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10 experiences to help you give back when you travel

Looking to plan a trip for 2020? Why not give back when you travel?

Sustainable & conscious travel is a huge global priority right now, and there are so many experiences you can take part in that will allow you to see the beautiful sights this world has to offer, while giving back at the same time. From animal conservation to supporting the arts in up-and-coming communities, there are tons of ways you can help others while on a trip. Check out 10 ways to give back when you travel below.

This Indie88 feature is presented with Contiki.

Berlin Refugee Voices

Experience this on: Berlin to Budapest by Train

In 2015, a tour guide based in Berlin noticed an increased interest in the issues facing refugees. From this, Berlin Refugee Voices was born – unique walking tours led by Syrian refugees, taking travellers to places of historical significance within Berlin. The local guides draw thought-provoking parallels between Europe in the 20th century and what has happened to Syria in the 21st, using Berlin’s turbulent past to help travellers gain a new perspective into the issues that Syrian refugees face in today’s world. Travellers will hear the story of a Syrian refugee first-hand, the struggles associated with displacement and the challenges of creating a new home in a new city, giving them a taste of Berlin from a new and emerging perspective.



Unseen London Tours

Experience this on: London to Berlin by Train

Unseen London is a local organization working with and employing homeless, formerly homeless, and vulnerably-housed Londoners. It not only supports community members, but also provides unique walking tours, hosted by people who have experienced homelessness within London. The guides know the secrets of the city’s historic alleys better than anyone else, and will show travellers a fascinating side of the city not usually seen by London’s tourists.

Cascais Street Art Tour

Experience this on: Portugal City & Surf

Street art in Europe is pretty legendary, and this small city in Portugal adds a unique flair to the scene. The Cascais street art tour showcases the culture of a Cascais neighbourhood that was historically regarded as quite dangerous and devastated by poverty. The local street artists knew the perceptions of the place were unfair, so they started a project of neighbourhood regeneration, creating an urban art gallery unlike anywhere else in the world. Travellers are taken on a walking tour through the area, hosted by Cascais locals, to learn about the street art, the artists behind it and what they hope to change with their art – supporting ongoing development in the neighbourhood.


Dhonk Centre, India

Experience this on: Eternal India

Dhonk is a handicraft centre located in Ranthambhore National Park in Rajasthan, India, that sells beautiful one-of-a-kind jackets, throws, toys, furnishings, and more. Established to provide an alternative field of work to former tiger poachers and their families, Dhonk trains locals in craft skills and business management, providing them with a place to sell their products to passing travellers. Contiki travellers spend time at the centre, drink tea with the employees who work there, and learn about the incredible ways in which Dhonk has contributed to rising Bengal Tiger numbers in the Rajasthan region.

Cope Visitor Centre, Laos

Experience this on: Asian Adventure

The COPE Centre was established in Vientiane, Laos to provide support for people with mobility-related disabilities often caused as a direct result of landmine explosions. Offering rehabilitation to the injured and supplying prosthetic limbs, COPE is a lifeline for those suffering with physical disabilities throughout Laos. Contiki trips passing through Vientiaene visit the centre and have the chance to support the work being done by leaving donations and buying gifts in the shop, with all proceeds going back to COPE and its efforts.

Elephant Nature Park, Thailand

Experience this on: Northern Thai Highlights

A definite favourite of travellers to Thailand, the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai rescues and rehabilitates elephants from all over the country, while also educating visitors on the ins and outs of ethical animal experiences. Visitors get the chance to spend half a day at the park, watch the elephants as they play in the river, and learn about the ways in which the park cares for them while also providing employment opportunities for the locals in the area.

Kosgoda Turtle Conservation Centre, Sri Lanka

Experience this on: Pure Sri Lanka

The poaching of turtle eggs for resale on the black market is a persistent and major problem in Sri Lanka, and has resulted in a mass decline in the turtle population in recent years. The team at the Kosgoda Turtle Conservation Centre are working hard to change this, with the goal of protecting sea turtle eggs and in turn, increasing hatching rates. The staff protect the mother turtles throughout the nesting process, and care for the eggs once laid in their hatchery before re-releasing the three-day-old baby turtles back into the wild. An included experience for all Contiki travellers on the Pure Sri Lanka trip, you can visit the centre, learn about the work being done and of course, hang out with a whole load of adorable baby turtles for the day.



Iraq Al Amir Women’s Cooperative, Jordan

Experience this on: Israel & Jordan Uncovered

The Iraq Al Amir Women’s Cooperative is located in Amman, Jordan, and is a local project focused on helping women in the community become financially independent through learning crafting skills like pottery; allowing them to make goods which they are then able to sell at the Cooperative. Contiki trips visit the centre, enjoy a home cooked meal and have the chance to meet with the women, learning about their work and their lives and in Jordan.


Protrack Anti-Poaching Centre, South Africa

Experience this on: Cape Safari & Falls

On the black market, rhino horn can reach up to US$60,000 per kg – which is almost 20 times the annual minimum wage in South Africa. One bullet – and one rhino death – can feed a family in South Africa for years. With only a few thousand rhino left in the wild and around 1000 rhino poached every year, rhino protection and conservation is an ongoing challenge for South African game reserves like Kruger National Park, which hold more rhino than anywhere else on earth. After 2 nights exploring Kruger, Contiki travellers visit the Protrack Anti-Poaching Centre to learn about wild animal conservation with a local park ranger. Walking through a ‘poaching pit,’ the group are shown how to identify poaching snares placed around the area, learning first hand what rangers have to do in the bush, as the ranger explains the conflict around poaching and rhinos in Africa. For every person attending, Contiki also makes a donation – which goes directly back into the training academy, helping train rangers to fight the war on poaching in South Africa.

Haukadalur Valley Reforestation, Iceland

Experience this on: Fire & Ice

Iceland is known as a paradise filled with natural beauty, but many aren’t aware that it has suffered intense deforestation throughout its history, with forest coverage dropping to as little as 0.5 per cent by the early 1900s. The Iceland Reforestation program focuses on the Haukadalur Valley, a geothermal gem on the stunning Golden Circle route. As part of a tour of the Golden Circle, travellers will get to plant five trees each in the valley, reducing their carbon footprint and leaving their mark in Iceland.

Ready to make your travel matter in 2020? Learn more about all of Contiki’s conscious travel experiences here.

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