on Mar 04, 2020 in
Coronavirus is on everyone’s mind right now – understandably so. We need to be sensible and treat it with respect. But you still want to travel, yes? Help is at hand.
One solution for you is to head to the wilderness – areas of sparse populations are perfect for exploring and staying virus-free. Here are the top 5 wilderness destinations where you can enjoy a luxury adventure – and even make a difference while you are there:
Namibia is one of the least densely populated countries in the world, with just 3.13 people per square kilometer, 2nd only to Mongolia.
This desert country hosts some incredible lodges, such as Sossusvlei Desert Lodge, Little Kulala and Desert Rhino Camp – all far from the madding crowd.
What’s more, you can play a part to reduce elephant-human conflict in the southern Kunene region of Namibia. You get to help construct protection walls around water points, or dig new water sources for elephants away from human settlements. You also get to spend a fabulous day tracking the desert elephants in the wilderness.
You get to learn all about the desert elephants and witness them roaming in their habitat with highly knowledgeable, fantastic guides.
Get started on the construction early to beat the Namibian heat and then stop around 12 to travel back to camp for a traditional African siesta and lunch. In the afternoons you start after 2:30 pm and work for a couple of hours before heading back to camp in time for the obligatory sundowner. Evenings are spent relaxing around the campfire, listening to the sounds of Africa.
Building walls is sweaty and you work as a team to complete an incredibly satisfying project.
Outside of the cities such as Sydney and Melbourne fringing the coast, Australia is mostly desert, and in the aftermath of the bushfires, needs your visit more than ever.
Head to the Outback and immerse yourself in the Aboriginal culture: diverse, with a multitude of languages and disparate customs.
And here’s how you can leave a legacy:
Whilst Aboriginal art has captured the world’s attention, the preservation of the artistic talents and culture in general remains under threat, especially when employment opportunities in rural communities are scarce. Becoming an artist is one way of earning a viable income and remaining part of an Aboriginal community, and can even make the culture more vibrant and sustainable.
You get to fund the scholarship of a promising Aboriginal arts student and in return, whilst in the Northern Territory, in sight of Uluru, you get an exclusive encounter with an established Aboriginal artist, from whom you can commission your own unique work of art (we will arrange the shopping of this to your home).
Or head to another wilderness: Tasmania, where amazing hikes and gourmet dining opportunities abound. Moreover, you can spend two days with an acclaimed wildlife expert & naturalist who will guide you around neighbouring Maria Island. Enjoy a fascinating insight into the lives of the endangered Tasmanian Devil. Sightings are not guaranteed but Maria Island offers the best chance.
Tasmanian Devils suffer from a facial tumor that kills all infected Devils, and your donation of $5,000 to the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program will assist in further research to combat this deadly contagion.
Fortunately, the Tasmanian Devils on Maria Island are not infected with the disease.
In addition to the Tasmanian Devil, on Maria Island various rare and unusual birds and animals inhabit this remarkable “Noah’s Ark” island sanctuary including wombats, pademelons, kangaroos and wallabies.
The Blue Mountains are another incredible wilderness region in this vast country. Stay at the sensational One & Only Wolgan Valley and while you are there, you can make a difference conserving some of Australia’s most iconic wildlife:
- Helping with animal counting (Wombats, Kangaroos, Wallabies and Wallaroos)
- Planting native trees
- Weeding tree areas, irrigating and testing water quality for the animals to safely drink
- Regenerating and rebuilding eroded areas along river beds
- Helping university research teams
You get to learn a great deal about Australia’s flora and fauna and play a role in preserving it.
Kenya’s Masai Mara is a vast treasure trove of wildlife, with few people…for even fewer people and still incredible wildlife, head to Laikipia or Samburu – stay at Solio Lodge or Elephant Bedroom Camp and view unique sub-species such as Grevy’s Zebra, Gerenuk, and the Reticulated Giraffe.
Back in the Masai Mara, you can stay on a private conservancy at Cottar’s 1920’s camp, encounter hardly any other people, and in addition to spectacular wildlife sightings led by Africa’s finest guides, help install eco-friendly stoves in village homes. So you get to make lives healthier while staying healthy yourself.
2. Galapagos Islands
Perhaps cruises are not on your radar right now after the Diamond Princess fiasco, but the good news is that in the Galapagos Islands:
- Boats are MUCH smaller – even the biggest carry 100 passengers and the small ones around 20 guests
- You don’t have to go on a cruise – you can base yourself on one of the islands at a superb camp or lodge, such as Pikaia Lodge or Galapagos Safari Camp
And while you are there, you can get exclusive access to parts of the National Park normally off-limits to foreigners and help with removing invasive species. Leave the islands a better place. Awesome for families.
1. Montana, Wyoming and Colorado
These states are amongst the least densely populated in the US, and all have spectacular, raw, wild scenery to beguile you. One population that needs to increase are wolves. As demonstrated in Yellowstone National Park, when this apex predator was reintroduced in the Park, the whole ecosystem flourished.
Sadly their viability is in crisis.
A vital step in securing wolves’ future is the creation of a wolf corridor to allow wolves to move freely from Mexico to Canada. This is in fact almost complete, with one missing link: Colorado.
Since the 1940s, when Colorado’s last wolf was killed, its ecosystem has suffered. A lack of natural balance means that too many elk and deer eat away the vegetation that holds streams and rivers back, leading to erosion and the disruption of even more habitats, like those for native beavers and songbirds. Wolves also naturally limit the spread of disease, such as Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), by taking vulnerable animals out of the population.
This summer 2020 is the crucial time when you can go on a trip and your philanthropic donation will help secure the legislation needed to enable the Colorado corridor to become a reality.
Christopher Hill is Founder and CEO at Hands Up Holidays. Hands Up Holidays is an award-winning travel company specialising in tailor-made luxury family trips that combine sightseeing with hands-on service projects.