Karstaway – Chinese adventures and internships

Travel that make a difference. Climbing mountains. Building bridges. Planting seeds. 

Karstaway is a small travel company which specialises in gap year programs. The management team is a small group of Chinese and international staff who have been working in experiential tourism and community service projects in rural China for the past 8 years. Over this time we have found that there is a gap between the students and tourists who are keen to volunteer in China and the grass roots organisations, NGOs and communities seeking to solve China’s development challenges.

We have found that international volunteers see volunteering as something to do in a practical hands on way. However, the communtiites we work with would prefer to pay local skilled labour to do hands on work, but would definitely appreciate skilled volunteers to assist in developing websites, educational outreach programs, fundraising etc. We find these skilled people and place them on internships. We call them internships because we believe that the process is as much about learning, rather than donating.

Karstaway provides a unique opportunity for you to travel and develop the skills to put you head and shoulders above the competition. Your adventure will begin in one of China’s most beautiful small towns: Yangshuo. Here you will learn Chinese in the morning and take part in outdoor adventure sports like rock climbing and kayaking in the afternoon.  You will then have the opportunity to travel to other incredible hidden gems in China and carry out an internship for a reputable NGO or sustainable development organisation.

We offer a 12 week program structured in 3 segments. The program is designed for you to experience language and cultural learning with hands on practice through your internship, to form the optimal benefits for your future and CV while making a difference. The program is broken down into 3 parts:
1/ Chinese and Adventure: Learn mandarin and new adventure hobbies
2/ Internships: Develop skills and make a meaningful contribution (Our internship opportunities include Child Care and Centre Support for children with autism and cerebral palsy, Mangrove and Wetlands Conservation, Rural School Regeneration, and English Teaching.)
3/ Reflection: Reflect and celebrate with fellow travellers.

We are able to offer a 5% discount to Tourism Concern Members, along with an additional exclusive benefits of offering first priority internships in the field of sustainable and eco-tourism to Tourism Concern Members, plus a 10% discount on the price of the program.

We work with local communities and organisations to create collaborative projects for tourists to work on. The projects are completely led and managed by local communities, for local communities.

We discuss all of our new developments in Yangshuo with all effected stakeholders, from government bodies, to farmers and small business owners. We also include including young people in these discussions as they are the ones who will be most effected by the development of tourism in the area.

We have a strict code of conduct for participants which includes respecting local customs and culture.

All of our participants live either in home stays or locally owned hostels. These families and businesses are paid a fair price for the services they provide. Meals are provided at local restaurants or are cooked by the locally hired Karstaway cook.

Activities are provided by Insight Adventures, who have a clear policy of local guides and training them to an internationally high standards.

The major focus for our company is sustainable development in China. Participants learn to appreciate the value of the environment in a number of ways: through learning how to engage in outdoor hobbies such as rock climbing and kayaking, including best practice in how to protect and respect the environment whilst taking part. All of our programs follow and teach leave no trace principles.

Our partner organisations, those that host interns include the Chinese Mangrove Conservation Network, the 911 sea turtle rescue centre in Hainan and local schools teaching local and international students about plastic waste pollution and its effect on the environment.

We pay a carbon offsetting scheme to cover the carbon cost of the international flights to China.



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