Guest blogger Caroline Edwards, of non-profit volunteering organsation Frontier, tells us how you can experience the daily life of indigenous tribes in Canada
British Columbia in Canada is home to stunning nature and exciting cities, a place where you get the chance to speak both English and French. However, it’s also a place that was once home to the people of the Secwepemc Nation, a tribe with ancient traditions and a unique language, hugely affected by the arrival of the colonists in North America. With Frontier you can help amend the past and work towards a better future.
Despite having lived on the land for more than 10,000 years, indigenous tribes were gravely affected by western colonialisation and the effort to convert them to a modern way of life. In recent years their living conditions has been put in the spotlight after a UN Human Rights Envoy report in May 2014 stated that Canada need to do much more for their ingenious communities. More work has now gone into making sure that indigenous tribes have a future – but there is still much more to be done.
Frontier runs the Canada Indigenous Indian Reserve Experience. The project offers people the opportunity to be a part of an amazing project by volunteering at a reserve in British Columbia where you can get the chance to learn a unique language and become a part of a culture that has faced many challenges throughout modern history.
Life as a volunteer on the project
Volunteers are expected to work five days per week and will get involved in various tasks in the reserve. Your tasks can be matched to your own personal skills and experience, or you can choose to take part in several areas of the community. It can be anything from helping out in a communal kitchen to assisting in the health care centre – it all depends on your preferences and skills.
But it’s not all work. Being in Canada gives you endless opportunities to do things such as kayaking, hiking and exploring beautiful nature as the reserve is near lakes, forest and even deserts.
You can’t be too fussy and a flexible approach is needed. Accommodation varies depending on your placement location, so it can be anything from a shared flat to a trailer. Sometimes it will be homestays and other times the volunteers live together. Internet access will depend on where you live.
Food is not included in the program, but as a volunteer you will have access to a kitchen, so you can prepare your own meals. You can travel to the nearest town to buy groceries, or eat out if you feel like experiencing something new.
Recommended for… Anyone with a desire to improve living conditions for the world’s indigenous tribes and communities. You need to be curious about their traditions and way of life and ready to take on various kinds of tasks.
Be aware that… Applications should be made six months in advance. The volunteer program lasts for four weeks and volunteers are welcomed all year round.
For more information including a full itinerary, latest prices and booking visit the project profile here
About the author: Author Caroline Edwards is an Online Journalism Intern at Frontier, an international non-profit volunteering NGO that runs over 300 conservation, community, and adventure projects worldwide. She can be found blogging on Frontier’s Gap Year Blog or posting on the Frontier Official Facebook page. If you’d like to find out more about all of Frontier’s volunteer opportunities you can view all our projects by going to www.frontier.ac.uk
Keep updated with project news, photos, videos, and competitions by joining the Frontier community online with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, or Flickr.
Ever wanted to spend the night in a lighthouse in New York state? A treehouse in Laos? Or a cave hotel in Turkey? These are just three of the 10 most extraordinary places to stay in the world – according to travel experts Lonely Planet.
To accompany the launch of their first ever collection of world’s best hotels, Lonely Planet has revealed its top 10 list of unusual accommodation choices. We reported the Lonely Planet ‘eco accommodation’ list last week and now pick out some of the Goodtrippers-friendly options on the ‘extraordinary’ list: here are our picks…
Second in Lonely Planet’s list, this funky lodge is a must if you’re visiting Botswana’s Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. You can choose to stay in a traditional mud hut (en-suite and adorned with art made with the natural pigments found in the many termite mounds in the area), or a traditional grass hut (en-suite and constructed using the same methods as the original bushmen of Botswana). If you fancy it, camping facilities are also on offer. Walkways wind through the baobabs (which are lit up at night) to a pool and bar-restaurant. Spot meerkats and elephants while you sip your sundowner…
No. 5 in the Lonely Planet list, this eco-friendly lodge is located on the edge of the spectacular World Heritage site Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. Cabins are nestled privately in the bushland, with wallabies bounding past the windows and wombats shuffling amid the trees. Locally sourced game, wine, cheeses and honey permeate the restaurant’s menu, one of Tasmania’s best. The view from the spa is a dense thicket of King Billy pine trees. Guests can choose from couples’ or family cabins, right up to suites with private outdoor tubs and fuel-efficient fireplaces.
Treehouses for grown-ups! These fantastic handmade orbs, suspended among the tall trees of west coast rainforest, are kitted out like cosy boat cabins inside (mod cons including iPod docks all present and correct) and are accessed by rope walkways and spiral ladders. You’re encouraged spend time in your swaying sphere to immerse yourself in the local wildlife – the chattering birds and squirrels, now on your eye-level. The site also has showers, a sauna, kitchen and barbecue.
This luxury resort by the beach is environmentally-friendly and remote – it’s one of few such lodges within the 328,000 hectare iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Its spacious huts are scattered through dune forest, some with spectacular views of the Indian Ocean. Whales frequently pass by, and Loggerhead and Leatherback turtles nest on the nearby beaches. Take a nature trek with a local expert, a deep sea dive, or simply relax in the spa or indulge in the lodge’s fresh seafood and salads.
Completing the Lonely Planet top 10 is this outstanding experience in Laos. Imagine waking to the sonorous call of the endangered black-crested gibbon, stretching in your bed a hundred feet up in the triple canopy, and nursing a coffee on your balcony as you watch the dawn mist crowd in over the jungle valley below. The tree houses, erected by conservation group Animo, are a thing of wonder straddling the giant trunks of strangler fig trees. You have to take a zip wire to ‘fly’ into your night’s accommodation! Dinner is delivered fresh from the nearby campfire, and music is the ambient sound of cicadas as fireflies dance in the night air.
Over 390 different songbird species migrate through Long Point each spring and autumn rivalling that of the world-renowned birding hotspot Point Pelee National Park. Long Point is situated along the north shore of Lake Erie in Ontario, Canada. It’s the world’s largest freshwater sand-spit and reaches 42km into the middle of the lake.
“The only difference between Long Point and Pelee is accessibility to the public,” explains Zodiac boat captain Garrett Reid. “Most of Long Point is restricted access and in the past birding opportunities were limited because of this. Now we can take people right out to the tip where they can do bird banding. It’s a real authentic experience.”
During this 6-hour expedition guests are provided with lunch, plenty of time for birdwatching, time to explore the trails and an opportunity to see a demonstration on migration monitoring (bird branding and surveying) from the volunteers and biologists at the Long Point Bird Observatory Tip Research Station.
‘Trip the the Tip’ Expedition
You can go where the roads can’t take you and experience the legends and lore of Long Point on this 4-hour expedition. A number of stops include a look at Bait Island, the Long Point Company, the Old Cut, Pottahawk Point, Courtwright Ridge, the Bluffs, the Pratt Shipwreak, Gravelly Bay, and the south shore (where you can see the giant sand shoals). Guests can explore the ‘Tip’ before heading back to port.
Long Point – a world-class environment
Long Point is the largest freshwater sand-spit in the world – at approximately 64,865 acres, it holds a unique blend of long sandy beaches, grassy ridges, sand dunes, wet meadows, diverse Carolinian forests, marshes and ponds. In fact, it is so diverse that it holds more endangered species per capita than the rest of Canada! Its long and colourful history, and incredible beauty, are just a couple of reasons the locals have been trying to keep it a secret for years…
Designated as a National Wildlife Area, human access is restricted to only a few locations which are reachable by boat.
Long Point is internationally recognised as a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. It was one of the first of 16 to be named in Canada. UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere programme has over 600 World Biosphere Reserves worldwide – this puts Long Point in the same league as the Great Barrier Reef, the Galapagos Islands, the Sahara Desert, the Brazilian rainforest and many other special locations. To learn more about the Long Point World Biosphere Reserve click here.
Alongside the boat tours and birding, Long Point Eco Adventures offers a range of different activities including zip-lining, canopy tours, stargazing sessions at the observatory, wine tasting at the Burning Kiln winery directly across the road, guided kayaking and canoeing, and mountain biking. At the end of a hard day of outdoor pursuits, you can ‘glamp’ in the 4-star wilderness suites on site!
For more information including booking accommodation and activities, visit Long Point Eco Adventures and Zodiac Boat Tours via www.lpfun.ca
(This article was originally published in Ethics Girls magazine)
A decade ago, the concept of eco-friendly travel was, in many people’s minds, limited only to camping – roughing it under canvas whilst chopping your own firewood, communing with nature and truly ‘getting away from it all’. That will never lose its appeal for many, but 21st century ‘eco accommodation’ comes in many more guises.
From glampsites to luxury resorts, we are now spoilt for choice when it comes to eco (or green/sustainable/responsible – call it what you will!) places to stay on holiday. Here’s the Goodtrippers guide to selecting the right eco stay for you…
The Luxury Eco Resort: For those who love some indulgence on holiday… Usually found somewhere exotic like Thailand or Australia, luxury eco resorts offer beautiful rooms plus high-end facilities and services (massages, spas, room service) but are run on renewable energy, built from sustainable materials, and employ local people on good wages. Try Longitude 131 an award-winning eco-sensitive resort in the Australian outback near Ayres Rock run entirely on solar energy; or Golden Buddha Beach Resort on the Andaman Coast of Thailand which is built from sustainable materials, minimises power usage and provides good jobs for local people.
The Eco ‘Lodge’: Without the ‘bling’ of a luxury eco resort, the eco lodge is no less special. Often more rustic, an eco lodge could consist of a collection of separate ‘bungalows’ or huts in a style unique to its location – whether that be jungle, snowy mountain range, beach or lakeside. For outdoors enthusiasts, eco-conscious Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort in British Columbia, Canada, offers six cosy cabins situated lakeside; or Our Jungle House in Thailand is an eco-friendly cluster of romantic treehouses.
The Ethical Hotel: Many hotels around the world boast environmental standards (reducing, recycling and reusing where possible) but some are going the extra mile to do something above and beyond what the average person would do at home. Bardessono is a LEED platinum-certified hotel in California’s Napa Valley, with a tonne of energy-saving technology, sustainable materials and recycling plans for a high-tech green stay; or try the 4-star Lancaster Hotel in London with its strong environmental and community policies, and its own Rooftop Honey Farm!
The Sustainable B&B: Cosier and more down-to-earth than your grand hotel, a sustainable ‘bed and breakfast’ will often keep it local with its own kitchen garden produce, handmade organic toiletries and low energy usage. One of only four officially certified organic B&Bs in the UK, the Orchard Farmhouse Organic B&B in the Dorset countryside offers an exclusively organic breakfast amongst the peace, quiet and picturesque views; for a chic city B&B The Zetter Townhouse in London sources water from its own borehole and uses eco-friendly paint throughout.
The Glampsite: If you can’t bear to be without home comforts, a ‘glampsite’ (glamorous camping site) is a million miles away from a leaky tent. Whether it be sleeping under the stars in a glass pod near the Arctic or snoozing under canvas on the African plains, these more unusual choices are hard to beat. Eco-conscious Campi Ya Kanzi in Kenya is a safari dream that is solar-powered and works in partnership with the local Maasai community; the cluster of geodesic domes of EcoCamp in Patagonia is packed with green technology allowing you to fall asleep under the stars; or try the Barefoot Yurts in East Sussex, UK, which are 90% built from reclaimed materials with solar lighting and a composting loo.
Wildlife specialist Naturetrek’s new 2013 brochure contains 14 new tours, including four new UK options.
Those 14 new offerings (see factsheet below for details) include a spring birdwatching trip to Sicily, a ‘Killer Whales & Northern Lights’ tour of Iceland, puma-watching in Chile, a visit to India’s little-known Satpura National Park and an exploration of Baffin Island in Canada.
Wildlife watching around the world
Elsewhere, the vast array of existing trips includes butterfly-viewing trips to Hungary and Greece; birding tours from Sri Lanka to Florida; jaguar-watching tours in Brazil; flora-themed visits to Kazakhstan, Norway and Ecuador; whale-watching in West Greenland and Monterey Bay; tours observing bears in Spain and Finland; and other itineraries themed around snakes, snow leopards, wolves, dragonflies, red pandas and much more.
In total, Naturetrek now offers around 350 tours to nearly every corner of the world. That includes the ever-expanding range of UK trips, which takes in the Shetland Isles, the Scillies and the famous Somerset Levels starling murmurations.
Most tours are open to enthusiasts of all levels, although some will suit a more experienced and knowledgeable traveller. New for 2013, Naturetrek is launching a range of Beginners’ Birdwatching Tours, aimed at those who are keen to go birding, but fear looking foolish amid seasoned veterans sporting well-used binoculars!
Small groups and solo travellers
The majority of Naturetrek trips operate in small groups (average 10-12 people; maximum 16); because these groups include many solo travellers, there’s usually a room-sharing option for those who don’t wish to pay a single supplement. Each group is guided by a leading, experienced ornithologist or botanist (often both), and each tour departs at a carefully-chosen time when the widlife-viewing experience will be at its most rewarding. Nearly all trips are also available (at a different cost) on a tailormade basis too, for clients who cannot make the set departure dates, or who prefer to travel privately.
For more information on any of Naturetrek’s wildlife itineraries or to request a copy of the new 2013 brochure, call them on 01962 733051 or visit www.naturetrek.co.uk. (If you’re in the UK, they’re based in rural Hampshire in a beautiful converted mill with a Site of Special Scientific Interest nearby!).
Run by wildlife enthusiasts with 25 years’ of experience – the founders are naturalists and conservationists turned tour operators
A commitment to sustainable tourism has been at the company’s heart since its inception
Tours involve small groups using local accommodation and facilities to help support the local communities
Naturetrek develops partnerships with local communities and naturalists, such as financing the regeneration of land in Nepal to create two ecotourism camps – Koshi and Suklaphanta
Some tours include charity donations to organisations such as Butterfly Conservation, International Animal Rescue and the Environmental Investigation Agency
They are currently developing other conservation and sustainable tourism projects around the world
They are expanding their range of UK-based (flightless) tours
NEW tours for 2013
Islay & Mull… In Style!: Your first stop is a four-night stay on Islay, popular with birdwatchers due to its numerous species of visiting Arctic wildfowl. Then there are two days spent on the smaller island of Mull, with its mountains, moorlands and vast sea-lochs, home to otters, birds of prey, rutting red deer and much more. Accommodation is on each island’s best hotel; that includes Mull’s wonderful Tiroran House Hotel.
Departing 31 October & 1 November; prices from £1,195 pp**
Wild Flowers of Cornwall’s Lizard Peninsula: Enjoy coastal and inland walks during this three-night break in search of Cornwall’s botanical wonders. The Lizard Peninsula is one of the UK’s top sites for plant-life thanks to its diverse landscapes and geology. The trip includes Gew Graze Valley, known for unique outcrops of mineral-rich serpentine rock.
Departing 31 May; prices from £395 pp** The Yorkshire Coast & Moors
This long-weekend birdwatching holiday starts at the chalk cliffs of Flamborough and Bempton, home to over 200,000 seabirds. Then follows a stop at Filey Dams Nature Reserve, a botanical hub for well known British birds such as the tree sparrow, before time on those classic North Yorkshire Moors.
Departing 25 & 28 June and 2 July; prices from £450 pp**
The Wild Flowers of Upper Teesdale Upper Teesdale sits in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This four-day expedition covers a variety of environments, from low-lying hay meadows to rough grazing pastures and summit heaths on high fells. Discover which species make up the ‘Teesdale Assemblage’ while admiring the breeding birds of these remote moors.
Departing 21 June; prices from £450 pp**
Iceland – Killer Whales & Northern Lights: This five-day break centres on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula where, in winter, killer whale pods and seabirds congregate as large shoals of herring pass by. Watch the spectacle on land and out at sea, and then, after dark, look skywards to (hopefully) see the Northern Lights.
Departing 3 & 18 February; prices from £1,295 pp*
Lesbos in Autumn: Lesbos lies just a few kilometres from the coast of Turkey, and has a magnificent coastline that supports a diverse bird population. From a secluded-village base, this eight-day trip offers an opportunity to explore the island’s many migratory hotspots whilst enjoying some Aegean sunshine.
Departing 28& 29 September; prices from £1,295 pp*
Fjords, Arctic Birds & Northern Lights!… A Norwegian Coastal Voyage: Including a three-night cruise during which the Northern Lights will hopefully be seen, this six-day trip to the Arctic Circle observes the seabirds which occupy this most extreme – and scenic – region.
Departing 26 February; prices from £1,795 pp*
Spring Birding in Sicily: Within the beautiful setting of eastern Sicily, this seven-day adventure focuses on the spring migration of native birds such as the nightjar and hoopoe. From the 800-year-old converted farmhouse base, daily excursions are made to watch the birds amid the spectacular Sicilian landscape.
Departing 1 May; prices from £1,295 pp*
Inuit Adventure: Narwhals & Other Wildlife of Baffin Island: On a ten-day trip around Canada’s largest island, expert guides will lead daily expeditions on Inuit sleds to discover the Arctic’s most elusive wildlife. Baffin Island is the only place in the world consistently inhabited by the Narwhal, with its distinctive long, narrow tusk, while other sightings regularly include polar bears.
Departing 2 June; prices from £8,995 pp*
Eastern Canada – Whales, Bears & Fall Migration: Ranking among Canada’s most stunning landscapes, Quebec is home to large populations of wildlife such as beluga whales and black bears. This 12-day holiday features walks and cruises through the beautiful creeks and forests where these creatures are regularly seen.
Departing 9 September; prices from £4,395 pp*
Chile – Just Pumas!: This 11-day trip starts off in the Chilean capital, Santiago, before heading into the heart of the Andes. The route passes flamingo-lined lakes to reach Torres del Paine National Park and its glaciers and mountains – which provide a perfect habitat for the puma. Days will be spent devoted to exploring, and seeking out this iconic cat.
Departing 14 March & 4 April; prices from £3,995 pp*
Peru – Mountain Lodges Trek to Machu Picchu: The classic landmark of Machu Picchu is appreciated fully on this 12-day trip, with six days allocated to trekking slowly towards it across the Peruvian Andes. The route offers unique insight into the landscape and wildlife of the area while plotting a slightly different course to the classic Inca Trail.
Departing 10 November; prices from £3,695 pp*
Not Just Tigers! Satpura – Best of Central India: This is a ten-day exploration of one of India’s most scenic – and least-known – tiger reserves. While tigers are shy in Satpura National Park and thus rarely-seen, there’s a good chance of encountering other iconic animals, such as leopard, sloth bear, gaur and Asian wild dog, in the 1,500km² grounds. The park’s equally empty of tourists, despite its beauty and sheer remoteness being so stunning.
Departing 9 November, 21 December, 8 February, 15 March & 5 April; prices from £2,395 pp*
Wild Sri Lanka… In Style!: This 14-day holiday provides the chance to encounter Sri Lanka’s diverse wildlife – blue whales, leopards, crocodiles, wild boar, warblers and parrots included. You’ll also get to stay in luxury accommodation and admire some of the tropical country’s most impressive archaeological sites, including ancient Polonnaruwa.
Departing 19 November & 14 January; prices from £3,595*
* Prices include flights (London), transport, comfortable accommodation with all or most meals and guiding from an expert naturalist.
** Price includes transport whilst on tour, comfortable accommodation with meals (breakfast and evening meals as a minimum) and guiding from an expert naturalist.