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May 20, 2009

Victoria Falls, Guilt Free

Think you have to wear a hair shirt and dig a well to give back when you travel? Think again. Below, a trip idea from "Eight Great Trips That Give Back," a piece running in the May issue of Condé Nast Traveler.

Suddenly, sundowner cocktails are interrupted as the tracker shouts "Get in the jeep--now!" Fifteen yards away, a cheetah has killed an impala--not an unusual scene at South Africa's five-star Phinda camp, known for helping to save the cheetah. So begins the Southern Africa itinerary set up by Exquisite Safaris Philanthropic Travel. Next stop: Botswana's Okavango Delta, where huge herds range across the terrain, and another five-star lodge, Kwando Lagoon Camp, which employs Bushmen as trackers. But for Pam Donlin, a former banker who traveled there last year, the most memorable moment came in the Zambian bush at the Butterfly Tree Project: A nonprofit supported by Exquisite Safaris, it runs a school and health center near Victoria Falls. Donlin, her husband, and her two kids met AIDS orphans and gave out clothes. "If part of travel can be helping others, and can create awareness in one's self, it's a great thing," says Donlin, who donated a $2,500 water well and educational funds. The trip wound up at the Royal Livingstone Hotel, where monkeys scamper through the marble lobby. You can hear Victoria Falls and see the mist from the hotel. Says Donlin: "I thought, Do I ever have to leave?"

The Give:
Just by going with Exquisite Safaris, you are donating $250 to a local nonprofit.

The Get:
The knowledge that you are helping children receive education and clean water.

Going Local:
Take photos with Mothusi Kebusitswe, a guide and camera buff at Kwara Camp.

Further reading:
* 7 more trips that give back.
* Paul Theroux on the Peace Corps and the lesson of his life.
* Responsible Traveler: Making a difference.

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