Orchard work in Motueka (with 10 telephone numbers!)

While Motueka may not be the most interesting town in New Zealand, lots of people do stop by there for it’s proximity to Abel Tasman national park or for the many farm jobs available in the area. This post will be geared towards orchard work and long term stays. If you want to find information about the things to do in the area, there is some at the bottom of the post.

  • Accommodation

There are 3 options for backpacker accommodation in Motueka. While it’s difficult to say which one is the best, it’s easy to say which one is the worst.

Happy Apple Backpackers is known to be the worst backpackers in Motueka. There are several reasons for this. The first and foremost perhaps is the owner, who has some anger management problems. Several Tripadvisor reviews mention being scolded by the owner and I personally have friends who got scolded for various odd reasons. These scoldings were not simple telling offs but cursing, shouting, threats about being kicked out – for such things as waiting with washing the dishes until after having eaten the meal. One friend had his big bag of groceries taken out of the fridge and put on the free shelf, since it was marked only with his name and not the checkout date. Since he had stayed there for a month or more and did not have a planned checked out date, he wrote only his name. The manager knew who he was and that he would not check out any time soon.

There are other reasons to not stay in Happy Apple. Some of these include:

  • Hot water showers lasts for five minutes and are more often than not broken.
  • The backpackers is far from town (a long walk from the closest super market)
  • It’s the most expensive backpackers in Motueka and charges the same for people to sleep in their van at the parking as they charge for people to sleep in a hostel bed.
  • If you check out even ten minutes late, you’ll not only risk getting scolded but also get charged an extra 10 dollars.
  • Plates and cutlery are personal. You get your kitchen stuff at check in and then have to keep it through the duration of your stay. Feels like a prison almost.
  • Guests are under no conditions allowed…

White Elephant and Laughing Kiwi are both good backpackers, closer to town, cheaper (god knows why) and overall just a lot better. The White Elephant is probably the best hostel for those looking to stay for a while as workers. The owner tries her best to make sure you find a job and feel good during your stay in Motueka. Overall I’d recommend The White Elephant the most. You can find their website here.

  • Work

While you can earn more than the minimum wage working as a picker or on other contracted work, most people working in packhouses and doing various stuff around orchards earn only minimum wage.

These are different employers found in and around the area.

0274992912 (Hops)

0276942255 (Pears)

035289567 (Packhouse)

035287831 (Packhouse)

0212776571 (Grapes & Apple)

0275727232 (Vineyard)

02041509933 (Apple)

0274588198 (Apple)

0272833949 (Kiwi)

You will also often find listing on http://www.seasonaljobs.co.nz/ and on backpackerboard.

If you have some numbers that you want to share just share them in a comment or message and I’ll add them later. It’s better people can sort out a job before arriving. I met a lot of people who just sat around for days, making phone calls and waiting for text replies, simply because they could not find work fast enough.

  • What to do in Motueka?

That’s a question a lot of people ask themselves. The answer is that there is not so very much to do in Motueka. You can have a nice few days off but will quickly run out of stuff to do. Luckily the climate is great, it’s close to the coast and since you’re (if you’re reading this) probably there to work in an orchard, you’ll often work 6 days per week anyway.

For a day off, the inlet walkway  leading to the shipwreck in Motueka wharf and to the sandspit, is great. The sandspit is a wellknown site for migratory birds and one of the most important sites in the region. Even if you are not a birdwatcher, it’s great just sitting by the coast a sunny day and watching all those wading birds during low tide. Or if you want to relax properly, there is a saltwater swimming pool close to the sandspit too.

The Motueka saturday market is well worth to visit for sampling snacks, buying groceries and so forth. A lot of farmers live in the area and if you arrive late, you can grab some really cheap and good quality locally grown veggies and fruits. But it’s better to arrive early. It’s a really nice little market. For other shopping, there are plenty of second hand shops around.

You could also help out as a volunteer for Keep Motueka Beautiful (just send them an email) or why not ask for information about volunteering at the local DOC office. If you want to know more about volunteering in New Zealand, you could have a look at this post and it’s list of different volunteer jobs.

  • Out of town

It’s a lot easier to find nice things to do in the area around Motueka! I won’t write anything about the Abel Tasman coast, since it’s

The Ngarau caves are situated on the top of Takaka hill (and the drive up the hill is an experience in itself!) and possible to visit with a guided tour, costing 20 dollars per adult. It’s a beautiful little cave and very worthwhile. Tours depart hourly. The area around the caves are beautiful and nice to have a stroll around in after a completed tour.

You can reach inland Abel Tasman national park if you drive half an hour further from the Ngarau caves. At the end of the road towards Harwoods Hole (right after the Ngarau Caves) you will find a car park and can do a 40 minute walk to the deepest vertical hole in New Zealand…

If already up at the hill, why not go a bit further up to Pupu springs, boasting some of the cleanest waters in the world. Depending on who you ask it’s either among the cleanest in the southern hemisphere or the world. See DOC’s information here.

At the absolute top of the south island just outside of Collingwood, you will find the Farewell Spit nature reserve, which is one of the oddest geographical features of the areas. The spit stretches 35 km into the sea and is a more strictly protected nature reserve than a national park. While it’s closed down for the public, it’s open for tour operators and it’s possible to find information about the area and the tours here (expensive though!).

Very close to Motueka, you can find something a bit different and not typical for New Zealand. Why not join the local hare krishna community for a very tasty, healthy and affordable meal and some chanting.

Conservation volunteering in New Zealand – 50+ links to various positions

New Zealand is perhaps one of the countries in the world where it’s the easiest to volunteer for environmental organizations. Ranging from day outs planting native trees to multiple month full time ranger positions, anyone interested in environmental volunteering in New Zealand should be able to find what they are looking for. While there are plenty of long term positions that require a lot of commitment, most volunteer work is done in a leisurely manner a few hours at a time at an ongoing basis. Many volunteer groups work in such a way that they for example meet up for 3 hours of planting native trees and weeding every other Friday. It’s a common social activity for locals and a way to learn more about this interesting part of kiwi culture. This post will be a bit about what kind of volunteering positions you normally can expect to find, how to get the position and why it’s a win-win for everyone and you should give it a go. It ends with a link list to various organizations etc that are looking for volunteers. The list is by no means complete but unless you are looking for something very specific, it will offer more than enough to choose from and several ideas about how to continue the search on your own, in case you did not find what you were looking for.

Finally there are many job positions available for those who want to work with environmental conservation and so forth. You can find some links under a separate section in the list at the bottom. Be aware that these jobs are often unavailable to people who are not New Zealand residents.

If you miss something in this post, let me know and I’ll update it!

  • Requirements

Requirements are different for different positions. Most positions have very few requirements but the more long term and popular one’s with limited capacity can often be tricky. They often take into consideration level of fitness (with volunteer ranger positions often requiring a high level of fitness), education (favoring those who are educated in or study relevant topics), employment history (past volunteering or work for environmental organizations are often a bonus), skills (for example: do you know how to use monitoring equipment?) and future plans (it’s sometimes a bonus to see the volunteering more as a stepping stone than a once in a lifetime interesting experience). So if you want to volunteer as a wildlife ranger, be prepared for some rough competition and possibly having to either volunteer a few months or not at all. If you want something more short term and less demanding, luckily a lot less is demanded in terms of commitment and previous experience. Sometimes you don’t even need to apply, but can just show up. If you anyway, no matter what wants to try for one of the more demanding positions and for example stay a month in the NZ wilderness monitoring wild kiwi, New Zealand’s department of conservation (DOC) has several online courses that you can take to better your odds . Don’t be intimidated by the fact that it’s more difficult to get a volunteer position as a ranger, but be aware that you have to put some effort if you want to get it. Even if it’s still lots of time until you want to start volunteering, start looking for positions already now. Many of the applications close months before the actual volunteering starts, so if you want to make sure to get a position it’s best to start early. Also try to find a local organization back home to volunteer with once in a while. By getting some experience and learning more, you will better your odds of being accepted. Put an effort into writing your CV. Think of previous experiences and how they could be helpful for you. Even if it’s not related to actual biological conservation, it could for example be helpful to have worked in a pet shop, as some common volunteering tasks are not at all very different from such work, only that instead of taking care of guinea pigs you’ll be taking care of endangered wildlife.

Many volunteering positions in New Zealand require you to hold a working permit or resident status, but a lot of the positions are available also for those on a regular tourist visa. There is an easy way to decide if a position is open or not. Do you get anything in exchange for your work? Examples of things given in exchange for work could be food, transportation or accommodation. If you don’t, you are legally allowed to do the job, even if you are only on a tourist visa. For positions that offer benefits, you will need either a working visa of some sorts or a resident status.

  • Costs

Generally speaking it’s for free to volunteer. That means that it won’t cost you anything to do the actual work. But as most long term positions do not provide much more than accommodation and most short term positions offer nothing at all, you will have to put some money aside for such things as food, transportation and equipment. Often such things as transportation can be coordinated, so that you – if you don’t have your own transportation – can go with others. If you don’t have equipment, then don’t worry. Unless you are going to do something very demanding, you most likely don’t even need it. But if there is something that you do need but don’t want to buy new, for example a good pair of boots, often you can find them cheap in one of the many second hand shops that are scattered across the country.

If you want to spend a bit more you could do some “voluntourism”. By paying a organization some money, they will arrange your volunteering experience. I don’t know almost anything about these organizations and how they are in New Zealand, but from what little I’ve seen there seems to be some good value options, where food, transportation and accommodation is included, without it costing ridiculous amounts of money as it sometimes does. Perhaps some of them will lend you the equipment you need.

  • Tasks

Volunteer’s tasks usually includes one or several of the following: weeding, planting native trees, pest control, trapping pests, monitor wildlife, nurse native plants, nurse endangered wildlife mark and maintain tracks, guide visitors, clean facilities, gather seeds. Some tasks require some skills. For example managing kiwi chicks. Others are more simple. For example to survey a fenced in nature reserve to make sure that the fence has not been damaged. Many provide ample opportunities of learning a job. Much of the conservation work revolves around minimizing the harmful effects of invasive species. Some of it requires killing introduced predators by placing traps in the nature. 

Some volunteering tasks can be done online or in other ways, without having to leave the computer.

  • where

You can find volunteering work almost anywhere in New Zealand. If you want to volunteer in a certain city or for a certain nature reserve, it’s often enough to visit their official website to apply. The link list below gives you a very wide range of possible volunteering positions, but in case you don’t find what you are looking for, do some searches of your own and probably you will find something. If you manage to find a organization or project that you want to volunteer for but they don’t have any application form or information online, try to just send them an email and ask. Environmental volunteering is very widespread throughout New Zealand and quite likely many will be open for suggestions, even if at first glance it does not look like it.

  • Benefits

There are many benefits to volunteering. Some of them are for you, other for the organizations you volunteer for, and most of them – of course – for the nature that you help preserve.

You will, depending on what you do, learn new skills, experience New Zealand’s unique nature from close up, meet a lot of interesting people and – if you want that – get valuable experience for future employment in conservation. As conservation work globally is underfunded and very competitive (with lots of people wanting to do it for a living, but few positions available), conservation experience is often a stepping stone required for a paid job, even for those with education. 

Most conservation organizations in New Zealand to some extent depend on volunteers. They would not be able to do their work without volunteers. Many of the even relatively small organizations receive hundreds of thousands of hours of volunteer work per year. That’s millions of New Zealand dollars per year that they don’t have to spend. For a organization that does not actually strive to make money but to preserve endangered species and ecosystems, it would not be possible to pay for all this labor. Had it not been for volunteers, many endangered species’ of New Zealand would be extinct.

Finally, if you have any questions or things to add, let me know and I will update the post! Hopefully it will make it easier for people to find what they are looking for.


  • DOC – the department of conservation

DOC is short for Department of Conservation and is the government body responsible for conservation work throughout New Zealand. Not only is their website great for those who want to volunteer, but they also have free online courses in such things as the use of monitoring equipment and the nature of New Zealand. It’s with DOC you will find many of the most interesting positions, for example as a kiwi tracking ranger in the remote wildernes, but they list all kinds of positions, including office work. Be aware that many positions have lots of applicants and that you will have to convince them about why to choose you.

https://www.doc.govt.nz/get-involved/volunteer/

  • Cities and areas

Many cities have their own volunteering websites. Here are a few examples. If you want to find volunteering opportunities for e.g. Hamilton, just visit their website and see if you can find volunteering opportunities there. Most volunteering activities offered in the links below are not actually inside the cities, but close by and within easy reach. Often such things as transportation can be arranged with other volunteers, if you lack your own means of transport.

http://nelson.govt.nz/environment/biodiversity-2/nelson-nature/get-involved/environmental-volunteer-groups

https://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/environment/what-you-can-do-for-environment/Pages/volunteer-in-our-parks.aspx

https://wellington.govt.nz/services/community-and-culture/volunteers/volunteering-opportunities

https://ccc.govt.nz/parks-and-gardens/volunteer

http://www.dunedin.govt.nz/facilities/parks-and-reserves/volunteer-in-dunedin

  • Portals

These links lead to portals for different organizations. Various organizations offer different positions in different places. Most of the links lead to relatively similar volunteering opportunities, so only if you are after something very specific will you ever need to look through all of them.

www.naturespace.org.nz

http://www.forestandbird.org.nz/get-involved/volunteer

http://www.forestandbird.org.nz/what-we-do/branches

https://www.wwf.org.nz/take_action/volunteer/

https://bookings.conservationvolunteers.org/book/search

https://seekvolunteer.co.nz/environment-conservation-volunteering

https://www.newzealand.com/int/feature/volunteering-in-new-zealand/

https://www.volunteeringnz.org.nz/

http://www.conservationvolunteers.org.nz/register.php

  • Killing trees? What!?!

Around the top of the north Island some brave volunteers are waging a war against the pine trees. Not the typical conservation volunteers (who are sometimes called “treehuggers”), these people kill trees by the hundreds. The reason is that pines, as an introduced species in New Zealand, are harming the New Zealand environment. Local plants, mushrooms, wildlife etc, is of course adapted to local trees, with which they have evolved together. The amount of species found in pine forests are vastly lower than the amount of species found in native forests. You’ll notice it if you compare the sounds in a pine forest compared to a native forest: while you’ll hear plenty of birds in the latter, the former is eerily quiet. So if you are up in the area around Marlborough and want to do a different kind of treehugger activity, try this out!

https://marlboroughsounds-restora.squarespace.com/

  • Cleanup events

Cleaning beaches, rivers and all kinds of places around New Zealand. You can even organize your own events and have interested people showing up helping out. So if you have no plans for a day off, why not check if there are any cleanup events going on nearby! Shared transportation can be arranged if you lack your own.

https://www.knzb.org.nz

  • Events, paperwork, fundraising, office, online

Allthough most work takes place outdoors, some stuff require regular office or remote computer workers. If you want to help out with things such as fundraising, perhaps you will find something in the links below!

http://www.eco.org.nz/get-involved/volunteer.html 

https://www.doc.govt.nz/get-involved/volunteer/by-type/indoors/

WWF also has some opportunities. On their website it says: “Unfortunately we don’t have an intern programme. But we do occasionally need casual volunteers to do administrative work at our office in Wellington. Interested? Email your CV to our office.” You may contact them on info@wwf.org.nz

  • Volunteer at a sanctuary

Sanctuaries are very important in NZ conservation work. Many endangered New Zealand animals such as kiwis are kept only until they are big enough to survive by themselves in nature. Most wild kiwi chicks gets eaten by predators introduced from other parts of the world. By helping out at these centers you can both experience many rare species from up close and help them survive in the wild. Most of the animals you will work with will at some point be released into the wild.

http://ngamanu.co.nz/support-us/volunteer/

https://orokonui.nz/Support/Volunteers

http://www.kaipupupoint.co.nz

http://www.oranawildlifepark.co.nz/get-involved/job-vacancies/

http://kiwibird.co.nz/kiwi/join-the-flock/volunteer/

https://www.visitzealandia.com/Volunteer

http://www.blueduckstation.co.nz/

http://www.pupurangi.com/

http://rotoroa.org.nz/conservation/volunteer.aspx

http://www.oranawildlifepark.co.nz/get-involved/volunteer

  • zoo positions

Similar jobs to sanctuaries, but with more international wildlife. NZ zoos are acclaimed for their conservation work and you will be able to help out with preserving endangered species etc. New Zealand zoos are well known for their focus on conservation work and could be a great way to learn more.

https://wellingtonzoo.com/support-us/volunteers/

https://www.aucklandzoo.co.nz/get-involved/volunteer

  • Pay to volunteer

These are a few websites for those who do not mind paying a bit to volunteer. Often transportation, food and accommodation is included and the overall price will not be much higher than if you would pay for everything yourself. I have not included any of the more expensive volunteering websites in this list. Some organizations charge up to a 150 New Zealand dollars per day for you to help out with various tasks!

https://www.lovevolunteers.org/destinations/volunteer-new-zealand

http://conservationvolunteers.co.nz

https://bookings.conservationvolunteers.org/book/search/results?projectSearch_region_=2&projectSearch_overnightOnly=on&projectSearch_requiredVacancies=1&_ga=2.140618994.1521733867.1526733259-79969002.1526733259

https://www.volunteerhq.org/volunteer-in-new-zealand/

  • Job applications

Most of the links here are to advertisement platforms that are not specifically used for conservation jobs. Some of the links below lead to search results for the word “conservation”. If you instead search for things such as “wildlife” different results may appear. Many sites have pretty much the same jobs listed, but if you are very keen to land a real conservation job it could be worth to have a quick look at a few of them. The most useful links are the three first one’s. Sign up for “conservationjobs” newsletter for weekly updates about upcoming positions. Also, many regions and cities etc have their own websites where current vacancies are listed. For example Southland lists positions here. If you want to find jobs in a specific place, try to find their websites.

https://www.doc.govt.nz/careers/

http://conservationjobs.co.nz/

https://www.trademe.co.nz/Browse/CategoryAttributeSearchResults.aspx?cid=5000&rptpath=5000-&sidebar=0&140=&selected155=&154=&144=-1&144=-1&142=&153=conservation&searchString=conservation&rsqid=2e93d91209c14c02978b8d9dac97af24&generalSearch_keypresses=21&generalSearch_suggested=0&generalSearch_suggestedCategory=

https://newzealandecology.org/Ecology-jobs

https://www.seek.co.nz/jobs-in-farming-animals-conservation/conservation-parks-wildlife

https://nz.indeed.com/Conservation-jobs

https://www.careers.govt.nz/jobs-database/animal-care-and-conservation/

http://www.oranawildlifepark.co.nz/get-involved/job-vacancies/

Upcoming homestays in India – make a request!

I have an India trip coming up and want to try something out! I want to ask the readers (the few that are) what kind of homestay they would like to visit if they ever go to India. And if it is possible for me to find such a homestay, I would like to list it along with the other homestays! Most likely no more than three people will let me know what they would like to try, so if you are one of those three it’s not like you will have too much competition!

So do you want to stay in the jungle or along the coast, a village or a metropolis, with christians, hindus or muslims, in a foodie or art heaven? Just send me a message through the contact form and I’ll see what I can do!

(By the way, I’ll bring my camera this time too, so it won’t be like the Moroccan homestay, which I took exactly 0 photos of.)

4 things before you climb Jebel Toubkal

Toubkal is both beautiful and accessible. It’s the highest mountain in North Africa and the highest in any arab country and in no way an easy hike. But most people who set out seem to make it to the top. When I was there I even saw a group of friends in their sixties. They weren’t the fastest, but eventually they reached the summit. Most probably almost anyone reading this will too. But in order to make the trip as enjoyable as possible, it would be good to keep a few things in mind ahead of the ascent.

  1. Leave your backpack at the refuge. A day hike from Imlil lays a group of 3 refugees. These are basically mountain huts for hikers. They are staffed and it’s possible both to eat and sleep in them. They all have the same prices. 150 dirham for a dormitory. 250-300 (I don’t remember exactly) for dormitory plus dinner and breakfast. These places aren’t really what you would call cozy and the food is only enjoyable because you just spent six hours hiking, but the places do their jobs. There are no villages or other buildings up at that altitude (the closest village being a three hour walk or so down the mountain), so there’s no reason to complain. Make use of these places not only by having a good nights rest and perhaps something to eat but also as a storage for your bags when you climb Toubkal. To bring only a daypack with some fruits, water and sandwhiches will make the hike a lot less demanding and a lot more fun. Staff are used to people leaving their bags and do not charge extra for it. The most famous refuge is Les Mouflons, which has it’s own website here.
  2. Don’t go for the sunrise. Most people visiting Toubkal try to climb it before sunrise in order to get to enjoy the view. I’m sure that the view is very beautiful, but there are a few reasons why I would recommend people to sleep in and start the ascent after sunrise. The number one reason is that a lot of people I talked to, as I met them when they were on their way dawn and I on my way up, regretted not doing just that. Yes, it’s Morocco and it’s supposed to be warm, but really, nights at 4000 meters altitude are not. And to reach the peak by sunrise you will have to wake up by 3 o’clock or so and walk the entire way up in the dark. It’s cold, it’s dark, it’s windy. And when you reach the peak you stand there for 20 minutes, waiting for the sun to rise so that you can get back down and pull a blanket over you. I met some people who were running down back to the refugee. They had not enjoyed the ascent, they had not enjoyed the descent, and they had probably not even really enjoyed the sunrise, but they had caught some nice photos of it. Make yourself a favor and go after breakfast. You body will have rested better, making it less likely to react negatively to the altitude or the physical strain of the ascent, and you will be able to enjoy the changing sceneries as you come higher and higher up the mountain. When you reach the peak you can sit up there warm and comfortable in the sun for half an hour having lunch. Then you can head back down. Also, the risk of injury will be way lower if you walk when it’s bright. There is a lot of slippery gravel on the path and some sections are very steep.
  3. Don’t worry too much. I met a few people who had wanted to go to Toubkal just to eventually decide not to. All of this “highest in North Africa” and “highest in any arab country” seems to intimidate people. Truth is that most reasonably fit people who give it a go will reach the top. The only thing is that while some may not find the hike very demanding, others will have to suffer a bit to reach the peak. While some can climb the mountain spending only one night in a refuge, others will perhaps be better of spending two nights in the refuges and acclimatize properly (actually I would recommend anyone to spend two nights up there). Most people will reach the peak if they are rested enough and bring some energizing snacks. And even those who don’t will get to enjoy the landscapes. It’s not as if the area is ugly except for when seen from the peak. Worst case scenario you will still encounter better views than anything you will find in Chefchaouen (or break a leg, stumbling over a rock you didn’t see, as the sun had not yet risen and you were too tired to focus).
  4. There are other hikes. If you just want to go hiking, there are plenty of options in Morocco. Toubkal is the most famous and it offers beautiful views of the surrounding landscapes. However, if altitude and views alone is not what you long for, perhaps you should consider going for another hike. Walkopedia lists different hikes and gives useful information about hiking in Morocco. Depending on what you want to do, some places will be better or worse than Toubkal. If you want to experience local culture, live in a berber village where few tourists have ever been, be close to the peaks of the mountains and eat fabulous food, perhaps the small homestay listed on this website is the place for you. It’s very different from the typical Toubkal experience in the sense that you will not stay in a refuge but in a family home in a berber village. The area rarely sees foreign visitors and most likely you and your friends will be the only non-berbers around. The peaks aren’t as high and the landscapes not as dramatic, but the area and the host has a charm entirely it’s own.

Atlas village homestay, Morocco

Out of the blue in Agadir, I met an amazigh called Ridouane. It was by complete chance as I just wanted to ask someone for the way to the long distance taxi station. He said that it was just a few minutes away and that he would take me in his car. Not only that, but he also told me (after getting to know that I would go only a short distance with the shared taxi) that he would take me the whole way to my destination, free of charge. On the way we continued talking and he wanted to know more about my trip in Morocco. He was curious about what I thought about the amazigh culture. I told him that actually I did not know too much about it but that I would like to get to know more. He asked me “Why not come visit my home village for a few days?” and I took him up on his offer. We went to Taroudant and spent the night with his family in his appartment before early the next day we went together with some of his friends into the countryside north of Taroudant, high up in the Atlas mountains. It’s a beautiful little village reached only on winding roads, only a few hours hike below the peaks of the mountains. Ridouane has been working on village charity projects to develop the village. Water supply has been improved and a school for the women has been opened. It’s a very special place rarely visited by foreigners. It is practically untouched by tourism and filled with curious, friendly and very hospitable locals.

After spending four days up there with Ridouane and his friends, I asked him if it wouldn’t be a good idea for them to try to get volunteers and tourists to the village. We were at that time out gathering wild growing thyme and rosemary on the steep slopes overlooking the village and started talking about different options and ideas. Ridouane was most of all interested in getting volunteers to visit, but also thought that welcoming tourists would be a good idea, as it would be a chance for them to experience the amazigh culture and a chance for the village to get some capital to invest in things such as improving education. Right now they need to buy study desks for the women’s school.

Ridouane is now a member of workaway.info, as it will enable him to find volunteers, and I have offered to try to help out finding some tourists. As always on Anthropolodgy, 100% of the money spent stays with the locals. There are no fees of any kind involved. So even if you don’t go for the volunteering option, which would be for free, you will contribute a lot to the local community.

The different options are:

  1. Volunteer. A maximum workload of 5 hours per day, 5 days per week, with two days off. Free of charge food and accomodation. Long term volunteers preferred.
  2. Tourist. 0 hours work, 7 days per week. Private room. Meals included in the price. More suitable for short term visitors. 250 dirham/22 euro per day.

Contact us through the contact form with any reservations or questions and we will get back to you soon! And if you want to earn a few easy bucks and help Anthropolodgy out with our hosting fees, you can click here.

Independent travelling in Tibetan areas

There are Tibetan areas in China outside of the Tibet autonomous region. These can be find in Xinjiang, Gansu, Qinghai, Yunnan and Sichuan. Travelling in these areas is generally a lot easier than travelling in the Tibet autonomous region, as you don’t need any special permits or tour guides to enter them. We have a host with contacts throughout the tibetan areas. If enough interest is shown in this, the host contacts will get added to this website soon. Just let me know through the contact form if it’s worth the effort.

Why the Inner Mongolian homestays are temporarily closed

There has been a lot of problems recently for the host families in Inner Mongolia! First in East Ujimqin Banner, where one of the family members suddenly became seriously ill and hospitalized. Because of this, guests could no longer be received. Ofcourse they could still go to the Xilnhot homestay, but that too has become impossible now, as the host family now has to apply for a special permit to continue receiving guests. This is because the homestay is located in a sensitive area. Last but not least it’s late autumn and about time to close anyway, as it will be too cold to visit during the winter.

As soon as there are any news the information on this site will be updated! Until then only the Bazernik and Nannuoshan homestays are open – perhaps with one or a few more being added before the end of this year! If you want to get to know as soon as new homestays are added or when the Inner Mongolian ones are open again, it’s just to follow us on Facebook!

9 simple tricks to make your travelling more environmentally friendly (and a lot cheaper too)

As tourism establishes itself as one of largest and fastest growing industries of the world, employing about 10% of the total global workers, the negative environmental effects of tourism grows. There are a lot of things you can do to lessen your impact, but these things often have unwanted side effects to them, making your trip less fun and more expensive. Therefore I thought why not compile a list of a few small easy things that will not only make your travels more sustainable, but also give you a better experience and allow you to travel longer for less.

travel environmentally friendly and sustainable

  1. Switch standard search engine to Ecosia

Most travellers spend a lot of time browsing the web to find info about places, look for flights, book cheap hotels, figure out which travel agency to hire etc. According to a survey of 300 people it’s common to spend 10-20 hours per holiday to gather information online. By switching from for example Google or Yahoo to Ecosia, you will help fund Ecosia planting a lot of trees during those 10-20 hours. The trees will get planted in developing countries around the world and will as well reduce envronmental degradation as poverty. Ecosia donates at least 80% of their earnings to planting trees. Right now they are funding a project in Morocco, where they will plant more than a million fruit trees to stop desertification and raise local living standards. If you skip other search engines alltogether, you would be able to help them plant quite a lot of trees over the course of a year.

Visit the site, install the plugin and start planting trees by searching the web.

If you want to add something more to your browser you could also add a click-to-donate site as your start page. Click-for-donate sites vary a bit, but in they are built on donors donating money and in exchange receiving traffic or having their banners displayed. Every time a person clicks on the button a small ammount of money is donated to the site’s cause. Enough to for example plant a tree. Typically you can click only once per day. My favourite is Naturarvet, a swedish organization which buys old growth forests and turns them into nature reserves. You can visit them at https://naturarvet.se. If you want to look for another page, you can find a long list of click-to-donate sites here.

Both these things are very simple and easy to do. They don’t take a lot of time and they are entirely for free.

2. Don’t get diarrhea

This one was probably expected. Everyone has heard it a thousand times. But while back at home it may be quite a lot to ask to stop eating meat, while traveling in other countries it can have many other benefits making it more appealing. First of all meat and diary products are some of the main causes of traveller’s diarrhea. Drugs.com writes: “Do not eat raw food or dairy when you travel. Examples include fruits, raw vegetables in salads, oysters, clams, or undercooked meat. Do not have milk, ice cream, or other dairy products”.  Traveldoctor.co.uk agrees: “Particularly risky foods include raw or undercooked meat, poultry, seafood, raw fruits and vegetables. Tap water, ice, and unpasteurized milk and dairy products are also associated with increased risk of TD”. Also meat is by far the most common way to get infected with parasites such as trichinella. In countries or places with lacking food hygiene, it could therefore be a good idea not to eat meat and dairy products, at least until you have grown a bit more accustomed to the local bacterial flora. It would greatly decrease the risk of you catching any diseases, parasites and even unknowingly consume nasty chemicals such as growth hormones, antibiotics and even so called “gutter oil” (recycled oil collected from places such as sewers, factories and gutters). Doesn’t sound too appealing.

sustainable travel advice

3. Invest in Solar Energy in Africa

Airplanes are not very popular with a lot of people and organizations. Luckily, this is at least to some extent unfounded. Since it’s actyally both cheap and easy to negate carbon emissions, flying does not have to be a problem. It’s even possible to earn money on erasing your carbon footprint. To get started with that, first calculate your emissions using travelmath.com’s flight emissions calculator. For example it will tell you that a one way flight from Stockholm to Zurich emits 192 kgs of Co2. So there we go. 192 kgs. What to do with them? That’s what we have Trine for.

Trine is a small Swedish company which aims to end energy poverty. They will do this by giving villagers in Subsaharan Africa access to solar energy. In time they hope to help completely replace kerosene, which as well as being very expensive does damage both to the environment and those who breathe in the fumes. The reason that most of these people does not have access to solar energy already is that the entry fee is quite high: buying the panels costs a lot. But when the panels are already bought (with a loan from Trine) expenses are much lower than kerosene and it’s possible for the villagers to pay back on their loan with an interest. So you will actually earn money on helping people out of poverty.

Investing the minimum amount of 25 euros in a Trine project will negate different ammounts of emissions depending on which project you invest in. In general it seems to be the case that 1 euro negates about 10 kgs of co2. So if you fly from Stockholm to Zurich, you would cover more than enough simply by lending 25 euro to Trine for a while. Even better, you can use this link to get a free 10 euro bonus added to your first investment. By using that link you would as well give me a 10 euro bonus, which Trine would give me as thanks for referring them a customer. Both our bonuses would be earmarked for investments in Trine projects and we would be able to withdraw them only after a few years, when they have already more than made up for that flight from Stockholm to Zurich.

4. Buy a e-book reader and stop carrying a lot of heavy books around

This is one more of those things that to a lot of people aren’t worth it while home but which becomes worth it while traveling. Most of the bookstores I’ve encountered while traveling have had a very limited set of option. Even worse: sometimes there are no bookstores. Perhaps there is a book exchange somewhere in a hostel or cafe, but always with a very small selection. Ordering books from online can be expensive, troublesome and time consuming. It’s bad enough while at home, but when you are abroad and dont have a permanent address, it gets even worse. Especially if you are in a country with strict censorship rules or cleptomaniacs working at the post offices. Your book may end up lost, confiscated or stolen. So instead of waiting around for books that may or may not arrive, just get an e-book reader and have it delivered straight to your device. No shipping fees, no waiting around, no cut forests – and often too: free books. With sites such as Project Gutenberg, you have easy access to 100% free and legal open source e-books. Just download whichever you like out of the currently listed 54.000 free e-books. You can carry books enough for a lifetime and read handsfree on the beach without the wind constantly changing the page. You can choose almost any books you want and carry as many as you will ever need without your bag filling up or becoming too heavy. And if you ever just want to read a book made out of paper it’s not like your machine will try to stop you.

Check this site for more e-book sites.

5. Choose local businesses

One of the easiest, cheapest and overall best ways of contributing to improve local condition is to stay at locally owned hotels, book with locally owned tour agencies, eat at locally owned restaurants etc. In most of the developing world one of the main culprits behind illegal logging, poaching etc is the generally few ways for locals to make a decent living. By making sure that your money stays with the locals instead of getting siphoned away by large international tourist companies or rich investors from the capital, you can contribute a lot to living standards in the areas you visit. For example according to ImageNepal the average tourist employs nine nepalese workers during the duration of their stay, so that instead of for example having to chop down trees in a nature reserve and selling it as fire wood, it’s possible to open guesthouses, take people on tours and so forth. There are many examples of tourism preventing damage to nature and tourism is often one of the main reasons nature reserves are created. Conservation of rare species would be especially difficult without tourism. International Gorilla Conservation Programme goes as far as stating that gorillas does not have a future without tourism.

Better just to spend less for more, encounter more locals, eat tastier local food and make sure that there are plenty of options to make a decent living.

6. Stay a bit longer in some places

Most of all, this advice makes travelling a lot more enjoyable. It will allow you to spend less time on busses, trains and airports and more time on doing things you enjoy in the places you were particularily eager to go. A lot of people want to do too much and instead end up loosing out on the fun of travelling. I’ve sometimes met people that spends only one or two days in each country they visit. They want to “see it all” but end up spending most of their time transporting themselves from one place to the other. One guy I met moved every day. I met him in a hostel in Podgorica when he arrived in the evening. I asked if he wanted to go explore the city but he said he was too tired. He had been on a bus the entire day and next morning he would have to wake up early to catch another bus. I asked him about his trip and it seemed to me he spend almost all of it either transporting himself between places or sleeping. He seemed very tired and said that he looked forward to go back to work. Not only did it seem to me that he was wasting his time, but he spent a lot of money wasting it too. He could have cut his daily expenses in half by staying a few extra days in each place. And if he were to for example decide to volunteer somewhere, he could have cut almost all of his expenses and have a much more enjoyable trip.

Most people are not moving around every day like that, but I think a lot of people (me included) would actually enjoy their travelling more if they decided to stay a bit longer in some of the places.

For those who wish to do so, WorkAway.info is an amazing site, The amount of options is mind blowing and there are usually plenty of benefits too. Besides the usual free food and accomodation in exchange for a three to five hours of work five days per week, a lot of places offer things such as free tours (if they are not fully booked) or free training and education (for example for PADI-certificates). Have a look at workaway.info.

7. Try AirBnb or a hospitality site

These two are interesting!

According to a 2014 survey of 8000 guests and hosts “North American customers use 63% less energy per stay than their hotel-going counterparts while customers in Europe use 78% less“. A lot less water is wasted too. Not to mention all the chemicals used to clean the hotel rooms. I guess the stats for Couchsurfing are similar since AirBnb and Couchsurfing in many ways are pretty much the same thing. The main differences are that while Couchsurfing is for free, AirBnb costs money, and that while Couchsurfing is very informal and social, AirBnb is usually more like any bed and breakfast. Depending on what you feel like for the moment either has it’s pro’s and cons. The biggest of all with Couchsurfing is for example that it can sometimes be difficult to find a host and that there is no real guarantee that the host won’t suddenly cancel.

There are plenty of other options too. My favourite is WarmShowers, which is a site similar to Couchsurfing with the exception that it’s mainly used by long distance bicyclists. You can check a comparison of a five such sites by clicking here. If you want to try any of them out it¨s just to register and get started: they are all free to use.

For AirBnb, it does cost money, but by signing up using this link you will receive 43 dollars in credits. You will be able to use these credits to pay if your booking costs 80 dollars or more. But if you for example book a stay for 50 dollars, you can not use the credits. You can book several nights in order to reach the minimum of 80 dollars. If you do, I will receive 22 dollars in credits too. If you decide to become a host I will receive an 80 dollar bonus when you have had your first guest.

 

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Wind power in the East Ujimqin homestay

8. Try one of the homestays listed on this (or another) site

There are many nice things with these homestays! First of all you will have a great experience in any of them. All of them are unique in their own way and all of them are very competitive in terms of pricing. One of the reasons behind this website is to provide travellers with the chance to have experiences that would otherwise be difficult or very expensive for them to have. Secondly – more in line with the topic of this post – all of them are very sustainable! 100% of the money stay with the locals. I do not charge any money at all (but try to earn small amounts of money in other ways – for example by referring you to Trine and getting that 10 euro bonus) and even cover the hosting fees myself. It’s ecologically sustainable too. You will eat locally produced organic food and be able to try a very low impact lifestyle. If sleeping in someone’s spare room decreases carbon emissions by up to 78% compared to hotels, I wonder what the stats are for sleeping in a yurt in the grasslands.

If you want to check this out, just have a look on the list of homestays and consider giving it a try! And if you want to read more about Anthropolodgy you can do that on the about-page.

If you want to help make it possible to add more homestays in the future, you could for example invest in solar power with Trine (using this link) or sign up for AirBnb (using this link).

9. A small last thing

A small small last tip on how to save money and travel more sustainably! It occured to me as it got cold and I decided to put on a recently bought second hand thermal first layer shirt from Devold.

Buying second hand stuff is sometimes crazy good. And somehow it seems to me that it’s even better for travel related stuff. Perhaps it’s because people distinguish so much between “travel life” and “normal life” that a lot of them buy clothes especially for traveling and then sell them after the trip? Either way: if you are going out hiking in the Himalayas or just want to backpack around and need some good clothes and equipment: just look around a bit on ebay. It’s possible to find almost new high quality stuff for a fraction of the retail price. The merino wool thermal shirt I just put on cost me less than 10% of it’s original price. It looks and feels like new. I will use it on the High Coast Trail ten days or so from now. I guess that’s similar to what that other guy used it for before he sold it.

10.

By the way my favourite is Ecosia. I must recommend it again.

Bazernik homestay, Macedonia

Bazernik is a small village in the southwest of Macedonia a few hours from Skopje. Less than 30 people live here permanently and the neighbouring slightly larger village Babino too have only a few dozens of permanent residents. But for anyone visiting, it’s very obvious that it didn’t always use to be like this. There are many abandoned traditional houses in the villages, picturesquely standing around against the backdrop of the mountains, forests and streams, sometimes exploding with plants coming out of the windows, doors and ceilings.  It gives a foretaste of the surrounding forests, known by many for it’s many streams, old gnarly trees and beautiful hiking. Views of lake Orhid are possible from the peaks. And if that’s what you want, it’s easy to spend days up there without meeting anyone.

The homestay is located at an elevation of almost 1000 meters, just where the road ends and the forest starts. It’s an old traditional house in which lives a young man and his mother. They will be your hosts. You will stay in a small private room with artworks and plenty of Macedonian and Yugoslavian items on display. The house itself sometimes resemble a miniature museum. And the son, Stojance, is interested in painting and design and has turned the house into something of an artwork too. See the picture below for examples of the design.

traditional macedonian items on display
Traditional beehive (upper left corner) and other items on display

During your stay, it will be possible to sample many different local dishes. They will be cooked with locally produced ingredients. There will also be locally grown fruits and – if you are a smoker – even tobacco. Tastiest of all perhaps is the local honey, produced in beehives a two minute walk from the homestay. It’s collected from wildflowers, pesticide free and a great souvenir from Macedonia!

beekeeping forest macedonia travel

While up by the beehives, turn around for a beautiful view of the surrounding area:view from the homestay

 

The homestay is easily reachable from various places throughout the country. Most easily perhaps from Kichevo or Bitola, which both have good connections to Babino and other places in Macedonia, but there are direct busses from Skopje too, departing daily at 15:30 from the main bus station. Try Balkanviator for up to date schedules. Simply type Skopje to Babino. From Babino you will continue a few kilometers more to Bazernik. Pickup at the bus station can be arranged, but if you aren’t in a hurry the walk is actually a very enjoyable experience, and there are several places with fresh spring water along the way should you get thirsty. Also you can check out Babino’s small library/ethnological museum, which strangely enough (in this forgotten place filled with abandoned houses) played an important role in making Macedonia literate and has several medieval books in it’s collection.

Except for the library/museum, there are some other cultural heritage sites that could be of interest. These sites are ruins of six old churches, abandoned in the forests. You could either visit them yourself or go on a day tour with your host. Walking from one to the other, you would pass through groves and fields, eating food you bring with you from the homestay and possibly wild fruits, hazelnuts and other things. It’s possible to do day tours or overnight tours by horseback too, with very flexible itineraries depending on what you are interested in. If you want suggestions for independent walks, it’s just to ask your homestay host, who (even though his English is limited) tries his best and is very enthusiastic about the area.

tourists out for a daytour in the forest
Stojance taking two guests on a day tour up the mountain

All in all, this is a great place to visit for anyone going to Macedonia or the Balkans. It’s does lack in things such as variety of restaurants (there is only one in the entire area) and internet connectivity (there is no wifi), but it by far makes up for it with it’s many good sides – the unique atmosphere, amazing host family, beautiful nature and peculiar cultural sights (abandoned houses, abandoned barns, abandoned churches – I’ve never seen anything quite like it).

Some things to be aware of.

  •  Internet connection is very limited unless you have a SIM-card with data.
  • There is only one restaurant in the area but traditional local food is served at the homestay. Much of it is homemade from locally produced ingredients.
  • English language skills are limited but improving. Macedonian, Serbian, Croatian and related languages are spoken fluently.
  • You will not stay in a hotel but in a private building in which lives a family.
  • You will most likely not meet other travellers during your visit.

For anyone not discouraged (and especially for those who get encouraged!) by that, an unique and very enjoyable experience is guaranteed.

Prices per person and day are 11 euro for a bed and 3 euros per meal (you can choose to have no or all meals at the homestay). There is an additional charge of 5 euros which you can easily get rid of writing a short text about your experience at the homestay and sharing it somewhere online. Read more about that here. That means that for 20 euros you can have a room and three meals per day. The way the prices can be kept so low is that there are no agencies or middlemen involved asking for slices of the cake. 100% of the money will stay with the family.

Contact us through the contact form.

Location of the homestay:

Big discounts and a 10% to win a custom homestay experience

The prices for the homestays are 300 yuan per night. Included in the price is accommodation, meals and activities. And even though it’s possible to find cheaper (as well as much more expensive) options such as low budget hotels, karaoke yurts (some of them at least), hostels and so forth, the experience per yuan rate is not easy to beat! Several times have guests said that the best experience they had in China was visiting one of the homestays! But regardless of if the homestays are good and affordable or not, it doesn’t make much use if no people get to get to know about them. So far, almost all our guests have found out about us through word of mouth, blogposts or different travel websites. Some people find us through search engines, but there’s not a lot of them. Because this website is run entirely on a voluntary basis and has no advertisement budget, things are not likely to change unless we try some alternative ways of marketing.

So we have thought about a way to make it easier for people to get to know about us. Basically the idea is that you or anyone else staying at any of the homestays will get the option to pay only 250 yuan per night if you later write a short (or – if you want – long) text about your experience! There are no rules about what to write about, as long as it describes your experience! For doing this you will get a 50 yuan discount per day. For someone staying three nights, this is a very easy way to save 150 yuan.

As an additional bonus, the first 10 people to write a post sharing their experiences at any of the homestays will get a 10% chance to win a custom homestay experience. This means that we will scramble the names of the first 10 people and pick one of them, who will get to tell us what kind of homestay they would like to experience and then sit back while we go out to try to find it, somewhere in Latin America.

Important to note is that anyone who wants to do this must contact us through the email form on the contact page. Contact with the homestays (about bookings etc) are as usual done through the Wechat and Whatsapp accounts listed above the email contact form.