09 December 2010 by Julienne du Toit

A New Breed of Tourist

I’ll never forget Roger the Adventuring Brit. I met him nearly ten years ago, on a shark diving trip off Gansbaai. It was a grey winter’s day - the best time to see great white sharks.

But Roger was as happy as seventeen larks. Life couldn’t be better for him. After he’d seen the great whites, he was headed off to do the world’s highest bungy jump further along the Garden Route. Then he was going abseiling at The Restaurant at the End of the Universe near Waterval Boven before heading home.

All he had on his mind was adventure. He spent his whole life back in England in a dreary job, plotting the glorious annual escape the mighty Pound would buy him. Roger’s adrenalin cup seemed to be constantly running over, like that speedy kid in The Incredibles.

Now I keep running across the un-Roger tourists. I find them helping to rehabilitate abused horses (in between taking glorious rides on wide open beaches). I find them helping to teach children in underprivileged towns (with lots of time off for sightseeing). I see them helping to combat erosion and rehabilitate overgrazed veld (and having frequent encounters with cheetahs).

They work with Aids orphans, build day-care centres, feed injured penguins, cuddle abandoned baby baboons, collect data on whales and feed stranded penguins.

They’re having multi-dimensional experiences - and they’re even more joyous than Roger, for the most part. I wouldn’t have thought it possible.

A friend of mine who works with voluntourists tells me most of them cry all the way back to the airport when they leave…

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