Tag Archives: volunteering

15 amazing experiences you should try in Bali

Swim in a gorgeous hotel pool

Swim in a gorgeous hotel pool

Enjoy a romantic meal on a beach

Enjoy a romantic meal on a beach

Visit a stunning waterfall

Visit a stunning waterfall

Make a difference in the life of a child

Make a difference in the life of a child

Watch the sun set over the water

Watch the sun set over the water

Watch a fire dance. Photo credit: Hai Thinh on 500px.com

Watch a fire dance. Photo credit: Hai Thinh on 500px.com

Try amazing Thai food

Try amazing Thai food……

.....and learn how to make it yourself

…..and learn how to make it yourself

Discover a new culture

Discover a new cultural traditions

Explore the small streets and countryside on a bicycle

Explore the small streets and countryside on a bicycle

Dive and snorkel in crystal clear waters

Dive and snorkel in crystal clear waters

Take a ride on a beach

Take a ride on a beach

Visit the famous, beautifully crafted lush green rice paddies

Visit the famous, beautifully crafted lush green rice paddies

Go rafting through the jungle

Go rafting through the jungle

Help a disabled person gain back quality of life by helping to build them a bathroom.

Help a disabled person gain a better quality of life by assisting with a build of a bathroom.


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.




Voluntourism with TOMS Shoes – Background

I was privileged to organize and participate in the recent TOMS Shoes voluntourism shoe drop trip in South Africa.

For those who you unfamiliar with TOMS Shoes (www.tomsshoes.com), they are a remarkable group of people who together form this funky shoe company, whose philosophy is if you buy one of their pairs of shoes, they will give a pair to a child in need.

Why shoes, you may ask.

From the TOMS Shoes website:

Most children in developing countries grow up barefoot. Whether at play, doing chores or just getting around, these children are at risk.

Walking is often the primary mode of transportation in developing countries. Children can walk for miles to get food, water, shelter and medical help. Wearing shoes literally enables them to walk distances that aren’t possible barefoot.

Wearing shoes prevents feet from getting cuts and sores on unsafe roads and from contaminated soil. Not only are these injuries painful, they also are dangerous when wounds become infected. The leading cause of disease in developing countries is soil-transmitted parasites which penetrate the skin through open sores. Wearing shoes can prevent this and the risk of amputation.

Many times children can’t attend school barefoot because shoes are a required part of their uniform. If they don’t have shoes, they don’t go to school. If they don’t receive an education, they don’t have the opportunity to realize their potential.

There is one simple solution…SHOES.

Of the planet’s six billion people, four billion live in conditions inconceivable to many. Lets take a step towards a better tomorrow.”

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.

Top 10 Ethical Travel Tips for 2009

To help you interact sensitively and learn from other cultures, minimise impact on the environment, and at the same time enjoy more enriching, meaningful and fulfilling travel experiences, here are the top ten ethical travel trips from volunteer travel experts, Hands Up Holidays. Follow these tips, and you can be sure that you are well on your way to traveling responsibly.

  1. Give back in hands-on ways to local communities – find out about volunteering opportunities in a community you are visiting. You can make a positive impact in peoples’ lives or the environment in even three or four days of volunteering – you don’t even need specific skills – just plenty of enthusiasm!Ask your tour operator if a monetary donation is appropriate – in some cultures it is, whilst in others it is not. Perhaps your tour operator includes a donation in your trip price already and/or has a Charitable Foundation set up – ask them!
  1. Go green – Go carbon neutral for your flights: pay for trees to be planted to offset CO2 emissions. Use local public transport (a fantastic way to meet the locals), take trains for domestic travel and even within Europe or other continents; keep internal flights to a minimum. Walking and cycling should always be the favoured means of travel when appropriate. Some tour operators include this in your trip price.
  2. Support community based tourism initiatives – use local hotels and restaurants that retain money in the local community and provide local employment. Many of these initiatives directly benefit women (who are often marginalised in certain societies) and helps foster their entrepreneurial and creative talents. What’s more, tourism at this level can help communities earn valuable income that encourages them to protect resources such as wildlife. Travelling with a reputable tour operator that knows which community based tourism initiatives are best is usually the best option.
  3. Research history, etiquette, economy, and cultural norms learn the basics of local language (guide books such as Lonely Planet, Rough Guide and Bradt Guide are particularly good for this). Respect the local cultures’ norms and taboos. Ask before taking photographs, as this is not permitted in some cultures, and if you say you will send photos, honour your word.

Phrases such as “Hello” “How are you?” “Yes” “No” “How much is…” “Good bye” “Thank you”, as well as numbers should be learnt at a minimum. If all else fails, you will be amazed how far a smile and your improvised sign language goes!

  1. Bargain fairly – and keep in mind that a 20% price saving from haggling is often only a couple of dollars to you, but can be a day’s work for the vendor. Never buy endangered species, ivory, or hard woods, and remember certain antiquities are restricted.
  2. Interact and listen! – have an open mind, and find out locals’ stories to gain a perspective on their life – enquire about their families, interests, even their hopes and dreams…break down barriers of cultural ignorance and misunderstanding…prepare to have your misconceptions shattered and your ideas about the world enlarged! Expect to be stared at, and expect their lives to be very different from your own, treat the people with whom you interact how you would like to be treated, and with a sense of humour and a smile.
  3. Carefully consider human rights in your destination – clearly not all countries are democracies, and some have terrible human rights records. This does not necessarily mean you should avoid travelling there, but perhaps you have to be even more vigilant in ensuring that the money you spend is retained in local communities as much as possible, and is not going to support a regime that perpetrates abuse on its inhabitants.
  4. Pick up litter – even if it is not your own. If the local people see you doing this, they may well feel inspired to help beautify their locality. Bring your own reusable bags with you for shopping in markets as plastic bags damage the environment: they can block drainage systems, and at sea, bird and marine life can get caught in them and die. Cows and other animals eat plastic bags and die a slow painful death.
  5. Don’t give sweets – as these rot teeth quickly where there is poor dental hygiene, and wherever possible give gifts to parents or NGO’s rather than to children. Appropriate gifts are often good quality clothing, pens, pencils, but check with your tour operator. Begging is a global phenomenon, and it robs the individuals of hope and a positive identity. The charities and NGO’s that your responsible tour operator supports are generally much better mediums for distributing any gifts you have.
  6. Use local guides – you can help provide local employment and income, as well as gain insights into their lives, as well as learn about history and culture from a local’s perspective. And if their spoken-English is not as good as yours, show patience.

Voluntourism from a teenager’s perspective Pt 5 (Day 3 cont)

Soon after we started walking again, it started to snow but it was a hard almost hail type snow, driving straight into our faces.  Although we all had thermal gloves, our hands had become so cold before we managed to get them on, that it took a long very painful time for them to warm up.  It took several more hours for us to reach the refuge at Neltner by which time we were all very tired, wet and cold.  Daddy was feeling the effects of the altitude in that he had a really bad headache.  We all crashed out in our bunk room which we shared with twelve others.  Austrians and Spanish who throughout the night took it in turns to snore louder than i have ever heard before.

Volunteer travel is our specialty at Hands Up Holidays, and family volunteer travel is an area of expertise.

Exploding the myths of voluntourism Pt 3

The next myth about voluntourism to explode is: “I don’t have any skills to make a difference for volunteering”.

If you do have specific skills, then that is fantastic, but if not, as long as you volunteer with the right attitude and plenty of enthusiasm, you can make a difference.

Typical areas where you can help are:

– helping relieve the daily burden of the permanent caregivers at orphanages, with activities such as cleaning, washing, meal preparation and serving – thus freeing up the caregivers to focus on looking after the children

– as a reading partner at a school (a decent level of spoken English and reading ability is required)

– helping alongside the local people with building work or simple repair and renovation work (as long as you can wield a hammer or use a paintbrush, you can share lots of laughs alongside the local people, and hammering three nails where one is required just helps make the building more stable!)

– tree planting or bird monitoring

The specific skills that are most in demand are:

– medical skills (including doctors, nurses, dentists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists)

– teaching (ideally ESL)

–  marketing

– engineering

– IT and web design

– administrative skills

So come and visit us at www.handsupholidays.com to find out more!