One of the hottest trends in adventure travel is the idea of "voluntourism," or trips that give travelers a chance to give back while on holiday. Perhaps the coolest voluntourism adventure to date is the newly unveiled Cotopaxi Group Service Project in Ecuador.
Travelers experience an Ecuadorian adventure and volunteer for conservation at the same time, combining mountain biking with replacing national park signs, and zip-lining with trail maintenance. For five days, give back to the area you're getting to know, the Cotopaxi National Park and the Condor Biosphere, a 5.4-million acre conservation project. I just visited these locations, and let me tell you, it is like paradise.
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May 26, 2010
Fifteen-year-old Gabriella Hakim, insightful for her age, says that "a constant sense of guilt for all I have" compelled her to press her parents to join a volunteer vacation so she could give back to people who live with many fewer resources than she enjoys. The insider perspective she gained on her Central American journey reassures her, she says, that people are the same the world over. Learning about the day-to-day struggles and joys of life in the Monteverde Cloud Forest region of Costa Rica, Gabriella discovered that "Pura Vida”—Costa Ricans' traditional greeting meaning "pure life; as in walk lightly and enjoy life”—typifies the attitude of the resourceful village leaders who transform meager resources into innovative programs improving community life.
Mom Amy Fardella said the family learned about Global Volunteers, a nonprofit, nonsectarian development assistance organization in special consultative status with the United Nations and UNICEF, from her brother who recommended the program. "They said it was a way to give back and see results that affect people's lives positively," dad Cliff Hakim recalls.
"I wanted to contribute to a culture which needs (our help) and to expose my daughter to all of this, and to teach her service like my brother did with his family," Fardella explains.
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