Tag Archives: eco-luxe travel

African Honeymoons …. luxury with a touch of adventure

Over the years, Europe, Asia and tropical islands have been the preferred choice for honeymooners the world over. Despite the rugged beauty and amazing safari lodges and wildlife experiences, the African Continent has been a little neglected…. well, it seems that is changing. The world over couples are seeking out the path less trodden.

Here are 5 destinations that have been catching the eye of honeymooners around the globe:

Botswana Safari lodge1. Botswana

Picture yourself drifting on your private makoro (essentially a wooden dug out propelled much like a gondola in Venice), the sun set reflecting like lightning rods off the canals in the Okavango Delta, as a herd of Elephant feed on the lush grass. Makoro and walking safaris are the norm here and they are an incredible way to soak up the wilderness experience before retreating back to your luxury tented camp to enjoy some champagne. Other amazing places to visit are Gabrone Dam and Mokolodi Natural Reserve.


Honeymoon in Zanzibar2.  Tanzania

Ever thought of marking your honeymoon with a personal challenge? Breathing the rarefied air on the stunning Mount Kilimanjaro may not be for everyone, but would certainly be a unique experience for those seeking something very different. Your challenge surmounted, you can then relax and enjoy some African gems, like Lake Tanganyika. The deepest lake on the continent and home to some of the rarest sea animals in the world. Then head to the Zanzibar archipelago a stunning collection of islands with gorgeous beaches and wonderful eco-luxe retreats. The capital Stone Town even boasts, a UNESCO world heritage ranking as one of the most ancient cities of East Africa.

Honeymoon in Kenya3.  Kenya

Kenya has long been synonymous with african safaris. Sharing together with Tanzania on elf the most amazing animal migrations on the planet as thousands of wildebeest (sadly they have seen a 80% drop in number sin the past 30 years) go in search of new pastures. Combine all manner of wildlife experience, with some of the most luxurious resorts and tented camps in Africa and you have a recipe for a magical honeymoon. The stunning scenery of the Great Rift Valley, the volcanoes of Hell’s Gate National Park and the Crater Laker Game Sanctuary, should also not be discounted, but the rustic “outpost chic” islands of Lamu will make the perfect conclusion to your honeymoon adventure.

Honeymoon Mozambique4.  Mozambique

If you are looking for a relaxed beach style honeymoon, then Mozambique with fabulous cuisine and gorgeous beaches should be on your list. It boasts exotic flora and fauna, crystal clear water and luxurious resorts. Consider Manta Reef at Inhambane and if you are lucky you can cement your life together with a sighting of one of the most graceful and elusive rays on the planet.

Honeymoon in South Africa5.  South Africa

Wonderful food, wine, beaches, wildlife and one of the most beautifully situated hip cities in the world, if not for your honeymoon, then come here at some stage in your life. Enjoy lazy picnics in the Cape Winelands, hike the Cape Peninsula, watch the famous table cloth descent upon Table mountain and drive the beautiful Garden Route. When you have had your fill of scenery and culture, you can visit some of the best safari parks in the world. Certainly a fantastic option to celebrate your future together.


If you would like to add a give back element to your honeymoon and make it a meaning full shared experience, then contact Hands Up Holidays and one of our consultants will help you plan an unforgettable honeymoon experience.





Beyond the buzzword: eco-luxe voluntourism

Eco-luxe voluntourism

Eco-luxe voluntourism

The travel industry seems to endlessly be coming up with buzzwords and jargon. “Staycations”, “glamping”…every season sees a new passing trend. When you hear the term ‘eco-luxe’ travel, you may be tempted to pass it off as just another of these flashes in the pan, but here at Hands Up Holidays, it’s an essential part of our voluntourism ethos.

A popular misconception is that you have to rough it to volunteer…perhaps that is because volunteering is associated with students. We understand that there are people who want to help and make a difference, and who want fabulous accommodation as well. The magic is in the mixing of the volunteer projects and then time in luxury hotels that also meet our sustainability standards.

Kenya - Eco-luxe voluntourism

Kenya - Eco-luxe voluntourism

You could stay in a luxury tented camp in Morocco, a solar-heated lodge in Brazil or a sustainably-built hotel in Thailand. If you’d like to contribute to and enrich your next holiday destination – while staying in style – then check out the eco-tourism page on our website.

Rainforest Alliance – our new partnership

Rainforest Alliance voluntourism

Rainforest Alliance voluntourism

If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to have more enriching, sustainable and meaningful experiences, then we’d recommend our partner in responsible tourism, The Rainforest Alliance.
The Rainforest Alliance works to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices and consumer behavior.
They believe that the best way to keep forests standing is by ensuring that it is profitable for businesses and communities to do so. That means helping farmers, forest managers and tourism businesses to realize greater economic benefits by ensuring ecosystems within and around their operations are protected, and that their workers are well-trained and enjoy safe conditions, proper sanitation, health care and housing. Once businesses meet certain environmental and social standards, Rainforest Alliance links them up to the global marketplace where demand for sustainable goods and services is on the rise.
Their website has a wealth of information about their vital work, and even has its own section on sustainable tourism. We fully support all their efforts – watch out for updates on Rainforest Alliance week later in the year.
In the meantime, we hope this spirit of environmentalism inspires you to think about the incredible experience that is voluntourism .
Check out our website and of course, feel free to ask us any questions!

Voluntourism in Belize

Voluntourism in Belize

Voluntourism in Belize

Belize is one of our lesser-known destinations, a small monarchy in the north of Central America. Our Building Up Belize tour focuses on natural conservation and sustainable agriculture projects.

Interesting to note that the UN Foundation has just officially listed the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System as “World Heritage in Danger” due to unsustainable tourism activity.

The UN is rising to the challenges of conservation, and you, too can help make a difference to the very communities that this marine system supports.

UN: Ecotourism boom can help save endangered forests

Rwanda voluntourism

Ecotourism helps conserve gorillas

The increasing demand for ecotourism can play a vital role in saving endangered forests, a United Nations-backed partnership said today, while also warning of the potential damaging effects if its expansion is not effectively managed.

According to the findings of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF), which consists of 14 international organizations and secretariats, including the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the benefits of ecotourism flowing to local businesses are dramatically higher than those from mass tourism, providing an incentive to local communities to take care of their environment.

“Ecotourism has a far greater potential for contributing to income and livelihoods in poor rural communities than what is realized,” said FAO’s Edgar Kaeslin, a forestry officer in wildlife and protected area management.

The CPF found that standard all-inclusive package tours typically deliver just 20 per cent of revenue to local companies, while the rest is captured by airlines, hotels and large tour companies. Local ecotourism operations, however, can return as much as 95 per cent of earnings into the local economy.

The CPF also noted that ecotourism can motivate local communities to maintain and protect forests and wildlife as they see their income directly linked to the preservation of their environment.

However, it warned that ecotourism could damage forests if it grows too quickly and its expansion is mismanaged.

According to a news release by FAO, ecotourism is one of the fastest segments of tourism worldwide, growing at a pace of more than 20 per cent annually – two or three times faster than the tourism industry overall, and failure to limit tourists can permanently damage fragile ecosystems.

This rapid growth can have negative effects, as there is the risk that powerful players in the travel industry may seek to dominate and squeeze out smaller local operators, resulting in the disruption of local economies and ecosystems.

The CPF stressed that to avoid this, training for local people is essential to ensure they can compete successfully for desirable ecotourism jobs.

“It is crucial that local people are fully involved in the activities and receive sufficient benefits,” Mr. Kaeslin said.

Several sustainable ecotourism programmes such as the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) have already had successful results. By involving the local communities in Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the gorilla population is rising in numbers.

“There is no question that is a direct result of the careful commitment to responsible tourism in East Africa that respects the gorillas and their habitat,” said GRASP coordinator Doug Cress.

Ecotourism combined with voluntourism is very powerful: tread lightly, conserve, and give a hand-up to disadvantaged communities.

Special offer for Rainforest Alliance Week – eco-luxury voluntourism Costa Rica

Rainforest Alliance voluntourism

Luxury voluntourism Costa Rica

You might know Rainforest Alliance best for its promotion of sustainability and fair incomes for farmers…well, they also do the same good work for hotels in Latin America.

We are delighted to be partnered with Rainforest Alliance, and to celebrate Rainforest Alliance Week which begins on the 19th September, you can have a 20% discount off a luxury voluntourism trip to Costa Rica, using eco-luxury Rainforest Alliance certified hotels throughout.

Conservation voluntourism Costa Rica

Conservation voluntourism Costa Rica

Like with all our trips, you get to make a difference in conserving Costa Rica’s wildlife, with three days of this fabulous 11 day itinerary spent looking after animals that have been illegally kept as pets, helpig them to be re-introduced to the wild. Animals include monkeys, parrots, and the delightful sloth – an easy one to keep an eye on!

Costa Rica voluntourism

Costa Rica voluntourism

In addition, you get to enjoy a Rainforest Alliance certified coffee farm, the mighty Arenal volcano, and finish up in the stunning Punta Arenas with beaches and wildlife in the Manuel Antonio National Park.

The price for this eco-luxury adventure is reduced by 20% from US$5,330 to US$4,265 per person, plus flights.

But hurry!

To claim your 20% discount, you need to book your voluntourism trip before the 30th of September 2011, for travel anytime until October 2012.

Click here to book or read the full itinerary of this deluxe eco-adventure in gorgeous Costa Rica.

To find out more about our partnership with Rainforest Alliance, click here.

Have an inspiring weekend and enjoy Rainforest Alliance week!

Why luxury goes hand in hand with sustainability – great for luxury voluntourism

This is from the Guardian Sustainable Business blog, authored by Diana Verde Nieto, copied in full, as it supports the luxury voluntourism ethos of Hands Up Holidays and our eco-luxe accommodation ideals- it is that good!:

Exclusive goods and services with sound environmental and social credentials does not have to be a contradictory idea.

Luxury and sustainability are two words you may not particularly expect to find in the same sentence. You may even think they are antithetical concepts.

But stop and think: what is luxury? Traditionally, luxury may be defined as an inessential, desirable item that is expensive or difficult to obtain; nowadays, we could fit within that category things such as time, copper, cod…

As social and environmental stresses increase and global resources come under greater pressure, the concept of luxury, always fluid, will keep changing.

There have also been positive efforts within the sustainability movement to redefine luxury as something that embodies the social and environmental credentials of a product or service.

Leading the way in this area, the WWF report Deeper Luxury, by Jem Bendell and Anthony Kleanthous, defined authentic luxury brands as “those that provide the greatest positive contribution to all affected by their creation and that identify their consumers as having the means and motivation to respect both people and planet”.

If we read ‘luxury’ as placing an importance on durability, pride in buying less and better, the link to sustainability becomes less jarring. Vivienne Westwood, in a recent interview, encouraged customers to “choose well and buy less” and she does not stop there. Westwood recently launched a collection of up-cycled bags and iPad cases in partnership with the UN and the World Trade Organisation. The project helps to create jobs amongst Africa’s most impoverished women – single mothers, widows and HIV/Aids victims.

And she is not alone in using up-cycling as a means of cutting waste and turn it into luxury. Elvis & Kresse, whose products are stocked in Harrods, make a stylish rage of high-end bags, wallets, belts and cases from decommissioned fire-brigade hoses that would normally end up in landfill. Fifty per cent of profits from the fire-hose line are donated to the Fire Fighters Charity. Taking into account social and environmental impacts as well as quality and style in design and innovation processes results in “positive luxury”.

Some major luxury brands are starting to get the message. Earlier this year PPR — the owner of a string of luxury brands including Gucci – set out a major new sustainability strategy called PPR HOME. Its CEO, François-Henri Pinault, said: “My deep conviction that sustainability creates value is part of my strategic vision for PPR. Sustainability can – and must – give rise to new, highly ambitious business models and become a lever of competitiveness for our brands.”

Perhaps positive luxury isn’t as far away as we may think. I’m convinced that those who want products of the highest quality do not have to compromise on ethics — that luxury and sustainability can go hand in hand.

Diana Verde Nieto runs PositiveLuxury.com, you can follow her on twitter @dianaverdenieto.

We love providing you with eco-luxury accommodation as part of a voluntourism adventure, to help make your luxury trip with a heart all the more sustainable – come join us!