World of good: how to have a guilt-free holiday
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Of the many knock-on effects of the pandemic, one has been the compulsory deferral of university studies by thousands of young people. Christopher Wilmot-Sitwell and Henrietta Loyd, of UK-based travel company Cazenove + Loyd, have responded to this phenomenon with a series of philanthropic opportunities for next-gen travellers keen to effect good change in the world while also seeing a bit of it. The trips – more like internship placements, with just one or two places available and lasting from roughly three weeks to three months – centre, for now, around southern Africa and South America.
In Zambia’s South Luangwa and in Zimbabwe, C+L has partnered with Tusk Trust to give clients active placements in handpicked conservation projects – working (really working) alongside leading conservationists in wildlife management exercises and human-wildlife conflict-reduction initiatives. In Peru, they’ve aligned with the Sacred Valley-based Sol Y Luna Foundation to put clients face-front in the Sol Y Luna school, where they can gain teaching and educational-administration experience. A substantial donation to the visited project is part of the trip fee (nice feelgood factor for the parents); the posting is made less-than-hardship with accommodation in comfortable, cool local lodges and haciendas. cazloyd.com
One day, when travel to Laos is back on the agenda for all the homebound Asiaphiles, there’s an intriguing cultural-preservation project worth visiting in Luang Prabang. Co-established by the German writer-photographer Hans Georg Berger and the Laotian abbot Pha Khamcham Virachitta Maha Thela, the Buddhist Heritage Project is dedicated to education in monasteries in northern Laos – historically, one of the few avenues to secondary learning for impoverished boys and young men in the region. Particular effort is being made to encourage vocational artisan training for the novices, from celadon-porcelain production to the traditional decorative-arts skills – woodwork, gilding, frescoing, silversmithing – that are crucial to the faithful restoration of the dozens of landmarked temples in and around Luang Prabang. You can help by visiting the new workshop, inaugurated this year in the centre of town at Vat Sop Sickharam, one of its finest temple complexes. But for a deeper dive, book your stay at Amantaka; the staff can arrange a boat trip down the Mekong for a private lunch and fascinating conversation with Berger at his beautiful riverside home. Or you can visit the Buddhist Learning Centre inside Amantaka to meet students and teachers and admire the campus they largely built themselves. (That Amantaka is one of the most elegant hotels in south-east Asia doesn’t hurt.) buddhist-heritage.org, aman.com; from $1,116 per night
Saving the waves
Geordie Mackay-Lewis, who co-founded adventure outfitters Pelorus in 2017, hasn’t been Covid-idle. The Pelorus Foundation, the new philanthropic arm of the company, was inaugurated at the end of October. Its mission: identify and strengthen opportunities to protect, preserve and promote sustainability initiatives wherever the high-adrenaline arm of Pelorus operates. The remit ranges wide across wilderness and culture, but seaborne expeditions are a particular Pelorus strength, so no surprise that the marine-conservation projects are especially strong – from establishing adaptive reefscapes along the Mesoamerican Reef by Honduras to setting up “sea check” environmental-monitoring and protection protocols in places where none yet exist, such as Eritrea. The give comes from a combination of trip fees, membership (for those who want to participate long-term) and legacy funding of a cause of choice. pelorusfoundation.com
African adventures with impact
Roar Africa’s Deborah Calmeyer has made her company’s name with wow-factor safaris and continental explorations that put changemakers into direct contact with the causes that most need support – in 2019, for example, she originated a women’s-empowerment retreat series that has helped move gender equity front and centre in the African conservation-travel discourse. Calmeyer has just debuted another first: Roar’s partnership with Proof of Impact, whose pioneering technology verifies and quantifies conservation travel’s impact on the environment and local communities, from carbon offsets to forest reduction and beyond. Via an interactive app, Roar clients can track the real-time benefits of their travels. And they can visit the projects they’re supporting, from the forests preserved or replanted by carbon credits, to the solar projects that have replaced coal use, to clean-water initiatives and infrastructure such as bridges. roarafrica.com
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