This article was written by Sam Bruce, Co-Founder of Much Better Adventures.
At Much Better Adventures, we are on a global mission to promote adventure holidays that are ‘muchbetter’ for travellers, local communities and our natural playgrounds alike. We work exclusively with independent, locally owned and ethically focussed active holiday providers from around the world.
This article highlights but a handful of unique active holidays that we’ve collected from our muchbetter ‘Pioneers’—adventure holiday providers who are as committed to an adrenaline rush as they are to sustainable tourism.
These particular adventure holidays exist to help advance local conservation and youth development as well as educate, change perspectives and improve lives in their destinations.
1. Humanitarian expeditions on horseback
Relief Riders International arrange one of the greatest modern examples of adventures with purpose. Founder Alexander Souri and his philanthropic brigade ride to the aid of needy communities through the stunning semi-mountainous outbacks of India and Turkey. With the help of its riders over the years, the award-winning tours have made significant difference by delivering medical, dental and cataract surgery to isolated communities. The riders also provide food aid, education and environmental programs.
2. Hike and invest in the future of the Himalayas
OneSeed Expeditions are an inspired walking holiday provider who use travel to invest in local communities and micro-entrepreneurs. Their expeditions are led by local experts ensuring trekkers get an authentic Himalayan experience and get away from the crowds. A lot of work has been done to protect local communities and porters in popular mountain trekking destinations and OneSeed have raised the bar. Their trips are not only unforgettable but a fine example of how travel companies in popular spots should operate.
3. Ride and guide sustainable development in Southeast Asia
Both a tour operator and NGO, PEPY Tours’ motto of ‘Adventurous living, Responsible giving’ sums them up perfectly. PEPY's travellers interact with development programs, social entrepreneurs and local communities to be inspired to create positive changes in their lives, communities, and the world. This ensures that the positive impact of these trips lasts well beyond the length of the tour. Their flagship annual ‘Pepy Ride’ takes cyclists off-road across Cambodia whilst supporting community development projects.
4. Ger to Ger across Mongolia
One of the coolest operators around are Ger to Ger in Mongolia. Trekking and horse riding across vast Mongolian plains whilst staying with Nomad families is the kind of adventure that should appeal to most intrepid travellers. Those that take part in the carbon-free expeditions create jobs for locals and responsibly generate sustainable revenue for the rural communities.
5. Diving in paradise for marine conservation in remote Indonesia
Misool is a remote eco resort based in a conservation zone in Southern Raja Ampat. Operating in a strict No-Take Zone, the resort is renowned as in one of the most spectacular diving spots on earth and just looking at pictures of the area is drool-inducing. Divers directly contribute towards the project’s grassroots reef and marine life conservation as well as the development of the community school.
6. Learn to surf in Costa Rica at a camp that gives back to its community
Based in Bahia Ballena, Bodhi Surf School is run by two surf- and yoga-mad couples who are passionate about sustainable development and conservation in the region. The award-winning yoga retreat come surf school offers surfers with a conscience some of the best waves in the country to enjoy. They have done some fantastic work with the coastal community to promote environmental stewardship, marine conservation and youth empowerment.
7. Kayak and dive to conserve turtle populations in Central America
SEE Turtles is a fantastic conservation project which we were quick to add to our network. Its founder, Brad, an outdoor and conservation enthusiast, offers adventure travellers the opportunity of a lifetime to join researchers in measuring and conserving turtle numbers in stunning coastal regions in Central America and the Caribbean. Actively exploring some beautiful coastline to help one of the most awe-inspiring animals is definitely one for the bucket list.
8. Marine conservation diving expeditions in Belize
If you want to don your flippers for a cause then Reef Conservation International is for you. Surrounded by warm turquoise waters in the Caribbean, you will learn both how to dive and conserve the marine environment to help do your bit for the ocean. Well off the beaten track, you will experience authentic tropical island living—this really is a trip that will turn your mates green with envy.
9. Surf, ride and volunteer on the Galapagos Islands
Hacienda Tranquila recently won our vote for the Nat Geo Geotourism Challenge award in 2010 and continue to do amazing work for their island community. Based in sunny San Cristobal, they offer volunteers the chance to get hands-on with some important local environmental and community projects in a bid to conserve the endemic species in the region following a recent oil spill. It is also a fantastic opportunity to experience some incredible surfing, trekking and horse riding available on their doorstep.
10. River expeditions to support locals in the Himalayas
Rapid Runner Expeditions are a local outfitter who offer awesome white water rafting and kayaking jaunts engulfed by jaw-dropping scenery in and around Pokhara in Nepal. On top of maintaining a strong environmental record, the highly rated organisation have also set up a charity arm which trains up local Nepalis for free to become certified river guides and aid responsible community and economic development in the area.
You can find loads more ethical adventure holidays like these on the Much Better Adventures website.