Have you ever considered ‘voluntourism’? It can be one of the best ways to see a country.

If you have a social conscience and/or are environmentally minded, you may like to consider ‘vuluntourism’. A number of companies are offering volunteering opportunities which combine sightseeing, adventure and philanthropy. So if you want to do more with your annual holiday than laze on a beach, check out www.handsupholidays.com, a company recommended by Body Shop founder Anita Roddick for those who want ‘an adventure that counts’.

Hands Up Holidays will tailor your vacation according to your requirements. Their web page lists their top ten options, which include Brazil, Thailand, Australia and Ecuador. Trips have two grade scales according to activity level and comfort. Both are scaled from 1-5, with 5 high. For example, their popular ‘Ultimate India’ trip is graded 1 on the activity scale and 5 on the comfort scale (so you can volunteer without cutting back on luxury), whereas their equally popular ‘Sunderbans Smiles’ trip is graded 2 on activity and 2 on comfort. The cost of the latter is around £1200 for 11 days (flights not included).

Whether staying in a 3 star hotel in Calcutta or in one of India’s finest hotels with a view of the Taj Mahal, you can teach, help with community projects or conservation work while taking time to explore the surrounding areas. Indeed, a volunteer trip is one of the best ways to see the country.

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