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Hands Up Holidays
Christopher Hill has a unique way of signing off his emails: "Yours In Community Development." Knowing that folks like Chris are part of the ever-growing VolunTourism family gives me great comfort. In fact, Hands Up Holidays incorporates such responsible business practices as offering an e-brochure to reduce paper usage. And the tag line on the front says it all: "Meaningful holidays - blending amazing sights with a 'taste' of volunteering."
A Brief History & Background
From its inception 5 years ago, the idea behind Hands Up Holidays was to help our guests visit incredible sights and also to get meaningful interaction with local people, and at the same time to give back to local communities, through volunteering. The reason for this comes from my own experience – I love exploring a country, but found that the most fulfilling and rewarding experiences took place when I contributed in a hands on way to a community (I have taught English in Guatemala and Thailand, built houses in South Africa and Fiji, as well as participated in environmental projects in New Zealand and Thailand).
Hands Up Holidays was conceived to make it easy for people to have a holiday, and a taste of volunteering (in comfort - we are aware that for most of our clients this is their first time volunteering, and so they are going out of their comfort zone, so we most of our tours are 4* in accommodation throughout, so that our guests can have a solace at the end of a days’ volunteering)… and hopefully get inspired to do more volunteering, either back at home, or on future trips, or both.
Hands Up Holidays began as the dream of a small group of passionate travellers, to create amazing holidays that expand our guests’ horizons through meaningful interaction with local cultures, incredible sightseeing experiences, and inspiring, fulfilling opportunities to give back in a “hands on” way through community development projects.
Meaningful interaction with local cultures
Hands Up Holidays is all about people: enriching people's lives through travel and service. We are committed to providing you with authentic ex-periences with real people. For example: when you help build a house, you can expect to be joined by locals who often lend a hand…and you can even have the opportunity to stay with a host family.
A Hands Up Holiday is your chance to immerse yourself in another culture! Where practical, we have placed the community development project in the middle of your trip in order to provide time to acclimatize, and learn about the culture and its social norms before commencing the project. You then have time to relax and reflect on your experience after the project concludes.
All Hands Up Holidays' staff are committed to giving you an enriching travel experience and know what is required to achieve this. The choice of sights fill a photo album, and our community development projects will give guests a real sense of achievement and help change lives for the better.
We use local guides and operators, and are committed to sponsoring the training and mentoring of local people with potential who aspire to be guides. In addition,
Hands Up Holidays will be investing into sustainable development projects within the communities we support.
Tailor-made or scheduled date travel
We offer flexible, tailor-made travel, as well as scheduled departure date options, generally for up to 12 people at a time. If you choose a scheduled date tour, we will form
the group for you, and you can book in the knowledge that you will be part of a personal, intimate travel experience. If you wish to travel independently or with one or two friends (and not with a group that we assemble for you), we can tailor-make your itinerary and coordinate your community development project. However, some of the community development projects, such as building houses, are only practical for those travelling in a group of 6 or more.
Local guides and/or tour leaders
Almost all our guides and tour leaders are born and raised in the country they work in, and are knowledgeable about their country’s history and culture, as well as the challenges facing their country today. Expect them to gently challenge guests’ worldview! At the same time, our guides delight in showing guests ‘off the beaten track’ secrets and making you feel welcome and secure. Eating safely and well One of the highlights of travelling to exotic locations is the opportunity to tantalise the taste buds. We do our best to ensure that all meals are delicious, healthy and safe. Those meals that are included in the trip price are indicated on each itinerary. For those meals that are not included, the guide will happily make dining recommendations, if requested.
We aim to provide guests with an amazing, enriching adventure that makes a positive difference to guests and to the communities they assist in.
Unique Voluntary Service Projects
Conservation of Sumatran Rhino in Borneo
Help save the last population of Sumatran rhinos by assisting the Rhino Protection Unit of SOS Rhino to collect survey data of this highly endangered species (25-50 estimated to be left alive) in Tabin Wildlife Reserve.
You will trek in the jungle of Tabin with the Rhino Protection Unit to gather data of the Sumatran Rhino, sleeping overnight in make-shift hammocks in the rainforest. Whilst rhino sightings are far from guaranteed, you will be assisting in providing valuable data to improve their chances of survival.
Tuesdays 10am ET/7am PT
Environmental Cleanup in the Galapagos Islands
Guests will be a part of the Galapagos Foundation and work alongside local fishermen who are hired to go around the various islands to collect debris and wastes from coastal areas and beaches. Cleaning efforts must be extended to include the entire islands because in addition to preserving the eco-systems, these activities protect wildlife.
Environmental and village based projects in Sunderbans, India
Community Development Project will be within the Sunderbans Jungle Camp on Bali Island. The Camp itself is already a successful project for a sustainable source of income for the ‘poachers-turned-conservationists’, along with sustainable development of the local community and conservation of the wildlife and flora of this unique eco system.
You will have the opportunity to assist in various areas of the camp such as maintaining and repairing the clay embankments (the longest man-made dike in the world!), mangrove plantation, construction of a proposed 10-bed hospital, and assisting in general village upkeep.
Turtle conservation with Aboriginal rangers - Australia
Guests assist at the Cape York Turtle Rescue camp in the Aboriginal community of Mapoon on Cape York Peninsula, in Far North Queensland.
Specific Activities Include:
- Quantify the size and structure of turtle nesting populations
- Monitor trends in the nesting environment
- Quantify nesting turtle success rates
- Protection of nesting sites
- Identify and record drift nets on beach
- Assist rangers with the removal and disposal of drift nets
World Heritage Building Restoration- Libya
Ghadhames Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and you can play a role in ensuring the preservation of this ancient trading route town.
You will help with plastering, painting, and other general restoration work, including in the mosque, where you can further your understanding of the Islamic faith.
Flood Relief: Repairs & Renovations and Teaching - Serbia
In 2005 the town of Jasa Tomic was flooded when the local river burst its banks. There remain a lot of opportunities for you to help this community get back on its feet.
You can assist with: repairs and renovations of houses, cleaning the roads and teaching English. This should prove to be the highlight of your trip as you get to interact with people in the local community. In your leisure time you will be participating in local festivities such as a fish soup making competition, and theatre performances.
Elephant-farmer conflict resolution projects or teaching in a primary school - Namibia
You can participate in:
- Taking part in the monitoring of movement of elephants in the conservancy
- Participating in reduction of conflict with elephants by helping communities repair broken water points, pipes, dams etc.
- There are two primary schools in the area where volunteers can assist in the teaching of English
- The conservancy wants to improve the campsite area by erecting a fence to keep livestock out, develop hiking trails and develop a solid waste management system.
Unique Travel & Tourism Elements
Komodo, Flores - Indonesia Trip Highlights
- Sanur Beach in Bali
- Artistic Ubud in Bali
- Komodo Dragons on Komodo
- Flores’ volcanoes and pristine beaches
- Luxurious Bali Hyatt hotel
- Spa & massage treatment
Libya Trip Highlights
- Tripoli its souks and museum
- Leptis Magna – the best preserved Roman ruins in the world
- Jebel Nafusa and its Berber villages perched on rocky outcrops
- Akakus Mountains and prehistoric cave paintings
- Sahara Desert overnight
- Ubari Sand Sea and oases
- Mediterranean beach resort
Serbia Trip Highlights
- Panoramic Belgrade and Novi Sad
- Museum town of Sremski Karlovci
- The monasteries of Krusedol and Grgeteg
- Ethno village in multicultural Belo Blato village
- Kalemegdan fortress
- Carska Bara nature reserve
A Sample Itinerary
This one is from Vanuatu, but is fairly representative:
Day by Day Itinerary
Day 1: Port Vila and environs (D)
Day 2: Grand tour of Efate Island (B,L,D)
Day 3: Rivers and cascades, farms, gardens (B,L,D)
Day 4: Museums and cultural tour (B,L,D)
Day 5: Lelepa Island tour - swimming and snorkelling (B,L,D)
Day 6: Transfer to Tanna Island; Volcano tour (B,L,D)
Day 7-10: Community development project (B,L,D)
Day 11: Transfer to Port Vila; rest day (B,L,D)
Day 12: Marine Park Adventure; glass bottom boat; snorkelling (B,L,D)
Day 13: Cruising in Moso Islands (B,L,D)
Day 14: Mele Cascades; swimming and kayaking (B,L,D)
Day 15: Morning free; Trip ends (B,L)
B = Breakfast, L= Lunch, D = Dinner
UK : 0800 783 3554
NZ: 0800 426 3787
North America : 201.984.5372
Rest of World: +44 207 193 1062
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