Volunteer Vacations on Horseback
"A perfect blend of adventure and service. Whether you ride regularly or not, this adventure is fantastic! Beautiful, well trained horses, great support from a large and talented team of outfitters, amazing terrain, villages and experiences.
This ride through some of the most remote areas of the Indian desert allowed me to interact with and help over 1600 children and adults and gave me hundreds of memories.
I have taken adventure trips before but this is, by far, the most amazing experience I have ever had."
Dian Sourelis, Relief Rider
"What a profound and uplifting journey!
Relief Riders International has crafted the perfect travel adventure.
A rich sense of purpose, a humanitarian mission delivering goats to impoverished villagers, school supplies to hundreds of students, participating in dental and medical camps - it was awesome!"
Peg Steley, Relief Rider
Each year, since 2004, Relief Riders International has run two or three small group trips giving a limited number of travelers the opportunity to experience riding in some of the most breathtaking landscapes on the planet while bringing much needed humanitarian relief to remote communities. If you are not interested in riding you may still be able to join us - read more about our Camel Caravans.
Each itinerary provides a unique blend of hands-on provision of humanitarian aid to local people, riding though stunning terrain and immersion into the local culture. Trips last for 13-15 days and include no more than 12 riders. This epic Relief Ride will have us ride through the breathtaking dune landscapes of the Bikaner region of northwestern Rajasthan. Follow the links below for our current itineraries.
The Pushkar Relief Ride combines giving back with the opportunity to experience India from a truly unique perspective. This 14-day journey on horseback will take us through the ancient landscape of the Thar Desert, from the ancient settlement of Baghsara to the sacred village of Pushkar, ending at the famous Pushkar Fair.
Like the desert nomads of the region, we'll ride due south, traveling seemingly endless sand tracks through breathtaking terrain, from rolling dunes to open plains and a mountain pass through a steep gorge, before arriving in the valley of Pushkar. On the way we'll pass through villages, which travelers rarely experience, let alone on horseback. We'll sleep under the starlit sky in canvas-covered tents, and during the days, we'll hand out educational materials to underserved schools, conduct our Give A Goat program, and set up medical camps, which provide dental, eye, and obstetrics care to populations lacking healthcare.
In Pushkar, on the banks of the lake, Rajasthan's largest camel fair awaits. One of the most sacred pilgrimage destinations for Hindus in India, the usually sleepy Pushkar transforms into a spectacle of color and celebration around November's full moon with livestock traders descending to buy and sell camels, cattle, and horses. But the real fun begins when the games kick off. Think camels brightly adorned in costume racing to the finish line, the drama of only the finest Marwari horses dancing, the infamous longest mustache competition, and the Hindu bridal pageant. All in all, the perfect end to a memorable and transformative experience.
NOVEMBER 2017 PUSHKAR RELIEF RIDE
OCT 19TH - NOV 2ND, 2017 (click for details)
This epic Relief Ride will take us though the breathtaking dune landscapes of the Bikaner region of northwestern Rajasthan. Starting from the beautiful, historic village of Bikaner, an ancient oasis for traders traveling by camel along the routes of central Asia and the coast of Gujarat. We will then travel through the remote, stunning landscapes inhabited for centuries by the Bishnoi tribes.
Bishnois are renowned animal and nature lovers, due to their protection there is an abundance of animal life in their ancestral territories, deer, antelope (including blue bulls, black bucks, chinkaras, and chowsinghas) are seen grazing in fields despite the fact that the State of Rajasthan faces severe water shortages.
As we traverse some of the most remote regions of India navigating the dunes and encountering lost temples, we will bring free dentistry, gynaecology, and cataract eye surgery programs to local communities. We will also be delivering livestock to widows and below poverty level families, as well as educational materials, sporting equipment, and paediatric programs to young children at the five schools we visit on the ride.
FEBRUARY 2018 GAJNER RELIEF RIDE
FEB 26TH - MAR 11TH, 2018 (click for details)
Next August, discover Ecuador's spectacular beauty and ancient spirituality on the back of a Criollo horse. Over 13 days, we'll journey across valleys and paramos against the backdrop of the snow-capped Andes, fly to the Amazon to experience the mystical properties of the jungle, and relax in hot thermal pools in the shadow of Ecuador's otherworldly volcanoes. Along the way we'll work in conjunction with the Ecuadorian Red Cross to set up a two-day medical camp, offering dentistry, eye care, CPR training, and obstetrics treatment to both the people of Piñan in the Andes and the Sapara tribe in the Amazon.
At the foothills of the Andes Mountains, we'll spend our mornings sipping coca tea in storied 17th century haciendas, while the rest of our days will be spent traversing stunning valleys at 9600 feet. In between riding through miles of swirling grasslands, visiting a condor sanctuary, and touring a famed free-trade coffee plantation, we'll deliver much-needed dental and obstetrics care to a remote village in the sky.
In the Amazon Rainforest, as guests of the Sapara tribe, known as the "healers" of the jungle, we'll learn firsthand about traditional medicine, the wisdom of the forest, and have the opportunity to take part in shamanic ceremonies. We'll kayak and swim in the river, hike with indigenous guides, exchange gifts with the community, and gather around the fire with the elders in the evening. Even with so much to see and do, there will be ample time to rest, whether in a hammock serenaded by the jungle chorus, or in one of the therapeutic thermal pools on our way back to Quito.