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Volunteer and conservation

Volunteer and conservation recommendations

Put something back into the places you visit via a stint of volunteering or conservation work

Top 10 volunteering trips

Here are a few ideas – including specific projects as well as bigger themes – to help inspire your volunteering 'career'

  1. Conserve the rare giant tortoises, Seychelles – it's work, honest... A placement on the idyllic Indian Ocean island is perfect for wildlife-buffs (and sunseekers), though consider how you will feel living so remotely for a long period.
  2. National Trust, UK – volunteer in the UK at one of the NT's network of historic houses and gardens, a great way to get into volunteering to see if it's for you.
  3. Ko Chang, Thailand – snorkel and dive to help the coral and reef-life of Asia. Tasks might include laying underwater transects and recording data – good for those who are keen to volunteer but have little scientific research experience.
  4. Special litter collection trips – some placements need no skill, just man-power. Tour operators often run special itineraries that combine sightseeing and rubbish collection: perhaps involving picking up litter on the banks of the Nile, Egypt, or clean-up treks to Everest Base Camp, Nepal. 
  5. The Gambia – if you don't have time to volunteer, visit and donate to reserves already doing good work; one example is the inspirational chimpanzee reserve in the remote interior of the Gambia.
  6. Disaster relief – if you want to help more spontaneously, and have some flexibility, look out for agencies that coordinate relief efforts in the aftermath of natural disasters.
  7. Voluntary Services Overseas – a VSO placement is generally two years, and allows you to use your skills to benefit a community in the long term. It's a big commitment, but means you really make a difference on the ground.
  8. South Luangwa National Park, Zambia – go out on an anti-poaching walking safari with the local rangers to see the work they do to safeguard the local wildlife.
  9. Take a TEFL – get a Teach English as a Foreign Language qualification and then head abroad to work in a local school or community; opportunities abound, from Central America to Japan, and you may get paid for your work.
  10. Find your own – in the course of travelling you may find a local project or charity that you'd like to get involved with. There is no harm in asking around on the ground if you feel inspired to help – just do some research first to make sure it is legit.

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