Top Trips for Volunteering Around the World

By Samantha Scott
April 12, 2018

Many travelers today approach searching for their next travel experience with a number of important criteria. They want authenticity and local off-the-beaten-path meals and accommodations; the desire to be a “traveler not a tourist” is strong, especially among millennial travelers.

But something else is also gaining traction - the desire to be a responsible traveler. To give back to local communities, support and get involved in wildlife conservation initiatives, and to follow a mantra of sustainability.



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Want more information on some of our favorite volunteering trips? Read on...


“Leave only footprints” is the oft touted phrase. And while this sentiment may strike some as trite, the philosophy behind it has led many tour companies to incorporate more volunteering excursions and activities into their itineraries.

Some companies, like Discover Corps, make conservation and volunteering a high priority, designing their trips with this at the forefront.

Here are 11 amazing Discover Corps volunteering tours around the world:

1. Belize - Wildlife Volunteer Adventure

Manatee in Belize on Volunteering Tour

How could you go to Belize and NOT want to help protect it’s stunning natural beauty and wildlife? On this tour you’ll spend time among amazing manatees, which practically define the word “boop”. Your tour will introduce you to how they live, their environment, and what is being done to protect them from becoming endangered.

You will also be a part of The Manatee Project collecting data on manatees and recording it in a local NGO’s database for research. This project is only made possible by Discover Corps travelers and offers travelers a direct impact on the important work being done in the country to conserve these animals.

The landscape of Belize goes beyond the shore and this trip will introduce you to remote, largely untouched islands, nestled out among crystal clear blue waters. Get ready to feel invigorated as you explore beautiful reefs, rainforests, and enjoy the tropical atmosphere and culture.

Duration: 8 Days

Price: From $2,995 Adult, $2,495 Child

Physical Level: Moderate

Lodging: Value

Volunteer Time: 12 hours (three half-days)

2. Costa Rica – The Sea Turtle Initiative

Turtle hatchling on the way to the ocean

Experience all the incredible wildlife and biodiversity of Costa Rica, and of course soar on a zipline or two! Sea turtles are some of the most threatened species among coastal nations.

This trip runs approximately 9 months out of the year, during peak nesting and peak hatchling times.

Each travel period focuses on an important conservation project to help protect sea turtles. August - December are peak hatchling times, and during this period you’ll help ensure the baby turtles are safely led to the ocean and monitor the nests, gathering essential data for protecting the families.

Peak nesting time is July - October. During this period you’ll help keep the mothers safe with prominent beach signage, and monitor their movements carefully before hatching time.

Duration: 8 Days

Price: From $2,995 Adult, $2,495 Child

Physical Level: Moderate

Lodging: Value

3. Galapagos - Family Volunteer Vacation

Learning about giant tortoise on the Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands are home to a truly unique wildlife population - the many species here known in particular for their complete lack of fear of humans. This comes from living in an environment that has been protected and largely uninhabited for centuries. The islands continue to be protected today, helped in large part by volunteers! You’ll get to be a part of this important work on this trip with Discover Corps.

Volunteer with at a giant tortoise sanctuary learning about these incredible creatures, and help protect the natural vegetation on the islands by helping remove invasive species. You will also learn about the history of the islands, most notable for inspiring Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. Visit the Charles Darwin research center to learn about the continuing conservation work being done.

This trip is family focused, so activities such as hikes are kept at an “Easy” physical level, and there is an educational focus.

Duration: 10 Days

Price: From $3,995 Adult, $3,395 Child

Physical Level: Easy

Lodging: Value

Volunteer Time: 8 hours (two half-days)

4. South Africa - Wildlife Volunteer Experience

leopard Big Five in South Africa on volunteering tour

South Africa is a pinnacle of a destination for wildlife lovers. On this trip you’ll have the opportunity to learn about spotting and tracking animals in the wild, and how they are being protected and rehabilitated every day by people in the field.

Multiple days are dedicated to Greater Kruger National Park, one of the largest game reserves in all of Africa. Here you can spot the famous “Big 5” - Leopard, Elephant, Lion, Cape Buffalo, and Rhinoceros. Your volunteering focus will be with the Leopard Research Center.

Duration: 10 Days

Price: From $2,795 Adult, $2,295 Child

Physical Level: Moderate

Lodging: Value

Volunteer Time: 6 hours (three hours/day)

5. China - Panda Conservation Adventure

Learning about Pandas in china volunteering with Discover Corps

There’s nothing quite like spending a full week around cute and cuddly panda bears! Unfortunately, these animals are among the most threatened in the world, and on this trip you’ll get to contribute to efforts in place to keep them off the critically endangered list. You’ll also get to know locals, explore the Great Wall, and learn about China’s sprawling history.

Duration: 8 Days

Price: From $2,995 Adult, $2,495 Child

Physical Level: Moderate

Lodging: Value

6. India - Tiger Volunteer Adventure

Tiger sanctuary in India with Discover Corps

Tigers are a majestic animal, and also facing constant threat. With their natural habitats shrinking, large protected areas have sprung up to try and maintain the opportunity to observe tigers in the wild.

In India, Ranthambore National Park - once private hunting grounds - has been converted into one of the largest areas dedicated to this pursuit. You’ll have the opportunity to volunteer with tiger conservationists and the famous Tiger Watch and learn from leaders in the conservation field.

Rehabilitation isn’t just for the animals. Several small local communities were displaced after the creation of the National Park, and previous hunters are now being trained as guides to held educate travelers and other locals.

Duration: 10 Days (Optional 4-day extension to Agra & Taj Mahal)

Price: From $3,195 Adult, $2,695 Child

Physical Level: Easy

Lodging: Value

Volunteer Time: 16 hours (four half-days)

7. Thailand – Elephants & Islands Expedition

Volunteering with elephants on trip with Discover Corps in Thailand

In recent years Thailand has come under scrutiny when it comes to animal welfare. However their elephant rehabilitation efforts have consistently been touted as some of the best.

On this immersive tour you’ll stay first in Phuket, then just outside Phuket for three days of elephant caretaking and education at the sanctuary before finishing off your trip in the majestic Koh Phi Phi Island.

The sanctuary you will be experiencing cares for and rehabilitates elephants that had been used for riding, circus performing, and otherwise brutally treated. It’s a long process, but many get to a place at the sanctuary where they can become self-reliant.

Have a chance to be around these gentle giants, helping take care of them and learning about their incredible intelligence and social structure. You’ll also have a chance to learn about the Thai culture in the area, hearing ancient local legends and stories about elephants.

Duration: 10 Days

Price: From $3,395 Adult, $2,795 Child

Physical Level: Moderate

Lodging: Value

8. Cuba - Building Bridges

Classic car on tour Volunteering with Discover Corps

The popularity of Cuba has grown exponentially over the past few years as travel restrictions have loosened for American travelers. However as a US citizen, you still must satisfy one of twelve broad categories that describe your reason for visiting (such as journalism or humanitarian).

On this tour you’ll spend a large portion of time in small local communities outside of the cities, though don’t despair. A history tour in Old Havana is part of your tour, and of course a visit to Hemingway’s old haunts.

For three days of your tour, though, you’ll volunteer with school children and local arts initiatives. This is largely an educational opportunity, learning about the history of US and Cuba relations and the facts of everyday life in Cuba. It will reveal how tourism can help, but also potential harms - all to help you become the most responsible and conscientious traveler possible.

Duration: 8 Days

Price: From $2,595 Adult to $1,995 Child

Physical Level: Easy

Volunteer Time: 8 hours (three mornings)

9. Tanzania - Safari and Service

Young boy and local Tanzanian boy observing goats on Discover Corps trip

Tanzania is home to incredible wildlife, a serene natural and wild beauty, and fascinating tribal culture. On this tour you’ll be immersed in village life with Discover Corps’ local friends, learning from tribespeople about their traditions and getting a sense of what daily life is like.

You’ll also meet the enigmatic Masai people; with their recognizable red dress as much a fixture of the landscape in our minds eye as a pride of lions on the savannah.

Part of your time in Tanzania will be spent volunteering at a school, teaching and playing sports with school kids, helping refurbish supplies, and with building new classrooms. You may also have the chance to contribute to building and improving the curriculum.

Finally, enjoy plenty of time to explore Tanzania’s natural beauty on safari, visit incredible Ngorongoro Crater, and walk the base of impressive Mount Kilimanjaro.

Duration: 10 Days

Price: From $3,295 Adult, $2,795 Child

Physical Level: Moderate

Lodging: Value

Volunteer Time: 12 hours (three mornings)

10. Dominican Republic - Heart and Soul of the Caribbean

Bright ocean water and beach in Dominican Republic

Oft overshadowed by its Caribbean neighbors, the Dominican Republic is a wealth of vibrant beauty, culture, and food, still holding onto “hidden gem” status. Adventurous travelers will love the chance to feel like a local on this tour among welcoming people who have a zest for life even among widespread poverty.

You’ll have the chance to give back to many rural communities by building schools, clinics, and houses using recycled goods. It’s an important educational experience for both the communities and the travelers as it becomes clear how much usefulness can come out of recycling rather than leaving it as harmful waste.

Duration: 8 Days

Price: From $2,195 Adult, $1,795 Child

Physical Level: Easy

Lodging: Value

Volunteer Time: 16 hours (four half-days)

11. Peru - Children of the Andes

Young girl with Llama in Peru

This immersive trip will introduce you to the beautiful Peruvian Andes, most known for the imposing and mysterious Machu Picchu (which you will have the chance to visit!). Much of this tour is centered on the people of Peru who have a strong dedication to preserving their ancient culture and heritage.

You’ll stay with local families to truly get a sense of what Andean life is like, surrounded by the incredible mountains and ancient history. Peruvians are especially known for their colorful dress, and so on part of this tour you’ll learn their impressive weaving techniques.

Duration: 10 Day or 14 Day Option

Price: From $2,895 Adult, $2,395 Child

Physical Level: Moderate

Lodging: Value

Volunteer Time: 20 hours (five afternoons)



 

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