Whether you’re approaching retirement, already retired or just taking a well-deserved break, now is the time to do the things that you have always dreamed about. If you’re looking to do more on your holiday than just relax in the sun or go sightseeing, voluntourism is a great alternative and a growing trend among mature travellers and retirees.
Many tour operators offer short-term volunteer projects overseas, lasting anywhere from a few days to a few months. Costs typically range from around £385 to £525 a week, with the price of your flights as an extra. The fees do typically include the pre-departure information, all accommodation, meals and basic drinks, on-site training, airport transfer and local transportation if suitable, the services of a project leader, and a contribution to the local community that covers material and services related to the project.
In our experience, the volunteer projects most popular for mature travellers include helping with wildlife conservation, teaching and working with children, and assisting with community or environmental projects.
Here are five volunteer projects that are particularly popular with mature travellers who have volunteered through Amanzi Travel:-
1 - Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary, Namibia – volunteer and work closely and actively with wildlife and big cats on this internationally renowned wildlife conservation project in the breath-taking Khomas region of Namibia. The NWS was set up to care for and protect wildlife (mainly big cats) in trouble from all over the country. It currently provides a safe refuge for orphaned and injured wildlife including a number of lions, leopards, cheetahs, wild dogs, caracals, meerkats and baboons.
2 - Namib Desert Cheetah and Leopard Release Project, Solitaire, Neuras and Namibrand, Namibia – a unique opportunity to experience and help in the entire process of caring for and releasing big cats into a conservation environment. Your experience begins at the internationally renowned Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary where you will be introduced to the information and skills you will require. You will then move to the heart of the breathtaking NamibRand/Solitaire area or Namibia, where you will have the opportunity to chart the progress of, and maybe even participate in the release of, Leopard and Cheetah in this spectacular environment. Your work on the project is essential to its success.
3 - Limpopo Wildlife Conservation Volunteer, Hoedspruit, South Africa – volunteers will have the amazing opportunity to visit the untamed beauty of the Wilderness Reserve near Tzaneen in the Limpopo province of South Africa. This project brings new challenges and developments each day and volunteers get involved hands-on in the monitoring and research of the wildlife and the natural environment at the reserve.
4 - Cape Town Orphanage Volunteer, Cape Town, South Africa – provides a home to local children and babies who have been abandoned or orphaned. The dedicated staff ensure that it provides a loving and caring environment for these children and the volunteers make a truly valuable contribution to ensuring that each child receives the emotional, physical and spiritual care that he or she needs.
5 - Zambia Teaching Volunteer, Livingstone, Zambia – volunteers will help teach at six community schools in the town – keeping the local children off the streets and helping them to have a more positive future – no previous teaching experience is necessary – just the desire to help!
These projects are popular with mature volunteers, but it is important to say that they are open to all ages so there will be younger volunteers there too. I would recommend, if you are able, to go outside the months of June, July and August, as it tends to attract gap year students. We can always let you know if mature volunteers are already booked on to a particular project that you are interested in – you just need to ask.
“I had the best time! I didn’t really know what to expect – but it was better than I could have dreamed. I had 2 weeks off work to do this trip and thought I would be surrounded by students, but the range of nationalities and ages was absolutely perfect, certainly a well-rounded bunch” Nicola, UK (Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary)
So, whether you want to travel on your own or with your children, grandchildren, partner or friend, you can use the skills and experience gained over many years, to volunteer and make a real difference to the people and wildlife in Africa.