RED Sustainable Travel volunteers assist with sea turtle conservation in Mexico.

RED partners with local conservation organizations. Photo courtesy of RED Sustainable Travel.

RED Travel Mexico takes conservation projects and turns them into “Conservation Adventures.” By incorporating economic alternatives for local communities in its efforts, RED promotes “a model of tourism for the region based on natural resource preservation.”

In early 2013, National Geographic Adventure magazine named RED Travel Mexico one of “10 Great Adventures that Give Back…”Volunteer trips encompass “ecotourism, community development, conservation, and true cultural interaction.” Projects are located in four communities in Baja California (there is a fifth community near Mazatlán), all created in partnership with several locally based conservation organizations.

Tents lit from within under a canopy of stars.

Volunteers stay right on the beach in cozy tents with an amazing array of stars overhead. Photo courtesy of RED Travel Mexico.

There are typically 6-16 volunteers per trip. Volunteers are taken to Magdalena Bay in Baja California, where they spend their days either on the beach or on a guided nature walk, and two nights monitoring black sea turtles. A slightly longer trip might include kayaking or whale-watching. Trips can also be customized for groups of middle or high school students. The project location is remote (part of the local travel is by boat); there is limited cell phone service and no Internet access.

Trips sell out well in advance. They are finalists in the innovation category of the 2015 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards and in early 2013, National Geographic Adventure magazine named RED Travel Mexico one of “10 Great Adventures that Give Back,” so they will likely grow in popularity. Plan this one well ahead of time.

RED Travel Mexico

Baja California, Mexico
tel. 52/612-122-6057

Application Process: Contact RED (see website for details) to apply and receive an application form. A 20 percent deposit is required with the application. There is no minimum age; RED offers custom trips for families.

Cost: US$1,550 for a four-day trip with 2 whale-watching expeditions and sea turtle monitoring. Prices include accommodations, regional gourmet meals, and transportation from La Paz to Magdalena Bay and back. Discounts are available for children under age 17.

Placement Length: 4 days

Language Requirements: None.

Housing: Volunteers stay right on the beach, in tents with mattresses and linens. Gourmet meals are included, with an emphasis on seafood. There are well-maintained dry composting toilets, and volunteers are given buckets of hot water to use in the shower facility.

Operating Since: 2009

Number of Volunteers: 200 in 2014

Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Volunteer Vacations in Latin America.