Calling all animal lovers! Do you know a teen looking for an adventure this summer who is crazy about animals? Maybe they work weekends at the local aquarium or spend all their free time walking the neighbors’ dogs. From animal shelter volunteers or equestrian competitors, the only requirement to love these trips is an interest in the care of animals.
1. Sanctuaries and Service in South East Asia
If animal rehabilitation is what you’re looking for, Thailand’s Best is one of our favorites. This is an 18 day adventure for high school age students. The groups will visit two wildlife sanctuaries, volunteer to restore dugong habitat on the coast, and snorkel with wildlife in multiple locations.
The first sanctuary is Elephant Nature Park in the Chiang Mai province of Northern Thailand. Elephant Nature Park is a rescue center for elephants across Thailand and also provides a home for buffalo, cats, dogs, and other species. ENP is also currently working on a rainforest restoration project to plant native trees in the surrounding areas.
Traveling down to southern region of Thailand, students will stop at the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project in Phuket. Here, students will learn about the rescue and care of Gibbons in the local area and volunteer by assisting with what’s most needed at the time of their visit.
Out on the island of Koh Kood, the coastal service project will focus on mangrove restoration efforts to save the native habitat of the dugong. Students will have the opportunity to snorkel this incredible ecosystem and catch glimpses of the vibrant life they’ll be working to protect.
2. African Wildlife Wonders
Ever dreamed of waking to the sound of roaring lions outside your tent? How about sleeping under a South African sky dotted with southern hemisphere constellations? Epic Africa truly is an epic adventure with a 21-day itinerary of safari, national parks, and some of the most amazing wildlife viewing opportunities on Earth.
Get up close and personal with rescued African elephants in Hazyview, an agricultural town in Mpumalanga, South Africa. While learning about behavior and care, students will have a chance to feed and interact with elephants. This is the first taste of what life is like side by side with these incredible animals.
Next the group will explore Kruger National Park, one of South Africa’s best places to spot lions, crocodiles, leopard, rhinoceros, Cape buffalo, giraffe, elephant, mongoose, hippo, African wild dogs, antelope, and more. Down the road, visit Jane Goodall’s Chimp Eden, a chimpanzee sanctuary next to the Jane Goodall Institute South Africa.
Across the banks of the Crocodile River, make camp at Marloth Park and have another opportunity to spot the Big Five of African megafauna. Kudu, zebra, and blue wildebeest roam free throughout the protected area as well as warthog, impala, and ostrich.
iSimangaliso Wetland Park will be home for the next 2 days of the trip. While traversing the interconnected lake system and snorkeling in the pristine waters, bird lovers will rejoice in the 250 avian species that nest in these banks. Leatherback and loggerhead turtles can be spotted along with vibrant fish, eels, and other wetland species.
Next is Hluhluwe–Imfolozi Park, the oldest park in the country, and the Emdoneni Cheetah Project. At Emdoneni, students will learn about many species of wild African cats and the efforts to preserve these endangered species.
The Ballito Coast will be the site of the last safari experience. Home of the bottle nosed dolphin and many others, Ballito is a marine paradise. Students will go on a “sea-fari” to search for marine species and volunteer to reduce single use plastics.
4. Colorful Costa Rica
Home to half a million species (and counting!), Costa Rica is one of the most biodiverse places in the world. The tropics abound with brightly colored feathers, scales, fur, and skin. Our Costa Rica trips focus on visiting a range of diverse habitats with the hopes of spotting wildlife everywhere we go. Even when en route to a new destination, we keep our eyes peeled. Our vans have pulled over to watch monkeys crossing the canopy over the road or spot scarlet macaws on a bathroom break!
While hiking in the Monteverde cloud forest, groups will search for sloths, ocelots, tree frogs, and toucans. On the night hike adventure, they’ll be looking for nocturnal animals and maybe even find a tarantula burrow.
In the volcanic region of Rincon de la Vieja, a local guide will take the group down the trail. If they’re quiet enough, they might spot a coati, a raccoon-like mammal with a striped tail and fuzzy ears. Following tracks in the mud might be as close as they get to the elusive tapir, but they’ll definitely get to see one up close at one of the many wildlife parks.
On our Ultimate Costa Rica trip, students will have the chance to volunteer with Olive Ridley sea turtles at the Ostional Wildlife Reserve. Located on the Nicoya Peninsula, this vital breeding ground is where turtles come to nest.
One of the highlights of the Costa Rica trips is an overnight white water raft down the Pacuare River. The banks of the Pacuare will be some of the wildest and most remote on the entire trip. This is the place to see traces of the mysterious jaguar and other typically shy cat species of Costa Rica. Looking up overhead, it’s not uncommon to see spider monkeys, howler monkeys, and vibrant blue morpho butterflies flitting by.
4. Fantastic Fauna of Fiji
For the mer-people of the world, this trip is an underwater paradise. Fiji Dive Service says it all in the name. The focus of this trip is what lies below the surface. There’s no better place than the Pacific Islands’ crystalline blue waters to search for tropical species. While learning to SCUBA (or advancing dive skills), students will be surrounded by marine life daily.
Soft corals, manta rays, and white-tipped reef sharks are among the species that can be spotted while experiencing this haven for divers.
Beginners will focus on the Cabbage Patch, an area named for the soft cabbage corals with “blooming” leaves like underwater flowers. More experienced divers have the option of seeing the Great White Wall, a world-famous drop off site. With a variety of depths to explore, the wall is a hard and soft coral ecosystem teeming with life.
Whether your passion is on land or in the sea, we can’t wait to meet you! Feel free to reach out with questions about any of these trips.