Archived entries for responsible holiday
Pictorial report on Rainforest Conservation Volunteer March 2014.
By Sri Rao, Rainforest Awakening Volunteer Coordinator
The March expedition was the first Rainforest Awakening trip of 2014 and it was a success filled with sweet memories and great personal achievements for each volunteer. The Fuze-Ecoteer team had a wonderful time hosting the volunteers and would like to share bits and pieces of the expedition. Like the saying goes, “Sharing is caring!”
Rachel (left) being taught how to tie a hammock by Pie. Continue reading…
Chandima Fernando is the Field Projects Manager of the Sri Lanka Elephant Research & Conservation project. The studies he is conducting at the project site in Wasgamuwa is providing insightful and enlightening information to understand human and elephant behaviour in a landscape that both people and elephant use for their survival. Through the Elephant Diary we hope to provide a window into this world of people and elephants.
September 08th 2013: We were at the Weheragala Tank and the time was around 6:30 in the evening. A dominant bull elephant that we had named Sinha (lion) started to move towards water, frequently glancing at us. Continue reading…
Mapping roads and villages, and planting seedlings are just some of the task Erin Rice, a 36 year old American, tackled as a volunteer in the Bali Starling Conservation project at Nusa Penida, Bali, Indonesia.
Erin, from Perth Australia, took three weeks out from her job as a geographical information system analyst, to volunteer on the island, a 45-minute boat trip from the mainland Bali.
“I was looking for a place to volunteer and Bali and this project was the most informative – and I had always wanted to go to Nusa Penida because that’s where everybody in Bali told me I should never go.” Continue reading…
By Sian Cowan
Monday 1st July 2013
11:30pm I have finally arrived in Yogyakarta after an extremely long and gruelling journey. In the past 2 days I have travelled from Edinburgh to London to Dubai to Jakarta (Java) to Yogyakarta. Talk about seeing the world! I actually cannot believe I just crossed the earth all on my own! That’s a massive achievement for a small- town country lass I reckon. Continue reading…
Have you ever wanted to volunteer and at the same time learn something new?
One of Ecoteer’s own project, The Wildlife Rescue Centre & Orangutans in Yogyakarta has a new activity included which are yoga classes, lead by our own volunteer co-ordinator who is a Yoga instructor.
Yoga is a Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, a part of which, including breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, is widely practiced for health and relaxation. Even though Yoga is related to the religion of Hinduism, many non Hindu followers have practice this ancient art as it is well known for its effectiveness of keep the body healthy and calms the mind. Continue reading…
Rizal recently volunteered in the Educate the Children in Nepal volunteering program and here he shares his experience.
“Surrender” – the one and only advice given to me by a fellow volunteer an hour after arriving at the Tribhuvan Airport. While the word itself was simple, the weight of it was tremendously felt the morning of the second day. Fifteen hours of two bus rides and halfway through my six hours hike to Chisapani Village, I kept repeating that word in my head like a mantra. “Surrender”, the only way to enjoy this retreat is to surrender to the experience, totally. I wasn’t there to be cuddled by the comfort of home. Continue reading…
Sharna was volunteering 2 months at Perhentian Island for the Diving, Turtle & Coral Conservation. Here she shares her memories volunteering as head volunteer early this year.
” Where to begin? Well, I thought that getting involved in a conservation programme would be the perfect way to end my travels. Originally I was only meant to volunteer for two weeks at Bubbles, however, this didn’t really work out and I ended up staying for an extra six weeks making my stay a grand total of two months, which in my opinion was still definitely not enough time. To try and summarise what I did during my stint at Bubbles would be impossible, I learnt an incredible amount not only about marine life, turtles and diving, but also about myself and all the amazing people who I shared my time with. In spite of this, I shall try and put into words the past two months as best I can.
When the boat first pulled into the bay it looked completely deserted, with the resort hidden behind the trees all that was visible was a beautiful secluded beach, a few hammocks and the pure, crystal sea. Making this my office for the past two months was no problem whatsoever. During my first week I settled in completely, everyone was so welcoming and we were introduced to the project by getting stuck in right away. Before coming to Bubbles I was not aware of all the problems faced by sea turtles in Malaysia and one thing that I think the programme excels in is raising awareness. Guests of the resort are always informed about the turtles which nest on Bubbles beach, either through turtle talks, white board notices or posters in their room. All of which I was lucky enough myself to be involved in.
As I arrived quite early in the season it wasn’t until my third week that I saw a nesting turtle. Having the opportunity to watch a turtle nest was probably the most extraordinary experience during my whole stay. The whole process is incredible but my favourite part is definitely when she uses her back fins to dig the chamber, I never realised a turtles fins were able to move in that way. The fact that I could get so close to these amazing creatures and see how they lay made staying up until 3am completely and utterly worth it. Even if sometimes the nests were almost impossible to find that you ended up getting covered in so much sand and effectively became a part of the beach yourself. One turtle in particular stands out for me, when she was leaving her nest she managed to fall down a hill of sand, being confused and not realising that she had fallen so far, she continued to try and cover up her nest next to the tide line, even though it was a good ten metres away. As a consequence we called her Bridget Jones.
Diving was another experience that I was introduced to during my time at Bubbles and I am now completely hooked. In the beginning I had no clue of the difference between a bamboo shark and a sting ray (slightly exaggerated) but by the time I left I could spot and sign a number of different species of fish, I shall never however live down the time that I thought that an Indian Walker was a crab. I completed both my open water and advance courses during my stay and this meant that I was able to help out with another aspect of the project, the coral nursery. A few times a week Gareth, one of the conservation facilitators, and me would dive down to the nursery and attach broken corals to the frames and give them a good clean at the same time. At the end of each dive we would practice a ‘skill’, this included ballroom dancing, running without fins (this ended in a fit of giggles), making a swim through with our legs and doing summersaults. It is moments like these that I definitely miss the most.
After my first month I was given the position of Head Volunteer. This effectively put me under the bracket of staff but I continued to have all of the responsibilities that I had previously as a volunteer, apart from the fact that I was able to take my own snorkel tours. The snorkelling round the islands is incredible, I snorkelled with different species of turtle, black-tip reef sharks, barracuda and many other beautiful fish hidden beneath the coral. As a volunteer you also get to go on one of these snorkel tours and I can safely say it is one of the best places I have snorkelled in the world. Not only is there a copious amount of marine life, but the wildlife above the water is everywhere to be found. Both flying lemur’s and dusky langur monkey’s will interrupt you whilst you are trying to eat by swinging through the trees next to the restaurant. Monitor Lizards, Whip Snakes and Geckos are constantly hiding around the resort and you are able to get so close to these fascinating creatures. The island is a hot spot for wildlife and I was lucky enough able to be right amongst it.
The days at Bubbles were filled with beach cleaning, hatchery maintenance, jungle trekking, palm weaving and covering up turtle tracks. You were never bored, there is always something to be fixed, built, drawn etc and I learnt so many new skills during my time volunteering, including how to use a power-saw (slightly worrying for my Mother). However, you are always given some downtime, either to go for a swim and a snorkel or simply to read a book in a hammock and watch the sunset on the beach.
The evenings are filled with swapping stories about what goes on during the day, having a game of cards or a few drinks, bbq’s, malay dinners and patrolling the beach for turtles. You would think that a seven hour nightshift would drag, but the patrols flew by, especially when you were with someone else. If there wasn’t a turtle to distract you, you would end up talking until the sun would come up. Some of my best memories of my time spent volunteering are of the nightshifts; we would make up star constellations, take photos using lazer pens, we saw a moon that looked exactly like a jaffa cake and played in the brightest bioluminescence I have ever seen. You really get to know people properly when it is just the two of you sat on a beach at night and I loved how sociable the project was.
Oh and just a side note, the seafood curry that the kitchen staff make is just delicious, I have taken the recipe home in hope that when I make it, it will be at least fifty percent as good as theirs.
One of the main things I have taken from my two months volunteering is the people I have met. They are some of the most incredible characters with the most insane stories to tell and I will continue to keep in touch with them for a long time to come. I got to know people working in all aspects of the resort and I really felt like I had been welcomed into the Bubbles family.
This program has shown me that you can make a difference in one place, no matter how small, and how rewarding it is to see the work that you do having such a positive impact. I would recommend this conservation programme to anyone, it has so many different aspects to it that there is something for everyone to enjoy, no matter how long they wish to stay for. It has completely opened my eyes and becoming involved with conservation projects all over the world is currently where I would like my life to lead, as a result I am looking into returning to Bubbles to continue to help the turtles.”
If you are interested to volunteer in this programme, visit Diving, Turtle & Coral Conservation Volunteer at Perhentian Island or email email@example.com
Page has just recently completed her volunteering trip with the Bali Ecostay & Teach English volunteering programme. Here she shares her experience with us.
When planning my trip to Bali, I knew I wanted a more unique, meaningful experience that would allow me to really see the culture and lifestyle of the Balinese. After two weeks living with Alit and his lovely family in a tiny village up in the mountains, I knew I could have not picked a better program! Volunteers really have it all; a cozy room to themselves, delicious home cooked Balinese meals, the luxury of having the EcoStay resort just a ten minute walk away.
I have to admit, being fresh out of high school with no teaching experience, I was a little daunted by the idea of teaching English to the kids and going to the school. But after meeting them and seeing how friendly and happy and truly interested they were, I realized my job was easy; to remain engaging and interactive. They’re such amazing kids and I feel so lucky to have been able to connect with them.
During my downtime I had a variety of wonderful things to do, whether it be walking along one of the numerous trails through gorgeous rice paddies and jungle, swimming in the stream below the resort, meditating by hidden waterfalls, playing with the local kids, treating myself to a slice of delicious chocolate cake at EcoStay, or just relaxing with a good book enjoying a phenomenal view, I always felt that there was something to do (or not do!).
I think my favorite part of the program was just really getting to know Alit, his wife Ayu, their son Agus, and the grandparents, Ibu and Bapak. They were the most welcoming family, and I even got to take part in the ceremonies while I was there! Spending time chatting and laughing with them after dinner was so much fun–it’s such an incredible feeling when you can connect with people even with language barriers and completely different backgrounds.
I would strongly recommend this program to those seeking a unique, non-touristy, rewarding experience.
For more information on this programme go to Bali Ecostay & Teach English or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Shaun Astbury shares his experience volunteering in the Safari Guest Farm in Namibia
I volunteered at this safari guest farm for 10 weeks in 2011, after years of dreaming of a trip to Africa. A great thing about this programme is that you design your own project to fit with your skills e.g. education, tourism, wildlife. So with my background in ecology and an interest in big cats, I conducted a survey of the wild leopards on the farm. For this project, my day to day activities were to survey the farm for leopard tracks, deploy infra-red cameras, and analyse the GPS data collected. In addition to a primary project, volunteers work closely with the local staff, helping with the general running of the farm and assisting with the catering and entertainment for paying guests.
As a farm worker, hard work and self motivation is expected of you, and lodgings are basic (although certainly adequate), although the food is excellent. So the days are long, but in your free time you do get to go out on safari drives or walks and see a great variety of wildlife amongst beautiful scenery. I’d say that whilst this placement is certainly not for the faint of heart, it will give you a taste of the real Africa that most tourists don’t get to see and a real understanding of the local people. Overall, I’d recommend working here to anyone with an adventurous streak who’s not afraid of a little hard work and is looking for an unforgettable experience in Africa. I just wish I had saw more of the continent while I was there.”