4 Ways to Combine Adventure Travel and Giving Back

1. Go rafting with Earth River Expeditions – Patagonia, Chile

Travel down the Futaleufú River for a multi-day, multi-sport expedition on the rapids and soak in the amazing scenery all while staying in remote treehouse or cliffside camps. Each rest stop has their own multitude of activities to choose from like fishing, hiking, rock climbing, kayaking, canyoning or just relaxing in a riverside stone hot tub. The founders of Earth River rafted the Futaleufú River as a conservation awareness project to highlight the damage that would be done if the land was sold to Endesa power company, who is still trying to gain access to dam the river.

Giving Back

  • All profits from the trip go towards protecting earth’s water sources and rivers.
  • Some of their conservation efforts include running Futaleufú Riverkeeper, a nonprofit organization, which is sworn to protect earths waterways, working with local communities to protect the river resources and leading awareness trips for the media and policy makers to expose the destruction of unsustainable development.
  • Previously, their rafting expeditions have made it possible for them to purchase 13 miles of land (now the Earth River Land Trust), which the Endesa power company would need to acquire in order to build their dams. Money earned from expeditions go towards purchasing more land with the hope that the land in the trust is protected indefinitely.


2. Compete for the Desert Roses Trophy (Roses des Sables) – Morocco or Argentina

We’ve all heard of rally raids like the most famous Dakar Rally, but have you ever dreamt of participating? Desert Tours organizes an all female rally competition on 4WD vehicles, ROVs, quads or motorcycles, where teams must reach the finish line with the least distance traveled, not the fastest time to be crowned the winner. Teams traverse the Moroccan desert with just a road book, map and compass, meanwhile giving back to local communities and focusing on minimizing environmental impact.

Humanitarian Efforts

  • Each team carries with them at least 50 kilograms of donations (school supplies, clothing, etc.) for the children of Southern Morocco or Argentina.
  • Part of the inscription cost goes towards providing a medical caravan and hygiene awareness workshops in schools.
  • Opportunity to fundraise and collect donations to support a child of the Moroccan desert for one year.
  • 1 euro for every kilometer traveled is donated to the Breast Cancer Foundation.
  • Each team also donates 10 kilograms of non-perishable food, around 4,000 meals to the Red Cross.


source: Skoll Foundation Youtube Channel

3. Help with marine conservation at Blue Ventures – Belize, Madagascar or Timor-Leste

Are you interested in marine biology, conservation or empowering local communities? If so, this is the perfect opportunity for you, especially if you’re already planning your next scuba diving trip. Imagine diving in a UNESCO world heritage marine reserve (and the largest barrier reef in the western hemisphere), and seeing beautiful corals, turtles, sharks and hundreds of varieties of colorful fish. Volunteers with Blue Ventures go through a special training so they are able to help scientists with data collection and surveys during their dives.

Giving Back

  • 70 percent of fees go directly to the project chosen, while the other 30 percent is used for expenses of their home office, marketing, insurance and payment protection.
  • You will help to rebuild and monitor fisheries, protect coastal ecosystems, promote local sustainable aquaculture and monitor invasive species like lionfish.
  • If local communities are interested, the team helps to educate them on creating Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMAs) so they are able to continue to protect and monitor the marine populations, directly impacting their livelihood once scientists leave.
  • Expedition fees help send children to school in areas where only one in three are able to attend. Scholarships for marine biology programs are also given to university students from the area. Environmental science
  • Blue Ventures provides family planning, medical and counseling services to the rural communities they live with.


source: National Park Service Youtube Channel

4. Work with Mother Nature at the National Park Service – Opportunities nationwide

The United States has breathtaking national parks and forests, which can be explored while helping local park rangers and staff. Depending on the service project chosen, it can involve activities normally done on a typical national park vacation like hiking, canoeing, camping and of course relaxing activities like taking a dip in the river or animal watching, so you won’t be missing out. Spend your days in the Grand Canyon or stay overnight in a dormant volcano at Haleakalā National Park, Hawaii removing invasive species. Volunteering over 250 hours also scores you a free annual pass!

Giving Back

  • Volunteers help with all sorts of tasks from guiding nature walks and aiding archaeologists to maintaining or constructing trails (the later usually needing the most help).
  • Volunteer as a resident artist (visual arts, writing, music, etc.) and share the beauty of the national parks and the importance of their existence with the public.
  • There are many more volunteers (more than 220,000) than staff (22,000), who they rely on greatly.
  • Help in preserving America’s most beautiful and historically important places, restoring them to be accessible to all.


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