Archive for the ‘volunteer travel’ Category

Best Destinations for Ecotourism

Montserrat Volcano

Montserrat Volcano

Ecotourism is no longer trend that started in the 90’s to describe responsible travel to largely untouched areas. Now, it has largely realized its aim by creating an industry of conservation that offers clear benefits to the local community.  Recently, it’s become even more popular as traveler demand has driven a desire for destinations that are eco-friendly and modeled after sustainable practices. Plus, there’s nature and for those who can afford it, they want to escape. These destinations also often offer a bit more in terms of cultural activities and a means to learn more about the soul enriching ways of a local community.

With this in mind, we’re featuring three destinations that inspire: Montserrat, Trinidad & Tobago and Costa Rica –  with unspoiled beaches, uninhabited areas, and archeological sites that can only be accessed by hiking, biking or kayaking.

Lime Tree Cottage 1

Lime Tree Cottage – Montserrat

MONTSERRAT

With its mountainous terrain, hiking the trails on Montserrat is the best way to see the untouched areas of the island. Additionally, diving excursions allow visitors the unique opportunity to see beautiful volcanic rock formations and vibrant marine life that now thrives after the 1995 eruption of the previously dormant Soufriere Hills volcano.

Montserrat’s villas offer prime accommodations for couples, families, friends and even colleagues who long for an affordable upmarket Caribbean getaway with all the amenities of home. The secluded destination provide visitors with the ideal opportunity to experience a traditional Caribbean vacation in tranquil surroundings and away from large chain resorts, crowded beaches and traffic-jammed streets.

Most of the villas offer airport and ferry transfers, car rentals, stocked kitchens, housekeepers, baby-sitting services, cooks, and  villa-specific organized activities during your stay.

http://www.visitmontserrat.com/villas/

Rates start @USD $1,000/per week

From mid-April through mid-November for a three-bedroom, three-bathroom villa with a housekeeper, swimming pool, wet bar, wireless internet, washer and dryer. These villas are perfect for visitors looking to immerse in Montserrat’s volcano-viewing experience (considered a modern-day Pompeii), rich Irish heritage, bird-watching, hiking trails, aquatic adventures and more.

Argyle Waterfall_Main Ridge Rainforest

Argyle Waterfall – Trinidad & Tobago

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO

Unlike its Caribbean counterparts, Trinidad & Tobago’s biodiversity is most similar to that of Venezuela. The best way to see its local flora and fauna is by hiking through its many trails, especially the Northern Mountain Range of Trinidad that was once attached to South America and the Main Ridge Rainforest in Tobago, the oldest protected reserve in the western hemisphere. The underwater scenery in Tobago is just as spectacular as it boasts more than 300 different species of coral, especially the largest brain coral in the world.

brain coral - credit Oswin Browne.jpg

Brain Coral (c) Oswin Browne

Acajou Hotel, Trinidad

This small, eco-friendly, family run hotel is situated in a little fishing village called Grande Riviere located on the beautiful and dramatic northern Coast of Trinidad. Flanked by the wide expanse of vegetation on the steep hills of the Northern range, Acajou (the French for ‘tropical wood’) offers travelers the opportunity to be one with nature, view it’s beauty in its simple majesty, rest to the soothing rhythms of the ocean, meditate on its treasures or simply have a unique candlelight dinner. The hotel is built as a group of traditional cottages nestled between the beach, a crystal clear river and mountains covered by lush rainforest. Influenced by Indonesian, Polynesian and Japanese architecture, the cabins are made of local and imported woods, including bamboo and are designed to create a feeling of complete privacy.

www.acajoutrinidad.com or call 868.670.3771

Asa Wright Nature Center Lodge, Trinidad

The original estate house of the former coffee-cocoa-citrus plantation has been beautifully remodeled over the years as a comfortable headquarters where guests gather to watch the incredible bird-life from the fabled verandah. Your observation time there is punctuated by a high tea in the afternoon and ends with a traditional complimentary rum punch cocktail as the sun sets over the Arima Valley. This main house and its several cottages nestled nearby in the lush flower-filled grounds are your home for one of the world’s best birding adventures. Not your classic Caribbean resort, the Centre’s “swimming pool” is a natural grotto on a free-running rain forest stream where guests can relax and escape from the tropical heat. All of the cottages feature rooms with private verandahs and guests can also retreat to their private oasis to observe the brilliantly colored birds found on the Centre grounds.

www.asawright.org

Cuffie River Nature Retreat and Ecolodge, Tobago

Located on the island of Tobago, this small yet intimate lodge is equipped with ten rooms, two of which are executive suites. Each has been tastefully furnished with private balcony. The design of the building has been carefully chosen to facilitate natural lights and air currents. Low wattage bulbs and solar lighting are also used throughout the grounds.  Conservation of water is of great importance given that the property uses rain and spring fed systems and successful practices have included short flushing toilets, rationalized washing and towel changes only when indicated by guests. To further maintain its natural ambiance smooth faced clay blocks and tile are used while furniture and other fixtures are all made from locally manufactured products. The lodge is situated on the edge of Tobago’s forest-the oldest in the western hemisphere. It is surrounded by bamboo groves, fresh water springs, exotic flowers and wildlife.

www.cuffieriver.com or call 868.660.0505

Footprints Eco Resort and Spa, Tobago

This 62-acre property is a designated nature preserve with hiking and bird watching trails galore. With the use of materials such as teak, wallaba slabs, and native recycled hardwood the resort has maximized the consumption of local, yet natural building materials. All rooms are equipped with solar water heaters, gas stoves and photovoltaic lighting. The hotel grows fresh organic herbs and vegetables throughout the property and prepares breads, ice creams, cakes, sauces, and even condiments, fresh daily. Surrounded by the virtually untouched Culloden Reef that begins a few feet from the shoreline of the property and is available for guests to snorkel and scuba dive, the resort offers the comfort of a modern hotel in a purely natural setting.

http://footprintsecoresort.com 

Footprints also makes properties as environmentally sensitive, and in connection with our environment, as possible by:

• Using traditional architecture, and reclaimed, recycled and local materials to a maximum

• Waste management  for grey water, runoff water, sewerage waste, and solid waste

• Fresh water conservation measures including sea water pools

• Kitchen waste and yard waste composting to reduce solid waste and provide organic fertilizer for gardens

• In-house organic garden produces fruits, vegetables, herbs, eggs, chicken, and honey for restaurant use to reduce food miles

• Bird and butterfly gardens with local wildflowers, fruit, food, and forest trees to attract wildlife and support the recovery of beneficial insects, such as butterflies and honeybees

• Support for local fishermen and farmers by showcasing local ingredients and traditional cuisine.

As they say, “Food shares the story of our culture through a medium that everyone can enjoy.”

Kariwak Holistic Haven Hotel, Tobago

A holistic haven and hotel, Kariwak Village has carved a distinctive niche with its award winning 2 acre garden bursting with tropical shrubs, foliage and flowering trees filled with bird song, dominated by the thatched roof ajoupa and its teak floor … the venue for Tai Chi, yoga, gentle stretching exercises, Buddhist meditation sessions and similar holistic activities. The Kariwak kitchen is supplied with abundant fresh herbs from the garden, those same herbs are lovingly transformed into delicious Caribbean meals which are served with a friendly smile in the open air restaurant.

www.kariwak.com or call 868.639.8442

Diving in Costa Rica

Diving in Costa Rica

COSTA RICA

Costa Rica’s ecotourism is one that enthusiasts cannot miss, featuring lush forests, thriving ecosystems and breathtaking waterfalls only accessible by foot. Just like Montserrat, Costa Rica has underwater volcanic rock formations which are home to various species of fish, rays, turtles and white-tip reef sharks alongside vibrant coral reefs.

Environmental sustainability is at the heart of Costa Rica’s tourism industry. For that reason, the Costa Rica Tourism Board introduced the Certification for Sustainable Tourism program in 1997. This program differentiates businesses of the tourism sector based on the degree to which they comply with a sustainable model of natural, cultural, social and economic resource management. Visitors who choose to visit CST designated tourism companies such as hotels, tour operators and car rental companies support businesses that take proactive measures to avoid the negative impacts on the environment, culture and society. There are currently 346 hotel, tour operators, car rental agencies and theme parks certified under the program here, so check it out!

http://www.visitcostarica.com/ict/paginas/sostenibilidad.asp?tab=0

Volunteers Rebuild Nepal, Brick by Brick

nepal travel

One year has passed since the devastating earthquake that struck Nepal in April last year. While Nepal is doing everything it can to recover and rebuild, the country is still in need of significant aid and resources.

In the aftermath of the earthquake, Projects Abroad initiated a Disaster Relief Project to assist with the recovery process. Since the project began in June 2015, hundreds of Projects Abroad volunteers have made incredible progress in helping with the organization’s goal of restoring a safe learning environment for children in the Kathmandu Valley. Currently volunteers’ efforts are focused on reconstructing Yashaswi Gurukul English Secondary School, the sixth Disaster Relief site to date. Their help has been invaluable.

volunteer nepal

When the work at Yashaswi Gurukul is completed, the new building will also serve another purpose. As aftershocks continue even nine months later, and the fear of another large-scale quake remains, the school building will be able to serve as a safe gathering space for the local community, in case of further disaster. Projects Abroad staff estimate that work at this site will conclude in the next month or so, and then volunteers will move on to the next site where they are desperately needed.

Projects Abroad has made a commitment, not only through Disaster Relief but also through Teaching and Care Projects, to restore stability to the education of young students. In working with dedicated local experts and volunteers, the organization is striving to get Nepalese communities back on their feet, brick by brick!

For more information on how to get involved yourself with Disaster Relief work in Nepal, have a look here:

www.projects-abroad.org/volunteer-projects/building/disaster-relief/volunteer-nepal

 

Tribewanted, Adventure Needed? Look No Further, My Fine Friends

umbria

Who doesn’t want to be a part of a tribe?

Welcome back, cronies! Yes, we’ve been off the grid for a few weeks jaunting around Los Angeles, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Maui, but we’re heading back to home base and feeling better than ever. We also had a morsel of eco-travel awesomeness to share with our loyal adventurers.

Having already built a successful eco-tourism project on a beautiful and barely inhabited Fijian island and then created another sustainable project alongside a Sierra Leone beach community, say hello to Tribewanted because now they’ll be opening a new project, Monestevole, in the Italian region of Umbria.

Monestevole was originally built in the 15th century as a watch-tower for the nearby Monestevole castle. The 38 hectare hamlet was bought in 1997 by Alessio Giottoli and Valeria Cancian as a ruin, but was then restored over the next three years.

Now, travellers are being invited to join the community either as visiting tourists or as “tribe-members,” as they participate in turning a 15th century hamlet into a sustainable community. The project is open to everyone, and for those who prefer a more relaxing holiday, they can enjoy activities such as horseback riding and walks through the stunning surroundings, as well as the unique Umbrian food and music.

The family-friendly project, which opens in a few short weeks on March 21st, will welcome Tribewanted members and non-members.

So, want to be a Tribe Member?

Check out: www.beta.tribewanted.com/join, members become part owners of Tribewanted and will have the chance to directly impact the direction the organization takes by taking part in online votes on future locations and will receive 20% discounted accommodation rates.

Ahhh... Umbria

Ahhh… Umbria

From €60 ($77) a night or $457 a week for the bunk room, to between $127 a night and $762 a week for an apartment for non-members, including all meals and house wine.

www.Tribewanted.com

Go on an Eco-Expedition!

Welcome back from 2012, kiddies. We’ve been in hibernation mode, but we’re back in action now. We hope you got over what felt like a funky 2012, to welcome what is sure to be a better 2013. We can feel it. How do we know? Because we WANT it, guys. To that end, this just in…

Earthwatch volunteers use a dugout canoe to access parts of remote Kirindy Mitea National Park, on Madagascar. The volunteers are helping Dr. Luke Dollar (Pfeiffer University), a 2007 National Geographic Emerging Explorer, research the ecology of endangered carnivores on the island

Earthwatch volunteers use a dugout canoe to access parts of remote Kirindy Mitea National Park, on Madagascar. The volunteers are helping Dr. Luke Dollar (Pfeiffer University), a 2007 National Geographic Emerging Explorer, research the ecology of endangered carnivores on the island

Earthwatch Institute, the international environmental nonprofit and pioneer of “citizen science,” is launching six new expeditions in 2013. Whether you’d like to track chimps through the Ugandan forest (who wouldn’t?), climb aboard a boat to photograph dolphins of Costa Rica, or help unearth the ancient artifacts of Colorado’s earliest inhabitants, Earthwatch offers new ways to get involved in critical scientific research around the world. Earthwatch also offers hundreds of expeditions to about 60 research projects across nearly 40 countries. Since 1971, they’ve enabled people from all walks of life to join leading scientists in making a real contribution to the long-term research that is necessary for a healthy planet.

Earthwatch Expedition: Animals of Malawi in the Majete Wildlife Reserve

Animals of Malawi in the Majete Wildlife Reserve

Earthwatch inspires connections between people and the environment and provide a source of funding and people-power to those scientists carrying out crucial environmental research. For more than 40 years, they’ve pioneered the involvement of people from all walks of life in peer-reviewed scientific research worldwide, and inspired changes in mindset and organizational culture based on hands-on field research experiences.

Among the new expeditions is Animals of Malawi in the Majete Wildlife Reserve. On this 12 day experience, you’ll walk among elephant and eland – and perhaps even rhino or lion – in this spectacular ecosystem of savannah, woodland and rivers. You’ll track and count animals and assess predator-prey relationships to understand the effects of animal reintroduction and Reserve management.

Cynthia Evans, who joined Earthwatch expedition Trinidad’s Leatherback Sea Turtles in 2012 said, “This was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I cannot wait to get my passport renewed and start planning my next expedition!”

Hanging with the sea turtles in Trinidad (c) All rights reserved by ubcgrs

Hanging with the sea turtles in Trinidad (c) All rights reserved by ubcgrs

Tom Wyatt said of Canopies, Climate, and Critters of the Ecuadorian Rainforest, “Like all valuable experiences, the best are the unexpected and unpredictable, from stumbling across a brace of toucans, to playing multi-lingual football in the clouds.”

A full list of new projects include:

  • Animals of Malawi in the Majete Wildlife Reserve
  • Tracking Chimps Through the Trees of Uganda
  • Safeguarding Whales and Dolphins in Costa Rica
  •  Investigating Whales and Dolphins of the Norwegian Arctic
  • Uncovering the Mysteries of Colorado’s Ancient Basketmakers New
  • Wildlife of Australia’s Cloud Forest

http://www.earthwatch.org/requestguideform

Some teen teams are available in addition to the standard teams, but for those looking for something truly unique… this is your jam.

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