Get off the tour bus and travel with a purpose! This is energy behind travellers from around the world setting a trend for what is now being called Voluntourism. Rather than passively observe a destination alongside the droves of other “traditional” tourists, people of all ages are volunteering their time and energies to projects working to save endangered wildlife and wilderness.
Frustrated by the outfitters in developing countries that seem to be profiting while negatively impacting the very precious thing tourists have come to see, travellers are becoming more scrutinising. No longer an ethic of “see it while you can” there is a way to “save it while we can”. They are volunteering their time and energy to pitch into a project and make a difference.
Biosphere Expeditions is one of the pioneering organisations behind this ethos. For the past decade they have worked to bridge the gap between the voluntourist and the many scientists and conservationists working in remote areas trying to study and manage the most endangered species on our planet. Biosphere Expeditions brings laypeople into remote areas typically reserved for the elite few researchers who were left to almost single-handedly deal with critical conservation issues
With the 'voluntourist' they are no longer alone, for with them comes manpower, funding and public awareness to help protect these species. In return, besides from self-satisfaction, the voluntourist gets hands-on experience working with wildlife, making a tangible difference in wildlife conservation, meeting local people and bringing in the spin-off jobs and opportunities associated with this form of tourism.
Biosphere Expeditions hires local people as research assistants (such as bushmen in southern Africa to help track wildlife) as well as drivers, cooks, translators, etc., benefiting the local communities.
“This expedition has been a highlight for me. I particularly enjoyed the expedition leader’s humour and skill. This project is very important and we look forward to following its progress.”
Kathryn West, 48, Georgia.
The base camps are remote and vary from tents to yurts to chalets and guesthouses, amenities ranging from solar showers to full-plumbing. Volunteer duties employ real field research techniques for data collection as well as interviewing local communities. Species studied include several large cats including snow leopards, cheetahs, lions, leopards, pumas and jaguars, as well as hyenas, cetaceans, wolves, chamois, and the myriad of life within a coral reef.
Volunteering opportunities are for wildlife conservation projects from one day to several weeks. Full details on www.biosphere-expeditions.org
To raise any questions, or ask something specific about the volunteering opportunities, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
To have a look at Biosphere's YouTube pages to get more of an idea about what they do, click here.