In general, week days are working days from 7.30 till 15.30 and weekends are off and spent however you please. However, occasional weekend work will be required during major events such as beach clean-ups, whale shark/manta feeding frenzies or turtle beaching – but we promise, it will be worth it!
Manta Ray Work
This will include photo ID-ing the reef and giant mantas (up to 9 metres across!) as you see them, laser measuring individuals, watching and assisting scientists in taking biological samples, as well as uploading identification pictures to relevant databases and record re-sightings on mantamatcher.org.
Whale Shark Work
The area immediately off Tofo is a global hotspot for the world’s largest fish, with over 620 of these gentle giants identified within Mozambican waters. You will actively help in whale shark research by: Training in whale shark photo ID-ing and watching the process of tagging and tissue sampling, Gathering information on GPS location, segregation, sex, behaviour and specific characteristics such as scarring, Taking underwater pictures of the personal “fingerprints” of whale sharks, Uploading pictures to databases and recording re-sightings and contributing to the analysis of this scientific data in close collaboration with the Marine Megafauna Foundation.
Humpback Whale Monitoring
Humpback whales make annual journeys from Antarctica to as far north as Tanzania to mate and calve. During the winter months (June to September), many humpback whales are sighted in and around the waters of Tofo. You will help assess the populations and health of the animals by conducting both beach and boat monitoring and recording the data into the world humpback whale database.
From the months of November to February, you will contribute to the collection of data from three of the turtle species found here (loggerhead, hawksbill and the critically endangered leatherback). This will involve monitoring the landing of turtles, taking GPS data on their nesting sites to gather information on poaching, monitoring the success of nesting and photo ID-ing the specimens as you see them.
Coral Reef Health Work
Coral reef and estuary monitoring involves data collection on an array of reef fish species and the cover of coral on reefs. You will assist by: Recording indicator species by making reef transects, Making timed counts of the numbers of each indicator species and Filling in identification logs of an array of species.
Analysing Other Marine Life
In addition to collecting data on whale sharks, manta rays, turtles and humpback whales (in season), you will also gather valuable information on other threatened species of megafauna within the area. This will include conducting surveys on dolphins, bowmouth guitar sharks and the small eyed stingray – the largest marine stingray in the world.
The below itinerary if for a 2 week trip. For longer durations days 4 - 14 are extended. Please note itineraries are subject to change and what follows is only a rough guideline.
Day 1 - Arrival:
Arrival into Tofo via Inhambane Airport (only 22kms away). A project representative will meet you at arrivals and will transport you to your accommodation. Don’t worry – the airport is tiny so you won’t get lost!
Day 2 - 3 - Diving Qualification:
After your arrival you will receive a two day period of induction and training by your research and volunteer coordinator. For non-divers, you will start with a recognised PADI Open Water scuba course, or if you already have this a PADI Advanced Open Water scuba course with partnering dive company Peri-Peri Divers (costs are already included within the programme). This will take you between 4 and 7 days depending on the weather and sea conditions. If you are already an Advanced Open Water qualified diver, you will start your research programme immediately.
Day 4 - 14 - Project Days:
During these days you will be engaging in 8 research dives, an estuary research snorkelling trip, 2 megafauna research talks and will be participating in daily research activities. Even though you will be taking part in a variety of activities 5 days a week, there will be sufficient free time for you to explore and enjoy everything Tofo has to offer.
Day 15 - Final Day:
On this, your final day and after saying goodbye to the project staff and the volunteers you have gotten to know whilst at the project, you will be transferred back to Inhambane Airport for your onwards flight or you will commence your onwards travel plans.
Dates, Availability & Price
You can join this project on any day of the year, so if you would like to join on a date that is not listed below please enquire and we can book your place for you.
To secure a place on this project a deposit of £195 is required at the time of booking, with the remaining balance due any time up to 60 days prior to your start date.
Select a duration below to see the available start dates. All dates shown are currently available for you to join this project!
Updates & Outcomes
This project was created in 2009 in order to research, protect and conserve the large populations of marine megafauna found along the coastline of Mozambique. 'Megafauna' are larger marine species such as sharks, rays, marine mammals and turtles.
These animals are key components of marine ecosystems but, as they are long-lived and have low reproductive rates, their populations are usually the first to be reduced by human pressures. Fortunately, they are also amongst the most charismatic animals on the planet and engender a high degree of public interest in their biology and conservation, making them useful ambassadors for the whole marine environment.
This project sees volunteers collecting and collating scientific data on a wide range of flagship species, which is then used to evaluate their international conservation status and provide fundamental data for international protection (e.g. the Convention for Migratory Species Act (CMS) and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES). Maintaining an active role in international conservation initiatives ensures the species that are studied are protected, not only in the regions that MMF works, but also globally in all areas of the species distribution.
- posted on Aug 16, 2017
- by Joshua McGill
September 16th marks Coastal Cleanup Day! Today is about exerting a global effort into cleaning up the world's coast in an attempt to reverse the detrimental effect rubbish has on our oceans. It causes ocean pollution, huge issues for the wrold's dazzling marine biodiversity, and in the long run it will effect us. Read on to expand your knwoledge and spread awareness!
- posted on Aug 30, 2017
- by Joshua McGill And Ellie Hutchin
August 30th plays host to World Whale Shark Day 2017! The conservation of these animals is more important than ever, as so little is known about this elusive species. Help to spread awareness and educate your friends on the plight of the misunderstood gentle giants of the deep by sharing your knowledge!
Enjoying your summer so far? We hope so! But it’s never too early to start planning for your next adventure! Luckily for you, we’ve put together a list of the best projects to visit in 2018 – so consider taking a holiday with a difference, and see which of our conservation projects you could be joining next year!
Is this trip for you?
You will be based in the Volunteer Research House, which offers same-sex rooms with two beds per room. Here you will enjoy breath-taking views of Tofo bay, as well as easy access on foot to both the Foundation offices and the beach. Keep your eyes peeled for breaching humpback whales during the winter season! Your Project Coordinator resides on the property next to the Volunteer Research House and will be on call 24 hours a day. Should the Project Coordinator leave the property for any reason, the Lodge General Manager will be the responsible person on duty. The General Manager's accommodation is also situated just 50m directly behind the Volunteer Research House, meaning there is always someone on site should you need them. The lodge is open from 7am until 11pm and has 24-hour security on site.
There is basic internet at the volunteer house as well as a laptop for updating scientific data. This laptop can be used for basic emails; however, long Skype connections and downloading of music and YouTube movies etc. are not allowed. Local SIM cards can be purchased in Tofo village should you have your own laptop or cell/mobile phone and if you plan to use lots of private data during your stay.
The lodge will provide scrumptious fresh volunteer meals each day, you will eat in the lodge restaurant, sometimes we may decide to have a barbeque, then this will be done either at the volunteer house or at one of the outdoor areas in the lodge.
All food is cooked fresh each day, should you have any specific dietary requirements; please let us know before you arrive so that we can inform the facilitators who will make sure that they can try to accommodate your requirements. Tofo is quite remote and 500km from the nearest large city, so a lot of our food supplies have to be imported. Due to this, there tends to eat a lot more local delicious seafood produce. However if you do not eat seafood, please let us know so that we can arrange other options for you.
The project involves open ocean swimming, so you will have to be fit enough (and a strong enough swimmer) to cope with this! Those that struggle with swimming are not advised to join this project - we advise that you must be able to swim around 200 metres comfortably in order to join this project. No specific skills or experience are required, however, we would advise that you come with an open mind and hold a significant interest in marine life and overall conservation efforts!
Vaccinations required will depend entirely on your medical history. Therefore it is essential that you consult with your GP regarding this issue prior to departure. We also thoroughly recommend that you check Fit For Travel’s website in conjunction with visiting your GP. Note If you travel from a country with prevalence of yellow fever the government of Mozambique requires you to present proof of yellow fever vaccination when you enter the country (please check if you are arriving from a country that has yellow fever).
Please note that Mozambique is a high risk malaria location and preventive medications are highly recommended. Consult your general practitioner and please note that for diving the following anti-malarials are NOT allowed; Lariam, Mefliam (Mefloquine) and Quinine.
When is the best time to volunteer?
the year bottle nosed dolphins, humpback dolphins, bowmouth guitar sharks, reef
sharks, small eyed stingrays, eagle rays, manta rays and 3 species of turtle
can be spotted. Other species of marine megafauna can be seen in differing numbers
depending on the seasons which have been set out below.
January- March: During this time we have reef manta rays in the area as they
are mating, so if you are very lucky then you may see a baby. Whale sharks are
also present but with slightly fewer sightings than in other months. During
this time we also have higher than normal numbers of bottle nosed dolphins.
March-June: Across this period the giant manta rays can be seen. These
can get up to 7m and are very impressive. They are seen in other months of the
year but this is when our data shows they are here in the highest abundance.
Whale shark sightings are also more infrequent during this period.
June-October: This is our humpback whale season with hundreds of these
gentle monsters coming through. We also begin preparing for the tagging of bull
sharks in September, as the sharks arrive at the beginning of October.
October-January: Whilst the whale sharks are here year round this is the peak
season for them. In 2016/17 we had two encounters a day during these months. There
are also a lot of reef manta rays coming through towards the end of this period.
This period is also shark season and you can expect to see everything from
white tips to hammerheads to bull sharks during this time. Finally, it is also
the turtle breeding season meaning you are likely to have a lot of sightings on
You will need to arrive into Inhambane Airport in Mozambique. The airport is located 22kms from the project site. The best option to get to Inhambane is via Johannesburg, South Africa, which is the main airline hub in Southern Africa. There is a daily flight between Johannesburg and Inhambane supplied by LAM airlines. Upon arrival a project representative will meet you and will transport you to your accommodation. Don't worry – the airport is tiny so you won't get lost!
If you would like help
booking your flights, please visit our
flights page and fill out
the form. A member of our team will get back in touch as soon as possible with
a suitable quote.
Firstly, all visitors must keep in mind that their passports must be valid for at least six months prior to leaving Mozambique.
If possible, try to obtain your visa at the nearest embassy within your country. Please check the website http://mz.embassyinformation.com to find any Mozambique embassy or consulate in any country in the world.
If there is no Mozambique embassy in your country but there is one in your neighbouring countries please consider sending your application by (trustworthy) post, but inquire first about all needed documentation. Easier but more expensive is to use an intermediate visa bureau.
What type of visa the embassy provides you with varies from nationality to nationality, but make sure you request for the applicable amount of days (usually 30 or 90 days visa and in exception 180 days). If you are planning to stay longer than 30 days, you must request a visa that allows you to stay in the country for this extended period.
30 day tourist visas can also be obtained at Inhambane airport and at the border post at Komatipoort when travelling over land from South Africa. We can also provide you with an invitation letter should the embassy in your country require this.
South African passport holders do not require visas but will be required to have their valid passports stamped at the border posts.
Currency and Exchange Rates
The currency used in Mozambique is the Mozambican Metical. For up to date exchange rates, please see XE's website by clicking here.
What's included in the price of the project?
- Airport transfers from Inhambane
- Accommodation and meals as indicated
- All volunteering activity equipment and all activities
- A single dive course per volunteer (Open Water if not qualified or Advanced Open Water otherwise)
- Project orientation and support from the Marine Megafauna Foundation staff
- English speaking project leader
- Conservation donation
What's not included?
- All flights and visa costs
- Vaccinations and anti-malarials
- Travel insurance (note you MUST get insurance which covers you for diving up to 40 metres – this is ESSENTIAL in order to join this project)
- Alcoholic beverages and any extra snacks