Kaya Responsible Travel

Program Reviews

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Edel
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I had the most amazing time in Zimbabwe! I met the best people ( a lot of them local) and had an amazing experience! I worked with all kinds of animals from sheep and guinea pigs to lions and baboons! So the spectrum of animals you can work with is really wide and that was also a huge bonus! I learned a lot and I also had the opportunity to visit local schools and tell kids about some of the animals that I worked with on a daily basis! I was located in Bulawayo and it was completely different to anywhere I had traveled before! The local people I met were some of the friendliest, kindest and most humble people I have came across! They were also very family oriented and positive! And the food was also amazing! It really was an amazing month!

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Ben
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I spent 3 weeks in Cusco, Peru working as an intern at CEBE Don Jose San Martin, a school for kids with communication and intellectual disabilities. I worked in a classroom helping a teacher plan and create activities and lessons for the kids. It was an amazing experience and I am so happy to have done it. The Kaya team was so helpful and supportive throughout my entire experience and made it run very smoothly. The internship is now called a special needs internship probably because the job is more useful for people wanting to work with special needs children. Cusco is a magical city and I definitely wish I could've spent more time there. There's always an exciting tour waiting for you. The food is great, the people are friendly, it's a wonderful time. I strongly recommend it.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Have an open mind, be willing to go out of your comfort zone and take part in as many adventures as possible.
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Mo
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I'm a mature lady that for once had a little time to be able to visit South Africa and do voluntary work at SARDA riding school for disabled children in Cape Town. Despite my initial concerns whether I would be able to cope with the physical work in the stables and as a side walker to the riders, it was an extremely uplifting experience and a real joy to see the smiles of the children who all appeared to benefit from their lessons. The highlight was on my last morning when on two separate occasions my name was called out and I was waved at by children who had learning difficulties.
I was very spoilt and so well taken care of from being met at the airport, escorted to my homestay with my own en suite. I was taken on orientation and other trips, I made so many friends who were on the same or different projects.
If you're thinking of doing a voluntary project, just do it, it's a life changer.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
Given the opportunity, I would spend more time on the project, I loved the horses, staff and of course the kids were amazing.
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Karen
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Two amazing weeks volunteering for a local Turtle Hatchery, helping with conservation of 4 endangered turtle species. Hands on experience with many baby turtles, helping care for sick turtles, educating visitors to the site about the dangers facing this species, releasing turtles. The homestay on this project was superb!

Fantastic host family, really enjoyed my time with them learning about the Sinhalese Culture, Bhuddism and local foods. The meals provided were delicious and all Sri Lankan cuisine, they can cater for people who prefer less spice!

I visited Kandy (amazing cultural city), many Bhuddist Temples, Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage and Yala National Park. From hand feeding elephants, to spotting wild leopards, these activities were unforgettable.

I would highly recommend this project and Sri Lanka as a destination! The feeling you get after releasing a baby turtle is awesome! Sri Lankan people are extremely friendly and love to feed people!

Response from Kaya Responsible Travel

Hi Karen

Thank you so much for taking the time to review your time on our Turtle Conservation project in Sri Lanka and for sharing such wonderful photos!

At Kaya Responsible Travel we love working with projects that make a positive impact while allowing our participants to immerse themselves in the local culture and by the sounds of things that's exactly what you did.

We are so glad you enjoyed your time in Sri Lanka and hope you will think of us when looking for your next adventure!

The Kaya Team

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Jane
1/10
No, I don't recommend this program

Unfortunately I had an awful experience while on a volunteering project organised by Kaya Responsible Travel.

I was not picked up from the airport in India as was previously arranged with the company (which meant that I was left in a dangerous and scary situation as a lone traveller). Many of the other volunteers that I subsequently met who had also booked with Kaya had similar issues.

Additionally due to poor organisation and communication between the UK team and the team on the ground, I was only able to do my volunteering project for 5 days out of the 2 weeks that I had paid for (which was a substantial amount of money). I was promised that there would be English speaking members of staff once I was in India, however there were none. this meant that I was unable to understand anything that was said, which made the volunteering project pointless. When these issues were raised with the team (both in India and the UK), these concerns and complaints were dismissed with no apologies.

Very disappointing for a company that charge a substantial amount of money to arrange volunteering opportunities for those that want to help and provide for others. I had initially picked this company as they had promised to provide certain unique experiences for volunteers abroad, however they did not deliver on these promises. There are many other similar companies out there that provide a similar service to Kaya, and I would definitely suggest searching these out if you want to get more out of your money (rather than being let down and feeling quite helpless while in a foreign country on your own).

What would you improve about this program?
More transparency for volunteers, with the correct and up to date information given on the website as well as in correspondence to volunteers.
Response from Kaya Responsible Travel

Dear Senekha, we really value all the feedback we receive and, in the small number of cases when that feedback is negative, we work hard to act on it and try to correct any issues.

In this case, it was difficult to do that as you only raised these concerns after completing your program and returning home - despite us checking in with you after your arrival. To address your specific issues, we have reviewed your visit with the team and other participants to provide an honest response as follows.

Volunteer placement: As part of your 2-week program, the itinerary offered 7 days of working, due to orientation, training and travel days, but as a result of your personal travel plans, we accommodated you to take more time off the project, so this reduced time working was at your own request.

Pick up: The team are confused by your claim that you were not picked up from the airport. You were picked up from Delhi airport as arranged. Some other participants were picked up from Jaipur, as a result of new transfer plans, but in no way did this affect your pick up, nor that of the other participants, who have all confirmed that they were all picked up as planned.

Language barrier: Our ground team are all fluent or advanced English speakers. We understand that at your placement you experienced some communications issues and that when you shared these concerns with the ground team they immediately discussed another placement with you which you decided to take.

We are genuinely sorry that your experience on our program was not all that you had hoped, but we ask that you are fair in your evaluation of us. We take every piece of feedback we receive very seriously and ensure to address any concerns with great immediacy. This is important to us and our communities. If you would like to discuss this further with us please get in touch with us.

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silvia
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I’ve been “working” for Kaya now for few years and I will always go back to them for volunteering.
The staff have been amazing and truly helpful with all my needs and requests.
Philippines was an amazing choice, I went there after Yolanda tsunami and it was very “strong” what I’ve see but the smiles and light in people faces and eyes definitely left a soft spot in my heart. Plus, Philippines is simply amazing!!!
DO GOOD, IT FEELS GOOD.
Thanks again for everything.

Response from Kaya Responsible Travel

We are so pleased that you continue to have great experiences with Kaya and enjoyed your trip to the Philippines so much! We can't wait to see where your volunteering might take you next.

Do good, it feels good is such a great takeaway and really sums up the experience we hope all of our volunteers have!

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Josie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I spent 2 weeks in Neapl. Originally I had signed up to work in a Kathmandu project, for a school which catered to "at risk children". However at the time of my arrival, a big festival was occurring and schools were closed for the holidays. I was therefore taken to a women’s farm cooperative which is also a part of another project with Kaya, situated in a rural part of Nepal outside Kathmandu. It was an 1&1/2 bus ride & 2 hour trek to the village. When we arrived at the house I was greeted with music and dancing and instantly fell in love with the place.

The village itself has a school where the children attend schooling and the women's farm also has a classroom where extra English is taught, the classroom is basic however that doesn't stop the children's keenness to learn. They always attended with smiles on their faces, spoke in English as much as they could, and were always in the mood to learn new things. The biggest challenge I had with teaching, was trying to cater the needs of all the children who were at different stages in regards to their ability to learn and understand. Classes will run a lot more smooth if there's at least two teachers working there.

The volunteer house had a couple women who live there with their children. A girl, who the project on the ground had "adopted", Plus girls and guys from the village and Kathmandu who worked and lived there on a daily basis. everyone was so loving and welcoming and treated me like family, keeping me involved in their daily activities. And if you ever wanted to go off the farm and do other activities for a few days, like trekking, the staff were always happy to help organise it for You.

Overall I enjoyed my time on the project. Things ran as smooth as they could, and when inevitable changes were made; I wasn't left in the lurch. I will definitely go back again in a few years!

What would you improve about this program?
Communication between the staff at Kaya and Nepal, e.g when the schools were closed for the festival, I found this out only after I arrived.
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Charlie
7/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I spent 3 weeks in Cusco, on the 'Teaching English in a Rural Province' project.
I would meet the other school teachers in central Cusco in the early morning, to be driven half an hour to the school is a smaller district. The facilities were limited there, with most classrooms only having a light as the electricity in the room. I would teach English to a class of 21 9-12 year olds for around an hour, though this varied depending on the day. To do this, I was expected to develop my own teaching syllabus and all my own materials - which was a struggle as I hadn't been told this prior to my arrival and did not have access to a computer. Still, the lessons went well and the kids were all very enthusiastic to learn. Another thing to note, was that I had been told only a basic level of Spanish was needed, which didn't turn out to be the case - future volunteers on this programme should be proficient, as no other staff members at the school speak English.

My homestay family were lovely and very welcoming, and luckily another volunteer with a different project lived very close to me, so we did lots of after work things together. Had there not been another volunteer it may have lonely though.
Over all, I enjoyed the project, but hope some minor changes have been made to make it easier for future volunteers.

What would you improve about this program?
I would change the level of Spanish required from a volunteer to be accepted as part of the project, as it would make it easier for everyone involved.
Response from Kaya Responsible Travel

You will be happy to hear that we have reviewed the Spanish level requirement for schools teaching and have already put in place a short language test that helps us evaluate better the levels of Spanish prior to finalising the placement. Our home-stay families, as you experienced, are friendly and helpful and get consistently great feedback, and they love hosting Kaya volunteers. We also have a new coordinator who we welcomed onboard this month who is expanding the reach of our Kaya projects in Peru as it grows in popularity. Thank you again for sharing your experiences and inspiring others to join in our great work.

Heilwig Jones - Director, Kaya Responsible Travel.

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Marissa
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Booking my volunteering trip with Kaya Volunteer was such a great experience! The staff was very helpful and friendly, and they were able to address all of my questions and concerns through the booking process. They also provide you with plenty of information before you depart, which is extremely helpful to provide a better understanding of the location you are going and what your days may typically look like. I participated on the teaching and community project in Livingstone, Zambia.

We would teach every weekday in the mornings, then have a break for lunch, and then volunteer for a few hours in the afternoon at various places such as after school reading clubs or the old people's home. We had the weekends off to participate on any adventures or excursions that we wanted to!

Volunteering abroad was an amazing life changing experience that opens up your eyes to other parts of the world. Don't be discouraged if you don't have any teaching experience. I didn't either and I was able to catch on quickly with some help from the on-site staff and other volunteers. I volunteered for just 2 weeks and was able to meet tons of lifelong friends from all over the world. The people in Livingstone were so friendly and welcoming, and it is a joy to work with the kids and see how eager they are to learn.

What would you improve about this program?
More packing tips or talking to someone who had been on the program already would have been useful before leaving.
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RTWALTON
5/10
No, I don't recommend this program

A great experience in a small school for children. An incredible homestay in a rural placement. A fantastic welcoming from the rural family and a great friendship was developed.

A negative experience with the 'on the ground' team in Nepal. For the price paid one would most certainly have expected clear organisation of transport to rural placement. It would be very easy to organise this on Tourist type buses which enable you to have your own seat, as opposed to travelling in a bus designated for 8 people with 30 actually travelling on it.

A well travelled individual I am very understanding of the transportation methods and what is deemed as normal in Nepal however an organisation which caters for paying customers I would expect that their safety is paramount in the organisations mind, even before the volunteering itself. How productive can one be if one does not make it to the placement because of poor quality of care for individuals.

This was further highlighted when on more than one occasion there was a significant amount of confusion over individuals being picked up from the airport. If your volunteering includes airport pick up, don't count on them being there. We had a number to call as part of a volunteer pack, but again what use is this when you have just arrived in country, great if you have a mobile, but then what use is the organisations number if no one answers! Luckily I was travelling with someone but there were individuals who arrived during the middle of the night and struggled to find the volunteer house.

While working in the education establishments was rewarding I also experienced that other individuals who were promised micro-financing spent one afternoon of a 4 week programme doing excel within a community. I personally feel a few things need to be made a little clearer to individuals so their expectations are not so high. Sustainable travel maybe?! Safe volunteering, questionable.