Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Romantic Travel Ideas With A Twist For This Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day usually means chocolates, red roses and a dinner for two, but travelers might want to think outside the candy box this February. Often described as “trips of a lifetime”, who better to do a volunteer vacation with than the one you love? Here are some volunteer travel ideas in some of the most exotic and romantic destinations around the world.

Romance on the River in the Amazon: The vast Amazonian forests of northeastern Peru harbor an incredible diversity of wildlife. Pink river dolphins and caimans still swim these waters, while extraordinary birds fly through the canopy. Uakari monkeys abound along the Yavari River and manatees swim in the lakes of Samiria. Help to conduct a survey of the area’s biodiversity to develop sustainable conservation strategies for the region. Illegal timber companies, pet traders, and hunters have decimated wildlife in other areas of the Amazon, lending urgency to the conservation of these nearly pristine reserves. Prices start at $2775 USD / $2737 CAD / $2133 EUR for 8 days including accommodation, food and program activities.

TLC in Trinidad and Tobago: This tropical island off the coast of Venezuela is known for its vibrant ethnic diversity and rich cultural events. It is also the site of one of the most important nesting beaches for endangered leatherback turtles, enormous reptiles that can weigh a ton and dive deeper than many whales. Each night under swaying palms and bright tropical stars, volunteers patrol the beach with the staff of Nature Seekers. Volunteers will tag, measure, and weigh these turtles, which can grow as long as 2 meters/6.5 feet and weigh up to 900 kilograms/2000 lbs. Prices start at $2825 USD / $2786 CAD / $2171 EUR for 12 days including accommodation, food and program activities.

Art Allure in Italy: Volunteers stay at an 18th century Roman Hunting Lodge as they explore the Puglia regions of Southern Italy. Helping to restore ancient frescos and sculptures, volunteers will have a hand-on experience in a place entrenched in history and culture. Prices start at $2889 USD / $2850 CAD / $2200 EUR for a 3-week sojourn including accommodation, activities and meals, running June 13 – 30 and July 4 – 21, 2013.

Meet the Gods of Greece: Based in the charming Greek village of Vonitsa on the Amvrakikos Gulf, volunteers help researchers conduct daily surveys on the area's bottlenose dolphins. Dolphins have permeated the Greek culture since ancient times. Countless artwork and several myths celebrate their strong and intimate bond with humans. In recent times, however, dolphins have almost fallen into oblivion. Volunteer teams will search for dolphins and record information on their numbers, group composition, behaviour, movement patterns and interactions. Prices start at $2575 USD / $2540 CAD / $1979 EUR for 8 days including accommodation, food and program activities.

The Love Boat of Africa: There must be something in the water at Mercy Ships as over 150 of their volunteers have hooked up, with a few weddings being performed at sea too. Mercy Ships was founded in 1978 and is the world’s leading non-governmental, ship-based charity. Working with Mercy Ships, volunteers will be part of a mission to bring hope and healing to the world’s forgotten poor through delivering medical care and developmental programs with integrity and compassion. Prices start at $263 USD / $260 CAD /  $202 EUR for 14 days including room and board.

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