by staff, selected, vetted, trained, and managed by our central office.
Health and safety: Our safety practices include a child and vulnerable adult protection policy and high participant ratios.
Staying in touch: See what’s happening on base, by following a hub’s dedicated Facebook page.
Free parent consultations: We would love to talk to you about exciting opportunities available for your child.
We won’t sugarcoat it — traveling abroad is usually a complex process that carries an element of risk. But this is exactly why we’re passionate about providing extensive support throughout the process as well as the highest safety standards during the in-country phase. We believe that volunteering abroad should not only be impactful, but an enjoyable experience that carries as little risk as possible. This is exactly how we’ve been able to maintain our reputation as the most highly respected volunteering organisations in the sector over the past two decades.
Enhanced cleaning and social-distancing measures in place.
Upon arrival at the airport, participants will be greeted by a GVI staff member. All GVI staff are our own and all our programs around the world are run by our staff. All GVI field staff are background checked, Emergency First Response and safety trained. The minimum staff to participant ratio on GVI’s programs is one to six, although on several bases we have a ratio of one to three. When finishing the experience, participants will provide feedback on all aspects of their program.
Once a participant books, they will be assigned a personal support coordinator who will oversee their pre-departure journey. The support coordinator helps to bridge the gap between program enrolment and arrival at one of our field bases. Your personal support coordinator will ensure that you are provided with all the necessary information required to apply for visas, background checks, and any other documentation.
It takes courage to book a GVI program, get on a flight, and head off to somewhere new. Volunteering offers a level of cultural immersion that typical backpacking or holidays ju...
As the saying goes: ‘Expect the best, plan for the worst’. Cliched or not, we take it to heart. This tenet is at the core of how GVI operates when it comes to promoting the heal...
The weather isn’t just a topic for polite small-talk here at GVI. We have emergency action plans in place for all scenarios. So when the weather, or other natural forces, takes ...
Once GVI has matched a participant to a program that suits their passions and goals, our team aims to set the right expectations for them. In the event that false expectations a...
|24-hour emergency desk|
|24-hour in-country support|
|Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)|
|All project equipment|
|Food (except on long-term internship placements|
|Safe and basic accommodation (usually shared)|
|Group introductory call|
|Endorsed GVI Specialisation Course|
|Endorsed Leadership Course|
|Sustainable project work|
|Data collection and research|
|Real projects with partners|
|Remote Internship Supervisor|
|Remote Academic Internship Supervisor|
|Remote Career Internship Supervisor|
|Preferential recruitment on GVI positions|
|Job portal access|
|Endorsed Careers Course|
|Career coaching sessions|
Certificates and achievements
|PDF reference - upon request|
|Linkedin reference and skills endorsement|
|Additional drinks and gratuities|
|Extra local excursions|
|International and domestic airport taxes|
|Medical and travel insurance|
|Personal items and toiletries|
|Police or background check|
Cook Nepali and Tibetan dumplings family-style
Share customs and cuisine in a Tibetan community
Join a Monk chanting session
Bike around Fewa Lake
Boat on Fewa Lake and learn local folklore
Watch a movie in a natural amphitheatre
Learn Buddhist principles at the World Peace Pagoda
Visit a Newari mountaintop village