For nearly twenty years Guy and Milly Whitehead have been providing gap year students with volunteering opportunities that benefit local communities and protect endangered wildlife – through their company, The Leap, based in Marlborough. Now they are offering similar experiences to an older group – the midlifers.
Guy told marlborough.news: “So many of the parents of our gap year students used to say ‘Do you do trips for parents ?’ We are excited to finally have something for parents or older people who have time and passion to put something back, to make new friends and meet new challenges.”
There are currently four trips on offer, to Costa Rica, Madagascar, Namibia and Guatemala, each eight or nine days long: “We’re aware that midlifers perhaps don’t have the same amount of time to spare as gap year students who usually go for a minimum of ten weeks.”
The Namibian trip involves working with conservationists Ian Craig and Pete Morkel to help create a national park to be home for Namibia’s endangered wildlife such as the black rhino. Creating a watering hole and removing invasive species are some of the activities volunteers carry out as well as trekking and white water rafting.
In Guatemala midlifers can expect to find themselves trekking up a non-active volcano, cooling off in the crater lake of Atitlan, participating in community development and witnessing the end of the turtle breeding season.
The Madagascar trip allows participants to explore the forests and marine world of the islands of the north west before contributing to turtle conservation. The Costa Rica trip also focuses on turtle conservation as well as exploring the cloud forests and helping local kids to read, write and swim.
Milly explained: “It’s so much more than just a holiday. It gets people to remote places in a safe and managed way.”
Sara Koe is one of the first midlifers to go on the Namibia trip: “My trip to Namibia will be the platform for the rest of my life. It was vitally important for me to be challenged, tested and taken far away from home.”
“The environment in Namibia is so far removed from the privileged life I lead in England and the enormous personal strain from family illnesses and teenage demands.”
“Namibia was so utterly dramatic in its beauty and so humbling in its simplicity. To be ‘unplugged’ from my life was incredible. It made me respect my health and my sense of purpose. It made me ‘regroup’ amongst nature that is so pure – I felt honoured to be there.”
A midlife nine day trip will cost £2,100 excluding flights, but including food, accommodation, transfers, trip leader and pre-departure planning.
More information can be found on : https://www.theleap.co.uk/midlife/