Friday, January 18, 2013

An Inherent Risk of Danger

In chapter one of Tim Ward's great adventure book, Zombies on Kilimanjaro: A Father-Son Journey Above the Clouds while discussing AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) and the dangers of climbing Kilimanjaro, Tim's son says the following to his father:
            "You know Dad, it seems it's not a vacation with you unless there's a chance we'll die."
When I read this I knew two things: one, this was going to be a great book and two, I don't suffer from Vacation-Attention-Deficit-Disorder after all.
            Now I love the tropical, pool perching, Tequila-Sunrise sipping vacation just as much as the next person. But within a couple of days I begin to feel the itch. The itch that no matter how many laps I do in the pristine pool or how many times I hike the same stretch of white sand beach, the itch gets worse. It can't be scratched because I need adventure. I thrive on an inherent risk of danger. 
            Adventure, danger, thrills and adrenaline overloads - now that's the cat's MEEEEEOW. Can a vacation get any better? Yes, it can by adding meaning by volunteering. This pocket of tourism is the fastest growing - it's called Voluntourism.
I can attest from my own experience that here is nothing as rewarding and enriching as giving of oneself - believe me! You will come home refreshed, energized and more alive than when you left - your life, as mine is, may be changed forever.

            So with all the projects available, how does one choose? Simple. Follow your passion. For me, it was animals, conservation and South Africa. So, I found a wildlife conservation project in South Africa and kabam! Best experience ever. Instead of experiencing a game reserve from the relatively safe confines of a jeep, I was behind the scenes experiencing it all first-hand. Tree planting within a lion camp with lions only a few hundred meters away, de-flooding a crocodile pit not realizing a croc was still in there, being chased by ellies and sleeping solo in a tent camp surrounded by wildlife - sure beats doing laps to the swim-up bar.
Do you have a love of gorillas and want to do something to conserve the species? The Diane Fossey Gorilla Fund International has a volunteer project in Rwanda - and they want YOU.  How about Voluntouring to protect Asian elephants in Sri Lanka, living amongst primates in a rainforest in Indonesia, residing in local villages in Vietnam in search of tigers or swimming amongst dolphins and whales in Tenerife? The AWF has them all.

The world is bursting with volunteer projects that transform an ordinary vacation into an extraordinary adventure! Now don't worry - most of these voluntourism projects are safe, very safe in fact but if you're like me and thrive on adventures packed with an inherent risk of danger, more than likely you won't be disappointed. Now that's my kind of vacation!

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