Where You Should Volunteer In 2017 As Picked By IVHQ
So you know you want to volunteer abroad in 2017, but you’re not sure which volunteer program destination is the right fit for you? With more than 40 destinations it’s understandable! To help you out our volunteer travel experts have handpicked the essential list of the best new openings, tried and tested destinations and rising stars to help fuel your wanderlust for 2017…
Picked by: Dallas
Why: From the volcanic archipelago of the Galápagos Islands to the rainforests of the Amazon - and all that’s in between - it doesn’t take a huge stretch of the imagination to agree that Ecuador has a lot to see and do. With the handy program base in Quito, you’ll find yourself ideally situated to both volunteer and explore a country that’s world famous for its beauty. If you don’t have a lot of time, money, or interest in nature, you can busy yourself ambling throughout Quito itself - as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the many plazas, churches and museums are simply stunning.
Must see: I recommend checking out the Teleferico, Calle La Ronda, Casa Gangotena, El Panecillo, Basílica del Voto Nacional, Plaza de la Independencia/Plaza Grande, Iglesia de Santo Domingo and La Compania de Jesus. Yes, there is just that much to see! Further afield, trips to Los Baños, Mindo, or the beaches of Montañita are sure to provide fantastic weekends of fun and adventure!
Projects: IVHQ has a wide range of volunteer abroad projects available in Ecuador, including Teaching English, Street Children Work, School Support, Kindergarten, Summer Project and NGO Support.
Picked by: Ben
Why: Dramatic landscapes, world-class outdoor activities and a rich cultural heritage - Nepal has it all. Volunteers can explore the history and bustle of old Kathmandu on one day and soak up the mountainous scenery of Pokhara the next, all while enjoying the hospitality and kindness that Nepal is famous for. A country on the rebuild, there has never been a better time to offer your energy to supporting incredible local projects doing great work in the community.
Must see: For some history, I recommend visiting Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu, and Taumadhi Square in Bhaktapur - one of the oldest settlements of the Nepal Royal Family. For those with a little more time it’s worth taking a canoe ride to see the wildlife in the Chitwan National Park or tackling the Annapurna Circuit on a Mountain Bike.
Projects: Our volunteer projects in Nepal include Childcare, Medical, Teaching and Construction and Renovation. The need for rebuilding work remains extensive following the 2015 earthquake, so our Construction and Renovation project is a great way for volunteers to get stuck in and provide hands-on support to this incredible country.
Journey To Hawaii
Picked by: Chelsea
Why: Hawaii is one of those quintessential travel destinations that is on pretty much everyone’s list, regardless of who they are or where they’re from. The program is based on Oahu, but it’s focused on restoring the natural habitat through beach clean ups and aqua/agriculture projects that are tied back to native Hawaiian traditions. It’s a good way to see the locally-run, non-touristy side of Hawaii, while also having easy access to it in your free time. It will also likely change your perspective on a few things upon your return home.
Must see: Taking some time to chill at the funky restaurants on the North Shore, hopping to another Hawaiian island for a long weekend, and get your fill of beach time - whether it’s surfing or sunbathing.
Projects: The IVHQ volunteer program in Hawaii offers a Native Habitat Restoration project in Oahu, for 1 and 2 week durations. So if you are in need of a lifestyle change to recenter your perspective on what’s important in life and put the environment at the forefront - then this is the experience for you!
Picked by: Hailey
Why: Why wouldn’t you travel to Cambodia in 2017 should be the question! It’s a full on, vibrant country with the most welcoming community vibe I’ve ever been a part of. Siem Reap is perfect for volunteers who want an authentic experience while also being a US$2 tuk tuk ride away from bustling markets and awesome nightlife. IVHQ also has projects based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital and most populated city, or Pursat and Kampong Speu, if the city is not for you. Oh, and the food! The food is next level - fresh, flavorful and abundant. You will never struggle to find a cheap and tasty meal. Overall, volunteering in Cambodia with IVHQ is an amazing choice for travelers that are after an immersion experience that is full of interesting history, culture and people, without breaking the bank!
Must see: Obviously, Angkor Wat BUT in saying that, the lesser known temples are equally as epic and more untouched - like Ta Prohm, just a quick and exciting tuk tuk ride from Angkor Wat. And with a 1-day pass for all of the temples at US$20 it’s an absolute steal. The floating village at Kompong Khleang is beautifully interesting, get there early to have the river to yourself and be sure to take the row boats through the flooded forest.
Projects: Teaching English, Working with NGOs, Childcare, Computer Support, Special Needs Care
Check Out Colombia
Picked by: Lydia
Why: Colombia has well and truly shaken off its past to emerge as the highlight of many journeys to South America. There are two IVHQ program locations in Colombia to choose from: you can volunteer in Bogota, stretching across a plateau in the Colombian Andes, is a history-packed, beautiful, vibrant and huge city of nearly 8 million people. Or, you can choose to volunteer in Cartagena, a laid back Caribbean town that offers Spanish-Colonial cobblestoned streets, along with beautiful white sand beaches (yes please!). While both locations offer such varied landscapes, the welcoming Colombian hospitality is the same. Be prepared to be pulled onto the dance floor for impromptu salsa lessons, and for many friendly and interesting conversations with inspiring locals.
Must see: Book a hammock at Cabo San Juan, Tayrona National Park, and take a couple of days to explore the walkways, coastline, and archaeological sites. The city of Medellin (the Capital of Flowers) for stunning scenery and salsa. Manaus as a base to explore the Amazon. Tierradentro archaeological site for pre-Hispanic history.
Projects: Bogota offers Teaching, Childcare, Elderly Care, Construction and Renovation and Feeding the Homeless. In Cartagena you can choose from Teaching, Childcare, Sports Development and Community.
Picked by: Rose
Why: Every week I see hundreds of awe-inspiring and breathtaking photos, comments and insights from our volunteers abroad, as IVHQers share and connect with each other across social media. And, no other destination has left me more surprised and impressed than Uganda - it holds the best of everything Africa has to offer. It is one of those typically off the radar destinations that will settle in your mind until you simply have to pack your bags and go see it with your own eyes! You won’t be disappointed.
Must see: You can raft the source of the Nile River, explore the largest lake in Africa, or come face-to-face with mountain gorillas! Uganda is one of only three countries in the world where you are able to trek into national parks and see gorillas in their natural habitat. Spending an hour with mountain gorillas is one of the most remarkable wildlife experiences anywhere in the world!
Projects: While there is no doubt the sights are incredible, it’s the volunteer projects in Uganda that will captivate you! You can give back on one of seven meaningful projects - Teaching, Childcare, Sports Education, Medical, Special Needs, HIV/AIDS Support and Women’s Education.
Picked by: Ellen
Why: You’ll battle to meet a fellow traveller who doesn’t have New Zealand on their bucket list. While a long-haul flight from the other side of the world can require some smart saving, the upside is that you can easily travel through New Zealand on the cheap! This island-nation is celebrated for its incredible natural beauty and many of its most famous attractions don’t come with a price tag. If you’re traveling on a budget, hiring a caravan is an affordable way to see as much of the country as you can. If you don’t have weeks to explore, you can catch some affordable internal flights if you book in advance.
Must see: Hiking the Tongariro Crossing, surfing a slice of the 15,000km of coastline, skiing over the winter, and exploring popular summer spots like Waiheke Island or the Bay Of Islands.
Projects: As an IVHQer in New Zealand, you’ll be based in the heart of Auckland city, supporting coastline conservation and freshwater conservation efforts in New Zealand’s biggest city. One of the perks of living and volunteering in Auckland is having easy access to the rest of the country to explore during your weekends.
Picked by: Danni
Why: If you are chasing a meaningful travel experience in a country that has art, architecture, culture and incredible food then IVHQ’s volunteer program in Spain is for you! Our volunteer placement in Madrid is an awesome base to explore the rest of Spain - located smack bang in the center of the country! Rail travel in Spain is cheap and efficient, making weekend trips to Barcelona and Valencia a breeze!
Must see: Buy tickets to a Real Madrid game at the impressive Santiago Bernabeu Stadium! The crowds and atmosphere will make you feel like a true local!
Projects: Our Spain program has a huge range of projects to suit every future volunteer, including Teaching, After School Support, Agriculture, Special Needs Support and Creative Technologies.
Visit Victoria Falls
Picked by: Jordan
Why: The IVHQ volunteer base is just down the road from one of the largest and most spectacular waterfalls in the world (and a UNESCO World Heritage Site), Victoria Falls. Add this to the fact that your backyard is literally a private wildlife reserve, meaning you share every day with giraffes, rhinos, lions, elephants and more incredible wildlife. It’s simply a dream for anyone interested in wildlife conservation.
Must see: The area around Victoria Falls is set up for tourists with an abundance of adventure activities available! Whitewater rafting, bungee jumping, abseiling, zip lining gorge swinging, the ‘must do’ list is massive! It goes without saying that a visit to Victoria Falls and the surrounding national parks should be top of the list!
Projects: IVHQers in Victoria Falls join a Wildlife Conservation project and have the unique opportunity to gain hands-on experience in conservation management activities and assist with on-going research in a private wildlife reserve and surrounding areas within Victoria Falls.
Picked by: Taylor
Why: Located in the vibrant and charismatic city of Lisbon, you will be blown away by what our Portugal program has to offer. Accommodated in the heart of the city, you can truly appreciate the blend of rich heritage and the modern feel Portugal has to offer. With the breathtaking coastline only a short stroll from your doorstep, it’s a beach lovers urban oasis and the options are endless during your volunteer weekends.
Must see: Lisbon is an adventure in itself, so before you go exploring elsewhere, I recommend you walk the streets and soak up the colorful neighborhoods, Gothic cathedrals and peculiar shops. Further afield, the magical town of Sintra, the fishing village of Cascais and surf crazed Ericeira are all destinations located within an hour of Lisbon and provide with you with an exceptional weekend escape!
Projects: Our volunteer program in Portugal offers IVHQers a unique array of projects that include Wolf Conservation, Environmental Scuba Diving, Construction and Renovation, Food Rescue and Youth Support. This unique blend of projects allows volunteers to experience both the rural and coastal wonders Portugal has to offer.
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