WHAT WILL I BE DOING?
PART 1 - SOUTH EAST ASIA ETHICAL TRAIL
Your adventure will begin as you fly into Bangkok and are escorted to a comfortable guest house where you will have the opportunity to acclimatise and receive important briefing and orientation, giving you essential information about the adventure ahead of you.
Day 1: Bangkok
Acclimatise and settle in to you guest house in Khao San where you will receive a travel briefing and safety awareness information from your trail leader.
Day 2-4: Bangkok
Visit the phenomenal Royal Palace and museum which have fascinated locals and foreigners for centuries. These intricately and exquisitely carved monuments, erected in honour of Thailand's ancient kings, are a perfect example of the staggering architecture found in this part of the world, and are a perfect start to your Thai adventure. Then you will visit the glorious reclining Buddha, a sacred emblem of Thailand's Buddhist heritage. Other sightseeing highlights at this stage include the Red Cross Snake farm, and the fabulous and important Siam Centre.
Day 5-8: Kanchanaburi
This Thai province is a true Aladdin's cave of natural and historical treasures, magnificent landscapes, including some of Asia's most dramatic waterfalls, expansive pagodas, interactive museums where you can find out more about the regions complex history, and even a school full of chattering monkeys! See the intriguingly named Hellfire Pass, and enjoy visits to luscious hot springs, kayaking down foaming rivers and viewing the bridge over the vast River Kwai (famous from the Hollywood film), and much more. As well as this, visit Wat Tham Seua and Wat Tham Khao Noi by bicycle, the perfect way to appreciate the grandiose splendour of these miraculous temples.
Day 9-11: Chiang Mai
Visit this beautiful city in northern Thailand for the opportunity to do an overnight trek to remote hill villages.
Day 12-15: Pai
Visit Pai in northern Thailand where the pace of life slows to a crawl and accommodation is strung out along wooded hillsides.
Day 11-12: Bangkok
Return to Bangkok via the old capital city of Ayutthaya and spend some time exploring its old temples and ruins. Buy some last minute souvenirs and prepare for the next stage of the trail.
Day 17-26: Island hopping!
Visit the exotic islands of Koh Tao and Koh Chang and spend some time relaxing on the tropical beaches and actively exploring with Kayaking and snorkelling through the pristine blue waters.
Day 27: Travel to Cambodia
Day 28: Siem Reap
This province is a wonderful introduction to Cambodia with expansive lake scenery, an abundance of lavishly decorated elephants, floating villages and of course the spectacular temple complex of Angkor Wat, a visual feast of temples formed of golden filigrees and blood red stone. Visit the Terrace of Elephants or find out what the "Churning of the Sea of Milk" entails, in this most significant of historical monuments! Following this, you will receive your field briefings and safety tests before travelling to your project site.
Day 29-56: Teaching and community development OR beach conservation OR a combination of both projects. OR Marine Conservation & Diving (additional cost applies)
At this stage of the project, you will get the chance to participate in a volunteering project: teaching and community development or beach conservation or if you can't decide a combination of both projects.
Teaching and Community Development
You will be teaching in a school for underprivileged children, where you will make a vital contribution to their lives. Your work schedule will cover a comprehensive, varied and enjoyable teaching programme which will engage you fully with your pupils and will awaken your creativity and initiative. You are sure to gain huge satisfaction from inspiring these underprivileged children, bringing joy and fun to their lives, whilst enhancing your own skills and experience significantly. You can also gain a TEFL BTEC certificate for an additional fee if you spend the four weeks conducting the teaching work..
This project work is conducted on the private island of Koh Smach where you will be living in true castaway style, in simple semi- permanent structures based right on the beach overlooking the azure waters of the Gulf of Thailand. Day to day activities may include snorkel surveys to assess coral reef damage and fish population size and structure, patterns and extent of resource use by villagers, environmental awareness campaigns within the local village, community development work including refurbishment to village infrastructure, language teaching in the village community, silt trap monitoring, village clean-ups and recycling scheme development and beach clean-ups.
You will become adept at surviving on this remote island wilderness, cooking over open fires and swaying in your hammock each night under a spectacular star studded sky. Through immersion in local culture and activities with the local village, you will assess how reliant the local villagers are on the coastal ecosystem for their livelihood and may gain an insight into the impact of global warming on the threatened marine and coastal communities. You will discover the rich cultural heritage of the Khmer communities as you work alongside them on environmental education programmes and community development activities. Discover the rich blend of Buddhist and Hindu spiritualism infusing their daily lives and is epitomised in majestic mainland temples and elaborate ceremonies and rituals of this fascinating country. By carrying out this valuable beach conservation work, you will have the opportunity to gain a BTEC qualification in Tropical Habitat Conservation for an additional US$416 (to complete this course you need to be on the island for a full four weeks).
If you can't decide between the two project options you can do a combination of both but please be aware that you will have to cover the journey cost from Siem Reap to the island of Koh Smach at approximately US$48/$50.
Marine Conservation & Diving
The project works to safeguard these natural marine resources, working side by side with the local community assisting in the management and sustainable use of the resources within the established community fishing area, as well as providing much needed teaching resources and care work for the community itself.
The project incorporates a number of different elements, all of which combine to not only give you an insight into the workings of the local community and economy, but also lend a hand in protecting rapidly diminishing species.
The marine project involves joining a scuba diving research team that monitors the marine ecosystem and collects data on the reef, coastal breeding grounds and the abundance of important species. This data is then used to help maintain a proactive conservation strategy. Volunteers learn about seahorse and invertebrate species, as well as collecting valuable data from seahorse surveys. There may also be the opportunity to assist with educational awareness programmes for local children, providing them with workshops on responsibility and helping in island and beach cleanup days.
You may also find yourself teaching English in the island school, providing much needed education and support. With nearly a third of 7-14 year olds unable to attend school, this is a fantastic opportunity to get close to the local children and make a real difference to their future prospects. You will dance, sing, and play games as well as teach them English. Literacy is crucial to education, and in providing them with vital skills, you can provide them with hope for a future of choice.
To participate in the scuba diving project work you will need to be qualified to Advanced Open Water or equivalent, with dive training available in-country at the project site. Please see the extended project cost information for prices for dive training in the warm tropical seas of Cambodia!
An additional cost of US$792GBP applies to take part in the marine conservation & diving placement
Day 57-58: Phnom Penh
This province is a wonderful introduction to Cambodia and you will enjoy some free time in this wonderful city. Over the next few days, you will explore this sprawling metropolis known as the "pearl of Asia", taking in the Royal Palace, the Tuol Sleng and the Killing Fields, an important and moving site.
Day 59-61: Ho Chi Minh
Venture into this vibrant and industrious urban centre with its bubbling and exhilarating vibe. Visit the War Remnants Museum containing eye-opening exhibits relating to the American phase of the Vietnam War. See the pastel-hued pagodas and pick up some real bargains from the tiny merchants and traders of the many side streets and alleys. Take a day tour of the Mekong Delta, home of many rice fields and floating markets. Gaze up at the arching ceilings of the Halls of Mandarins, as you breathe in the exotic aura of this testament to Vietnam's past rulers.
En route to Hanoi you will have the chance to encounter several of Vietnam's most diverse towns and villages. Nha Trang offers sand-boarding on huge dunes and sunbathing on the fabulous beach – for a combination of relaxation and a real adrenaline rush! Hoi An is a stunning little town with Chinese influences around every corner. Famous for its tailors, you could stroll past a delicate Chinese temple with colourful lanterns lining the streets, and drop in to a tailor to get measured up for your new suit or ball gown made from Thai silk! Along the way, visit Hué and see the imperial tombs, the old citadel and take a boat trip on the Perfume River. See the unimaginable splendour and fantastical elegance of the Royal enclosure, and the Forbidden Purple City.
Day 67: Hanoi
Explore Hanoi, by taking a walking tour of this vibrant and colourful city of a million bicycles, picking up a last few souvenirs. Visit the Temple of Literature, one of Hanoi's finest historical sites and Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum.
Day 68-69: Halong Bay
Explore Halong Bay with a two-day boat trip along this spectacular coast with its enormous limestone caves, dense jungle and monolithic islands. The area boasts incredible biodiversity with a fantastic array of wildlife including antelopes, monkeys, lizards and bantams living on some of the offshore islands.
Day 70: Return to Hanoi and fly home!
Return to Hanoi to do some more last minute shopping and prepare for your homeward journey.
This itinerary is very flexible and subject to change. It is intended as a guide. You and your fellow travellers will change the itinerary according to your interests and depending on how you are progressing.
PART 2 - FIJI MARINE CONSERVATION & DIVING
The Frontier-Fiji Reef Conservation Project has two aims:
To better understand the marine resources of the island, and to provide teaching and training to enable communities to make informed decisions regarding the management of their coastal ecosystems
To better understand and promote the importance of turtle conservation on the island of Gau.
To achieve this mission, we conduct scientific baseline data surveys of reef areas, mapping the sea grass beds and mangrove fringes of the region, we identify patterns of resource use, and we work with local communities to build awareness of the value and vulnerability of their marine environment. We also locate nesting beaches on Gau and create seasonally protected areas.
The marine research and conservation programme is run in association with the University of the South Pacific. The work aims to provide the local stakeholders, research organisations and government bodies with the information they need to design and implement management plans for the future protection of Gau's island marine ecosystem.
To gather the data needed you will be diving to locate and map the extensive coral reefs and study the various communities living on them. You will also explore and record the organisms that inhabit the luxuriant mangrove forests, dense sea grass beds and productive inter-tidal areas. To do this you will deploy a wide range of newly learned research skills and scientific techniques including: underwater visual census of reef and commercial fish such as triggerfish and parrotfish, assessment of algal and coral cover to determine the extent of coral bleaching and damage, and line intercept transects for benthic life and indicator invertebrate species such as nudibranchs. You will record observations of the feeding habits and behaviour patterns of a range of marine life. You may even get to study the impact of artisanal fishing on the coral reefs, report the effects of Global Warming on marine communities or observe the impact of the marine-curio trade on endangered marine invertebrates.
Whilst diving, you'll see an extraordinary array of animals from turtles to manta rays, sea cucumbers to feathery starfish, spiny urchins to octopus and jellyfish. When you motor out each day on the Frontier boats to distant dive sites you may even encounter gigantic manta rays or flying fish. By the end of your project you will be expert at identifying hundreds of colourful and patterned reef fish as well as being an experienced and competent diver. Although the work is intense and challenging you'll get immense satisfaction from having survived and from having made a valuable contribution to the conservation of this untarnished marine wilderness. You will return home with the new friends you've made and a wealth of fascinating stories and memories.
You'll find your team to be a fun, dynamic mix of ages and experiences, with members who all share a passion about travelling in developing countries and saving endangered life. Your staff will be young, friendly individuals who are highly experienced in their field and many have volunteered on a Frontier project earlier in their career.
PART 3 - CENTRAL AMERICA ETHICAL ADVENTURE TRAIL
Mexico City: the adventure begins with a whirlwind tour of this leviathan of a city. You'll delve into a history as rich and colourful as any in the world, typified today in magnificent monuments such as the zócalo, the western hemisphere's largest cathedral, the Catedral Metropolitana, the museum of anthropology and, of course, the famous murals of Diego Rivera.
San Cristobal: ride horseback through the hills of the legendary Zapatista uprising and trawl markets for crafts built in the spirit of revolution. You'll discover how one small group of dedicated villagers brought the whole world's attention to the plight of indigenous Mexicans.
Palenque: improve your language skills with some Spanish lessons with the locals, and then try your skills against a backdrop of live music as you sit down to a dinner feast. Find ancient ruins hidden in dense jungle and cool off in the clear waterfalls at Agua Azul.
Playa del Carmen: a hedonistic paradise, Playa del Carmen has been hosting flocks of sun-worshippers for decades who come as much for the fantastic nightlife as the pristine beaches.
Tulum: bask on a white sand beach or dive into crystal clear water. When you're tired of swimming and snorkelling with dolphins and rays you can relax with a delicious picnic under a palm tree.
Flores / Tikal: watch the sun rise over Central America's most famous ruins which have towered over the jungle for thousands of years and learn about the ancient Mayan empire from an experienced local guide.
Chicicastenango: kayak across the tranquil volcanic paradise of Lake Atitlan or explore the endless alleys of the most colourful indigenous market in Central America.
Antigua: sip organic coffee at a roadside café as you take in the magnificence of this ancient UNESCO heritage city. Stand at the edge of Pacaya, Central America's most active volcano.
Copán: explore mighty Mayan ruins by day and rest your weary bones in warm thermal pools in the evening, before you set out to dance the night away in a hilltop disco.
Útila: Central America's diving paradise is an island built solely around exploring the underwater world and is an ideal place to do your PADI dive training. You'll also go on a day trip to a perfect deserted island, finishing the day with a barbecue on the beach.
León: the echoes of revolution still hang in the air of this exciting city, where you can stroll cobblestone streets amidst murals depicting the heroes of the revolution. To learn more you can visit fascinating museums and art galleries with works found nowhere else on Earth. You can also go volcano-boarding, which is an adrenaline-pumping rollercoaster-ride down soft ash.
Granada: a magnificent colonial town, where tree-lined streets host musicians and entertainers of all sorts is the perfect jump-off point for your visit to the volcanic islands of Ometepe, situated in the middle of the luscious Lake Nicaragua.
Santa Elena: soar through the jungle canopy on a zip-line tour and canopy walk, the perfect way to get up close and personal with the exotic creatures of the rainforest. You'll uncover the hidden mysteries of the rainforest with the help of friendly local people.
Costa Rica Forest Project: in-season, join our fight to save critically-endangered sea turtles, or trek up remote volcanoes in search of spider monkeys and macaques. You'll spend a month with other eco-warriors on our conservation camp, helping to change the world under the guidance of field experts.
Montezuma: there's no end to the adventure as you horseback trek and cycle your way around this tropical beach wonderland. At the end of your day you'll be treated to an awesome beach party.
Cahuita: spot jaguars, monkeys, and other fascinating creatures on a jungle and coastal trek and enjoy a picnic on a deserted beach.
San José: do some last minute shopping and eat your last gallo pinto before you fly home, alive with memories and friendships that will last a lifetime!*
*This is intended as a sample itinerary only and is subject to change.
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