Add extra meaning to your holiday by helping the communities you visit. There are plenty of volunteer travel outfits out there that can set it up. It'll be an experience you'll never forget.

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Voluntourism cited in 'Using Astrology to Plan Travel this Holiday Season' Still vibrant and popular today, the five-thousand-year-old art of astrology can identify, say, business and romantic opportunities or challenges. And those celestial bodies slinking about the stars can also help pinpoint optimal times and places for travel. And since destinations have their own astro-charts -- which interact with yours -- astrology can even serve as a kind of spiritual travel agent. It can tell you, for example, about places likely to be harmonious or challenging…

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How the pandemic has changed voluntourism

The pandemic has indeed transformed the landscape of international volunteering, say researchers. A February survey of 130 volunteer organizations and 239 international volunteers by the International Forum for Volunteering in Development found that the pandemic had spurred volunteer groups to offer more remote volunteering opportunities and consider expanding national volunteer membership in the future. Even as some groups gear for a return to the way it was, others are changing their modus…

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on our blog: voluntourism in Vietnam - Ruralkids

CDS Rural Education Development Organization (Vietnam) is looking for interested volunteers who would like to share their time and talents with the staff and students of our school. Volunteers strengthen and enrich educational programs and foster greater cooperation among all the partners in our rural school complete post

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  • I recently returned from Dominican Republic, where I volunteered with Orphanage Outreach in Monte Cristi at their Language Institute, teaching English. They take good care of their volunteers and are very well run. I can recommend it to anyone of any age.





  • We are very excited to be participating in the Go Green Expo in Los Angeles later this month. Come by Booth #310 between January 22 & 24 at the Los Angeles Convention Center at 1201 South Figueroa St., South Hall J, and watch some terrific video of the eco-adventures we offer at Alderwood Retreat. Naturalist guided hikes, guided sea kayaking past bird rookeries and sea otter colonies, marine tours to see porpoise & whales, voluntourism projects like cleaning up our outlying beaches, historical & cultural tours, cooking classes, and SO much more are all available at our eco-lodge in the pristine Alaskan wilderness on Kodiak Island. This show is oriented by & for people who care about taking care of the environment, so there'll be lots to see! The first folks to e-mail us will recieve free passes into the show!!! Hope to see you there!
  • I'm about to add the Dominican Republic to all the countries I've volunteered in, making a total of 20 (not counting the US). It's with an organization called Orphanage Outreach which works in the Monte Cristi area. Sounds very well organized. They get college groups, church groups, and individual volunteers, both short and long-term. Ask me more about it in late February!
  • We have listed two unique award winning volunteer projects on These projects entitled 'Wealth through trade' and 'Early childhood development' are based in the Gambia, and are unique because the projects are all to do with teaching skills to local communities in order for them to sustainably continue the work for themselves, plus two thrids of the cost stays in the destination country. For more information on these projects, please visit our 'volunteering' page by clicking here -
  • A group of teachers through the volunteer nonprofit organization Wrestling the World are doing some wonderful things in Kenya that I would like to share with the Tripatini community.

    The teachers of WTW connected with Hopewell HS which is located in the impoverished community of Barut, Kenya and started communicating through the internet and letters. They collborated - and bought to fruition - a project to build a stone classroom block (as they were in tin rooms).

    When that was completed, WTW and the Barut community started working on another initative to improve the economic situation of the area.

    In Kenya, community-owned and operated eco-lodges are prevalent. While they support local livelihoods and economies, they do not always encourage interaction between guests and the local people. The vision for the WTW International Village Kenya changes that by blurring the line between resident and tourist. This is a locally operated facility that offers casual, meaningful exchange between travelers and residents, and access to an extensive menu of volunteer projects.

    In addition to cultural engagement, guests will have opportunities to experience the nature attractions of the area including a Big 5 safari in the vast Masai Mara game reserve and hiking to the Thompson Falls and Menengai Crater. All trip bookings, volunteer program management, and tour operations are fully managed by Wrestling the World and the International Village staff.

    The first cottages at the International Village will be built in December with the entire facility completed in June 2010. This is a not-for-profit enterprise that will have a permanent and significant presence in the community by offering a source of job and vocational training to help Barut residents improve their life situations, as well as making an important contribution to Kenyan tourism.

    WTW is currently booking trips for summer 2010. WTW's model is for this to be a debt-free initiative. Hence, 100% of the proceeds from trip bookings will go back into the community. In addition to regular tours and family trips scheduled for June and August, WTW is offering College age specific trips in May and High School age specific trips in July for guests to experience the International Village.

    This is such a cool story of how volunteers can work together to change the world. I invite you to join on one of the upcoming trips. For more info and to view marketing brochure for trip details and pricing visit
    AREA Group
  • For more information on this project - visit
  • White Shark Projects – Volunteer Information

    South Africa has long been known for its abundance of Great White Sharks, making it a prime area to observe these magnificent creatures. The Great White Shark, which can grow up to seven meters (23 feet) in length and 4 tons in weight, is now a protected species in South Africa. Owing to massive negative media publicity over the years, sharks have become one of the most maligned, misunderstood, even hated species on our fragile planet. They have been pursued, hunted and indiscriminately slaughtered, to the point where many species are endangered. Unsustainable fishing practices, dorsal fin poaching and environmental degradation compounded by a relatively slow Great White breeding cycle are all factors contributing to the potential demise of this amazing creature.

    The Great White Shark Project is dedicated to the exploration and conservation of the world’s greatest predator, the Great White Shark, and its environment. The project works with students, eco-tourists, conservation organizations and marine resource users (subsistence fishermen, sport divers and dive operators) to gather data on Great White Sharks, correct negative misconceptions about sharks, and stop the needless slaughter of over 100 million sharks annually. Current programs involve eco-tourism, public education, environmental advocacy as well as various social up- liftment programmes.
    White Shark Projects is a world leading organisation focusing on the Great White Shark. Founded in 1989 purely as a research centre, since 1989 it has grown and broadened its services to include a commercial diving and viewing centre and a separate educational department. White Shark Projects has taken the lead to establish shark tourism as an educational experience. "Everything we do we aim to do in harmony with nature and the environment we are working in.”

    The Great White Shark Project runs out of Kleinbaai, which is just outside of Gansbaai, South Africa – a seaside village located approximately two hours southeast of Cape Town on the Atlantic Ocean coast. The shark trips primarily take place off Dyer and Geyser Islands, about 6 nautical miles (11 km) or a 20 minute boat trip offshore. The boats anchor in the 6 meter deep channel (“Shark Alley”) between Dyer and Geyser Islands. Dyer Island (larger island) is a breeding ground of Jackass Penguins, Cape Cormorants and Gannets, while Geyser Rock (smaller island) is a breeding ground for approximately 60,000 Cape Fur Seals. Shark Alley is a magnet for Great White Sharks due to this breeding colony of seals, their favorite prey, and is a wonderful area for cage diving as there are reefs, islands and huge kelp beds which all provide protection from the open sea swell and wind. In the summer months they work off-shore closer to Joubert’s Dam. Please note that the cage diving location is subject to change depending on the weather conditions and location of the sharks.

    Finding the Great White Shark is a skill, involving years of practice - the water temperature, depth, visibility, swell height, current and wind direction are all major factors. Great White Sharks are surface feeders, so volunteers will be spellbound when seeing the Great White lifts its head right out of the water to take the bait, and sometimes breach completely. Divers will get to experience Great Whites from the safety of cages, while non-divers have a great opportunity to view the sharks from the safety of the boat, where exhilarating photographs and video footage may be captured at close range. In Shark Alley, you will likely also see seals, penguins and the occasional dolphins frolicking near the islands, as well as magnificent southern right whales coming up from Antarctica to breed from May to November. These expeditions are more than just thrill-seeking adventures, they are educational experiences.

    Volunteer Work
    The volunteer programme is primarily focused on the project's cage diving eco-tourism and volunteers will enjoy regular trips to sea to view / cage dive with the Great Whites.

    The Great White Shark Project does its best to involve volunteers in all aspects of the project, including tasks such as preparing baits, packing the boat, washing the equipment, working with the eco-tourists, recording data on the sharks and even getting their hands dirty on chum! The expeditions encompass getting up early, working with great white sharks during long days at sea, and then relaxing with the crew or other volunteers at night! One of your main duties will be educating our clients about great white sharks and the need for their conservation.

    The programme provides volunteers with hands-on, practical experience in working with Great White Sharks:

    Cage Diving with Great White Sharks: Once anchored in the channel, the project makes use of a specially designed, secure, five man steel cage, which floats on the surface, with divers no more than 1m below the surface. Volunteers will be taught how to get in and out of the cage and how to remain secure and safe in the cage. Cage divers are responsible for recording observations on the Great Whites, including sex, size, markings and behavior. Diving takes place on a rotational basis on good diving days. The duration of each dive depends on the diver, the number of eco-tourists and the activity of the sharks, but could be up to 20 minutes per dive.

    White Shark Field Research Data Collection: Volunteers will be taught how to collect data in the field on free-swimming white sharks. At sea, you'll be focused on working with the sharks from above and below the water, observing behavior and the interactions of sharks around the boat. You will be educated in an informal environment, learning about the behavior of the great whites, their history and the urgent need for research. You will also receive lectures on their biology, shark attack, current and past research techniques and conservation of great white sharks.

    Basic Seamanship: Volunteers will also be taught basic seaman skills including boat handling on board Shark Team in a practical environment. This includes general boat maintenance, packing and cleaning, anchor positioning (deployment and retrieval), cage deployment (attachment and retrieval), knots, general safety and good safe crewing practices.

    On non-sea days you will be taken on various excursions, such as wine tasting, a visit to the penguins or to the most Southern point of Africa.

    Upon completion of the program, the project provides volunteers with a certificate of accomplishment. The program is designed to train and educate volunteers to a level of competence of a field assistant.

    Project Staff
    Viewing the Great White Shark is a serious activity which should only be done with the right people, equipment and approach. The Great White Shark Project is one of the top shark organizations in the world and has the most experienced shark team in Africa. They have worked on and featured in over 30 white shark documentaries, including BBC, Discovery Channel and National Geographic; written articles for African Indigo, Outdoor Adventure, Dive Style, Peak Performances, Surf Magazine and Immersed; and lectured at institutions such as Cambridge University, the Royal Geographic Society, London University and the University of Stockholm. This background and knowledge, combined with an enthusiastic staff and excellent infrastructure, has resulted in an organization that produces high quality and successful Great White Shark expeditions. White Shark Projects is a responsible tourism operation that sets a benchmark in its commitment to community development and upliftment. We are deeply involved in the social, economic and environmental needs of our surrounding communities. We run tourism and environmental education programmes in the Gansbaai schools – fostering pride, a sense of personal responsibility towards the environment, and teaching life skills. Our aim is to empower children in caring for their environment and themselves. If we have any out-reaches during your stay, you will be included in this.
    Our latest project is the White Shark Recycle Swop-Shop. The school children collect rubbish and litter from the streets and in their homes. They earn points for these recyclable materials which they 'spend' in the shop on much-needed school stationery or clothes. This project promotes recycling, environmental awareness, and self-reliance, and helps to provide for some of the basic needs of the children. The volunteers and staff involved find it an enriching experience that helps bridge the gap between different cultures and communities. On Tuesdays you will be expected to help at the Swop Shop – if you want to bring a contribution, it will be greatly appreciated.

    Field Conditions
    Volunteers stay in a delightful face brick house situated two minutes from the harbour, which bustles with action and boats as people head out to sea. Overlooking the Indian Ocean, the house is very comfortable with dorm rooms, a nice kitchen, a dining area, a lounge with television and video/board games, and an outside entertainment area for those hot evenings. There is a small supermarket nearby (volunteers usually buy provisions and prepare meals together) and the house is located is a very safe and beautiful area, where you can freely walk around any time of day or night. Please be aware that Kleinbaai is renowned for its shark – and not its night life! Nights can be a little quiet but having an enthusiastic group of volunteers that work well as a team both on and off sea provides entertainment in itself.

    Couples, friends or families volunteering together who wish private accommodation may reserve a double room at an additional cost.

    The programme starts every month on the 1st, and the 15th.
    Please bear in mind that the sooner you apply, the better your chances of securing your placement!
    Volunteers are required to sign an indemnity form acknowledging and accepting the consequences of working in close contact with wildlife. Applicants must be over 18 years old.

    Funding is not allocated to cover running expenses of this programme in terms of food, travel expenses and additional living costs for volunteers. These costs must be covered by the volunteers. The cost of the programme is R5 500 per week for the first three weeks, should you wish to stay longer, the cost is R3 000 per extra week. The minimum stay is 14 days. Do bear in mind that this programme was designed for 21 days, in order to get all the benefits we offer, we strongly recommend you stay at least 21 days.

    Training / Qualifications
    Training will be given in different aspects of marine conservation and shark research. Students may be able to obtain university credit for their experience.

    F.A.Q. (Frequently Asked Questions)

    • Eligibility?

    This program is aimed at assisting in the development of students, training them in the area of biological sciences, creating an awareness on Great Whites to Conservationist, eligibility is thus limited to exceptional naturalists who can show a ‘real world’ dedication to research, management or conservation of animals or ecosystems.

    • For how long?
    Our Programme runs traditionally for 21 days, but there is a minimum stay of two weeks and a maximum of four weeks (in exceptional cases this may be negotiable). The preferred date of arrival is the 1st of each month, so that coordination can more easily be arranged.

    • Where do we do our Field Work?
    There is only eight licensed Shark Diving Companies in Gansbaai, and we are fortunate enough to work from Shark Team, a licensed cage diving vessel. It is a tourist boat, so most days we will be out with tourists, but there will be days when you have the vessel to yourselves.

    • Do I need a VISA?
    No. You will not be employed by us, nor paid. Most tourists get a 3-month / 90 day Tourist / Visitor VISA upon entry in South Africa. However, we do recommend that you contact the South African Embassy or Consulate and confirm this fact. Do not leave this enquiry for too late. We recommend that you contact the South African Embassy or Consulate in your country ASAP. If your application period is for a period longer than three months, or if you plan to travel in South Africa prior or after your internship for a period extending 90 days, you will have to apply for a Tourist / Visitor VISA application.

    • Do I need insurance?
    Yes. When you are accepted in this program, you will have to sign liability, copyright documents, as well an agreement that you are knowingly partaking in dangerous activity. You will not be covered for accidents or illnesses, so please do organize your own medical and health insurances. You may apply for a normal travel insurance policy. Chances that you will be injured by a marine predator are non-existent if you follow the safety guidelines and do not try anything foolish which we would not approve anyway. But you will be working on a boat in conditions which can, at times, be less than comfortable. And accidents on a boat may occur, so it is important to be covered in case of an emergency or accident. Be sure to have an insurance cover for your entire stay in South Africa.

    • Do I need any specific vaccination or medication before coming to South Africa?
    No, we are far from the Malaria, and there are no strange African diseases which you could pick up (that is if you respect the same safety rules as anywhere else in the world).

    • What do I need to bring?
    Some old jeans; tops and shoes/boots to use on the boat, warm clothing; a wind breaker jacket; good waterproof clothing; factor 30+ sun block and a wide brim hat. You don’t have to bring any bed sheets. Comfortable, non-slipping shoes are an absolute must – you can buy a pair of Wellington’s locally, or get some Crocs. Investing in some Polaroid sunglasses is also essential.

    • Do we have weekends off?
    No, but yes... The weather along the Western Cape of South Africa is not stable, and the sea does not allow field work every day. Nevertheless Kleinbaai is comparatively sheltered, allowing us to go out at sea very often. You will have days off whenever the weather and sea condition do not allow field work, and no other work on the data or maintenance is needed. Sometimes, we have long periods during which the weather is nice and after 4-5 days at sea, we will then take a couple of days break. Why? Well, being at sea is very tiring, constantly balancing yourself, baking in the hot sun and being blown by the winds, so after a few days at sea, your body will need a rest.

    • How often will I go to sea?
    You will be able to go to sea a minimum of every other day. For example a 21 day stay enables you to go to sea at least 10 times. It can be more and we do our best to accommodate you as often as possible. When on sea it may not be feasible for you to dive in the cage every trip or you may not even want to. If you do wish to dive that day please inform one of the crew and we will do our best to accommodate you. It is important for you to communicate to your team leader and the crew what you wish to gain from your stay with us – within limits; we will try to accommodate you.

    • What will my duties be?
    Please note that these duties may change from day to day, and that you will always be working in conjunction with a qualified crew member of White Shark Projects. As our project is subject to weather and tide conditions, there is no such thing as a typical day, your duties will change from day to day, as volunteers do rotate, but here is an indication of what would be expected of you.

    • Boat check – daily as per boat check list in office
    • Ensure cleanliness of boat
    • Make sure equipment for diving, chumming, bait, food etc. are on boat
    • Assist with anchoring
    • Education of clients & general interaction with them
    • Assist clients as needed
    • Preparing and distributing wetsuits to clients
    • Chumming
    • Data Recording
    • Data Capturing
    • Writing for our blog about your experience
    • Constant & vigilant shark spotting & bait watching
    • Point out sharks to crew, clients & fellow volunteers
    • Clean boat post-trip
    • Clean & put wetsuits away
    • Tuesdays – assist at Swop Shop with Recycling
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