The global pandemic has focused all of our minds on many values anew but, as a travel company, we have realised quite how important it is to understand and empathise with our connected world. We specialise in travel to Africa + the Indian Ocean, Central + South America, The Polar Regions, Asia, the Middle East and Australasia, some of the most habitat and community sensitive parts of the world, and we have seen how impacted they have been not only by a lack of tourist income but also other economic, health and social impacts of COVID-19.
We are also very conscious of how much we have benefited from travel from a young age and from a lifetime of exposure to different cultures and perspectives, and we recognise how important this is in developing a rounded and thoughtful next generation, able to understand and react to future crises and opportunities wherever they arise.
Particularly given some of the uncertainty in further education, training and early stage employment, we wanted to develop two very exciting opportunities for young people in their 20s to get a taste of important community and conservation work mentored by inspirational people in our destinations while making a meaningful contribution to their efforts.
We have developed two very exciting opportunities for young people in their 20s to get a taste of important community and conservation work
Using our incredible connections around the world, we have been able to create just two unique and rewarding opportunities in 2021. The trips can be any length of time and are completely tailor-made, with the programmes being adapted around specific interests. This is a very rare chance to get an insight into projects and organisations in Peru and Southern Africa that we have worked with in various ways for more than 25 years.
Designed as an immersion into the day-to-day challenges for the people who run these programmes on the ground, this is not a normal gap year or volunteering project but a privileged insight into their vital work and the people, communities and habitats that benefit it. Crucially, this is crafted with individuals we know and trust in situ in order to make it insightful, safe, comfortable and adapted to each participant.
The cost of the trip will include a substantial donation to the chosen projects, making the experience even more rewarding. This could be the beginning of an exciting lifetime involvement with one or more truly worthwhile projects.
We also strongly recommend that other family members and friends visit at the end of the placement, so that the learning and insight from the experience can be shared with them. Our experts can suggest some amazing onward travel ideas to make it into a wonderful holiday for all.
We have just one opportunity available in 2021 at the Sol y Luna Foundation in Peru’s Sacred Valley.
Machu Picchu in Peru’s Sacred Valley, one of the world’s great wonders
Originally from France, Marie Hélene Miribel, known as Petit, moved to Peru in 1990. Inspired by a desire to help others, she moved to the Sacred Valley with her husband, Franz, to volunteer in local schools. Believing that education was the way to create opportunities for future generations, in 1996 Petit and Franz decided to open their own school and the first luxury hotel in the Sacred Valley, which would fund it. And so Sol y Luna (meaning ‘Sun and Moon’) was born.
Starting with just five children (two of whom were their own children, Thomas and Melanie) they began just with kindergarten. As the years went by, the school grew and the hotel expanded. Today, Sol y Luna is a Relais & ChÃ¢teaux hotel with 43 individual casitas dotted around mature gardens, and the Sol y Luna Foundation includes kindergarten and secondary schools, an orphanage and a centre for special needs children. A total of 250 children benefit from the foundation, the vast majority of whom come from backgrounds of extreme poverty. “I believe that education is every child’s right, without it there’s no future or change – that is why I created the Sol y Luna Foundation,” says Petit.
Volunteering in local schools with the Sol y Luna Foundation in Peru’s Sacred Valley
Petit and her family’s home sits within a stone’s throw of the hotel and school. Their son, Thomas, graduated from the Sol y Luna School at the end of 2019 and their daughter, Melanie, is still there. 2020 has brought new challenges and Petit has been providing food to the community’s most vulnerable families and working with her small team to make the school virtual, which is difficult when most of the families are without computers or the internet.
Based at the lovely Sol y Luna hotel, with its stunning Andean backdrop, the client will join Petit in visiting families and projects throughout the area, as well as setting out on both day treks and longer tented treks in the mountains. Under the guidance of Petit, he or she will be involved with the Sol y Luna School, which will offer professional development, full insight into how the school operates and classroom teaching experience, as well as organising and running games and workshops. “I look forward to welcoming a volunteer into the Sol y Luna family for the duration of their stay, which will include getting to know our hotel, school and foundation,” says Petit. “I will show them the inner works of a truly sustainable hotel as they enjoy a stay in one of our casitas while spending the days accompanying me in my work at the Sol y Luna School and Home.”
Casitas dotted around mature gardens at the Sol y Luna Hotel
Significantly, the school, hotel and foundation of Sol y Luna are at the heart of a community, which draws workers and pupils from the surrounding areas. Part of the success of a project such as this is an understanding of rural communities and constant communication. So Petit, her husband Franz and their two children will take the client to visit projects such as a local women’s weaving project as well as village and farming communities in the Urubamba and Lares valleys. Franz is a professional paraglider and an experienced trekker and mountain-biker, so these expeditions into rural Peru are likely to be adventures in themselves and offer exposure to some of the most beautiful scenery in the Andes.
Visiting the local communities with the Sol y Luna Foundation
Indeed, the Sacred Valley is a wonderful place for adventures, so the client can enjoy some amazing experiences beyond the project, too. “This will be a rounded experience, including adventure as well as philanthropy,” Petit explains. “My husband Franz is a professional paraglider so the volunteer will have the opportunity to take a flight with him. Then there are the ruins, markets, artisans and sights to see in and around the Sacred Valley – not to mention activities that include paddleboarding, kayaking, quad-biking, horse riding and more. The idea is to spend a week or two with us, exploring the Sacred Valley with me as your guide. This would mean a complete cultural integration, getting to know the children and teachers at our school and immersing in Peruvian culture. This is your chance to make memories that will accompany you through your life, and to make a difference to the lives of those who most need it.”
Horse riding in the Sacred Valley with the Andes Mountains as the perfect backdrop
Everything on the trip is entirely personalised, tailor-made and flexible. Together, our experts and Petit will design an itinerary around each volunteer to best reflect their interests and skill set.
Your host will be Petit Miribel, the founder and creator of Sol y Luna in Peru’s Sacred Valley.
Where you stay
A cottage in the beautiful Sol y Luna hotel, a Relais & ChÃ¢teaux hotel founded by Petit and Franz Miribel.
When to go
This is a wonderful year-round destination, although we suggest travelling here between March and October when the weather is at its best.
The cost of the trip will include a minimum of Â£15,000 contribution per week to the Sol y Luna Foundation.
Extend your trip
We encourage the client’s family to join them after their placement, and can design some incredible holidays to suit the whole family, both in Peru and its neighbouring countries. Sol y Luna itself makes a great base for many adventures in the Sacred Valley and we can arrange all sorts of phenomenal expeditions, including hiking, mountain-biking, rafting and stand-up paddleboarding on nearby Huaypo Lake, as well as trekking to Machu Picchu and other less famous Inca ruins, exploring some of the area’s lesser-trodden trails and visits to small market towns, such as Ollantaytambo, Pisac and Chinchero. Afterwards, we suggest a luxury train journey to Lake Titicaca and then onto the Colca Canyon, or we can arrange an unforgettable experience in the breathtaking Uyuni salt flats across the border in Bolivia.
The breathtaking Uyuni salt flats on the Bolivian border
Alternatively, a short flight away lies the Peruvian Amazon, where we can arrange an extraordinary journey on one of our favourite private riverboats – a once-in-a-lifetime experience – or a stay at a superb jungle lodge. Another brilliant family adventure would be to fly to nearby Ecuador to set sail onboard a stunning private yacht to explore the wildlife-rich Galápagos Islands. Or if a beach escape appeals, we can arrange a week or so exploring some of Brazil’s best beach destinations. The options are endless.
Tusk is a wildlife charity that we have known and supported since it started in 1990. Mainly focused on small-scale conservation and community projects in Africa, its operations were often hosted by the luxury safari lodges where cazenove+loyd sends its clients. Through our close connection with this phenomenal charity, we have been able to gain access to some incredible projects and leading conservationists in Southern Africa that are inaccessible to others. “This is an unparalleled opportunity to get behind the scenes on some of these fantastic projects,” says the Chief Executive of Tusk, Charlie Mayhew MBE. “It will be really exclusive and far cry from your average ‘volunteering’ experience. The client will receive a rich experience, learning about wildlife management and how tourism supports conservation, while having a lot of exposure to very interesting conservation work.”
Volunteering in Southern Africa to aid wildlife conservation efforts
Charlie Mayhew will be personally selecting one or two of the most exciting and important wildlife projects in Zambia and Zimbabwe for our client to get involved with for a week at a time, depending on their interests and skills. The nearby lodges mean that a stay will be comfortable but that the conservation work will be real and ongoing with the use of 4WDs and light aircraft. On each project, the client will be mentored by the best conservationist on the ground.
Conservation work will be real and ongoing with the use of 4WDs and light aircraft
In Zimbabwe, the projects we have access to include the not-for-profit Malilangwe Trust, established in 1994 as a result of the largest ever single donor investment in Zimbabwe in order to purchase, protect and manage the extraordinary wilderness area next to the Gonarezhou National Park in south-eastern Zimbabwe: the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve. This former cattle ranch has been rejuvenated since the 1980s and is managed by the Malilangwe Trust for biodiversity, wildlife and habitat conservation, community development and sustainable ecotourism. It is home to elephant, black and white rhino, lion, cheetah and wild dogs, which the charity aims to protect as well as carrying out ongoing ecological research.
Three young cheetahs in the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve
The most exciting and high-profile project here is the protection of the reserve’s growing black rhino population. The trust’s scout team continuously monitors the reserve and, in particular the rhino, which can be individually identified by ear notches. Supporting the local community and raising awareness about the importance of protecting wildlife is also at the centre of the trust’s work. It employs more than 200 local people, gives a meal to more than 19,000 children on every school day, provides bursaries for children at all levels of education and develops infrastructure at schools, clinics and community gardens. Accompanied by a leading conservationist, the client could get involved in both the wildlife conservation and community efforts, depending on their preference.
Singita Pamushana Lodge is the hub of the ecotourism arm of this 502sq-km reserve, and provides some income for the trust as well as jobs for the local community and an outlet for their produce. Set on a sandstone ridge, with eight stunning suites all with a private plunge pool, it makes a very special and very comfortable base from which the client can get involved with the projects and explore the area while staying safe. During any downtime, they can relax by the lovely infinity pool or enjoy a massage in the wellness centre. They can also head out on game drives, bush walks or sundowner boat trips, or visit the area’s rock sites.
Singita Pamushana Lodge in Gonarezhou National Park, Zimbabwe, set on a sandstone ridge, with eight stunning suites all with a private plunge pool
In Zambia, we can arrange for the client to get involved with the Zambian Carnivore Programme (ZCP). This fantastic project protects wild dogs, cheetah, lions and leopards by collaring and tracking predators in the Luangwa Valley and elsewhere in Zambia. The animals face threats from poaching, disease, habitat loss and human-wildlife conflict, so this ongoing field research and monitoring project in one of Southern Africa’s most wildlife-rich areas is vital for maintaining the wildlife here.
African wild dogs in South Luangwa National Park, Zambia. Photo credit: Robin Page
The client will be mentored by one of Zambia’s top conservationists at ZCP’s South Luangwa National Park research camp, and will be able to take part in work, such as the community outreach programme, important wildlife and habitat data collections, de-snaring operations, veterinary support and radio-collar studies of carnivore groups, enabling researchers to track these amazing animals over large areas. The programme also monitors human encroachment of protected areas and helps with human-wildlife conflict, as well as educating local people on the merits of wildlife conservation at secondary schools and through an internship programme with the University of Zambia. This is an incredible opportunity for the right client to get involved in a hands-on way with this fundamental and fascinating conservation work, alongside some incredible people.
We can also set up a placement with South Luangwa Conservation, which puts rangers on the ground in an attempt to curb poaching in Zambia’s national parks. It sends patrols out into the reserve to collect snares and track poachers, and provides planes for aerial surveillance and teams of dogs trained to detect wildlife products and ammunition. It is funded, in part, from tourist donations – a conservation levy is included in the cost of all South Luangwa’s camps – but predominantly, from international donors.
Wildlife ranger patrolling in South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
Here, the client’s home from home will be Mfuwe Lodge, a fabulous place where they can put their feet up and unwind in their comfortable chalet or relax beside the idyllic swimming pool when they’re not out in the field. Equally, they can set out on game drives, walks or boat cruises to spot some of the region’s incredible wildlife with other guests. Everything is completely flexible and tailor-made to the client.
We recommend combining the several projects – a week at each – in both Zambia and Zimbabwe for the broadest and most enriching experience, and we can arrange for a private charter to take the client between each place. As conservation work with the species involved is ‘wildlife dependent’, the choice of project and exact itinerary will depend on the client’s interests, seasonality and game movements, the activity going on at the time and the rangers and conservationists on hand to give first-hand knowledge and insight.
Tusk’s Chief Executive, Charlie Mayhew MBE, will personally select the most exciting projects, depending on the client’s interests, skills and the work in progress at the time of travel. He will ensure that leading conservationists in Zimbabwe or Zambia – or both – mentor the client on the ground during their visit.
Where you stay
The client will stay at Singita Pamushana Lodge in Zimbabwe’s Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve and Mfuwe Lodge in Zambia’s Luangwa Valley, both very comfortable bases from which to explore the areas and take part in the projects.
When to go
Zambia and Zimbabwe are year-round destinations but we recommend travelling between April and September after the rains.
The cost of the trip will include a minimum of Â£15,000 contribution to each project.
Extend your trip
We encourage the client’s family to join them afterwards, and can create some extraordinary itineraries to suit all ages. We can arrange anything from a safari elsewhere in Southern or East Africa or a visit to the magnificent Victoria Falls to a glorious beach escape in Mauritius or Mozambique. Alternatively, we can design an incredible holiday in South Africa, which makes a wonderful family destination, taking in Cape Town, the Winelands, Sabi Sands Game Reserve, Tswalu in the Kalahari or Samara Private Game Reserve in the Great Karoo. We know the best luxury lodges, private houses or tented camps that can be booked out exclusively all over the continent.
Aerial view of famous Victoria Falls on the Zimbabwe and Zambia border