Visiting volunteers and locals work on agriculture project

Follow the Tribe

The intrepid, spirited bunch who make up TribeWanted, a group of eco-pioneers dedicated to building sustainable communities in remote regions, continues a global pursuit of finding what truly matters, and you can join them. Through a lot of hard work (and, one suspects, a lot of equally hard celebrating and relaxing) the group moves into an area where there is no infrastructure, and begins creating a community that benefits locals and the visiting “tribe” equally. Solar energy systems, earth-pack dwellings, bucket showers, compost toilets, kitchen facilities, and permaculture gardens all spring up from formerly empty ground. There are currently three tribal “villages” being put into place alongside, and in partnership with, local villagers in Monestevole, Umbria; Ubud, Bali; and Gonubalabala, Papua New Guinea. It is a bit like a season of “Survivor” without Jeff Probst and tribal council voting members out. In addition to physical structures, the goal is to build partnerships with communities and share skills as well. The eco-village sets a forward-thinking and sustainable example that can be replicated throughout the area, and the visiting “tribe” also has a reverberating effect on the region (for instance, in Papua New Guinea (PNG), with their partner, Manta Watch Camp, they work alongside science and research teams for conservation efforts of the marine habitats and manta ray population).

Have you got what it takes to join the tribe? If my life commitments were simpler, allowing me to go and spend a chunk of time away from my family and home, I would find it a fascinating experience and challenge. Visiting tribe members make a commitment for a minimum of a week but recommended stay is 2-8 weeks (maximum can be many months–the project runs 8 months out of the year with downtime during the rainy season), and pay a fee for their stay (as little as a few hundred dollars per month) that covers accommodation in communal lodges, huts, or earth domes, all meals, and a contribution to the local community project. You’ll also be working a good deal while there, making a contribution that way as well. Ready to kickstart a new village in a gorgeous setting and welcoming community?

There’s room for you—find your tribe.


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About The Author

Andrew Mersmann's picture

Andrew is the author of Frommer's global guide to volunteer vacations, "500 Places Where You Can Make a Difference" (Gold Medal Winner from Society of American Travel Writers: Best Guide Book 2010). He spent more than a decade on the editorial team of PASSPORT Magazine. He has volunteered and led teams on service projects around the world, and is honored to be on the boards of directors for the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation ( and Mentor Artists Playwrights Project ( Mersmann has been a featured speaker, interview guest, or moderator on several travel talks, from the New York Times Travel Show, Smithsonian Associates, and the 92nd Street Y-TriBeCa to Oprah and Friends, Animal House, and The Focus Group on satellite radio as well as on NY1 television. Past participant at the Clinton Global Initiative and judge for Condé Nast World Changers Conference, he blogs about volunteering and service travel at As part of the evox television team, he is dedicated to audience engagement, so if you're not engaged, he needs to be thumped on the head (gently)...or at least told (nicely). Twitter: /ChangeByDoing

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