40 minutes south of Varna on the coast, Kamchiya forest reserve is a UNESCO biosphere and offers marked trails, boat tours and guided kayaking trips along the Kamchiya River. Meet in Varna for a full day’s kayak tour including training, kayaking, BBQ and beach walk (the river ends at the sea). Approx £30 including life-jackets. Discounts can sometimes be organised with a large enough volunteer group if taking a tour midweek. Speak to your coordinator about how to book. Bring drinks, snacks, suncream, a second set of clothes and a towel.
Placement at a glance
|Age||18+ Contact us if you will be 17 on arrival.|
|Volunteer options||A varied schedule is organised for the volunteer group which includes playwork,outdoor games,informal English teaching and occasional manual work and assistance to local charities.|
|Support||Pre-departure helpdesk, in-country support team (drivers, housekeeper, coordinators) and 24 hour support during your stay.|
|Project location||Projects in and close to Varna. The volunteer apartment is centrally located close to all shops and cafes and only 5 minutes walk from the beach.|
|Accommodation||Volunteers stay together in dorm-style apartments and shared houses in Varna. Occasionally a centrally located modern hostel is used when not enough bookings for the apartment or for the occasional days when the accommodation is overbooked for a few days. This is organised for you. Rooms may be mixed sex. We will try to avoid this wherever possible but sometimes flights are bought later by the occasional volunteer without always confirming with us first! :)|
|Working hours||Variable part time hours depending on the week's schedule.|
|Language||Bulgarian. You are not expected to know any Bulgarian, many Romany children have their own language and dialect, closer to Turkish.|
|Getting to project||Varna is the best airport or try Bourgas further down the coast (for flights visit: skyscanner.net) this is the simplest way to arrive. Some volunteers fly to Sofia then take the train to Varna, approx £15, 7 hours.|
|Minimum stay||5 days. Most volunteers arrive on a Sunday and depart the following Saturday or Sunday. If more convenient a flight arriving on a Monday morning is also possible but be aware volunteering may be therefore limited if arriving too late on Monday to join an afternoon project. The following Sunday night accommodation may not be available if there is a new arriving volunteer on their way.|
|Project operates||June - September. Limited spaces. This project has fixed start/end days. Arrival day is Sunday, departure day can be Saturday or Sunday. Volunteers arriving Saturday can be met at the airport/train station as usual and then transferred to a pre-booked hostel of their choice. Hostelbookers.com and hotels.com are popular sites to prebook rooms.|
|When to apply||Maximum group size is 5 volunteers. Call us now to enquire and reserve on 01603 280702. Current availability left arriving on: Sun 4th June: 2 spaces, Sun 11th June: 4 spaces, Sun 18th June: 4 spaces, Sun 25th June: 1 space, Sun 26th June: 2 spaces, Sun 2nd July: 4 spaces, Sun 9th July: 3 spaces, Sun 16th July: 3 spaces, Sun 23rd July: 1 space, Sun 30th July: 1 space, Sun 6th Aug: 2 spaces, Sun 13th Aug: 4 spaces, Sun 20th Aug: 3 spaces, Sun 27th Aug: 4 spaces, Sun 3rd Sep: 4 spaces. If your preferred dates are already full, contact us now to be put on our waiting list or take a look at our other group volunteer programme in Marrakech Morocco which is also perfect for first time volunteers and those wanting to stay closer to the UK.|
|Costs||£125 per week covers all accommodation and full support from the local volunteer co-ordinating team. Flights/food/local transport/personal spending excluded. Flights start at £90 return to Varna.|
|Airport Pick-up Service||Available from Varna airport/train and bus station £20. Bourgas airport £55. Payable on arrival in British pounds to driver.|
- Shop 2 minutes
- Bars 2 minutes
- Chemist 2 minutes
- Bus 5 minutes
- Taxis 2 minutes
- Cash machine 5 minutes
- Bank 5 minutes
- Pay phone 5 minutes
- Internet access 10 mins
- Laundry- 5 mins + small fee
Basics, what to take?
- Summer visits: Duvet cover (not duvet) or summer weight sleeping bag and pillow.
Accommodation Volunteers stay together in a modern volunteer apartment in Varna city centre in shared dorm style rooms. Apartment has modern bathroom, lounge and communal kitchen. Support: Back-up and support during your stay available from your English speaking co-ordinator.
Meet the project team
You could not be better looked after in Bulgaria with help and support at every step of the way. Our Bulgaria volunteer programme benefits from a knowledgeable volunteer co-ordinator, housekeeper and wonderful drivers, Dafinka, Giorgi and ‘big’ Giorgi. They will make your stay smooth and enjoyable from day one.
Your English speaking volunteer co-ordinator Giorgi carries out a variety of tasks to support your volunteer group which includes : escorting the volunteer group Monday to Friday to projects, on hand at projects to translate between volunteers/children and local staff, organising the weekly schedule for the group, organising project transport between the volunteer house and the projects and planning the following day’s activities with the children. All volunteer help in preparation is appreciated – if you have materials laying around in your bag and an idea, pop up to the office in the evening to help him out. It’s more fun the next day when it’s your own activity! Your super friendly housekeeper Dafinca is available 5 days/nights in 7 and most weekends, normally found in the kitchen/diner area, laundry or looking after the cat she rescued. Although not totally fluent in English yet, Dafinca is keen to learn basic English phrases as her daughter lives in the USA and she visits occasionally. She is also happy to assist any volunteer wanting to practice their Bulgarian pronunciation!
The benefits of your local in-country team
What is a volunteer coordinator? Every project has a volunteer coordinator. This is the person responsible for organising your volunteering and looking after your welfare needs during your stay and they are all English speaking. What experience do volunteer coordinators have? All our coordinators are local people with knowledge and experience gained over many years of supporting volunteers. They have a deep knowledge of their local community, providing an invaluable source of information. 9 in 10 coordinators at our destinations have between 5 – 7 years experience and 7 in 10 of our coordinators have supported more than a thousand volunteers each (current as of August 2013). If they don’t know where to buy Parmesan cheese when the shops are shut, no one will! Who are volunteer coordinators? At some destinations the volunteer coordinator will also be the manager/director of the project you are volunteering if you are based in one location. Examples of manager/coordinator projects will be Kenya-Mombasa/Peru/Cambodia/South Africa/Argentina/Uganda/India. Some destinations require an independent volunteer coordinator because there are many projects volunteers go to. Independent coordinators will organise a variety of placements at many different projects in the local community throughout your visit. He/she will liaise with all the projects/schools/hospitals on your behalf to organise schedules for your volunteer group. Examples of volunteer programmes are: Morocco/Ghana/Tanzania/Kenya-Masai/Malawi/Mexico-Merida/Ecuador. Thailand and Nepal offer a mix of both. Is there only one volunteer coordinator? Coordinators have other staff supporting them, from drivers to housekeepers, and cooks and assistant coordinators. Support team size varies between project type and time of year. The typical size of any support team will be 5 – 7. There may also be a long stay volunteer helping out The Uganda school project had at last count 15 local staff supporting volunteers which ranged from security to water carriers! What do coordinators do? Airport pick up Your in-country coordinator will organise your pick up and make sure you get to the volunteer house as smoothly as possible. If your coordinator does not meet volunteers from the airport, their trusted regular driver will be sent to meet you. Liaise with local projects If you are on a mixed volunteer programme (Morocco/Ghana/Tanzania/Kenya-Masai/Malawi/Mexico-Merida/Ecuador) your coordinator will be regularly liaising with the projects you will be going to today, this week and next, organising suitable times and communicating schedules to the volunteer group. Help organise specific placements Coordinators will also ensure that volunteers with special preferences eg. medical/building can get involved as fully as possible in their preferred area of work. Show you around and help you to locate things Need a Sim card? Want to buy some paintbrushes for an art session tomorrow? Speak to your coordinator – they will advise on where, how to get there and prices. Provide an orientation on arrival Your coordinator or their local team will provide an orientation on arrival of what’s where and how to get started. This may take the form of a more formal meeting for all new arrivals by your coordinator or through informal advice for new arrivals from staff, long stay volunteers, handouts, information on the noticeboard as per needs dictate. This will usually include any important cultural awareness if this may affect your stay. For example bare tummies should be covered in Ghana for example otherwise the children won’t stop giggling! Help you when things go wrong We are often asked what happens when things go wrong. Your local team are the experts on getting you the help you need immediately. They have seen it all before (in a nice way) and are well experienced in looking after hundreds of volunteers each year with all the usual niggles from sunburn to upset tummies. Whether you need a doctor in the night for sickness or you want to try out a new project or move bedroom or volunteer house. If you have remembered to print off your project contact details and leave them with family (these are sent before travel to all volunteers) – your family can also contact the coordinator directly. Or they can call us and we can put them in touch. But if you need further assistance or advice we are here to help you. Contact us straightaway and we might be able to make the niggly issues go away. For any country related crises which may occur which would require volunteers to return home, your coordinator and their team will ensure everyone is safely escorted to the airport or Embassy as per the advice provided by each volunteer’s government together with any additional support that may be required. Help you when you feel unwell Coordinators are the first port of call if you think you may need medical assistance. They will organise an escort to the local clinic/hospital and make sure you are well treated. They can also contact home and will be happy to speak to parents to explain how you are. If you are volunteering alone, they may also stay with you in the hospital or request that a member of their staff and a volunteer keep you company as it can be quite daunting to be in a foreign hospital, even if it is only an infected mosquito bite! Most health problems are minor and with a day or two’s bed rest either at the volunteer house or the local hospital and plenty of water, most volunteers are back to their normal selves again. While on the subject of hospitals – make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance to cover local medical bills and repatriation. In developing countries and where medical care is mostly private, it is not uncommon to be admitted into a private room for something which would be treated as an out-patient back home. Without insurance, hospital fees can be as much as £200 per day. For doctors appointments when you only need a prescription, your coordinator will help you to locate the nearest doctor/clinic. For these it is often easier to pay on the spot and not claim on the insurance. Expect to pay approx. £5 – £15 per consultation and £5 – £20 for basic medication. Organise excursions Your coordinator knows all the best trips and best prices which volunteers over the years have participated on and recommended. If the options are not posted on a notice board ask your coordinator what is available and how to book. Typical prices across all destinations as a very rough guide: £30 – £40 for a day’s activity, £200 – £400 for a trek/budget safari for 3 – 5 days. Most volunteers go together in a group for more fun and get discounts. Additional trip discounts for volunteers are available in Ghana and Tanzania. Return transfer back to the airport Your coordinator can organise the return trip back to the airport for you, simply ask a few days before your flight. This is not automatically organised as many volunteers will have made friends and may leave the project a day or two earlier to sightsee before flying home, want to go shopping right up to the last minute or forget that the transfer was booked and have already jumped in a taxi!
Images and videos of Bulgaria
Click on the images and videos below to get an idea of what to expect when volunteering. Video – Below you’ll find the videos you need so you don’t have to search around the whole site!
Pictures from Bulgaria
Volunteers kayaking August 2014
Volunteers kayaking July 2014
Bulgaria placement details Here’s everything you need to know about our volunteer programme including how it works, how to get there and how to stay safe. This unique programme only accepts 5 volunteers per week and is filling up fast for July and August. Call us now on 01603 280702 to enquire and reserve.
About the Bulgaria project
Bulgaria is in Europe, a safe country to visit and the people are quite friendly. Bulgaria’s coast is also known as the the Algarve of Eastern Europe and attracts thousands of holiday makers every summer to its beaches including increasing numbers of British holidaymakers to the holiday resorts at Sunny Beach and Golden Sands, both close to Varna where the volunteer programme is based. The Bulgaria volunteering program is organised by a dedicated local support team which organises placements for the volunteer team that are administered by the local council and municipality and can be varied from working with children to helping paint city murals and taking vulnerable people out for some fresh air to the beach. For community work, children’s ages vary between between 4 to 8 and 12 and over. In the summer, youth volunteer projects may also available. Youth volunteering groups provide an optional opportunity to work alongside local people and youth groups from beach clean ups to local arts festival promotions which can be great fun too and an opportunity to meet and make friends with local volunteers.
Free time in Bulgaria
There is plenty of time to explore Varna and take a tour both at the weekend and midweek between activities. It’s best to arrange after arrival as it’s more fun in a group with new friends you have met amongst the other volunteers.
Bulgaria specific questions
Do I need experience? No experience is required to be successful on the volunteer programme. Whether you work on the health care programme or the teaching and play work programme, everyone is welcomed to come and have a go. When do I choose what I will be doing? For volunteers on the health care programme it is expected that there will be some pre-agreed hours and that for the purpose of getting into a routine and the benefit of patient care that no more than 2 centres are visited during your stay. It might be possible commitment permitting to add on the occasional non-health project between times. For teaching/playwork a schedule is organized each week according to the request of the local projects. The aim is to provide as varied a schedule as possible which will be of benefit to the children/adults attending and to volunteers. How do the health care placements work? To get the most out of your visit, a minimum of 2 weeks is preferred to allow for a period of settling in although many volunteers will only stay one. Two weeks are recommended for health volunteers in case of delays and schedule changes by the institutions they are volunteering at. In the event of any changes, health volunteers are invited to participate on the community programme. On arrival it is expected that volunteers will shadow staff for between 1 and 2 days and help with non-medical/health aspects, for example at meal times or taking a patient/resident outside in their wheelchair for some fresh air. Following supervision and assessment by the senior nurse and doctor in charge, a more active role in all aspects may be encouraged according to your skill set and confidence. How can I prepare for volunteering? It is a really good idea to learn some basic phrases, buy a phrasebook and perhaps a guidebook for the area to familiarize yourself. What should I be aware of? There can be pickpocketing in the summer months so be careful to keep your bag on your front in crowds. The architecture can be strange for British visitors, still reminiscent of the Communist/Russian style with long streets of grey concrete tower blocks and the odd Communist statue here and there. Hopefully the location of the volunteer house in a better part of town close to the holiday resorts, the volunteering itself, Varna shopping area and beach in the summer will make up for the tower blocks on the other side of the city! I would like to fundraise for the projects specifically – what do they need? One of the projects is raising money for a visual-stimuli room, their target is £2000 pounds. Will I be met on arrival? All volunteers are met at the airport or train station in Varna on arrival, or Bourgas airport further down the coast. What do I need to take? Do bring conservative clothes for volunteering with children – a T-shirt (not strappy vests) and jeans or knee length shorts are acceptable in the summer months. For health placements bring your own uniform if you have one from home or use an Original Volunteers T-shirt so you are easily identifiable. Where will I be staying? Volunteers on both placements share the volunteer apartment together in Varna city centre. Is Bulgaria safe? Very. There is nothing that will happen or could occur any differently than would occur in England. One volunteer described Varna like Brighton if it had a sandy tree lined beach, hot weather and warm sea. Do I need a visa? Bulgaria is now part of the European Union. European passport holders do not require a visa to enter. Are there fixed arrival dates? The Bulgaria programme has fixed start days and limited spaces (max 5) so early booking is essential. The programme runs from June to September. Start days are Sunday (or Saturday), departing Saturday or Sunday. I am worried about travelling on my own – can I buddy up with someone? Yes we can buddy you up, just let us know at the time of booking. But if you are travelling alone, don’t panic, most volunteers travel alone and this will be their first experience of volunteering abroad. Will I need any jabs? Only the usual boosters you would need from time to time in the UK. There isn’t any malaria in Bulgaria but they still have mozzies/midges from the surrounding forests so it is essential to get a good strong repellent in case you need it. How will I get back to the airport? Your support team will organise a taxi back, or with the driver if he is picking someone else up. Alternatively the journey back to Varna airport can be made easily by taxi direct from the volunteer house for about £15.
Angela Coren – Bulgaria
Here's my review of my time in Bulgaria. Bulgaria was a surprise, I wanted to do something in Europe then found the project on the OV website and booked straight away. I learnt a lot during my stay especially about the suffering of the Roma gypsy people, not just in Bulgaria but in the region as a whole. It has defi...
Leah Maxwell – Review
Why did you want to volunteer? To travel and put something back by helping others. Do you feel you made a difference, how? I think we helped every project, it was a great team and we did lots of interesting activities with the children. What did you do for fun? Nights out in Varna centrum and the beach front b...
Rachel Burch – Review
Why did you want to volunteer? To make friends, travel, explore and do something helpful for others! Do you feel you made a difference, how? I think our work at the day centre was really important and the children liked our visits What di...Read More
Samuel Harris – Review
Why did you want to volunteer? I wanted to visit Europe and do some volunteering at the same time. Some of my friends had been to Romania and Bulgaria and recommended the area. Do you feel you made a difference, how? Yes the children loved our v...Read More
Alex Welch – Review
I would just like to say a big thank you for Giorgi, Giorgi and Dafinka for such a lovely time and so many happy memories. The programme surpassed my expectations and I would have happily paid a lot more for the experiences I had in Varna. The chi...Read More
Sarah Chapman – Review
Why did you want to volunteer? To help make a difference in another country with children in need. I only had a week to volunteer because of work commitments so the project fitted in nicely. Do you feel you made a difference, how? Yes you co...Read More
Lisa Kerridge – Review
Why did you want to volunteer? To help others and gain a valuable experience. Do you feel you made a difference, how? Yes I think I made a difference although I was only there for one week. What did you do for fun? Hung out at the volunteer ...Read More
Hai Sin Lin – Bulgaria
Why did you want to volunteer? For a good experience. Do you feel you made a difference, how? With the gypsy children we help to be more behaved and play nicely. What did you do for fun? We went on kayak in the forest and to the beaches. ...Read More