Volunteer As A Trailbuilder In The Caucasus!

Thank you for your interest in joining a trail crew! Every year our volunteers play a key role in helping to build and maintain new sections of the TCT. Please read the entirety of this page carefully to determine if this program is the best fit for you.  

If you still have questions, check out some of our blog posts about the volunteer program.

Program Overview

We are pleased to announce that applications for our Summer 2024 international volunteer program are now open! The 2024 trail crews will be based in the remote Tskhenistskali valley between the regions of Svaneti and Racha. International volunteers will work alongside our Caucasus Conservation Corps crews with participants from Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The program will run in 9-day workweeks in August.

Spots will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Availability will be updated regularly, and dates will become unavailable when all spots are filled. Available dates are listed below. 

Important notes about the program:

  • Your Volunteer Crew Leader will live and work with you and serves as your primary supervisor and first point of contact if you encounter any issues during your time with us.
  • Once you are enrolled in the program, we will send you a detailed information packet, including travel tips and suggestions.
  • You are responsible for planning and paying for your travel outside of the mountain region where you are volunteering. We will meet in Kutaisi, Georgia on the Friday evening before your volunteering begins.
  • We expect that you will have read and agreed to the expectations of the program. While you are with us, we require you to respect our policies and staff leadership. Those who do not do so will be asked to leave.
  • Adaptability and flexibility is essential. We will be working in wilderness areas where plans are subject to change, and weather, local logistics, and extreme topography pose various challenges. We hope you get the most out of your experience by adopting a flexible, adaptable and positive attitude regarding sudden changes in volunteer camp plans.
The wild and wonderful Tskhenistskali valley, our base for 2024 volunteers.
The wild and wonderful Tskhenistskali valley, our base for 2024 volunteers.

I can honestly say being a part of the trail crew was one of the best things I’ve ever done. The people it attracts come from such diverse backgrounds and are all drawn to the project for their own unique reasons.

Alexandra, 2017 volunteer programme participant (read Alex’s story)
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Basic Rules & Expectations

We expect all volunteers to:

  • Respect wildlife, ecology, infrastructure and other visitors: practice minimal impact camping, respect facilities, maintain tidiness and order, keep noise to a minimum.
  • Respect other team members: follow directions of staff members, recognize the challenges of living and working here, and accept delays and changes of plan.
  • Respect your fellow volunteers: learn their language, accept and embrace their differences, help out and do more than your share (wash dishes, wake up early, offer to help) and have fun.
  • Do not buy or consume alcohol or illegal drugs while on the work crew.
  • Maintain a positive, enthusiastic, understanding attitude, and understand that the volunteer program is one of many components of creating this new trail.
  • Arrive to meet your group on the first day of the program and leave on the last – we cannot accommodate different dates than those outlined below. Volunteers who stay for a day after their volunteer week ends can arrange accommodation ahead of time with the volunteer coordinator.
  • Be 18 years old or over, for liability reasons.

Language

  • The working language for the volunteer program is English, with a lot of translated Georgian mixed in. The ability to communicate and follow directions in English is a must.
  • You will be working alongside local volunteers, so some knowledge of Georgian or Russian is useful, but not essential.

Field Work

  • We expect that volunteers join us to work hard and make a contribution. If your primary goal is traveling and exploring Georgia, this program might not be for you.
  • Work is hard physical labor outdoors and can be repetitive and mundane. You should expect to work 8 hours a day, for 7 days in a row. Volunteers should be in good physical shape and health to participate in the program. Certain jobs are extremely physically demanding.
  • Work plans shift according to our needs. You may find yourself assisting with trail repair, constructing new trails or trail structures (i.e. digging and moving dirt), clearing undergrowth, painting trail blazes, or installing signs, and we ask you to be flexible.
  • Volunteers may have to hike up to 15 kilometers a day to reach and return from the basecamps and/or work sites. Be prepared for long days, even in bad weather. Hikes may be off-trail and may include river crossings, rock scrambling, and significant changes in elevation.

Camping

  • You will stay in your tent for your whole time in the field. Be prepared for cold nights and high winds: bring a warm sleeping bag (comfortable to at least 4ºC/40Fº), a good sleeping pad, and a sturdy 3-season tent.
  • In the field, you’ll stay at a remote basecamp with a basic common/cooking area. There are no showers in the field – expect to go 7 days without access to a shower. If you’d like, consider bringing a SunShower or other camping shower, but be aware that access to water may be limited or distant.
  • When you return from the field to the volunteer house, you will have access to a shower. You’ll need it!

Food & Water

  • In the field, volunteers cook together on a basic camp stove. A member of the project staff will supervise meal preparation. Ingredients in the field are limited – think simple camping cooking. Due to the remote location, you may have limited fresh vegetables, meats, and dairy products, but lots of pasta, rice, lentils, bread, oatmeal, cookies, etc. All food is shared within the group.
  • We will have plenty of calories available for the crew, but if you’d like to bring some snacks of your own, we encourage you to do so. We have only instant coffee, so bring ground coffee if that is important to you.
  • If you have a dietary restriction, please know that it is difficult to accommodate food preferences and allergies. We can easily accommodate vegetarians – most of the meals prepared at camp will be lacto-ovo-vegetarian friendly (not vegan) – but please be aware that due to the remote location, a wide variety of food is not always available.
  • Clean water will be available at all times. We will purify drinking water at basecamp using a gravity filter system, and boil water for cooking. 

Safety

  • Although your Volunteer Crew Leader will have first aid training, access to medical facilities is difficult. The closest facilities are basic and may involve a journey of several hours. If you have significant medical issues, the program may not be for you. Please let us know about any health concerns in advance.
  • When in the field, volunteers are in communication with basecamp by satellite messenger and limited phone check-ins. The group makes scheduled check-ins twice a day: one in the morning, one in the evening. This system works most of the time, but communication is limited. Please consider if you are comfortable with this level of risk and limited communication with the outside world.
  • Volunteer groups have a satellite device with an SOS button for emergency use. Nevertheless, search and rescue operations in remote locations will take at least several hours to coordinate and may be hindered by circumstances outside of our control. An emergency action plan will be in place, but all of our working procedures emphasize prevention of emergency situations.

Communications

  •  There will not be cell phone service in the field. If constant connectivity is important to you, consider this when making your decision to volunteer.

Learning and Education

  • One of the goals of the volunteer program is to give hands-on experience to interested conservationists. We aim to have all volunteers leave the trail with more awareness of the components and challenges of large-scale international conservation projects.
  • Once you have completed the program, we encourage you to become our ambassador and to share your experience with as many people as possible.

There is an energy amongst us strangers meeting for the first time that makes two weeks of grubby labour a truly warming and growing experience… It may be the simplest sleep you get but it will also be the deepest.

Paul, 2017 volunteer programme participant (read Paul’s story)
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2024 Volunteer Camp Dates

International volunteer dates (Saturday to Sunday). Remember to arrive the Friday prior to the start of your volunteer week!

Typical Weekly Schedule

Friday: Arrival in Kutaisi. Introductions, dinner, orientation.
Saturday: Drive to work site and pack in supplies.
Sunday–Saturday: Trail work.
Sunday: Pack out, drive back to Kutaisi, farewell meal.

The cost of participation is USD $500 for the 9-day program.

What is included:
          • Two nights’ accommodation in Kutaisi
          • Transportation between Kutaisi and work site
          • All meals from Friday dinner to Sunday lunch
          • TCT t-shirt
          • Use of tools and safety equipment in the field
          • On-site training from skilled crew leaders
          • TCT basecamp support

What is not included:
          • Airfare
          • Transportation to Kutaisi 
          • Items included on the Packing List
          • Personal travel insurance
          • Other personal expenses

A deposit of $250 is due within two weeks of your acceptance to reserve your spot in the program. The remaining volunteer fee ($250) is due at least one month prior to your arrival.

Your spot on the team is not reserved until you have paid the deposit and submitted a signed liability waiver.

We are extremely grateful for the time that international volunteers contribute to this project. Please know that this fee still does not cover all of our expenses. Running the volunteer program comes with overheads, including staffing, food, equipment, insurance, transportation, and administrative costs. Making these opportunities possible for such a modest amount requires the support of many additional donors and partners. Your volunteer fee supports the Transcaucasian Trail NGO of Georgia and our Caucasus Conservation Corps program. 

*The volunteer fee will be refunded in the case the program is cancelled for reasons outside of our control. Refunds of the deposit can be made if the participant informs us a the change of plans at least 30 days before the start of the program. 

You’ll have a rewarding experience helping bring to life one of the most ambitious long-distance hiking trails in the world! Complete the volunteer application form by clicking the button below.

Apply now!

2024 Volunteer Application

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until July 1, 2024. 
Join our mailing list to be the first to know about future opportunities.

*Please note that demand has been very high in previous years, and all spots will likely fill well in advance of this deadline. To avoid disappointment, we suggest applying as soon as possible to guarantee your spot.

The best part was seeing the path’s growth under our feet day after day and sharing this experience with different people bonded by similar passions, in a context that promotes a sincere and deep way to relate to each other.

Bianca, 2017 volunteer programme participant (read Bianca’s story)
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