Stumped for something fun and original to do on your next family vacation? If your clan is a pack of animal-lovers with a taste for exotic destinations, take a volunteer vacation to work with wildlife. Your family will have the wildest time of your lives and accomplish something worthwhile on one of the following wildlife volunteer vacation adventures.
Want to snowshoe through the Carpathian Mountains, tracking and monitoring local lynx, wolf and wildcat populations? Have a hankering to record whale songs and dolphin migration patterns in the Azores? BiosphereExpeditions.org can arrange that. This award-winning nonprofit organization seeks to connect frontline conservation scientists with passionate laypeople (children included) in a spirit of “safety, science and satisfaction.” Low-key and hands-on, these expeditions require no special skills and are open to all.
Take a trip to Kenya, one of the last reserves of the endangered Grevy’s zebra. Here, at the Samburu Field Station, in the foothills of the Mathews Range, you’ll photograph and collect data on these animals while getting to know Kenyan culture and the surrounding savannah. Or maybe you’d rather head to the Goldring Marine Biology Field Station on the Costa Rican coastline to help protect endangered leatherback sea turtles. In your role as volunteer on the beach, you may be asked to help relocate vulnerable nests to a special sea turtle hatchery, watch over hatchlings on their precarious journey to the sea, or attach monitoring devices to adult turtles. Beats staying home and playing Nintendo!
The African Conservation Experience offers the Tutuka Family Conservation Project. This program encompasses a multifaceted approach, wherein every family member is encouraged to participate based on the level appropriate for him or her. Conservation and habitat management, research projects, theoretical studies and community work are all included in this comprehensive program, which is situated just outside the Kruger National Park in South Africa.
Nurturing an abiding love for elephants? Want to get up-close and personal with these amazing gentle giants? Travel to Thailand with Global Vision International, where you’ll help elephants rescued from circuses and street begging get re-established in a protected forest environment. You’ll participate in the animals’ care and feeding, walk with them on forest trails and share your knowledge of the English language with their keepers. Accommodations are provided by host families from the Karen community, making this a rare opportunity for cultural immersion.
More volunteer and adventure travel destinations
- Volunteer vacations for families in the US
- Global charities: Take a volunteer vacation
- Eco-vacations: Eco-projects and eco-travel
Note: Some tours of volunteer duty accommodate children of all ages, whereas others, especially those requiring specific skills or physical stamina, have age restrictions.