The Great Escape - Why Choose A Wildlife Volunteering Experience For Your Next Holiday?

The Great Escape - Why Choose A Wildlife Volunteering Experience For Your Next Holiday?

Posted by Leanne Sturrock on 21st May 2018

If you're anything like us, you probably spend much of your time conjuring up your next 'great escape'. Aren’t we all dreaming of being somewhere far, far away from the daily routine of chilly commutes and our dreary office desks? No matter what the weather, it seems as if we're constantly longing for more time in the sunshine (though, come on, this is England we’re writing from!) Fear not, friends – The Great Projects are here to help you pick your next holiday! Whether you’re a family planning ahead for a big summer blow-out, a couple looking for a unique and exciting edge to your holiday, or a solo traveller curious to check out some less-than-typical destinations, we most certainly will have a volunteer experience for you.

‘But, aren’t you a voluntouring company?!’ I hear you cry. While this may be true, have you ever considered why this type of trip isn’t for you? No? That’s probably because there’s no good reason NOT to volunteer! Conversely, we’re going to take the next few paragraphs to talk you through the joys of voluntouring, and why it’s always going to be the best option for anyone looking for something a little different.

What is ‘voluntouring’?

In short, voluntouring (or eco-tourism) is just a better way to travel. It’s the opportunity to explore areas of the world in a real, authentic manner – to get up close and personal with some of the world’s most beautiful animals, as well as truly getting to know the locals of each individual area. When it comes to holidaying, you’ve got to ask yourself: what am I looking for? And I’d be willing to bet that right there, at the top of your list, is the urge to have a break from the norm. It’s a craving for something new; a feeling you won’t be able to get while staring your office computer dead in the eye. Voluntourism is all that and more. There’s no other type of holiday where you’ll be able to track tigers, get to know real local tribes, and spend time in dramatic jungles other than on an eco-tour; nor will you find Thompson airlines sending you off on a trip to care for orangutans in exotic Borneo. Voluntourism opens the door to a multitude of unusual, authentic and unbeatable activities, all the while opening your eyes to not only stunning new areas of the world, but to the truest sense of compassion you’ll ever get to experience…I’m sorry, did I say that was the short definition of voluntouring!?

Children in Africa

Why should I volunteer?

In case you didn’t gather from the above ramblings, voluntouring does something to you in that you won’t be able to stop talking about it afterwards. It really is the most life-changing type of trip you’ll ever take – not just for yourself, but for the people and animals you’ll meet along the way – and you won’t be able to keep a lid on the joy spilling out of your very soul afterwards. You may think I’m exaggerating, but to combine adventure with altruism is the thing to do right now, and it’s for all of these reasons that this type of holiday has taken off. Just picture yourself on the sandy plains of Africa, under the dramatic starry night sky: all around you are majestic, wild beasts in their natural habitat, and your involvement in conservation aids these animals in surviving in their endemic areas without fear of poaching. It’s also on this trip that you’ll meet bright-eyed, cheery-faced children at a nearby school or orphanage – just a day or two of your company, compassion and education can provide these kids with a lifetime of knowledge and happiness. Now imagine 7 days hanging out by the pool – sure, it sounds relaxing, but where’s the reward?

I don’t know…it sounds great, but is voluntouring really for me?

You’re gosh-darn right that voluntouring is for you. There’s a conservation project for everybody, no matter what your age, fitness level, destination preference or whatever other excuse you could make for yourself. Don’t believe me? Let me break it down for you…

You’re…a family:

Mother and baby orangutan

Understandably, family holidays can come with the utmost amount of stress before finally making it onto the plane for your hard-earned time away. Families tend to have more people to please, more clashing of opinions, more activities that absolutely must suit little Sally as much as they’ll suit mum and dad…and with voluntouring, that’s no problem. We have a whole host of options available for you. One of our best-loved projects, which involves caring for orangutans in Borneo, is available for families of up to six and children as young as 8. If jungle trekking isn’t for you, we can bet that you’ll enjoy one of our beach conservation projects in either Mozambique, Costa Rica or Sri Lanka. There really is a destination for everyone, and a preferred animal to see, too – visit Costa Rica for turtle-based conservation, Sri Lanka for more time with our half-shelled friends, or Mozambique to monitor some of the most highly revered marine life on the planet (such as manta rays, humpback whales, and the stunning whale sharks). Your kids will feel as if they’re in a Disney film whilst working with these animals, while mum and dad will appreciate the time out in the sun with the sea breeze drifting by.

You’re…a couple:

Bengal tiger couple

Really, I can’t believe you’re asking this. Of COURSE volunteering is for you! Adventure holidays build the foundations of many of today’s relationships, and what better way to see if your partner is ‘The One’ than witnessing them care for animals and children alike? Volunteering on a project won’t tear you and your beloved away from each other, as our consultants work hard to keep you roomed together. Experience unforgettable activities like safari drives in India’s lush jungles, or test your nerves by shark cage diving in South Africa; be awe-inspired by the beautiful elephants in Sri Lanka and Namibia; or spend time rehabilitating awesome orangutans in Borneo or any array of animals and children at one of Africa’s wildlife orphanages. To share these experiences with your nearest and dearest is a fantastic way to spend your holidays, and to create some phenomenal memories along the way.

You’re…a solo traveller:

Girl swimming with whale shark

With The Great Projects, there’s never any need to feel lonely, lost or scared. All of our trips have members of staff on hand to assist you at all times (airport meet and greets, transfers and facilitators on site, all as things you can expect); in addition to this, you’re bound to make friends on your travels! It takes a certain kind of open-minded, good-hearted person to want to volunteer, which in turn means that everybody you’ll be working alongside will be down for extra off-the-clock trips to visit waterfalls, or simply to share a beer! The possibilities are endless when you’re a solo traveller, so check out our project page and see which trip tickles your fancy – you’ve got nobody to answer to but yourself!

Okay, you’ve convinced me…so where’s good to go?

Glad to have you on board! Most of our projects are year-round, so check out our project finder page to see which trips will suit you down to a T – just enter your dates, group size and desired duration of trip. Just as an example for now, we’ll go with the good-old two week holiday, with options between July 1st and August 31st!

For families: This is a great time of year for you, as there’s the opportunity to work with turtles in both Sri Lanka and Costa Rica. There’s also a phenomenal experience waiting to be discovered in the form of visiting the elephants in Namibia. You could even head to Mozambique to see some incredible marine life, or follow in the footsteps of many a great adventurer by heading out to see the orangutans in Borneo!

For couples or solo travellers: There’s a seemingly never-ending plethora of projects for you to check out, but to give you an idea: why not spend time with monkeys in Bolivia? Or perhaps you’d rather hang out with rhinos on one of Zimbabwe’s most popular reserves? Delve into the jungles of India and discover the regal Bengal tiger in all its glory, or dive into whale shark conservation over on Mafia Island. Everybody wants to spend time with elephants, and you could join the herd in either Sri Lanka or Namibia…or even over in Borneo, where you’ll see sweet pygmy elephants, as well as the famous Bornean orangutans! Simply put: anybody over the age of 18 will be spoilt rotten by the abundance of opportunity we offer at The Great Projects – so get yourself over to our project finder and choose your preferred trip!

Prepared to try something new? Check out our project finder and see which trip you’ll be heading on!

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