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Volunteering abroad

Updated: Mar 27, 2021

When I travel, I’m determined to get the best out of my trip and I love to have specific goals or activities to work towards. As you know, this is quite often summiting a mountain! But sometimes, it is to help conservation of my new environment. I have done dozens of voluntary conservation holidays over the years, always choosing a different location and animal species.

My greatest experience was in the amazon rainforest in 2016. I spent 2 weeks exploring the forest, taking notes of any species we could see; birds, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, everything! We camped out in tents and the night sky blew me away - millions of stars, no light pollution.

The surroundings were breath-taking. I will never forget the eyes of jaguars staring at us on a night-time boat tour.

I was very anxious about returning to Africa after my first experience there, which I have shared in another post. But 5 years after the incident, I was desperate to explore and see the wildlife again. And why should I miss out? Life isn’t anything without taking risks. So I signed up for a conservation project in Uganda, helping mountain relatives. Despite my initial anxiety, once I was introduced to a small group of like-minded travellers, I settled in very quickly. And what an experience! The forest itself was so beautiful, and I just loved exploring the habitat and listening to the sounds of the resident creatures. I learnt an incredible amount about our relatives the mountain gorillas and their conservations whilst we were recording the sightings and behaviours. The most memorable moment of the trip was when we were approached by an angry father, pounding his chest. He didn’t want us near his family, so we had to jog away! I also enjoyed working with the natives and knowing that my volunteering was helping them earn a living.

I often try to fit in two trips when I am abroad, often a hike and then a tour.

I once trekked over Sri Lankan lands surveying elephants. Stepping into an elephant’s footprint and comparing our feet size was a giggle! We took many photos of them, individuals and families, whilst recording an estimate of their gender and ages. I love elephants because of their affection and family loyalty. After this, I went on to do some whale watching, which was an unforgettable experience. We were fortunate enough to see 3 blue whales, and they were happy tear moments! I am very passionate about whales and travel the world to see them.

I have also done some fun projects in Europe, including a 10-day brown bear conservation trip in Bulgaria. Although it was a much bigger group and harder to connect with the other volunteers, it was another extraordinary trip. we would spend the day walking in the forest and mountains, searching for brown bears and recording any sightings. Seeing the creatures in their wild habitat was spectacular!

During my time volunteering, I’ve met some incredible people. I love to learn about different lifestyles of others and get inspired by their own travel stories, adding many other countries to my list of places to go. I haven’t been on a volunteering trip for a few years, but cannot wait to book something for after the pandemic. Volunteering abroad is amazing; it can be a challenge and there are dangers out there, but everything in life is a risk and so worth taking.

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