The causerati have hit the trails this summer and the agenda stretches from saving the world to, well, saving electricity. More grown-up than gap-year volunteering and offering many more options, VolunTourism—as the trend was just crying to be labelled—is a phenomenon that can’t be ignored.
Helping hands: Mongolian women.
Elevate Destinations (www.elevatedestinations.com) says it promotes “responsive travel” by giving a percentage of its profits to promote pet causes in destination countries. Banish thoughts of hard living and bucket loos, though: Wherever possible, Elevate chooses eco-luxury accommodation that segues perfectly well with its “making a difference” philosophy. In July, August and September, travel to Uganda on the Great Apes of Africa tour (cost: $3,800, or around Rs1.8 lakh per person on a twin-share basis), which benefits the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. The eight-day trip includes two chimpanzee-tracking expeditions in the Kibale forest, one gorilla-tracking expedition in the “impenetrable” Bwindi forest and overnight stays at the Gorilla Forest Camp and Mihingo Lodge.
Or sign up for fall trips to Easter Island and Mongolia. Easter Island, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean—the nearest island is 1,900km away—is a six-day tour (cost: $6,000 per person), inclusive of walks that take you close to the mysterious moai, the gigantic sculptures that have stood guard over the island for hundreds of years. Also, meet the descendants of this ancient culture and spend an evening in the home of a local artisan family.
We’d put our money, though, on the Mongolia trip. The 13-day visit (cost: $5000 per person) benefits three charities, including the Mongolian Women’s Fund, and takes a limited number of visitors from the Gobi desert to Lake Hovsgol, via Ulaan Bator, and includes interactions with local cultural groups and philanthropists.
All Elevate prices are exclusive of international airfare, passport and visa fees, and insurance. Fifty per cent of the tour cost needs to be paid up at the time of booking and the rest 90 days ahead of departure. To book a trip, drop them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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