Travel today is all about finding ways to truly connect with a destination—beyond the traditional tourist checklist. “People want to visit unique places and experience more than just the sites,” explains Mary Jean Tully, founder and CEO of Tully Luxury Travel, an agency that’s celebrating 30 years of providing world-class journeys for discerning clients. “They want to be immersed in local cultures and invest in local people.”

For Tully Luxury Travel, those connections also include making a difference in the places you visit—through conservation initiatives, voluntourism opportunities, and meaningful interactions. Here’s a closer look.

Protecting the Environment and Wildlife

Mary Jean is passionate about conservation and ensuring that the itineraries her team books reflect that same principle. This is particularly evident in Tully Luxury Travel’s specialized African Dreams division, which is dedicated to crafting upscale, bespoke safaris and other journeys to the continent. African Dreams works only with ethical lodges, camps, and operators (including noted brands like AndBeyond, Singita, Wilderness Safaris, and Great Plains Conservation) to create compelling trips that educate, promote sustainability, and contribute to the protection of endangered wildlife.

In addition to enjoying their safaris, travelers have the opportunity to visit organizations like the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT), a Nairobi-based elephant orphanage that has achieved worldwide acclaim for its successful elephant and rhino rescue and rehabilitation program. Whenever Mary Jean travels to Nairobi, she always includes several visits to the orphanage. 

On a recent trip to Southern Africa, Mary Jean experienced firsthand the anti-poaching efforts being undertaken by her travel partners, Great Plains Conservation and andBeyond. These two leading conservation and tourism companies have teamed up to establish Rhinos Without Borders, with a mission to translocate 100 rhinos from South Africa, where rhino poaching is at an all-time high, to safe havens in Botswana.

You can travel with Mary Jean this December and experience her passion and dedication up-close. She is hosting an intimate, three-night New Year’s celebration at the Singita Lebombo Lodge in South Africa to celebrate Tully Luxury Travel’s 30th anniversary year. In addition to enjoying wonderful game drives, a stunning safari lodge, exceptional cuisine, and exclusive Singita amenities, you will have the opportunity to learn about the heart-warming community and conservation initiatives being undertaken by Singita.

Making Travel Matter through Social Initiatives

“Pay it forward” is one of Mary Jean’s life mantras, and for her company, that translates to partnering with companies that help make a difference in their communities—and creating bespoke itineraries that allow travelers to engage with locals in a significant way. One such organization that Tully Luxury Travel works with is Me to We, which helps plan voluntourism opportunities focused on education, health, and economic development, in rural parts of Kenya, India, and Ecuador.

Before embarking on an African Dreams-planned safari, guests may be connected with a non-profit like ‘Pack for a Purpose’, which provides destination-specific lists of useful, needed items that travelers can bring from home and then coordinates with local lodges to distribute the goods to schools and communities. Upon request, African Dreams is often able to arrange for guests to meet with the local recipients of their donations.

Visits to local schools and orphanages, clean water projects, children’s feeding programs, skills training, and other giving-back opportunities may also be on the agenda, in spots from Cambodia to Tanzania. “Travel educates people on how they can make a difference, because they see first-hand how they are a part of it,” says Mary Jean. “And at Tully Luxury Travel, we strive to leave a positive imprint on the world.”