Philanthropic Travel: Overseas Adventure Travel, Worldwide
For nearly two decades, OAT owners Alan and Harriet Lewis have put philanthropy at the center of their business. Since 1992, their Grand Circle Foundation has given an impressive $50 million to educational, development, and cultural preservation projects around the world—doing everything from financing a farm in Costa Rica to building schools in Tanzania and Thailand through its World Classroom Program. OAT has raised emergency funds for such disaster-struck areas as Haiti and Peru, and its employees organize some 30 community-service programs a year, making it one of the finest examples of a tour operator that cares.
Grassroots Outreach: Guludo Beach Lodge, Quirimbas National Park, Mozambique
An eco-lodge of thatched-palm suites on a white-sand beach, Guludo Beach Lodge is a model of conscientious tourism. Founded on business principles that both engage locals and support conservation, health, and education initiatives, Guludo is responsible for providing employment opportunities, scholarships, clean water, and mosquito netting to the 15,000 Mozambicans in its radius. It has spurred an economic turnaround, fostered cultural traditions, and brought optimism to an impoverished part of northern Mozambique.
Take the Trip: A day at Guludo may involve scuba diving, a sunset sail, and visits to the local community (doubles from $510, including meals).
Youth Education: Micato Safaris, Nairobi, Kenya
For Micato Safaris, a luxury tour operator with a history of social responsibility, it started with a simple concept: Why not change the life of one child for every guest it takes on safari? And that’s precisely what the company did last winter, by making a commitment to pay for the education of a child from Nairobi’s Mukuru slum for every safari it sells. In a community where some 100,000 youths don’t attend school, Micato’s initiative has a deep impact. Already, the company has plans to send thousands of kids to school, a promise that could cost Micato up to $6,000 per child if he or she continues into college.
Literacy Initiative: Myths & Mountains, Worldwide
E-books may be on the rise in the United States, but for rural communities in developing countries, access to the real thing can still be a challenge. Enter adventure-travel company Myths & Mountains, which launched the nonprofit READ (Rural Education and Development) two decades ago to construct and supply nearly 50 libraries in Nepal, India, and Bhutan. Today READ operates successfully on its own, but Myths & Mountains is still very involved: the company monitors the libraries and recruits READ supporters, all while offering custom cultural-immersion trips, from textile shopping in Bhutan to cooking lessons in Peru.