Author: Amanda DiSilvestro

Sep
7

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What Does it Mean to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site?

Posted by on September 7, 2018 · Leave a Comment  

Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site Machu Picchu and volunteer with Discover Corps here.

Travelers, adventurers, and tourists alike have all heard of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They’re usually considered gorgeous “must-visit” places, especially if you are looking to get to know a different country. But what is a UNESCO world heritage site, really? How do they earn that status, and why should they be protected?

Believe it or not, this idea has not been around for long. Declaring structures and land masses world heritage sites began in 1959 when Egypt requested assistance from The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), a specialized agency of the United Nations, to protect and rescue endangered monuments and sites. Since then, countries all over the world have added significant sites to the ongoing list of recognized world heritage sites. To date there, are 878 UNESCO World Heritage Sites across the world.

How are Sites Added to the List?

UNESCO administers a World Heritage Program, which maintains a list of sites worldwide with cultural or natural significance. Countries can submit their own sites to the program which are then added to a tentative list for review and approval. In order to have cultural or natural significance, UNESCO has developed the following ten criteria for determining what constitutes a world heritage site:

  1. Represents a masterpiece of human creative genius and cultural significance.

    Visit Stari Grad Plains on our Croatia: Dolphins & Islands Expedition here
  2. Exhibits an important interchange of human values, over a span of time, or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning, or landscape design.
  3. To bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared.
  4. Is an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural, or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates a significant stage in human history.
  5. Is an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture, or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change.
  6. Is directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance.
  7. Contains superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional beauty and aesthetic importance.
  8. Is an outstanding example representing major stages of Earth’s history, including the record of life, significant ongoing geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features.
  9. Is an outstanding example representing significant ongoing ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, freshwater, coastal and marine ecosystems, and communities of plants and animals.
  10. Contains the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.
Add a Tikal Ruins extension onto our Belize: Wildlife Safari trip here or our Guatemala: In & Beyond the Classroom trip here

The Benefits of Being a UNESCO World Heritage Site

There are a few benefits to being declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site:

  • Press and Popularity. The first benefit, however, is all about tourism. Once a site has been recognized, it becomes more attractive to travelers and therefore travel writers and other news organizations will help spread the word. The site suddenly has a certain status that it didn’t have before, and for many countries, this could help bring new economic benefits.
  • Funding. The site is eligible to receive funds for its protection and conservation. Since it is declared something of historical significance, it is understood worldwide that it needs to be preserved. The site will also have access to global project management resources if a repair is needed or if more options for tourism is needed to ensure the site’s protection.
  • Protection during a war. Once declared, the site becomes protected under Geneva convention against destruction during a war.

    Visit the vast plains of Kruger National Park on our South Africa: Wildlife Conservation Experience here

Today, some of the most recognized UNESCO world heritage sites including Serengeti National Park, Machu Picchu, and the Taj Mahal. Again, each world heritage site receives not only recognition, but protection from encroaching industrialization, mistreatment, or misuse. World heritage sites are not permitted to be used in support of military efforts and are to be an inspiring example of how recognizing the importance of art, cultural heritage, and natural beauty can transcend borders and political differences.

Experience these UNESCO World Heritage Sites with Discover Corps

Which UNESCO World Heritage Site has been your favorite? Which site is on your bucket list? Let us know your story and your thoughts in the comment section below!

Aug
20

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Cuban Visas 101: Support for the Cuban People vs. People to People Travel

Posted by on August 20, 2018 · Leave a Comment  

Visiting Cuba is an enchanting experience, and one that US citizens are now legally able to enjoy. Getting a Cuban visa is relatively quick and easy, but with evolving regulations and various ways to visit Cuba, it can be difficult to know which of the approved avenues works best for you. Luckily, we keep a pretty close eye on this; here’s what you need to know about getting a tourist visa for Cuba.

There are 12 categories of travel that are approved for US citizens to travel within. You must have an approved itinerary (such as one from a licensed tour company like Discover Corps), in-hand, that falls into one of these categories:

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Jul
16

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Interview from Tanzania: Discover Corps Guide Esther “Mama” Simba

Posted by on July 16, 2018 · Leave a Comment  

Esther Simba, or “Mama Simba” as she is called in her village, is someone full of life who you don’t soon forget. With an infectious personality, she has a passion for connecting different cultures as a way of improving our world. On Discover Corps’ Tanzania: Safari & Service trip, you’re welcomed into the Chagga tribe, just outside the town of Moshi, where as Mama Simba says “you’ll find the most kind loving and caring people.”

The friendships that we create, there are people who will never forget their time here because it arises something in ourselves that is different than in other people.” – Esther “Mama” Simba

Discover Corps’ relationship with Esther began over ten years ago when Discover Corps’ Founder Andrew Motiwalla got to know Esther. Although she declined the idea of hosting travelers at first, a chance meeting in Stone Town on Zanzibar Island just a few weeks later was enough to spark a friendship and one of Discover Corps’ longest partnerships abroad to date.

So what is the trip really like? Watch the video below and get to know Esther, and write any questions in the comments!

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Jul
12

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Ask the Alumni: A South Africa Trip through the Eyes of a Discover Corps Traveler

Posted by on July 12, 2018 · Leave a Comment  

For Cathy, the South Africa: Wildlife Conservation Experience trip offered the educational aspects she was looking for while helping her cross seeing the Big 5 off her bucket list (almost – the leopards remained elusive!) with two of her girlfriends. According to Cathy, while this trip focused on wildlife, meeting with some of the children in the area was also an unexpected highlight.

Read about her experience below to learn what she wished she had known before traveling, her most memorable moments, and other insider tips.

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Jun
15

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[PRESS RELEASE] Despite Political Uncertainty, Discover Corps Launches New Cuba Trip for Families

Posted by on June 15, 2018 · Leave a Comment  

Contact: Amanda DiSilvestro
(619) 758-3030
amanda@discovercorps.com

For Immediate Release: Despite Political Uncertainty, Discover Corps Launches New Cuba Trip for Families

– Founder cites mission to promote cross cultural understanding amongst all generations as reason for launching new family-friendly tour to Cuba-

– Free roundtrip flights to Havana now offered for a limited time to celebrate the new trip –

San Diego, CA – June 14, 2018. San Diego-based tour company, Discover Corps, launches a new 6-day itinerary to Cuba. Called the Cuba: Family Island Exploration, the trip allows travelers to enter Cuba on a “Support for the Cuban People” visa.

Travel to Cuba experienced a massive surge when President Obama loosened restrictions in 2016. Since then, President Trump has tightened these restrictions and issued a travel warning, creating confusion about Americans’ ability to legally travel to Cuba.

Discover Corps is known for using responsible travel to improve the world. With this in mind, it has created an itinerary to allow families to discover the island in a meaningful way that supports the Cuban people.

“Now more than ever it is imperative for Americans to become unofficial ambassadors of goodwill around the world. We need to show the world – and especially the Cuban people – that the American people care for them and want to build bridges of friendship and understanding. Politics aside, these trips build direct connections between American and Cuban families,” said Andrew Motiwalla, Founder of Discover Corps. “As the father of two young daughters, I designed a trip that is fun for kids but will also shape the next generation of global citizens.”

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May
22

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Interview from Belize: Discover Corps Guide Reyes

Posted by on May 22, 2018 · Leave a Comment  

According to Reyes, Discover Corp’s guide on the Belize: Wildlife Safari trip, Belize is “Mother Nature’s best kept secret.”

Reyes grew up in Belize in the city of San Ignacio and brings over 10 years experience in guiding travelers across Central America. He thrives on the hands-on interaction that travelers get with wildlife, the locals, and the culture on Discover Corps trips. For him, seeing the smiles on travelers faces as they begin to settle in to the laid-back culture of the country is the best part about being a guide.

On our Belize: Wildlife Safari trip, truly live amongst the nature that Belize is known for (listen to howler monkeys in the distance in the jungle right from your room!). In addition to exploring caves and enjoying the pool, learn about conservation as you visit an iguana sanctuary and butterfly farm, spot manatees and howler monkeys in their natural habitat, and snorkel the world’s largest barrier reef as you search for sea turtles, colorful fish, stingrays, and even nurse sharks in Abergris Caye.

So what is the trip really like? Watch the video below and get to know Reyes, and write any questions in the comments!

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May
16

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Ask An Alumni: A Cuba Trip through the Eyes of a Discover Corps Traveler

Posted by on May 16, 2018 · Leave a Comment  

We were placed in a casa and they were having a birthday party for a family member and invited us to attend. A tour guide and a journalist who had lived in Miami previously were also attending and translated all the Spanish for us, from Castro jokes to a very funny story about a gallbladder operation (you had to be there). They broke out the good stuff—tres leches cake and Johnny Walker Black—and shared generously.” – Lia S.

For Lia, the Cuba: Preserving Nature’s Wonders trip allowed her to see more of a country that is so famous for its capital city, Havana. While Havana brought a new set of experiences on its own, it was the valleys and mountains that were most exciting. Read about her experience below to learn what she wished she had known before traveling, her most memorable moments, and other insider tips.

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May
2

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Interview from “The Sea Turtle Initiative”: Discover Corps Guide Tara

Posted by on May 2, 2018 · 2 Comments  

A surf trip to Costa Rica changed Tara’s life, ultimately leading her to move to their white-sand beaches and devote her life to sea turtle conservation. Today, Tara shares her passion with travelers from around the world to create unforgettable memories for those who are looking for something more unique and a little bit more impactful for their vacation.

On our Costa Rica: The Sea Turtle Initiative trip, travelers get the rare opportunity to help endangered sea turtles and learn from biologists and conservationists more about about the threats they face and the efforts taking place in Costa Rica to bring back the population. You’ll see primarily olive ridley turtles and will either travel during nesting season to see the mother turtles coming to shore, or during hatching season, where you’ll see hatchlings make their way to the ocean (and sometimes, lend struggling hatchlings a hand!). In addition to night patrol drives, experience zip-lining, river tubing on the Rio Vegro, an animal rescue center for big cats, and more.

So what is the trip really like? Watch the video above and get to know Tara. Write your questions in the comments below!

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Apr
26

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Are Budget Tour Companies Really the Best Deals in Travel? [Infographic]

Posted by on April 26, 2018 · Leave a Comment  

When searching for a tour company to work with for an upcoming vacation, there are so many options that offer in-depth, all-inclusive, stress-free options. If you choose not to plan the entire trip on your own, you are usually open to spending a little bit more for the convenience; however when you have to add in lots of missing costs, it can become a little bit inconvenient.

Whenever you book a tour, it is important to not be fooled by those who claim you can save hundreds of dollars on a specific trip if you book through that company. There are always hidden costs, so if a company does not say right on their website what is included and what is not included, run the other way!

Below is a quick infographic we created to point out just how many hundreds of dollars are often left on the table and out of the marketing material:

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Apr
17

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Beyond Your Borders: Quick Tips to Planning Your Furthest Trip Yet

Posted by on April 17, 2018 · 2 Comments  

Traveling internationally is an experience that every person should have if they can. It’s an opportunity to broaden your horizons, to delve into other cultures, and to meet new people. Of course, what many forget is that planning a vacation abroad does require some legwork ahead of time. If you’re thinking about setting out on your first journey across international borders, here are a few tips to help make your planning and travel experience a little bit less stressful and more enjoyable.

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