Global ‘voluntourism’ opportunities
Fresh consumer attitudes towards travel mean the number of people likely to take an environmentally friendly holiday by 2013 has more than tripled*.
Adventure travellers now crave meaningful trips that offer in-depth cultural experiences, expert guiding, a physical or mental challenge and the chance to share new experiences with like-minded people.
To meet this growing demand, Voluntourism’s global specialist, Planeterra (planeterra.org) has launched its new 2010 projects and volunteer holidays. These include onsite work at the world’s largest panda reserve in China’s Sichuan Province and a bring-the-kids family adventure on an organic farm along the coast of Ecuador.
“More than ever, community development, environmental and wildlife conservation projects around the world need the support of active travellers who are willing to take the time to understand what is needed and how they can help,” said Planeterra’s Director, Richard G. Edwards.
“Our programs are designed with great care so that everyone genuinely benefits while having fun learning about each other’s cultures.”
Of the eleven new programmes for 2010, five are Independent Tours, which provide optimum flexibility for travellers (projects in Argentina, Brazil, Peruvian Amazon, Ecuadorian Highlands and Project Cuzco Kids). These trips depart weekly, throughout the year, and can be easily combined with other adventure travel tours booked through founding partner, Gap Adventures. 2010 also brings Planeterra’s launch of family programmes with a new voluntour in Ecuador.
Travellers who volunteer can sign up for a small group pre-set departure or join a more flexible ‘Independent Tour’. Planeterra’s style of voluntourism combines time spent at a community project (usually a minimum of four days) with adventure travel opportunities exploring the surrounding countryside. Except for international air, a volunteer trip averages £52 per day and includes most meals, double or shared group accommodations, local transportation, instruction, equipment and guidance as needed, plus escorted adventure tours before and/or after project work. Some trips are priced considerably less, depending on the location and additional services.
Planeterra’s 11 new projects for 2010 are located in The Americas, Asia and Africa, bringing the total number of voluntourism projects offered to 20 worldwide. New for 2010:
Work with Argentinean youth learning life skills in a subsistence farm environment. Well-known chefs from Buenos Aires connect and teach menu planning, food preparation and cooking skills.
Project Cuzco Kids
Meet youth at a drop in centre with homework, teach English, help with the cooking, and participate in various workshops such as leather working and jewellery making.
Project Ecuador Family Adventure
Volunteer on an organic farm and at the environmental primary school in the coastal community of Rio Muchacho; enjoy a visit to the local market, canoeing and horse riding too.
Project Ecuador Highlands
Help at a school or on the communal organic farm while living with an indigenous family. Activities include a guided tour to the Equator, Otavalo market, waterfalls and sacred lakes.
Project El Salvador
The hottest new eco-tourism destination! Work on a highland coffee farm and tour Mayan pyramids and colonial villages, surf pristine beaches and explore the jungle.
Help build an eco-playground out of recycled materials on the island of Santa Cruz.
Project Peru Amazon
Volunteer at a rehabilitation and conservation centre for wild animals after travelling by motorised canoe up the Tambopata River to a remote jungle lodge.
The destination is Sichuan and volunteering at the largest panda reserve in the world between visits to Shanghai, Xi’an, Chengdu, Beijing and the Great Wall.
In the heart of the Kathmandu Valley, work on a reforestation project, plant vegetable and herb gardens and help construct a community centre while immersing yourself in local culture.
Project Cambodia and Laos
Explore the historical, sacred and scenic highlights of Cambodia and Laos helping construct a water well, plant trees and getting involved with child literacy initiatives.
Project South Africa and Overland Adventure
Get involved in various community projects around Cape Peninsula near Cape Town followed by bush walking in the Kalahari, canoeing in the Okavango Delta and visiting Victoria Falls.
Planeterra is a global non-profit organisation dedicated to sustainable community development through travel. Founded in 2003 by Gap Adventures, Planeterra evolved out of a long history of travellers committed to finding ways to give back to the people and places they visit. Planeterra selects the projects and works with them to arrange voluntour travel programs worldwide. For information on Planeterra’s year-round voluntour programmes go to planeterra.org.
* Results according to the recent ‘Passport to Adventure’ report, as published on Travelmole.com.