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PHOTO OF THE YEAR
Sunset in The Maldives

RUNNERS UP:

Mt. Yasur Eruption, Vanuatu

Melissani Lake, Kefalonia

Volunteer Travel: More Than Just a Holiday

In just over two weeks on December 5th, the United Nations will be celebrating and promoting International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development, or International Volunteer Day (IVD) for short. 2010 is an important year, as IVD marks the 10th anniversary of the 2001 International Year of Volunteers (IYV+10), which also coincides with the European Year of Volunteering. IYV+10 will be an opportunity for people all around the world to join a global effort to reinvigorate the spirit of volunteerism and we thought we'd get the ball rolling by dedicating November's newsletter to an issue close to our hearts: voluntourism.

Our whl.travel partners have again done us proud by telling us about the many worthwhile causes they support in their local areas. This month's Top 5 list is a rundown of volunteer holidays available in some of our whl.travel destinations, and our local connections in Nepal, Malawi and Argentina have submitted feature articles about voluntourism initiatives they work closely with. We also have an inspiring Traveller Tale about volunteer teaching in Oaxaca, Mexico. In our other regular features this month, the Inside Word – our local destination guide – hits on the vibrant beach paradise of Goa and our interview comes from the man with Green Visions: Thierry Joubert, our local connection in Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina.

The WHL Group thinks responsible travellers should be rewarded, so this month we're offering a fantastic day trip for two in Rio de Janeiro, courtesy of our Rio partner, Blue Ocean Tours, for the best three green/sustainable/responsible travel tips submitted to us by November 30th. We also have a trip of a lifetime up for grabs: a three-day break for two in Nepal, courtesy of our local connection, Outdoor Himalayan Treks. All you have to do to be in the running is write to us about your most memorable life-altering travel experience in 200 words or less. Simple!

Finally, this month saw us crown our Photo of the Year winner. With 52 amazing Photo of the Week entries to choose from it was a tough call to pick the best pic, but our expert panel of judges cast their discerning eyes over our collection from the last 12 months and reached a verdict: The Dazzling Colours of Sunset, the Maldives. Check out the banner at the top of the page to see this dazzler for yourself!

Wishing you happy, safe & responsible travels!

Natasha Robinson, Editor

Cambodia, Ecuador, Laos, Mexico, Tanzania, WHL Group newsletter, children, health, human interests, poverty, top five, voluntourism

Top Five Picks for Volunteer Holidays

WHL Group 15 November 2010

For whl.travel, a company dedicated to improving the travel experience and the ethical standards of tourism from the bottom up and for everyone involved, it is hardly surprising that many local partners are actively involved in voluntourism initiatives. Here we spotlight a few whl.travel destinations that encourage travellers to get involved in local projects with the promise of a true cultural experience and exchange.

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Mexico, North America, Northern America, ecotours, personal experience, poverty, traveller tale, voluntourism, women, WHL Group newsletter, human interests

Traveller Tale: Creating Community Through Volunteering in Oaxaca, Mexico

SUSAN BEAN AYCOCK 10 November 2010

I first took a tour of Teotitlán del Valle, Mexico, when a three-week vacation to Oaxaca turned into a love affair with the local culture and my new home shortly thereafter. After I began to tag along on other trips, Fondación En Vía’s managing director mentioned that they needed more tutors for the free English classes they offered in Teotitlán. It took me about two seconds to commit to at least a month of volunteer teaching.

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Nepal, Asia, South-Central Asia, children, homelessness, local knowledge, poverty, voluntourism

Feature: Making a Difference in Nepal by Volunteering

NAVIN M. SHRESTHA 11 November 2010

Tours and treks regularly circuit the far-flung areas of Nepal to take in the astounding scenery, cultural diversity and the warm hospitality of Nepal’s rural people. Unfortunately, these remote places and the people who call them home have seen very little of the dividend from tourism. Today, though, at least one local organisation is currently trying to change all that. Outdoor Himalayan Treks seeks to share the benefits of travel at a grassroots level.

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Europe, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Eastern Europe, WHL Group newsletter, adventure travel, outdoors, opinion, local knowledge, personal experience, interview

Interview: Words from the Man with Green Visions in Bosnia & Herzegovina

WHL Group 17 November 2010

Every month, we delve into the travel experiences of people in the extended WHL Group network. This month we talk to Thierry Joubert, office manager at Green Visions, the whl.travel local connection based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Describing himself as the real Flying Dutchman, Thierry Joubert has lived and travelled all over the world. Originally from Curacao, a small island in the Dutch Antilles, Thierry currently lives in Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina.

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South America, Argentina, children, cities, homelessness, human interests, local knowledge, personal experience, opinion, poverty, voluntourism

Feature: The Struggle to Give Back to the Community by Volunteering (in Argentina)

LUKE SEWELL 9 November 2010

‘Eco-tourism,’ ‘volunteering’ and ‘giving back to community.’ The words are so full of altruism and yet, in reality, the volunteering sector is a minefield of organisations that exploit generosity for profit mixed in with good causes. So how do you find what’s meaningful? You have to keep your eyes an ears open for good causes, approach local charities, talk to people and think about the skills that you can contribute. It’s a lot more work than a click of the mouse.

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Malawi, Africa, Eastern Africa, children, ecotours,personal experience, poverty, voluntourism, human interests

Feature: Voluntourism Helps Locals in Malawi

CHIMWEMWE SIYABU & KATE WARD 8 November 2010

As a developing country in Africa, Malawi faces a lot of challenges, especially when it comes to the development of its rural communities. One of many effective ways to tackle some of the challenges, though, is through volunteer assistance, channelled through the tourism industry. In support of this, The Responsible Safari Company, the whl.travel local connection in Malawi, has partnered with local community-development organisations to create an exciting range of voluntourism opportunities.

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  ...on Goa, India