Even if you have just two weeks of vacation a year, put them toward something that will make you feel good for a lifetime. Volunteering abroad doesn’t just have to mean teaching English or joining in the Peace Corps. That’s so last year. Have a unique experience overseas by truly making an impact on the local economy and region by getting deep into its culture. Here are some off-the-beaten path volunteer opportunities from the animal lover to the sustainability guru.
It’s feel good travel at its best that will still make your family and friends green with envy.
Save the Pandas
While they once roamed over a large portion of Asia, scientists currently estimate the population of the Giant Panda is at only 1,600, making them a seriously endangered species. Go on a China Volunteer Trip, a once in a lifetime excursion that shows you how to care for these adorable creatures. Based in Bifengxia Town just outside of Chengdu, the Ya'an Panda Breeding Center is a simulated wild panda habitat comprised of a number of different enclosures housing Pandas rescued after the deadly earthquakes. You will be helping to feed them, clean and prepare their food and possibly do some behavioral analysis.
Become a Resident Naturalist
Hosted at the Ecolodge San Luis and Research Center which is an extension of the University of Georgia in Costa Rica, this trip is a combination of volunteering and enjoying the most popular areas of the plentiful country. Your experience will vary depending on the time of year you visit, but you can apply to be a resident naturalist which lead a variety of nature-based activities and academic programs for student groups and eco-tourists or an agroforest/permaculture intern.
Restore the Rainforest
Participate in a rainforest restoration project at the famed Pipeline Road, in the heart of the virgin lowland rainforest of Soberania National Park in Panama. Considered one of the best birding spots in the world because of its easy accessibility and amazing variety of nearby bird species, more than 300 species were spotted here in a single day. Take part in a variety of different scientific investigations from tracking migratory predators, migratory monitoring, or studies on the state of conservation of the green macaw in Panama.