Travel as a voluntourist

Last updated 05:00 17/05/2012
HELP: A volunteer helps with the big cats at a Namibian cheetah preserve.

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More travellers are seeking volunteer-type experiences, but are not prepared to give up their traditional flop and drop holiday abroad, so they are doing both in one trip.
Student Flights area leader Heidi Janssen said social media was increasingly playing a part in influencing people’s travel decisions and had led to the new style of travel - voluntourism.
"It is fair to say that Kiwis are motivated by the travel experiences of their peers and, more often than not, are encouraged to visit a particular destination or pursue an activity based on feedback from people they know," she said. 
"People are sharing their holiday photos on social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter and chatting about their experience on blogs, even while they are overseas.
"Integrating a volunteer experience, with a beach or shopping holiday in one trip can make it meaningful, cost-effective and twice as enjoyable."
Popular voluntouring combos are in Thailand, Malaysia and Africa.
Popular voluntouring examples include helping at an orang-utan rehabilitation clinic in Borneo and then relaxing at a resort in Langkawi.

NAMIBIA - Cheetah Conservation
Help restore Namibian plains to their natural state and give cheetahs their natural habitat back. This incredible programme allows you to help at a reserve which is dedicated to the conservation of cheetahs and other big cats.
You'll take part in maintenance duties in the mornings and spend the afternoons tracking leopards and cheetahs, plus get involved in rescue and release activities.
A two-week project is $2196 per person, including volunteer work with cheetah conservation, shared tent accommodation, all meals. All Student Flights packages include in-country support and 24-hour emergency assistance.

COSTA RICA - Sea Turtle Conservation
Get involved in preserving the endangered sea turtle species, see baby turtles hatch on the beach and gain insight into marine biology on the shores of Costa Rica.
During the project you will collect eggs, release baby turtles back into the ocean, search for marked or injured turtles, clear the beaches in preparation for the nesting season, monitor nests and record turtle activities.
The project is priced from $1667 per person for one week, from $2312 for two weeks or $2720 for three weeks, including volunteer work with sea turtle conservation, shared dorm-style accommodation and most meals.

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MALAYSIA - Orang-utan Experience
Hang out with orang-utans at a Malaysian zoo, visit to a wildlife centre to see orang-utans in rehabilitation and explore the Borneo jungle to monitor these great apes in the wild.
This volunteer project aims to help the local tribe-people make orang-utans an integral part of the local economy through eco-tourism. You will work alongside trained experts and indigenous tribes to conserve orang-utans in their natural environment and those living in captivity.
The four-week project is priced from $4637 per person, the price includes on a volunteer project assisting with orang-utans, shared dorm-style accommodation, most meals, airport pick-up and orientation.

THAILAND - Elephant & Community Volunteer
Help to save Thailand’s declining wild elephant population with a hands-on experience at the Tha Thum elephant sanctuary in the northern district of Surin.
You will also learn about the place of elephants in Thai culture, their needs and the social problems facing them today. As a volunteer, your duties may include planting bamboo, wild grass and other crops to help feed the elephants during the dry season, as well as supporting the local community with a number of development projects.
The project is priced from $2169 per person for two weeks or from $2195 per person for four weeks.

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