If giving back and traveling more are among your New Year’s resolutions, why not kill two birds with one stone by taking a volunteer vacation?
The Away Network has compiled its list of the eight top volunteer vacations, with destinations ranging from the far-flung reaches of the world to America’s first National Wildlife Refuge.
1. Waterfalls, Waves and Service: This Hawaiian service trip focuses on water issues and the effect of invasive species in Hana, the most remote and tranquil part of Maui.
2. Cachiccata Group Service Project with Machu Picchu, Peru: Participants will visit Cusco, the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu, as well as restore homes, plant native trees and visit schools over 10 days in the Cachiccata community.
3. Wildlife Conservation Expedition in South Africa: On this 14-day conservation trip, volunteers will go on safari and help tag lions and leopards with radio tracking collars.
4. Costa Rica Leatherback Turtle Volunteer Vacation: If you love nightly walks along the beach, this is the trip for you. Volunteers will spend five nights working with giant leatherback sea turtles, patrolling the beaches at Estacion Las Tortugas.
5. National Park Kids and Rural Schools Project in Malawi: Volunteers spend 14 days working on high-impact education projects to create better learning environments for children integrating into the Liwonde community.
6. Service Project at Florida’s Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge: Travelers will get one day off of fun in the sun and base camp for seven days, restoring habitats in the first U.S. wildlife refuge.
7. Baja Camping and Turtle Research in Mexico: Help save endangered green sea turtles on this eight-day camping trip on the remote islands in the Sea of Cortez.
8. Children-Wellness Program Participation and Panda Research in China: This 13-day trip includes visits to Beijing, the Forbidden City, Xi’an and the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. Volunteers will help a nonprofit dedicated to finding employment for locals and work at the Panda Research Center in Chengdu. (GORP.com)