Tag Archives: family volunteer vacation

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.





The Beach was a influential travel movie for Thailand…. did it inspire you to go?

The beach

The beach on Conde Nast

“A seen-it-all slacker (Leonardo DiCaprio) staying in a Bangkok hostel gets a secret invite to an island whose tall cliffs and dense tropical canopy have conspired to hide the most gorgeous sun spot in the world. As a piece of storytelling, The Beach falls short of the novel by Alex Garland from which it was adapted. But Phuket and Phi Phi Leh—the two beaches where the movie was filmed—are well-cast as places beautiful enough to drive a person nuts.” – Sarah Kerr, Conde Nast

The beaches of Thailand are certainly a wonderful lure to get us hooked, but the country is so much more than just crystal clear water, and stunning islands….to be fair though, for many of us that is enough. With a varied menu of water sports to keep every waterspouts enthusiast entertained: snorkel with whale sharks in Ko Taoof, climb the stunning sea cliffs of Krabi, swim in the surf of Bang Saphan Yai, kiteboard in Hua Hin, or restore your energy at any of the gorgeous Spa resorts.

However, for many people their first taste of this friendly and fun-loving, tropical paradise comes in the form of a delectable Thai meal and you can rest assured that the food only tastes better when you get there. 

Thai cuisine, reflects the varied elements of Thai culture: it is generous and warm, revitalizing and relaxed, jovial yet subtle, cultured and historic.

In this Buddhist nation, religious devotion is visible everywhere. Pristine temples play host to colorful and ubiquitous festivals, banyan trees wrapped in blessed cloth honor the residing spirits, small fortune-bringing shrines are dotted around homes and businesses, and car dashboards decorated with garlands ward off traffic accidents. This undercurrent of devotion bridges the divide between a continuous sense of tranquility and the day-to-day craziness. Delve into this aspect of the local culture by attending boisterous religious festivals, drift through underground cave shrines, climb up to scenic hilltop temples and attend meditation retreats in Chiang Mai.

However, if you really want to delve in and experience a more immersive trip, then add a  give back element. At Hands Up Holidays, we specialize in giving you this deeper cultural learning opportunity, whilst you improve the lives of orphans who’s parents may not be deceased, but who are unable to care for them. Work to improve the living situation of these children and teach them new skills and games so that they have opportunities in life that their parents could not offer them.  Laugh, joke and make new friends.

If you have children you might want to consider assisting at a project that is helping to rehabilitate former working elephants. It may put a stop to you ever wanting to ride an elephant again, but it will give you the indelible memory of working directly with these beautiful animals.

Family voluntourism

Morocco Voluntourism

Morocco Voluntourism for Families

With the new school year fully underway now, you’re hopefully seeing your kids enjoying learning and getting excited by new things. While class studies are important, there’s nothing that broadens a child’s mind more than experience. That’s why we’re such big fans of family-based voluntourism . Imagine taking your children to a completely new environment, one that was safe, exciting and full of challenges and learning experiences. On one hand, young minds can apply themselves to a truly rewarding and memorable project – one to really tell their friends and teachers about when they get back. On the other hand, you can enjoy your escape in luxury surroundings, with all the amenities and comforts you’d expect at home. Take a look at our range of family trips and talk to your kids about what kind of things they might like to see and do. You’ll be feeding their imaginations for years to come.

Like Madonna, have mercy in Malawi

You have probably heard that Madonna has been given Malawi’s High Court permission to adopt 4-year old Mercy James…I do not want to enter into the rights and wrongs of this now, and am certainly not emailing you about how to adopt a child, but want to give you the opportunity to make a real, meaningful difference in Malawi in a hands-on way through voluntourism.

Malawi is one of Africa’s hidden gems, and we offer two scheduled trips to Malawi, and can tailor-make a trip to your exact requirements.

All of our trips in Malawi enable you to have authentic interaction with the Malawian people through your volunteer adventure.

You can assist in a fulfilling way at a registered charity in villages around Lilongwe, with:

· Orphan and other vulnerable children care (OVC) – help feed children under six, as well as give them basic education. You can help cook for the children and serve them;
· Home Based Care (HBC) – our Volunteer Project partner takes care of patients and people living with AIDS. You can go into the communities and help care for the patients, such as cleaning their homes, fetching water, and generally making their lives easier;
· Community Development Construction – you can help build Community Child Care Centers (provided your stay coincides with the timing of building work);
· Other teaching opportunities at all levels, including academic level;
· Gardening, planting and maintaining vegetable gardens and trees;
· Maintenance and renovation in the school buildings and sometimes in the huts of elderly or vulnerable people who can’t do the repairs themselves.

For scheduled trips, we offer:
1. A luxury adventure (“Malawi Magic“) that counts that combines the volunteering with sailing on Lake Malawi, relaxing on gorgeous Likoma Island, exploring wildlife in Mvuu Wilderness Safari Lodge in Liwonde National Park, and canoeing in Mumbo Island.
You can read more about this inspiring luxury trip by clicking here.

2. A budget camping adventure (“Malawi, Parks and Falls“) that takes you to Zambia, where you can enjoy game drives in search of the ‘Big 5’ in Luanda National Park, be in awe of the Victoria Falls, and visit tribal textiles workshops.
You can read more about this enriching camping trip by clicking here.

As noted above, you can also tailor-make your own Adventure That Counts to meet your exact requirements – just reply back to me and I will be glad to be of assistance.

Volunteering with the Mapuche in Argentina

Arnie, our local guide, picked us up in the morning to take us to a Mapuche community reservation called Chiquilihuin; stopping for photo opportunities of the towering, snow capped mountain en route. On our way there, we spent time with Carmen, based in Junin de los Andes, who is an advocate for this community, who accompanied us to Chiquilihuin.

Carmen has led projects with various NGO’s including energy provision, handicrafts, and a recycling programme. Her building was funded by the owner of the local beer ‘Quilmes’ and Cruzada Patagonia helped as well. Carmen is also a member of Ashoka.

When we arrived, we were introduced to  Pedro and his wife Maria, Mapuche folk, who immediately displayed their famed hospitality by inviting us to lunch – chivito, which is bbq’d goat, cooked in traditional style which is on a skewer type device over an open fire; it was delicious and incredibly tender, although at that point I thought we would be back at the lodge in time for a late lunch so did not gorge myself.

Pedro is a respected man in the community, so we discussed with him whether the community would like to have volunteers come on a voluntourism trip, and as this was assented to, we spoke about the sort of projects that our guests could get involved with.  Painting houses or schools was suggested, as was computer training – the school has three computers. Additionally, people with marketing/sales/branding skills could advise the artisans on how best to promote their crafts to appeal to foreigners.

So it is all looking quite promising! Now we press on to develop the sightseeing portion of our new itinerary, or potentially itineraries, as I am thinking the volunteering here lends itself to a trip blended with Chile…we shall see…visit www.handsupholidays.com for updates!

Top 10 reasons for family volunteering

Doing Good Together, a non-profit organization has posted a list of its “Ten Reasons to Start Doing Good Together Now” (for the original story, see: http://www.doinggoodtogether.org/tenreasons.html) for family volunteering travel trips, and I think they’re great!

1. Family Volunteer travel is a chance for busy parents to spend time with their kids while giving back to the community.

2. A family volunteer vacation enables parents to pass on key values to their children, such as good citizenship, community responsibility, compassion and kindness.

3. It can help your kids stay out of trouble: Studies show that children who volunteer just one hour per week are less likely than other kids to get involved in destructive behaviors, such as smoking or drug and alcohol abuse. Another bonus: Adults who volunteer are happier and healthier than those who don’t.

4. Family volunteer travel helps with family bonding, gets you all talking to one another, and can spark meaningful discussions about important personal and social issues.

5. It can make you smarter. Hosting a foreign student can teach you about another culture; working to save the rainforest can teach you about ecology and biodiversity. Not to mention the lessons in responsibility and team work.

6. Family Voluntourism can make us grateful for what we have, especially if the volunteer job involves homeless families, lonely seniors or hospitalized children. There’s nothing like volunteering for putting our own problems into perspective.

7. It breeds a generation of future volunteers. According to a 2002 report, adults who volunteered as children were two times more likely to be involved in community service as adults who didn’t.

8. It helps children appreciate their own talents, gain self-confidence and feel good about making a contribution.

9. It helps break down stereotypes at a young age, and teaches greater tolerance and understanding. Through volunteering, children often meet people from diverse cultural backgrounds, lifestyles, ages and income levels.

10. Volunteer vacations are fun. There can be great joy in serving others, especially when you’re doing it with the ones you love.

Family volunteering – from a teenager’s perspective Pt 9 (Day 7)

The voluntourism adventure of the Kennedy family continues:

Day 7 – Today we woke very tired.  Hattie was up the whole night being sick (poor her) she stayed crashed out in her sleeping bag for the whole day but at least she is managing to drink water now.

Today we made two big piles of sand and gravel to make the cement.  The children again helped and the boys enjoyed showing us how strong they were, until the wheelbarrow almost toppled over!  The builders have prepared the roof with cross beams but there has apparently been a problem and they are not ready for the bricks to be laid yet.

After lunch we played with the children teaching them playground games like Ring a ring of roses and The farmer wants a wife!

To have your own family volunteering experience visit http://www.handsupholidays.com