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July 29, 2009

Living & Giving Large

How to make a difference abroad when you’re in the dough and not the peace corps.
Originally published on March 30, 2007.

Some of us vacation for the sun. Or the culture. Or the hot stone massage. Or the white-knuckle ride. Or the Michelin-starred menus. But now, a new breed of altruistic adventurer is pushing the frontiers of philanthropic travel — and having it all. Just don’t confuse it with voluntourism — that’s for people with more time than money. For those who have it the other way around, the options to embrace high-end travel and keep their humanity intact are growing fast. Exquisite Safaris, for example, bills itself as “the pioneer of private, luxury philanthropic travel,” and tailors its five-star trips to destinations where clients get to interact with local communities. As Fast Company puts it: “In between watching cheetahs on the plains of the Serengeti and getting pampered with spa treatments, you may spend a morning teaching kids how to read.”

Elevate Destinations is another travel service with a benevolent bent: shunning corporate resorts, it accommodates guests in luxurious, locally-run lodges like Ngong House (a romantic tree house in Nairobi), and dedicates part of the trip’s costs to conservation and community programs in the host country. Elevate’s next Brazil adventure, in June, near to the coastal town of Paraty, offers rainforest hiking, ocean kayaking, beachside yoga, and surfing for all levels. Oh, and if you book by April 15, you’ll save $500.

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