Colombia Marine Conservation & Diving

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1. In Brief

Discover Colombia – one of five so-called “mega-diverse countries” in the world that exhibits extraordinarily high species diversity. Although the country (located between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea) accounts for less than one percent of the Earth’s surface, it ranks among the top countries in terms of number of endemic species. The country’s tropical rainforests have a well-documented biodiversity and the two oceans present a vast marine territory.

All marine ecosystems of Western Tropical Atlantic are represented in the warm enclosed waters of the Caribbean Sea which is second in the world in number of coral species after the Indo-Pacific Ocean. Eighty percent of species are found in the surroundings of the Archipelago of San Andres and Providencia. A total of 215 mollusk species and 115 crustacean species have been recorded at sea bottoms. You may get a chance to view humpback whales from mid-June to November and there are unique diving areas for hammerhead and silky shark sightings.

The promotion of marine sciences and the protection and sustainable use of marine resources are a national priority in Colombia. In particular, the loss of marine biodiversity, the increasing destruction of coastal habitats by agriculture, industry and tourism, as well as the adverse influence of global warming, has long been of concern for politicians and scientists. On this project you will be conducting research that will be of huge benefit to the conservation of these incredible coral reefs and from this you will gain immense satisfaction from knowing that you have helped protect these precious natural resources for future generations. The results from your investigations will supply vital information on the Colombian coastline to enable the sustainable management of natural resources in the region and the protection of the marine wildlife.

  

PROJECT HIGHLIGHTS

PLEASE CHECK AVAILABILITY WHEN APPLYING FOR THIS POPULAR PROGRAMME

  • PADI dive training and qualifications available
  • Dive in some of the world's best dive sites
  • Make lifelong friends and return with incredible stories, photos and memories

FAST FACTS

Location Colombia - Near the town of Cartagena in close proximity to the Parque Nacional Corales del Rosario
Activities Diving regularly (weather permitting)
Assess historical environmental change and the effects on biodiversity and community structure
Record interactions between organisms and the physical environment
Assess pollution effects on main food webs
Record social and anthropogenic impacts on the environment 
Get involved in coastal monitoring
Study home range dynamics in vulnerable species
Transport Airport pickup from Cartagena (cost included if you arrive on first Monday of the month). Weekly start dates available, airport reception can be arranged at extra cost
Accommodation Communal beach camp on the edge of the National Park forest

WHAT'S INCLUDED

 

Before you go Pre-departure support
Travel & medical advice & documentation
Equipment advice
Discounted medical kit
Free Frontier t-shirt
UK residential briefing weekend including food, accommodation and training FREE for 10 week+ volunteers ($136 per person for those participating for less that 10 weeks)
In-country

Food
Accommodation

Airport pickup (free for first Monday of the month arrivals) weekly start dates available
Internal ground transfers & in-transit accommodation (free for first Monday of the month arrivals)
Local orientation and training

Dive training PADI Open Water (2 week+) available at extra cost $425  
Dive training PADI Advanced Open Water (4 weeks+) available at extra cost $391
In-country emergency support
24-hour international HQ back-up
Vocational qualification diploma or certificate in Tropical Habitat Conservation available
Dive training courses run monthly starting on the first Monday of the month. Dive training to PADI Open Water or PADI Advanced Open Water (depending on the duration of your stay) price includes PIC cards, PADI membership, and use of Frontier project equipment and diving eqipment including tanks, Regs, BCDs, weights,compressor etc.
Discounted further dive courses: PADI Emergency First Response ($170), PADI Rescue Diver ($510), and PADI Divemaster qualifications ($850)

QUALIFICATIONS

A variety of qualifications are available on many of our projects. For example, BTEC certificates and diplomas on our Group conservation projects and TEFL certificates and BTECs on most of our teaching projects. You may also be able to gain a CoPE to support your university application. For more information on these qualifications, please see the qualifications section of our website or ask your volunteer advisor.

2. The project

WHAT DOES THE PROJECT DO?

An Exotic Location in Paradise

One of the most beautiful destinations in Colombia is Cartagena, both on land and sea. The colonial architecture is only the preamble to the unforgettable diving in one of the most important marine national parks in the country. The water temperatures average a balmy 29 degrees centigrade and visibility can be up to 18 m, making this not only pleasant but an amazing experience.

On the Caribbean coast of Colombia, Cartegena is a UNESCO designated city. The nearby national park, Corales del Rosario y san Bernardo, is the only marine park in the country where the coral reefs and marine ecosystems are protected by law. You will be working in this magnificent marine park which was established in 1977 and covers a huge area of 1,200 square km.

Record Marine Biodiversity, ecosystem function and environmental change

Through underwater SCUBA and snorkel surveys you will be monitoring coral, fish and benthic species as well as assessing biodiversity and ecosystem function, sustainable development, and live history of key coastal species. Diving under the supervision of a professional dive officer, you will become confident and comfortable underwater. Your results will help determine the biodiversity of these waters and help develop further marine park management plans and sustainable resource use within local communities.

Other activities include surveying mangroves, a vital buffer against elements such as tsunamis, and also documenting coastal bird and reptile populations, an important part of the coastal ecosystem. If you are only able to join the project for 2 or 3 weeks your involvement in the surveys and conservation work will be limited.   

WHAT WILL I BE DOING?

To gather the data needed you will be diving regularly (weather permitting) with Sunday off.  If you need dive training we will train you up at the start of the project. You'll also explore the luxuriant mangrove forests and record the rich variety of organisms living there and in the other intertidal zones.  Whilst diving you will discover dense sea grass beds rich sources of nutrients for the marine communities.  You will deploy a wide range of newly learned research skills and scientific techniques including: underwater visual census of reef and commercial fish, assessment of algal and coral cover to determine the extent of coral bleaching and damage, and line intercept transects for benthic life and indicator invertebrate species such as nudibranchs. You will record observations of the feeding habits and behaviour patterns of a range of marine life. You will get to study the impact of potentially destructive fishing methods on the corals reefs, study the effects of global warming on marine communities or note any indication of the impact of the marine-curio trade on endangered marine invertebrates.

Whilst diving, you'll see an extraordinary array of animals from colourful reef fish species to turtles, sea cucumbers to feathery starfish, and spiny urchins to octopus. By the end of your project you will be expert at identifying hundreds of multi coloured and patterned reef fish as well as being an experienced and competent diver. Although the work is intense and challenging you'll get immense satisfaction from having survived and from having made a valuable contribution to the conservation of this untarnished marine wilderness. Volunteers who join the project for less than 4 weeks will not be able to participate in the full range of survey activities, but will still be able to make a valuable contribution to the work. You will return home with thousands of photos, lots of new friends, a wealth of fascinating stories and extraordinary memories.

You'll find your team to be a fun, dynamic mix of ages and experiences, with members who all share a passion about travelling in developing countries and saving endangered life. Your staff will be young, friendly individuals who are highly experienced in their research field and many of whom will have been Frontier volunteers at an earlier stage in their career.

3. What to expect

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I ARRIVE?

Volunteers arriving on the first Monday of the month will be welcomed by a Frontier representative at Cartagena Rafael Núñez International  Airport. Those of you arriving on other dates can book an airport pick up from our field team at a reasonable local rate. From the airport it's a short minibus or truck ride to the town centre from where you be transferred on to your project site and introduced to the Frontier-Colombia programme. You will meet the staff, receive some initial briefings, including an introduction to the science programme and techniques used, as well as health and safety lectures, so make sure your medical kit is complete and start reading your your field briefs and welcome documents. All dive trainees will complete their dive theory during their time with the project.

At the end of your stay we will transfer those of you who are on the monthly program, back to Cartagena Rafael Núñez Airport from the camp in time for you to head back home or continue on your independent travels. If you are joining for less than 4 weeks you will make your own arrangements to return to the airport at the end of your stay, from where you can continue your own independent travel or return home.

Independent travellers arriving on dates other than the first Monday of the month can arrange a separate airport collection (extra cost) by contacting the camp staff in Cartagena.   

WHERE WILL I BE STAYING?

During the project you'll live in the beach camp close to Cartagena and the National Park forest alongside other Frontier volunteers and staff. We aim to provide you with a unique and memorable living experience. The Frontier camp was constructed by Frontier volunteers working with local craftsmen, using traditional building techniques and locally sourced environment-friendly, building materials. The camp which is situated in a clearing on the beach has been designed to blend harmoniously with the surrounding landscape. Camp life is very simple, unsophisticated and fun.

You will be staying in simple communal cabanas, local style dwellings, your "shower" will be a jug or a bucket of water and you cook over an open campfire: so prepare for the basic, virtually footprint less, unencumbered lifestyle! On occasions you may have to journey further to reach a remote dive site, then you will stay in a "satellite camp"; basically a mosquito net pitched on a distant beach.

WHAT WILL I BE EATING?

Food on camp is simple and nutritious and consists largely of locally sourced fresh vegetables and fruit, rice, beans and noodles, all of which are purchased from nearby communities thereby helping to support the local economy.  Luxuries such as chocolate, peanut butter and drinking chocolate are only available in the main city, so make sure you stock up before heading to your field camp.

Part of your role on camp will be to help with the cooking. Creating spectacular meals over an open campfire or baking bread in the campfire oven will become second nature: so get your cookbooks out now and start thinking up recipes!  Also, with luck you'll be invited to local feasts and fiestas – a great way to engage with local communities and discover local cuisines and cultures.

4. The reviews


5. Gallery

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6. Extras

ADDITIONAL OPPORTUNITIES

The Frontier-Colombia camp is fun and in your spare time you'll have opportunities to swim and snorkel, play football against the locals or try out beach volleyball. Alternatively you may enjoy a traditional Saturday night themed camp party, play backgammon, poker or chess, or join in a camp quiz night. After a long hard day of sailing and diving you may prefer to relax with a drink and sway in the camp hammock, or sit around the campfire and chat to your new friends.  Later you will drift off to sleep lulled by the soothing lapping of the Caribbean Sea.

Dive courses run monthly commencing on the first Monday of the month

  • Single Day snorkelling off the boats $17/$16
  • Single Day Dive $51/$48
  • Double Dive $85/$80
  • 4-dive package $170/$160
  • 10-dive package $340/$320

Courses

  • Discover Scuba Diving $110/$100
  • Open Water Dive Course $425/$390
  • Advanced Open Water $391/$360
  • Emergency First Responder $170/$155
  • Rescue Diver $510/$470
  • Dive Master $850/$775

*Medical certificate is mandatory for participation in dive courses

7. Dates and Costs

COSTS

2 weeks $1,595

3 weeks $1,895

4 weeks $1,995

5 weeks $2,295

6 weeks $2,645

8 weeks $3,145

10 weeks $3,495

20 weeks $6,395

PADI Open Water and Advanced Open Water training $816, PADI Advanced Open Water training $391

DEPARTURE DATES

Weekly each Monday  

DURATION

From 2 weeks 

PLEASE CHECK AVAILABILITY WHEN APPLYING FOR THIS POPULAR PROGRAMME

WHAT'S INCLUDED

Before you go

  • Pre-departure support
  • Travel & medical advice & documentation
  • Equipment advice
  • Discounted medical kit
  • Free Frontier t-shirt
  • UK residential briefing weekend including food, accommodation and training FREE for 10 week+ volunteers ($136 per person for those participating for less that 10 weeks)

In-country

  • Food
  • Accommodation
  • Internal ground transfers & in-transit accommodation (free for volunteers arriving on the first Monday of the month & joining for 4+ weeks)
  • Local orientation
  • Project training
  • Project equipment & materials
  • Dive training PADI Open water (2 weeks) $425
  • Dive training PADI Advanced open water (4 weeks+) $391
  • Advanced dive courses available
  • FREE use for Frontier dive kit including Regs, tanks, BCDs, weights, compressor
  • In-country emergency support
  • 24-hour international HQ back-up

AIRPORT INFORMATION

Nearest airport(s): Cartagena (CTG)

WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED

Flights

Flights are not included in our trip costs. However, we have partnered with an experienced and professional team of travel experts to help our volunteers find the best flight deals for their trips with us. This travel specialist operates in the tailor-made, long haul multi-stop travel market, arranging complex airfares and transfers for independent travellers. They provide expertise, security and a vast product range along with a Travel Butler service which is a single point of contact and support whilst you are overseas.

We recommend that you obtain a quote using the following contact details rather than book online, as our partner will offer you the most competitive fares. To receive your quote or to seek any advice for your flights, please contact our dedicated team of travel experts on 0800 082 9994 (or +44 800 082 9994 outside the UK) or email frontier@flightcentre.co.uk .

Visas

For fast, efficient and up-to-date visa advice please contact our recommended visa consultancy partner:

Depending on your destination country and your country of origin, you might require a visa. Please see the appropriate country consular website for details or contact our affiliate visa consultancy service. Please note that your visa will usually start on the date that you enter the destination country regardless of when it was issued. Please check with the relevant embassy or high commission. If you are purchasing your visa or paying entry/exit fees in-country you will probably need to pay in US Dollars. If you have any questions please consult the relevant embassy or high commission. Please check the visa information regularly, as changes often happen without warning.

Insurance

You'll need to buy appropriate travel insurance covering your participation on the project. You won't be able to go without the right travel insurance so double check to avoid disappointment. Please make sure that you're covered for the whole duration of your trip – from the day you leave the UK to the day you return. It's also best to get your travel insurance at the same time as paying the deposit for your project. Depending on your policy, this will cover you for any unexpected cancellations.

Your insurance should include the following:

  • Medical cover, including medical emergencies and medical evacuations (up to USD$3,000,000 / GBP£2,000,000);
  • Personal liability (up to USD$1,500,000 / GBP£1,000,000);
  • Cancellation and curtailment of your trip (up to the value of your project contribution).

If you are going to be scuba diving you should get coverage for scuba diving up to 30m, including hyperbaric therapy treatment (unlimited). You should consider obtaining insurance to cover you for any additional activities which you plan to do during, before, or after your Frontier project. We recommend that you obtain cover for your baggage and personal effects.


LEGAL STATEMENT
Frontier Partner Projects and Frontier group projects are run in partnership with in-country NGOs, small community based organisations, local research institutes, academic organisations and conservation agencies. Project descriptions and information are supplied directly by our partners or field staff and are accurate at time of publishing.

We aim to keep information up to date and accurate, however, the nature of our projects and in particular the fact that they are constantly evolving and developing in response to changing needs means that project activities, travel schedules, tour itineraries and daily timetables can change overnight and without notice.

8. How to apply

To apply for this placement, click on "Apply Now" below. Fill in the short application form and one of our advisers will then call you back to answer any questions and make sure this is the perfect placement for you. Applying doesn't cost a penny and you won't pay anything until you're completely happy and you're ready to reserve your place.


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