How to travel with volunteer programs

Baikal trail

In the next five years, 17 Russian national parks will receive more than 500 million rubles from the federal budget for the development of tourism infrastructure. The first 8 parks will receive over RUB 100 million in seed funding this year.

Eight national parks of Russia will receive more than 100 million rubles from the federal budget this year. Funding is provided by the Ministry of Natural Resources of Russia within the framework of the federal project "Conservation of biological diversity and development of ecological tourism" of the national project "Ecology". This was announced by Ivan Shmakov, Director of the Department of State Policy and Regulation in the Sphere of Development of Protected Areas of the Ministry of Natural Resources of Russia.

According to him, funds for the creation of tourist infrastructure will be received by the national parks Pleshcheyevo Lake (Yaroslavl Region), Tunkinsky (Republic of Buryatia), Zyuratkul and Taganai (Chelyabinsk Region), Bashkiria "(Republic of Bashkortostan)," Ugra "(Kaluga region)," Pribaikalsky "(Irkutsk region) and" Russian North "(Vologda region).

In total, a little more than 550 million rubles have been allocated for the development of tourism infrastructure in the federal project for 2019-2024. Financial support in the next five years will also be received by such national parks as the Curonian Spit (Kaliningrad Region), Samarskaya Luka (Samara Region), Yudyg Va (Komi Republic), Kenozersky (Arkhangelsk Region), Smolenskoe Poozerie (Smolensk Region), etc.

Among the main criteria by which the ministry chose promising national parks: an increase in tourism potential over the past 5 years, the planned increase in tourist flow, taking into account measures for the development of infrastructure, transport accessibility, the availability of conditions for ensuring access for people with disabilities, current income and the planned increase in income from tourism and other services, as well as the availability of additional sources of funding.

“The planned increase in the length of hiking trails by 2021 is more than 200 km. In general, our main task is 4 million tourists until 2024, it is necessary to increase the attendance of specially protected natural areas (PAs) as a whole, ”explained Mr. Shmakov.


In the tourism market, the decision to develop infrastructure in national parks of Russia was perceived positively, recalling that this is fully consistent with trends in consumer behavior.

“The tourist demand for the so-called“ pioneer travels ”through the remote wild corners of our country is growing just as actively as the demand for technological tourism, when travelers are attracted by noisy megacities built up with skyscrapers,” says Sergey Romashkin. general director of the Dolphin company.

TUI Russia also says that ecotourism is gaining popularity, the demand for routes through the unique natural corners of Russia is growing.

Ministry of Natural Resources will invest half a billion in the development of ecotourism in Russia

This year the Irkutsk region has a kind of record - 23 non-profit organizations have won presidential grants. The largest of them for the development of volunteer projects was received by the "Great Baikal Trail" ("BBT"), which has been headed by Elena Chubakova since 2002.

Probably, in Priangarye this is the most "adult" volunteer environmental organization, which was the first to talk about the importance of ecotourism and became known to volunteers from all over the world. For fifteen years, people from all over the world have been laying ecological paths along various routes around Lake Baikal. This was the first such project in Russia, and the fact that for so many years it managed to “survive” with almost no funding is a real miracle. But Elena calls it a miracle the enthusiasts who have not given up on this venture. The AiF in VS correspondent talked with Elena Chubakova about environmental volunteering and how it contributes to the preservation of Lake Baikal.

Innocent tourists

Yulia Vyatkina, AiF in the Armed Forces: Two years ago, BBT was on the verge of closing due to lack of funding. You said that you have applied for presidential grants for many years and only now you are in luck. Maybe this is due to the Year of Ecology or to the fact that recently Putin has been very often asked questions about our natural territory?

- It seems to me that the grant fund itself has begun to approach the selection of winners in a different way, to look at real actions. Of course, the fact that this year both Russian ministers and the President himself have spoiled Baikal and Priangarye with their attention more than once played a role. Now we are extremely happy that until November next year we can work on our projects with a calm heart.

- You build trails to develop ecotourism. Does one contradict the other?

- You know, back in 2004 we were told: "Set up trails, more people will walk on them, and everything will be dirty." When we started to build, it was really dirty there - there were no parking places, fireplaces, signs. I say with confidence that all our trails are clean, there is no garbage on them, real ecotourists walk along them. We are convinced of this every year when we check the routes. Probably, they are embarrassed to misbehave when they see that they are taking care of nature here.

And, by the way, there is not such a strong anthropogenic load on our routes. This is not poor Olkhon, which is bursting at the seams. The trails help to "drag" people to different places, lead to the mountains, to the loaches. There are many of them along the entire perimeter of the lake, both in the north and in the south. So we still have to work and work. And the more comfortable paths there are, the more evenly the flow of tourists will be distributed over the territory. Everyone is shouting that we have too many of them, that something needs to be limited, prohibited. Yes, they just accumulate in one place. I think we need both bike trails and horse trails - this is a comprehensive development of ecotourism. By the way, the arrangement of the route gives an impetus to the development of a small local business. For example, new stores have appeared in Bolshiye Koty, although before there was only one, people began to receive guests, if they want, they can work as guides.

- All tourists scold, and you, on the contrary, protect.

- What about? Yes, they speak badly of "savages". Why are they “wild”? Because there are no corresponding conditions. It is unlikely that someone purposefully drives to harm the environment. They may be happy to be ecotourists, only they are not shown how to do it. That is why we devote so much time to educational programs and seminars. I do not deny that there are people who, for example, for some reason break or steal the signs that are installed by our volunteers. But there are ten such percent, and most of them are ready to treat nature reasonably, only they need to be brought to this.

Foreign aid is ok

- I met people from Irkutsk who wanted to become a part of your organization, but changed their mind when they found out that they themselves had to pay for their free labor.

First-hand news

Volunteer tourism is a full-fledged way of traveling, along with bus tours, trekking and cruises on an ocean liner. You can ride "gallop across Europe" or stop for a long time to better feel the atmosphere of the place. If the latter suits you better, try volunteer programs. And I will tell you where to look for them and share my own experience of volunteering in Tuscany.

reasons to become a volunteer

What to do

The projects are very different. Working with children and youth, teaching languages, conducting master classes. Helping families in difficult life situations. Working with disabled and elderly people. Working with migrants. Ecology: construction of eco-trails, promotion of separate waste collection and environmental education of the population. Agriculture: working on the farm, helping to harvest or plant crops. Public relations and PR: promoting charitable initiatives. Organization and holding of festivals. These are the most common project topics, but there are others. The choice is huge.

Duration of projects

If you are limited to vacation, you can choose a short-term program - from 1 week to 1 month. And if you want to plunge headlong into a new life, choose projects for up to 1 year.

Where to find the project

Sites where you can search for projects without intermediaries

Workaway is the largest resource for finding volunteer opportunities. There are more than 1000 projects from 180 countries of the world here.

The organizers provide you with food and lodging for the duration of your volunteering, but sometimes they ask for an additional fee, about $ 5-10 per day. This fee is most often levied in developing countries.

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