Tag Archives: volunteer adventure

Jonathan Dimbleby in Brazil – you too can be there

Voluntourism Brazil

Voluntourism Brazil - favela life

The BBC’s Jonathan Dimbleby is on a South American journey, and last night he was in Brazil, including spending time in the favelas of Rio.
He described how there is a much stronger police presence in many of the favelas, and that lives are changing there…you can play a role in changing lives in Rio’s communities, staying in eco-luxury accommodation, and still get to enjoy the delights of this incredible city…experience our luxury voluntourism trip to Rio and help build a house in a favela to change the lives of an impoverished family.
We can tailor-make this to suit your preferences, and include all the places you want to visit in Brazil and beyond.


Day 5 Voluntourism adventure with TOMS Shoes in South Africa

Today we had breakfast at 7:30am and departed for our 40 minute drive to Margate for today’s voluntourism TOMS Shoes shoe drop  at Murchison Primary School, where we met the enigmatic, high energy Cala Flippo.

Cala is a passionate Christian lady from one of the Southern States, Alabama I think, who works for Genesis Trust: “a non-profit faith based organization formed in 2002 by the Norwegian Settlers Church. It was started due to the recognition of the incredible needs caused by poverty, disease and social problems in the communities immediately surrounding the church and a desire on the part of members within the church to lovingly care for those in need.

They have a strong focus on AIDS/HIV palliative care, and help with daycare facilities for the children in the area, and after-school facilities for children at Murchison Primary School.

The lovely kids came out according to their ages, so all the shoes were allocated in ascending size and fitted accordingly, from the cutest tiny ones through to ones that will be vying for a place in the South African rugby team…and that is just the girls!


It was, as ever, an emotional time with these incredible children – saying goodbye does not get any easier, but as we had a long drive ahead of us to get to Port St Johns, we had to hit the road.

Ronny, our driver, made good time and we arrived at our luxury accommodation, Umngazi Bungalows, in the late afternoon – time enough to settle in and for some of us to swim acrosss the river, climb a dune and soak in the stunning view.

There was a quiz night at the bar before dinner, and, we won! In fact, we were the first team to ever score 100%, so we earned two bottles of wine instead of the usual one.

They complemented the dinner nicely as well, and I slept like a baby.

Voluntourism with TOMS Shoes in South Africa – Day 3

Day 3

Today is our “day off” from shoe distribution, with the emphasis on the ‘tourism’ part of ‘voluntourism‘: we experienced one of Africa’s highlights: spotting wild animals whilst on safari!

We were roused around 5:15am in order to be on the road by 5:45am, and we were rewarded by a huge herd of elephant, including tiny baby ones, and then Godfrey fulfilled his promise from yesterday by finding two white rhinos for us.


Elephant in Africa

Elephant in Africa




Godfrey also treated us to large herds of buffalo, zebra, and antelope.

We relaxed by the pool afterwards, and some of us went shopping for local handicrafts, whilst others luxuriated in spa treatment, and others visited a wild cat rehabilitation center (and were thrilled to encounter a cheetah!).

I went on safari again in the afternoon, where we encountered more majestic creatures.

For dinner we were transported in our game vehicles into the bush, and then walked along a candle-lit path to our open air dinner (“boma”), a simply extraordinary setting, around a roaring fire.

The food was delicious too!

Adios Mapuches, hola Bariloche

We said our farewells to the Mapuche community that we have gotten to know and love through voluntourism, and to the wonderful staff of Tipiliuke (luxury volunteer travel par excellence!) and to our fellow guests  and Kevin drove us the 30 minutes to town for our bus to Villa la Angostura. Every second store seemed to be a chocolate shop, from the Swiss and Austrian influence, Kevin tells us.

It is a gorgeous coach ride alongside seven lakes to Villa la Angostura, where our accommodation was looking over the lake, some  distance form town which was not on the lake at all as I had thought. We discovered we were too late for Angostura’s primary attraction: a walk through the Arruyanes Forest, a type of tree only found in this area – the last ferry out to the starting point was at 2pm at this time of year, and the earliest the following morning was at 1115 but we had just booked our onward ride at 1030am.

Audrey’s sunglasses had broken so we began our odyssey in search of new ones, but no joy in this town. No one in the tourist office spoke English, and we were told that Angostura is ‘muy tranquillo’…he was right, although the view from our hotel was spectacular, only to be surpassed the following day by the sublime Llao Llao hotel in Bariloche.

You can make a difference in the aftermath of Cyclone Aila

You can help in a hands-on way through volunteer travel to improve the lives of the survivors of May’s Cyclone Aila – at least 500,000 people have been made homeless in the Sunderbans (shared by India and Bangladesh).

It is a very very hard work.

And the monsoon is in full force.

Areas where you can volunteer:

1.Helping doctors and medical volunteers in the medical camps that have been running since 25th May, and on mobile camps on boats which can support remote villages where there is no medical centre.

2.De-watering of ponds

3.Reconstructing dikes and repairing villages
4.Checking damage to wildlife and take part in rescue as and when needed
5.Helping local people in repairing their wells and hand pumps
6.Reaching relief materials and keeping a complete database of the same, making reports and updates, monitoring the progress, preparing a list of beneficiaries

7.Planting mangroves where the damage was severe.

We have assembled a meaningful 8-day voluntourism itinerary for you:

Sunday – Day 1: Arrive at Calcutta International Airport.Transfer to hotel.

Monday – Day 2: Morning drive to Sonakhali and transfer to boat.Cruise to Bali Island.Briefing meeting

Tuesday- Day 3:Visit the affected villages and check relief and reconstruction activities to get a complete orientation of the situation and also to establish rapport with the affected villagers and relief teams.

Wed,Thurs,Fri,Sat – Day 4, 5, 6, 7: Volunteering (medical, dewatering of ponds, helping farmers, distribution of relief materials to other affected islands, rebuilding village houses, quick visit inside the national park to take stock of the situation, reconstruction of embankments wherever needed)

Sunday – Day 8: Transfer back to Calcutta Airport.
The price is US$990 per person, based on twin-share accommodation, excluding flights to and from Calcutta. This trip can go anytime, with just two people. The price is US$1,450 to run this trip for one person.

This includes:
-01 night accommodation in Fairlawn Hotel, Calcutta on a half board basis
-06 nights accommodation with all meals in Sunderbans Jungle Camp
-airport transfers
-boat transfers
-all boat journeys
-carbon offsets for your flights
-US$100 donation.

If you would like to book this, please email me directly. You can read about our ‘standard’ trip to the Sunderbans here.

Of course, if you cannot make it, you can help with a financial donation. If you would like to help in this way, please let me know (chris@handsupholidays.com) and I will send you the bank account details.

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!

Sublime San Martin de los Andes and Tipiliuke Lodge

We flew to San Martin de  los Andes, but never saw the town until briefly on the final day, as we were whisked from the airport by Kevin, manager of Tipiliuke Lodge, our home for the next few days. This lodge is part of a working estancia of 15,000 acres, and is predominantly frequented by fly-fishermen – and women; we were surprised how keen some of the women there were about their fishing.

There were four other couples at this rural idyll, all there to fish and all from the US…needless to say this was the main topic of conversation, which was a little overwhelming, but they were all friendly and fortunately did have other interests…all had been to NZ, and loved  it!

Audrey and I opted for the other activity on offer – horse riding. Yvonne was our expert local guide who firstly took us to visit one of the ‘aunts’, Michelle, an octogenarian Franco-Spanish lady with firm views about the way of the world and how to deal with the Mapuche people…she should know, as she has worked extensively with them in healthcare, and is now helping them sell their handicrafts.

After spending time with her, with Audrey as translator, we got back on our horses (Audrey a lot more gracefully than me) and headed up into the mountains. I rode Colorado, and Audrey had Pomelo. Yvonne took us to steep parts because we told her we like skiing, but I cannot see the connection. I told Yvonne that with skiing I am in control, and she responded that it is the same with horse riding, and I wanted to believe her, but when we got back to level ground and started cantering, there was no doubt that I was not in control…quite scary actually, as we did not have helmets and one of my feet came out of the stirrup at one point…but I live to tell the story!

Our room at Tipiliuke was gorgeous, and the whole lodge is wonderful – nothing over the top, quite simple and tasteful. The staff were all superb, and wi-fi was much appreciated!

To have your own luxury volunteer adventure visit http://www.handsupholidays.com