Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Voluntourism trips

Greenloons http://www.greenloons.co/, the company that helps travelers make sustainable travel choices, offers suggestions for families who believe their teenage children can expand their views of the world by engaging in voluntourism.

It isn't cheap but it will make you feel good. Here are four of the eight options available on the Greenloons website:

Beijing's Forbidden City

Project China – Pandas: 14 days at $2,149 per person (departures May through October; recommended for ages 12 plus) – Families will not only have the opportunity to take in Beijing’s ancient gems, Xian’s terracotta warriors, the Great Wall, and Shanghai, but also spend time at a Special Commune. It is an organic farm-based community set up to empower intellectually challenged individuals to be part of their community and support themselves through work and continual learning.  Also, near Chengdu, families will be able to volunteer at the largest Panda reserve in the world, where they’ll help to gather bamboo and supplementary foods for the Pandas, and occasionally assist professionals in gathering behavioral data.

Project Cambodia & Laos:  15 days at $1,799 per person (departures monthly, year round; recommended for ages 12 plus). Families will explore Indochina's most iconic and historic site - the vast temple-palace complex of Angkor - before spending three days at New Hope, Cambodia, which is a grass roots, hands on, non-governmental organization whose mission is to restore hope, dignity and promise to the local community.  Volunteers help build a new school or library, teach in classrooms and visit local families who require assistance. The balance of the time is spent enjoying optional bike rides, swimming, cave exploring, and countryside visits.

Project Peru Amazon: 9 days at $1,299 adult; $1,069 children 12-17 (departures weekly, year round). This family jungle adventure includes travel by motorized canoe up the Tambopata River to spend five days at a center for the rehabilitation and conservation of wild animals.  Budding zoologists will help to maintain an interpretive trail, construct animal enclosures and interact with the local community. An additional unique aspect of this trip will be spending two days in the rainforest learning about traditional medicinal plants, spotting birds, cayman and monkeys.

Project Costa Rica: 15 days at $1,049 per person; (departures July through November; recommended for ages 12 plus). The Pacific Sea Turtle Project is a conservation initiative undertaken to protect endangered sea turtles and their nests, thus improving the chance for survival of hatchlings on Matapalo Beach.  Families will volunteer in night beach patrols to protect the nests, collect data, do some general cleaning and maintenance and possibly monitor the baby turtle hatchery, where baby turtles are counted and released. Families will round out the week with two days in the Monteverde Cloud Forest and another two days in the town of La Fortuna, located at base of the Arenal Volcano.

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