Spend a day in the life of a slum dweller in Mumbai or a week on the frontline of wildlife protection in Kenya.

We love the ethos behind Reality Tours & Travel, a Delhi and Mumbai tour company that promises responsible, authentic experiences and which puts 80 per cent of its profits back into local development projects via its own NGO, Reality Gives.

Among the company's offerings are its Slum Tours of Dharavi, Mumbai, which promise to open up opportunities for the local people. Guides from underprivileged areas host the tours, guests are invited to have lunch with a local family and encouraged to donate items such as school supplies, English dictionaries and encyclopedias, and technology such as mobiles, tablets and laptops. Taking photographs is not permitted.

Eco-tourism updates
bull; Sydney's Opera House is now carbon neutral, having met its target to reduce emissions five years ahead of schedule. The iconic venue has made efficiencies in the way it manages its energy and waste, and lit its sails green to celebrate the achievement.
bull; As of January 1, next year, California and Jamaica will be plastic-free when it comes to straws in all restaurants (California) and styrofoam, single-use plastic bags and straws (Jamaica).
bull; The Mexican municipality of Tulum on the Yucatan Peninsula will become the country's sustainable tourism development zone by October 15 due to "high but disorderly growth and inadequate services". The move aims to stop unsustainable tourism growth and make sure the local environment, communities and values are respected.


Into the wild
Intrepid Travel has launched a trip to give guests a close-up look at the work of African rangers in a bid to raise awareness of the dangers they face and the important work they do. The eight-day Wildlife Rangers Expedition in Kenya takes travellers on foot patrols and game drives in the area between the Amboseli, Chyulu Hills and Kilimanjaro national parks. The expedition is being run in partnership with the non-profit Thin Green Line Foundation, which helps look after those on the conservation frontline. A couple of highlights include a visit to Chyulu Hills' rhino sector, which is home to just eight wild black rhino, and some time at the ranger training academy. Prices start from $4485pp excluding flights, and start from mid-July 2019.

Play your part in the Pacific
A competition from the videographers and photographers behind Fiji's Discover Travel Channel is offering a prize of two months' travel through the South Pacific nation to raise awareness about the plight of its coral reefs, ecosystems, plastic pollution and global warming. Entrants for the Protector of Paradise Fiji Environmental Tourism Contest must submit a 60-second video explaining why they should be a part of Protector of Paradise.

Seven finalists will travel to Fiji for three weeks in November, then two international and one local winner will travel throughout the country for another five weeks next April and will be expected to take photos, blog and vlog and be filmed as part of a TV series. Entries close October 31, protectorofparadise.com

Keli'i Kotubetey at He'eia Fishpond, an ancient Hawaiian fishpond at Ko'olaupoko. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Keli'i Kotubetey at He'eia Fishpond, an ancient Hawaiian fishpond at Ko'olaupoko. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Go, fish!

You'd have to be born miserable to not make the most of Honolulu but if the crowds of Waikiki prove too much, try a visit — or even better, volunteer — at an ancient Hawaiian fishpond.

It's a 30-minute drive from Waikiki to Ko'olaupoko on the windward side of Oahu and there you'll find the He'eia Fishpond, a 40ha expanse of water ringed by a rock wall and home to farmed fish which have fed locals for about 800 years.

Paepae o He'eia is a private non-profit organisation dedicated to caring for the pond. Founder Keli'i Kotubetey says it needs lots of help.

"We feed a lot of people but this fish pond needs a lot more love than it gives to us right now — it's in a bit of state of disrepair."

The organisation has teams of volunteers — mainly locals — who wade into the metre-deep brackish water to remove weeds and invasive trees and maintain the wall. Volunteer tourists are welcome and while those numbers are low now, it's something Kotubetey wants to expand.


The number of businesses doing "corporate social responsibility" visits was growing. Recently 300 Optus staff from Australia spent time in the pond.

For those who don't want to muck in, there are walking tours for US$10 a head.

"It doesn't matter to us where you're from — you've got a chance to develop a hands-on relationship with this pond."

The techniques of herding or trapping adult fish with rocks in shallow tidal areas are found elsewhere but the Hawaiian fishponds are technologically advanced enough to cultivate pua, baby fish, to maturity. Fish species that are welcome include mullet, milk fish, surgeon fish and monk fish. Less welcome are the carnivores, jack and barracuda.

There are family fishing days with rods to catch and keep the legal-size carnivores and the plant-eating fish are caught in nets.

— Grant Bradley