The modern luxury traveller is becoming ever more interested in physically helping in regenerative efforts that positively contribute to the environs of the places where they stay. Here, we look at some of the best regenerative travel experiences where you can actually get your hands dirty (or wet) and make a difference.
Volunteer your time
In Hawaii, the concept of ‘giving back’ is known as mālama, rooted in the belief that the relationship between a person and place grows stronger each time you give back to land, ocean, wildlife, forest, or the community. There are several organisations that run regenerative travel experiences around such activities as beach clean-ups, tree planting, restoring traditional native masterworks or even helping to restore the famous Battleship Missouri Memorial. The Mālama Hawaiʻi Program groups together several experiences where participants can qualify for special discounts, or even a free night’s accommodation from a member hotel when participating in one of the program’s volunteer activities.
Join Sustainability Manager and Marine Biologist, Kelly-Dawn Bentley at the luxury Fiji resort, Nanuku, to take part in a coral reef conservation project. You can plant and tag your own coral garden on Nanuku’s house reef — and return the following year to check its progress. Nanuku runs a sustainability program known as the Batiwai Project. The Fijian term ‘batiwai’ is a collective name of a local tribe and a shared connection between the various villages and communities. It translates in English to mean ‘edge of the water’, which is a key area of focus in Nanuku’s sustainability efforts. The resort has been recognised with multiple sustainability awards for its ongoing commitment to improving the local marine ecosystem, maintaining a minimal environmental footprint, and enhancing the wellbeing of Nanuku employees and the local community.
Nearly two years before the opening of Singita Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, the Singita team established a nursery as part of a reforestation project to extend the range of the national park for gorillas and other wildlife. Singita is a leading luxury ecotourism operator that owns and manages 15 lodges in Africa. When staying at Singita Volcanoes National Park, you can plant a tree on the property as part of its reforestation effort. Since opening in August 2019, about 250,000 tree saplings sourced from local community nurseries have been replanted across the property. A further 60,000 saplings have been propagated and grown at the onsite Akarabo Nursery. Take a guided visit to the nursery to see herbs and vegetables used in the cuisine or visit the onsite orchard project.
GREATER BLUE MOUNTAINS, NEW SOUTH WALES
When staying amid the kangaroos, wombats and abundant birdlife at carbon-neutral conservation resort Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley, just a three-hour drive from Sydney, guests (including the kids as Wolgan Rangers) can take part in several conservation activities and initiatives. These will vary depending on the time of year and the conservation efforts in focus at the time of your visit — but could include seed collection, habitat reconstruction, land care activities, animal surveys, habitat mapping, water testing or tree planting. Leave feeling inspired and with a deeper understanding of Australian sustainable and responsible ecotourism.
Join an anti-poaching patrol
Shinta Mani Wild – A Bensley Collection features 15 luxury tented camps carefully built along a river valley in a Cambodian forest. The Shinta Mani Foundation funds and supports the local not-for-profit Wildlife Alliance, which works to preserve the ecosystem of the South Cardamom rainforest — protecting animals from poaching, removing snares and preventing illegal logging. When staying here, you can join the Wildlife Alliance rangers on anti-poaching patrols and track previously unrecorded wildlife activity. Shinta Mani Wild is the work of renowned architect, interior designer, landscape architect and conservationist Bill Bensley, and Sokoun Chanpreda, founder of the Shinta Mani Foundation and its group of boutique hotels dedicated to empowering Cambodians.
Track endangered species
The carbon-neutral 13-day Conservation Collection Wild Colombia tour from Adventure World is designed with sustainability and purpose front of mind. All experiences are selected based on the positive social and environmental impact they have on both the destination communities and those who experience them. Each experience is assessed by strict criteria built by the company’s TreadRight Foundation team. You’ll set out with an expert guide and researcher from the Cunaguaro Foundation’s Anteater Project to track these endangered mammals. Learn about the habitat of elusive puma during a lecture by the scientific director of the Feline Conservation Program; and explore the heart of Los Llanos on horseback, riding alongside a local llanero (cowboy) and learn about their culture. You’ll visit the Golfina Turtle Conservation Project which has protected more than 1,000 nesting sites and enabled the release of 115,000 baby turtles. Roll up your sleeves to plant a tree to help reforestation efforts and learn how Proyecto Tití, sponsored by The TreadRight Foundation, works with local landowners to dedicate a portion of their land to protect the endangered cotton-top tamarin.
Tag and monitor turtles
Off the northeastern coast of Zanzibar, take part in a turtle tagging and monitoring program as a guest of andBeyond Mnemba Island. This tropical oasis is one of just two protected nesting sites in Zanzibar for the endangered green sea turtle. The tagging program was launched as part of the Oceans Without Borders marine conservation initiative — a collaborative project founded by andBeyond and Africa Foundation. While staying at one of the 12 luxury bandas, you can join daily turtle conservation patrols along the beach to record the activity and give hatchlings a helping hand to the water’s edge. The eco-friendly andBeyond Mnemba Island is a member of the Beyond Green travel collective by the Preferred Hotel Group.
More experiences we love
Track turtles, take part in beach cleans and swim and photograph manta rays for research with Blue Safari in Seychelles.
During a cruise on board Le Commandant Charcot by PONANT, take part in its Citizen Science program in the polar regions, helping to count and identify marine cetaceans, observe clouds for NASA or take phytoplankton samples.
Volunteer your time at a local crisis centre; or assist in the rehabilitation of koalas at a local sanctuary by planting trees during activities organised by JW Marriott Gold Coast Resort & Spa.
Tour operators About Africa take guests deep into Namibia where you can get involved with regenerative programs such as the protection and assistance of elephants and rhinos, and the maintenance of water sources.
In the Province of Rizal in the Philippines, take The Legacy Trail at the Masungi Georeserve conservation area. Directly participate in restoring the region’s ecology during a guided experience of tree planting and nurturing.