Top 5 Volunteering Destinations You Should Try in 2016


A new year is knocking on the doors and we are writing down our new resolutions and aims we want to achieve in the following year. It can be getting rid of bad habits, making your secret wishes come true or learning something new. It does not matter what your list consists of, I would like to suggest you one activity which you may enjoy, especially if your heart and soul are full of never ending wanderlust. It is volunteering. Have you ever thought about it? Not yet? So you should definitely take this option into account, because you can visit very interesting and gorgeous destinations just because of it. It can be also less expensive than your other travels and just let your mind and body discover new cultures, people and what is the biggest plus - you actually do something for a good cause. That  sounds like a great offer, doesn´t it?  Oh wait, so there is a plan in your head, but you still don´t know where to go? Well, let me show you my ideas and tips which countries and places deserve your attention. Let´s see five destinations, which are the top ones for your year 2016. 

1. Guatemala

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Guatemala is known as one of the most bio diverse countries in the world. With an interesting history, unique ecological systems and wonderful nature, Guatemala is one of the places you definitely shouldn´t miss while visiting Central America. There is a wide range of opportunities volunteers can engage in. If you are good at English, you can give locals some English lessons. It will open them doors to more careers possibilities and better life. Childcare or elderly care are also nice activities as it will help you to meet new people, make new friends, practise the language (Spanish and also English) and all the smiling faces will stay in your mind forever. Medical students or youths with knowledge of first aid can use their skills in rural or poor areas, where medical care is not so good like in bigger cities. Taking care of abandoned animals or doing several agriculture jobs are other activities which are available and it´s only your decision, which area is the closest one to your heart. Apart from volunteering, Guatemala offers interesting ways how to spend your free time. Hitchhiking around the mountains, sightseeing around its UNESCO heritage site are just two opportunities how to discover Guatemala or if you decide to travel further, you can visit neighboring Mexico, El Salvador or Honduras. 

2. Zambia

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Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda or Ghana are fairly the most popular destinations in Africa when it comes to volunteering. But Zambia is quickly becoming another spot many international volunteers are interested in and that is why also you should consider this country. With fantastic location and with equal offer of free time activities as Kenya or Tanzania, this African country is definitely worth a long stay. There are many projects you can engage in. You can teach English or other subjects at local schools, take care of orphans or disadvantaged children, play an important role in medical care in rural areas or take a part in saving local wildlife and cultural heritage. In your free time, take a tour to some national park or visit Victoria Falls, one of the largest waterfalls in the world. If you are more interested in adventurous sports, Zambia can offer you zip line rides, white water rafting or bungee jumping. 

3. Romania

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Even though Romania joined European Union back in 2007, it is still one of the poorest countries in the Europe. There is still need of good education, good paid career opportunities or qualified medical care in several areas across the country. Another disadvantage is that many young people and couples leave country and seek better life in richer European countries. This is bad especially for elderly people or children who are left behind and put to special care because there is nobody who could take care of them. Volunteers spend most of time on projects focused on children, for example teaching at schools, helping abandoned toddlers or primary aged kids whose parents migrated to other countries or providing special needs care to the ones who have some special syndromes such as Autism. Romania is an ideal volunteering destination not only for European volunteers, who want to discover their continent a bit more, but also for volunteers who want to visit famous Transylvania region, Bran castle (Dracula´s home) or just enjoy endless harmony with absolutely lovely nature and photogenic villages everywhere. Plus it is great country for your budget - compared to the rest of Europe it is one of the cheapest countries and living there for a while won´t ruin you so much like other countries would do. And if you are still not persuaded, just to remind you - there is Bucharest, wonderful city...and if it still isn´t enough for you, well neighboring country is Hungary with famous Budapest or Bulgaria with magical Sofia. 

4. Madagascar

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Another country from Africa on the list. For people from Western world, Madagascar is probably known as a place with dancing lemurs, beautiful golden beaches and breathtaking sunset scenery. Well, it is not only about nature or animals, but locals make this island special too. Due to high poverty, the country is in need of help in education, medical or environmental care. Most of volunteers take part in area focused on local fauna and flora, doing works such as cleaning beaches to prevent animals being caught by various objects, educating locals about ecology and their ecosystem, monitoring animals and endemics in water or in forests and much more. There are also projects which aim to educate children and build better life for inhabitants of Madagascar, so volunteers can teach and take care of pupils at schools, help to build new schools and buildings or renovate the old ones. Madagascar offer many possibilities how to spend free weekends and there are different getaways which volunteers can use to enjoy themselves. You can either just relax and sunbath on beautiful beaches, take a tour with guide around forests and snap photos of various animals and plants or pay boat to cruise around the sea. For sport lovers, there are activities like snorkeling, horse riding or biking on dunes. 

5. Philippines

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Philippines is not only country of gorgeous beaches and tropical paradises wherever you look, but many inhabitants suffer after natural disasters, being homeless or in critical financial or medical situation. Children are out of schools or live in very poor conditions, their parents struggle with finding any job and there are always various barriers they face to. Despite of these critical situation, Filipino people are one of the nicest you will ever meet. Endlessly smiling with their positive attitude to everything, locals will quickly become your best friends and it will be only a pleasure to work there. With a wide range of volunteering opportunities and free time activities, the country is a perfect choice if you want to do something for others, but also have a perfect relaxing vacation at once. You can work with kids at schools and practise their English with them or you can do activities for kids from streets who can´t go to school. Many volunteers also work at special centers for children, teenagers or young adults who need special attention because of bad background or complicated past. Apart from working directly with people, volunteers can help locals to renovate their homes, offices, schools and other buildings. Due to poverty or natural disasters, many buildings may be destroyed or not in good condition. Locals can´t afford to fix everything on their own, so your help might be a big contribution to their life. As I already mentioned above, during your free time you can visit beaches or cruise all around the island and other small islands. Take a time and visit Manila, the capital city or if you want more peaceful location, try Davao area or some island. Everything can be usually reached by plane or boat and the prices are also very good. 

There are many other destinations which are perfect for volunteering and it is only on you what you want to experience. Are you interested in safari, wildlife and you melt over photos of little black babies? Then Kenya, Uganda, Zambia or Madagascar might be perfect for you. If you rather prefer breathtaking sunsets over sea and sandy beaches or you are true fauna and flora lover, try Philippines, Bali or Fiji. If you love discovering old civilisations, UNESCO heritage sites are your passion, make your volunteer trip to Cambodia, Guatemala, Colombia or Mexico. Just be happy and spread happiness.

Have you ever volunteered abroad? Which destination are you interested in? 

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