Conservation and adventure travel is a relatively recent addition to the tourism industry. All around the world people are becoming more conscious of our impact on the environment. And more and more people want to make a contribution to preserving our world.
The whole world is a finely tuned ecosystem, meaning that every living organism has an important role to play in the bigger picture. Take one animal or plant out of the equation and the impact will be felt in the long run.
Scientists are becoming increasingly concerned by the rapid rate of extinction. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) characterizes the concept of “recent” extinctions as those that occurred beyond the cut-off point of 1500. It is estimated that at least 875 species have gone extinct since the cut-off point up until 2012. These recent extinctions can be more directly linked to human influences. Prehistoric extinctions were because of other external factors such as climate change (stats wikipedia.org)
Onegreenplanet.org recommends the following conservation and adventure travel opportunities if you want to make your holiday count for something bigger than just pleasure. By volunteering at these Wildlife Conservation programs, you will be making your contribution to help save our beautiful planet. And in the process you also get an enriching travel experience with memories that will last a lifetime.
#1 Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand: Elephant Nature Park
Meals: some included
Minimum stay: depends on the volunteer opportunity chosen
This amazing nature park provides a life-long sanctuary for orphaned and abused elephants. They have weekly volunteer programs. You will help prepare the elephant’s food in the morning. Engage with the magnificent gentle giants by feeding and also bathing them each day. Occasionally there are other volunteering opportunities available, such as maintenance of the bathing areas.
For more information, visit elephantnaturepark.org
#2 Gansbaai, South Africa:
White Shark Project
Meals: not included
Minimum stay: one week
A different kind of giant animal, mostly misunderstood. They might be the ocean’s top predator, but they are still vulnerable. The horrendous industry of shark-finning and overfishing causes 100 million sharks to disappear from the oceans every year.
This project is devoted to conserving the shark population of South Africa. While volunteering you will learn more about the White Shark’s behavior, as well as get a crash course in basic seamanship. Track the shark population in the ocean and from the land. The main goal of this program is to raise greater awareness of the plight of these magnificent sharks. You will be assisting with data collection to find out more about their migration patterns. Usually the program runs for 21 days, but you can join for just a week.
If you are fascinated with White Sharks and feel brave enough, you can do a shark cage dive to meet these not so gentle giants up close and personal in a safe environment.
For more information, visit whitesharkprojects.co.za
#3 Costa Rica, Central America:
La Tortuga Feliz
Housing: dorm cabins situated on the beach
Meals: three meals provided daily
Minimum stay: one week
Conservation and adventure travel can take you to breathtaking locations around the world. This conservation centre is located four hours from San Jose. You will help to maintain the sea turtle hatcheries, care for the adult turtles that are being rehabilitated and patrol the beaches at night. This volunteering opportunity can be quite physically demanding, some days you will be required to work up to seven hours. But in the end it will be worth it, an incredibly rewarding and very memorable experience.
For more information, visit latortugafeliz.com
#4 Limpopo, South Africa:
The Center for Animal Rehabilitation and Education (C.A.R.E)
Housing: lodging available
Meals: not included
Minimum stay: two weeks
Some people might see this animal as a pest, but as mentioned above, every animal has its special role to play in the ecosystem. C.A.R.E has been operating since 1989. They are dedicated to rescuing and taking care of injured, abused and orphaned baboons. The aim is to rehabilitate the baboons to release them back into the wild. You will help with the daily care of baby boons. Other volunteering opportunities include assisting with the adult baboons, observing and documenting baboon behavior, general maintenance, implementing anti-poaching protocol and removing invasive plants.
For more information, visit primatecare.org
Reasons to Consider Conservation and Adventure Travel
You might think “what can my little contribution do?” But in the world of conservation, every little bit helps. And don’t feel guilty about wanting a fun experience while volunteering. This is the beauty of conservation and adventure travel – instead of just spending your money on yourself, you get to combine your travel experience with the opportunity to offer a much needed helping hand to a worthy cause.
Many of these organizations depend heavily on the kindness of volunteers. Even if you can’t offer a lot of your time, they will be more than grateful for your contribution. We’ve come to think of a contribution as only measured in monetary value, but a contribution of your time is much more valuable.
Having Fun While Helping The Earth
Conservation and adventure travel offers you the opportunity to travel to an exciting new location and join a worthy cause to make a difference to animals in need or to just add your voice to a worthy awareness campaign.
If you are passionate about conservation and love travelling, there are plenty of opportunities out there for you to investigate. Visit seethewild.org for more conservation and adventure travel opportunities. Keep an eye on the website for upcoming special deals. If you are a bigger fan of conserving the environment by looking after plants, there are conservation and adventure travel opportunities for you as well. Visit wildaboutplants.org.uk or gooverseas.com
With conservation and adventure travel, the options are almost endless. Somewhere out there, there’s a little animal or plant needing your help. Don’t just anonymously donate money, get your hands dirty and add your contribution to saving our planet. What a great way to make your holiday count for something better!
What animals or plants are you passionate about? Have you considered combining your holiday with a volunteering campaign? What’s your biggest concerns about doing this?