The normal definition we are using for gap year travel is 'time taken out of education or the workplace, for a purpose'. However for a retirement gap, the activity and purpose might be the same, but the time of life is obviously different. A retirement gap year (or it could be a month) should be seen as much more than an extended holiday.
To quote from the Independent 28 January 2007, Sarah Harris, extract - 'grey gap years':
'Do not go gentle into that good night," wrote Dylan Thomas, "Old age should burn and rave at close of day/Rage, rage against the dying of the light". Little did he know that 50 years on his words would be reverberating across every flea-ridden backpackers' hostel from New Zealand to Guatemala, as increasing numbers of over-fifties stubbornly "rage" against the grisly spectre of early retirement and rose-growing to embark upon a twilight gap year.
Known, unflatteringly, to the travel industry as the "denture venturers" or the "Saga louts", there are an estimated 200,000 pre-retirement "gappers" in the UK. They spend around £5,000 per trip, totalling an impressive £1bn per year.'
The experience of handling, feeding and looking after lions and baby rhinos was unique!
My name is Silvi and I am 66 years old. My concerns that I wouldn?t be up to the task of volunteering soon vanished. I had such an incredibly nice welcome at the Tambotie Wildlife Care Centre and was comfortable from the start. I could therefore dedicate myself completely and with great enjoyment to looking after the animals. The experience of handling , feeding and looking after lions, young rhinos and many other wildlife species was unique! I was especially fond of the five lion cubs. Taking them for walks was a highlight of my life like no other. Another wonderful emotion was to see how the baby rhino was slowly recovering from the shock of loosing its mother to poachers, and to play a small part in the effort to alleviate the suffering of orphaned and injured animals. Having done something with a purpose and dedicating myself to it completely is truly fulfilling and gave me great happiness! You also learn to understand nature and to grasphow everything interacts and impacts on each other, even if those realisations are not always pleasant. I would like to thank the whole team at African Conservation Experience for the experiences which I was privileged to have had. Keep encouraging people to take on the adventure and to give their life a new meaning, knowing that they have contributed to preserving nature, if only a little bit. I wish you all the best for the future of African Conservation Experience - may you have lots of luck and success!
Silvia Russenberger, age 66, 2009 on a conservation project with African Conservation Experience.