If you’re looking for a holiday that combines new experiences with ‘giving something back’ to the planet, why not think about a wildlife conservation holiday? They’re becoming increasingly popular with people of all ages. Here we’ll look at why.
Holidays – a Mixed Blessing?
The next time you’re in a meeting that’s overrunning, sitting at home waiting for the plumber who’s two hours late, or standing on a windswept station platform reading the latest feeble excuses for all the train and bus cancellations – see if your thoughts don’t drift at least once to your next holiday!
The annual holiday should be our great escape that allows us to temporarily live a different life and re-charge our emotional batteries. Sadly though, after all the dreaming and eager anticipation, when our holiday finally arrives the results can be a little disappointing.
After you’ve fought tooth-and-nail to secure a cramped space on a beach, or been trampled underfoot by the vast crowds milling around a popular tourist spot, you may find yourself wondering if this is quite what you’ve waited all year for. That’s where wildlife conservation holidays may have a role to play in spicing things up.
What are Wildlife Conservation Holidays?
Today, more and more people are becoming environmentally conscious. Some may have concerns over the ‘carbon footprint’ impact of their holiday and be looking to balance that off. Others may be determined to do something practical to help the wider planet around them. Yet others may have a great love of animals and would like to have a closer experience of working with them.
The wildlife conservation holiday can cater for all these demands and more.
There is a wide range of such holidays available, based in all parts of the world. Their aims are generally to:
• Give you the chance to learn about an animal or several types of animals
• Allow you the opportunity to work with the animals in their natural environment
• Encourage you to pass on your knowledge and awareness of the animals when you return home
• Help animals that may be in some environmental difficulties
• Expose you to very different cultures and ways of life in a non-tourist setting
• Ensure that you have a good time!
What Sort of Animals and Work are Involved?
The choice is potentially huge and based on almost any continent. You may be working to help aged elephants in Asia, taking beetle and insect surveys in Arizona, or helping to monitor and catalogue giraffe populations in Africa.
Let’s be clear though, these holidays are typically NOT the same as a safari trip or similar. If you’re looking for cosy recliners and cocktails served by waiters as the sun goes down over some carefully positioned token picturesque animals, then you need to look elsewhere.
On a wildlife conservation holiday you’re more likely to be up to your knees in mud clearing out a waterhole, or poking around in hippo dung to check for certain types of ‘product’ than living a luxury lifestyle. You’ll be working – but hopefully also enjoying yourself, learning, and contributing to a good cause.
The accommodation is typically clean and adequate but far from luxurious. Food preparation may be a collective shared task that can often be fun!
So, if the thought of another holiday jammed like sardines into an overcrowded hotel fills you with terror, why not think about a wildlife conservation holiday?
Mark Bottell is the General Manager for Worldwide Experience, an online tour operator offering extended breaks on wildlife conservation holidays and various adventurous gap years for adults.