From coaching local football teams to getting hands-on with conservation, there’s plenty to do for clients wanting to make a difference, writes Laura French.

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1.  Paint local houses in Guatemala

In Santa Catarina Palopó, a community set on Guatemala’s Lake Atitlan, Journey Latin America clients can take part in the Pintando Project. It involves painting houses using traditional, Mayan-inspired textile designs, with the aim of reviving local heritage while helping to transform one of Guatemala’s poorest areas. Guests can choose between a two-hour visit or a two-day stay, where they’ll spend time painting a local family’s house, then travel by boat to a local town to meet the indigenous Maya Tzutujil people, visiting artisans to learn how they work.

Book it: A 14-day trip combining the project with visits to Antigua, Lake Atitlán, the Tikal ruins and beyond starts at £2,987, including flights, transfers, hotels (B&B) and excursions.


2. Monitor endangered wildlife in South Africa

South Africa offers plenty in the way of conservation projects, but for one of the most immersive, suggest Gondwana Eco Camp. Here guests can get involved with everything from monitoring leopard cameras to helping translocate wildlife, while going out on monitoring safaris and learning bushcraft skills. Meanwhile over in KwaZulu Natal, andBeyond Phinda Mountain Lodge takes things a step further, offering guests the chance to go out in a 4×4 to locate and notch rhinos so they can be monitored and researched.

Book it: Premier Holidays offer a three-night add-on experience at Gondwana Eco Camp from £649 per person full-board, including daily activities and game drives (flights not included).

3. Cook with kids in Thailand

Boutique Thai resort The Sarojin Khao Lak prides itself on community involvement, and among its standout initiatives is a Street Food Cook for Kids. Here guests cook a meal with local children and the hotel chef at the Camillian Centre – a not-for-profit organisation providing day care facilities for children with special needs – with the goal of breaking down language and cultural barriers in a memorable, hands-on way.

Book it: The initiative costs £160 per person. Rates start at £315 per night.


4. Swap skills in Mauritius

Sustainability runs through every vein at Mauritian resort Salt of Palmar, which opened last year, from food supplied by its own farm to locally sourced furnishings. One of the most interesting options is the Skill Swap programme, where guests have the opportunity to exchange skills with local people – from coaching a Mauritian football team to creating crockery with local potters, leading photography workshops to teaching English, and plenty beyond.

Book it: Travel 2 offers seven nights’ B&B in a Guest View Room from £1,199, including Emirates flights from Heathrow and valid for travel June 1-July 24, 2020.

5. Explore underwater conservation in The Maldives

Over in the Maldives you’ll find plenty of marine conservation projects, but for something a little different, suggest Six Senses Laamu. The resort offers a Junior Marine Biology programme where children aged six to 16 can join the Maldives Underwater Initiative team, helping collect data and conduct surveys while learning more about this extraordinary world.

Book it: Carrier offers a week at Six Senses Laamu from £12,960, including private transfers and flights on February 15, 2020.

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