'Voluntourism' Group Announces Packages for New Year
(Toronto, Canada) – Looking for a volunteer vacation with a hint of adventure, and maybe with animals involved? One Canadian company that specializes in “voluntourism” packages has just released a whole new set of programs for 2010 where you may get to work with Pandas in China or work on an organic farm in Ecuador.
Planeterra Director Richard G. Edwards said that now more than ever, community development, environmental and wildlife conservation projects around the world need the support of active travelers who are willing to take the time to understand what is needed and how they can help.
“Our programs are designed with great care, so that everyone genuinely benefits, while having fun learning about each other’s cultures,” Edwards said.
Of the eleven new programs for 2010, five are Independent Tours, which provide optimum flexibility for travelers (projects in Argentina, Brazil, Peruvian Amazon, Ecuadorian Highlands and Project Cuzco Kids). These trips depart weekly, throughout the year, and can be easily combined with other adventure travel tours booked through founding partner, Gap Adventures. 2010 also brings Planeterra’s launch of family programs with a new voluntour in Ecuador.
Travelers who volunteer can sign up for a small group pre-set departure or join a more flexible Independent Tour. Planeterra’s style of voluntourism combines time spent at a community project (usually a minimum of four days) with adventure travel opportunities exploring the surrounding countryside. Except for international air, a volunteer vacation averages $85 per day and includes most meals, double or shared group accommodations, local transportation, instruction, equipment and guidance as needed, plus escorted adventure tours before and/or after project work. Some trips are priced considerably less, depending on the location and additional services.
Planeterra’s 11 new projects for 2010 are located in The Americas, Asia and Africa bringing the total number of voluntourism projects offered to 20 worldwide. New for 2010:
Project Argentina: Work with Argentinean youth learning life skills in a subsistence farm environment. Well-known chefs from Buenos Aires connect and teach menu planning, food preparation and cooking skills.
Project Cuzco Kids: Meet youth at a drop in center with homework, teach English, help with the cooking, and participate in various workshops such as leather working and jewelry making.
Project Ecuador Family Adventure: Volunteer on an organic farm and at the environmental primary school in the coastal community of Rio Muchacho; enjoy a visit to the local market, canoeing and horseback riding too.
Project Ecuador Highlands: Help at a school or on the communal organic farm while living with an indigenous family. Activities include a guided tour to the Equator, Otavalo market, waterfalls and sacred lakes.
Project El Salvador: The hottest new eco-tourism destination! Work on a highland coffee farm and tour Mayan pyramids and colonial villages, surf pristine beaches and explore the jungle.
Project Galapagos: Help build an eco-playground out of recycled materials on the island of Santa Cruz.
Project Peru Amazon: Volunteer at a rehabilitation and conservation center for wild animals after traveling by motorized canoe up the Tambopata River to a remote jungle lodge.
Project China: The destination is Sichuan and volunteering at the largest Panda reserve in the world between visits to Shanghai, Xi’an, Chengdu, Beijing and the Great Wall.
Project Nepal: In the heart of the Kathmandu Valley, work on reforestation project, plant vegetable and herb gardens and help construct a community center while immersing yourself in local culture.
Project Cambodia and Laos: explore the historical, sacred and scenic highlights of Cambodia and Laos helping construct a water well, plant trees and getting involved with child literacy initiatives.
Planeterra is a global non-profit dedicated to sustainable community development through travel. Founded in 2003 by Gap Adventures, Planeterra evolved out of a long history of travelers committed to finding ways to give back to the people and places they visit. Planeterra selects the projects and works with them to arrange voluntour travel programs worldwide. For information on Planeterra’s year-round voluntour programs see: www.planeterra.org/pages/voluntours/4.php or call 416-260-0999.