Even though it’s been around for a while, voluntouring is still a noteable buzz-word in the travel industry – a growing number of adventurers opting to give back. Of course, not everyone has their heart set on becoming a volunteer for the whole holiday, but in Africa there are a host of softer options available where you can pitch in en route.
For most travellers coming to the continent, the wildlife is the biggest draw card, the Big Five and the annual migration featuring on many a wish list. Either way, if you’re choosing to head overland you’ll almost always be able to contribute something of yourself to communities and local schools; whether you’re painting a new classroom or simply making a short half-day visit.
The recently launched “Travelling Eco-Book Depository” goes one step further, the initiative created to encourage overlanders to pack and drop books at various points in Africa. Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa and Malawi are key hot spots, and the latter country, as one of Africa’s poorest nations, is set to benefit greatly from the new effort.
In Africa, educational resources are scarce, yet as Toni White, Editor of Reclaiming My Future says, “Actively encouraging people to pack and drop books will be a great help as there’s always the age old question of what to bring? It might even help us all to pack more intelligently, another major issue for anyone heading off an month-plus overland expedition!”
Options include visiting local schools in Malawi or taking a horseback ride to a local village. Alternatively, you can choose to meet and greet with the people of the Cape’s Townships. Then again, even if there’s no scheduled visit, it doesn’t mean you can’t give back, established tour operators having many informal links with various organisations.