Naturally, the voluntourism industry aims to serve the largest number of people possible. It’s kind of like politics: one party trying to appeal to the largest demographic by riding the middle. As the market grows, more and more organizations are providing streamlined, polished, non-threatening excursions that get people excited without frightening them. This is great because it means more people are deciding to travel and volunteer. But for adventurous volunteers who are looking for something less polished—something challenging, remote, and raw—these voluntours may not be a good fit. These travelers are the third party voters, people who like small organizations that don’t compromise on specific issues (like adventure). For them I suggest Fronteering, an exciting volunteering organization that brings travelers off the beaten path to experience isolated cultures in remote areas.
Fronteering is focused on “[preserving] the environment, wildlife and indigenous people throughout the world while giving volunteers a real and raw experience in some of the most beautiful and often remote places in the world to make a true difference.” They are a for-profit company but, like many of the organizations we’ve highlighted here, they are ethical profiteers. They believe in the causes they support and put most of their profits back into the communities they serve. I love this business model, for obvious reasons. If capitalism could always be ethical, designed to serve our people, our world would be a much better place.
Their focus on remote places makes Fronteering projects unique. These are places most volunteers never visit. Places like the jungles of Guyana Amazon, a last unspoiled tropical wilderness and home to one of my favorite animals, the discus fish; and the Arctic North Pole where wild bears rule. Unlike some of the larger voluntouring organizations, Fronteering is focused on just a few geographic locations but in each they find small communities of people doing amazing things. Their projects are sustainable and are focused on local community needs. The only downside I can see is the price. Most of these trips are between $1500 and $2500, a hefty price tag for anyone on a budget. On the other hand, the more expensive trips tend to by much longer, up to 16 weeks, so the cost probably does end up being significantly less than your typical voluntour.
If you are a young person—between 18 and 35—and are looking for an exciting voluntour, check out Fronteering. I imagine many of Fronteering’s travelers are seasoned, like the folks over at eTramping: two adventurous travelers taking the world by storm.