Charitable vacations are very popular right now as more and more people long to give something back to the incredible places they visit in exchange for the once-in-a-lifetime bucket-list experience these places give to them.
One of those offering life-changing charitable vacations is Ged Caddick who launched his ecotour company, Terra Incognita Ecotours. with the dumbfounding mission – to give his profits away! With a Masters Degree in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Florida, Ged has always been motivated by his passion for making a difference.
After successfully working in wildlife conservation, he launched Terra Incognita Ecotours, a Florida-based travel company with a massive, but simple mission – to give back.
Nine years later, Ged has donated more than $130,000 to charities in more than 7 countries, literally changing lives each and every time he gets on an airplane.
“The business model I created for Terra Incognita isn’t based on profits, like most businesses are. We measure success by how much we’re able to give away – the more the better,” says Ged.
So how does he do it? Every ecotour isn’t just an adventure of a lifetime – it’s a way for travelers to give back to the communities that so graciously host them for a day, a week or even a month. With destinations like Belize, Borneo, Brazil, China, India, Kenya, Rwanda, Madagascar and Tanzania, Ged’s ecotours attract travelers who want to visit the most exotic parts of the globe with an expert guide to show them the way.
“My clients want an incredible experience, but they are thoughtful and responsible,” says Ged. “They want to visit communities in the most remote parts of the world and not just take an experience with them, they want to give something back, too. A percentage of every person’s tour goes directly and immediately back to a conservation partner in the areas we visit.”
Ged doesn’t just donate a check at the end of each year. He takes all of his travelers right to the organization to which they are contributing. In Rwanda, his tours visit the Gorilla Doctors, a non-profit group of veterinarians responsible for keeping the highly endangered Mountain Gorilla population healthy. They also visit the genocide museum to learn about the country’s past, giving his guests a glimpse of the enormous and seemingly insurmountable obstacles Rwandans have overcome in just 20 years.
“I was humbled by the experiences on my Rwandan adventure,” says Susannah Smith, a recent ecotour traveler. “Not only did Ged show us wild gorillas, which is an awe-inspiring experience in and of itself, but he introduced us to Rwandans – people who have experienced unimaginable tragedy, but remain welcoming, warm and overwhelmingly friendly. I got more out of the trip than I ever could have imagined!”
Terra Incognita’s ecotours do more than just give back financially. Every planned tour gives meticulous attention to environmental and sustainable responsibility. Ged’s guiding principles are to minimize impact and to build and foster environmental and cultural awareness and respect. He provides positive experiences for both visitors and hosts.
“The Mountain Gorilla hikes could be difficult,” explains Susannah. “But since we only carried a day pack, we felt like we could carry our own packs. Ged explained that he had hired porters to carry our packs – not because we needed the help, but to support the local economy. In a country where most families survive on only $2 per day, being a porter is a lucrative career. When we heard other travellers opting not to hire a porter, we told them what Ged had explained to us, and they hired a porter right away. It’s the small things that make a big difference.”
“The more I give, the more it encourages others to give. The inspiring people in each of the incredible countries we visit need the money more than I do. They’ve faced hardships I could never image; yet they are still so warm and welcoming. I can’t think of a better way to earn a living.”
Gerard “Ged” Caddick founded Terra Incognita ECOTOURS in 2004 after more than 15 years of working in the Expedition Travel industry. Ged has led many trips for Lindblad Expeditions, International Expeditions, World Wildlife Fund, National Geographic Society and the American Museum of Natural History as well as many College Alumni groups, the National Audubon Society and the Smithsonian Institution. He also lived in Belize, Central America for a number of years in the late 1980’s and worked in the conservation of endangered species for twelve years before becoming involved in the expedition travel industry. It is this mix of expedition travel (a.k.a. ecotourism) and conservation that has helped to shape Terra Incognita Ecotours.
Visit www.ecotours.com for more information.
For more travel features, visit:
‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures