These full and frank independent reviews are from travellers who have booked directly through Responsible Travel. They are not edited by us or any of the companies we work with. Find the real story, from real travellers below.
Judy Thompson review 2 Jul 2008
1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?
Spending time with the local school children who were with us was absolutely priceless. It made our entire time worthwhile. There was much singing, dancing and joy.
2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?
Do not expect much contact with the animals as there were very few there! I understand it depends on the needs at the time but I feel we should have been told that there would not be much to do. We would have been positively bored to death had it not been for the children who come from the local village. We were originally told that the children might not be there for the week we were coming because of their final exam schedule. I can't imagine how it would have been without them there. We were very disappointed to have come all that way and discover we were not even needed. I felt the volunteers were important only for the revenue we brought to the project. Most definitely, the premise is good but felt they should have been more upfront to us about the workload. Also, we had virtually no orientation or training about anything. There was just a lot of wondering what we were supposed to be doing. As to the teaching of the children, they handed us a schedule for the week and that was that. Actually, we loved being pretty much unsupervised with the kids because it was fun to do what we wanted with the lessons, etc. We were much more able to reach out to them on a personal level.
3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?
The children who come to spend the week are most definitely benefited. They had a curriculum in place to keep them on track in their studies as well as teaching them important lessons about their own country's animals and the importance of compassion towards them. The children had a chance to feel special and be spoiled a bit by all of us there. As for the impacts on the environment, we had no electricity but were "enlightened" by the solar lights at night. Hot water was available by fires under the tanks. We were impressed by all of that.
4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?
The kids made it worthwhile and enjoyable otherwise we would have been deeply disappointed with the experience.
Read the operator's response here:
Thank you for your valuable comments about your stay and we are glad to read that your experience with the children was absolutely priceless. It is also true that volunteers mustn't expect too much contact and work with the animals as the main objective of the project is to educate the underprivileged children. We insist on that point and stipulate it in all our correspondences to avoid disappointment. As nature is the master we can't anticipate how many animals and what kind we will have at the time of your stay. In the case of this booking, the volunteers were more interested in the experience with the children than with the animals and that is why we did our best to have them at the time of their stay, knowing we had difficulties to arrange it during school exams. It is obvious that if we wouldn't have had the children at this time, the program would have been very different. We expect volunteers to be self sufficient and autonomous to give more chance to the children to benefit from different way of learning. We have a workbook that we discuss all together when necessary.
We are sorry that they have been disappointed and will take note of their comments to make sure we give the right information to our future volunteers about the work that needs to be done. We also thank Judy, Britt and Linda for their financial contribution as it is true, we need the income of volunteers to run the project and we do not hide it. In the name of the children and animals, we thank all the volunteers that support us.