Cameroon holiday, Tribal lands

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2016: 24 Oct
2017: 30 Jan, 23 Oct
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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Cameroon holiday, Tribal lands

Environment

This tour travels through some very remote regions, many of which have barely been touched by the presence of humans, and we strongly believe in maintaining their pristine nature. The nature of this trip means that some nights are spent camping. We strive to ensure that we leave these areas as we find them and our team have been trained in strict no litter policies, meaning that we take all refuse to either be recycled or properly disposed of in nearby towns. We use gas for cooking, but on occasions may use firewood – but only where this does not deplete natural resources and deprive local communities from using this themselves. Washing of dishes is carried out well away from any water sources so as not to contaminate them.

We base ourselves for some nights at a camp built near the town of Poli. This has been built sensitively using local, sustainable materials, and in keeping with the surrounding environment. Electricity is powered by either solar energy, or when this is not possible, by generators, and lighting is provided by traditional oil lamps. Water is drawn from the camp’s own well, which is also available for the local Mbororo community to use for themselves. There are also plans to use the camp as a base to reforest parts of the surrounding mountains, as well as being a base for local artisans to produce traditional crafts that can be sold to visitors.

Similarly, in conjunction with our local team we work with hotels and guesthouses to implement best practices when it comes to environmental matters – again in some places this is far behind what we might be used to in other parts of the world. This includes basic things like not replacing towels each day, as well as saving electricity and turning lights off.

Our travellers are specifically briefed on not to buy souvenirs made from endangered species – people in remote parts of Cameroon do not always have the same respect towards wildlife as most travellers will have, and can
sometimes offer such things for sale. This also extends to bushmeat – it is quite common to find antelope, porcupine or even monkey served in restaurants, and we specifically advise our travellers against contributing to the depletion of local populations.

At the end of the tour we visit Mfou Primate Sanctuary which provides a home to species such as drill, chimpanzee and gorilla, that have been rescued from the pet trade. Many of these can never be released into the wild but the sanctuary specialises in providing natural surroundings for them, and the entrance fees that we include contribute to the work that they are doing with some of Cameroon's most endangered species.

Community

As with many of the trips that we offer, this tour has a strong focus on local culture and different ethnic groups. Where possible we try to ensure that local people benefit from our presence.

We spend time with the Koma people in the Alantika Mountains, one of the last animistic groups in Cameroon that have not been converted to either Islam or Christianity. Through long association with this area, our local team has established solid relationships with certain Koma villages and our presence here is very much welcomed – we feel that it is very important to be seen as guests here rather than outsiders come to merely look. We are able to spend time with the communities learning about their traditions and customs.

We are careful not to disrupt the traditional way of life of the Koma. As a way to say thank you for allowing us to visit, we bring traditional gifts, such as sugar, tea and so on – we do not bring modern accoutrements that may change their way of life as we feel that it is important for all tribal groups that any move towards a more ‘modern’ lifestyle is made on their own terms and not imposed upon them. We give gifts to the elders of the villages who will then ensure that they are distributed appropriately, rather than just giving them to individuals, which can cause problems, jealousy and fights within small communities.

These are very traditional areas with certain codes of behaviour, and the people here are not that accustomed to outsiders. We ensure that our travellers are appropriately briefed in order so as not to offend local sensibilities.

The local team that we work with in Cameroon is deeply involved in the country; some of them have become honoured by being given the title of local elders within the community of Poli.

Where possible we encourage our travellers to spend their money with local businesses; for this reason we do not include meals where it is feasible to eat outside of the hotels, in order that local restaurants are able to benefit from the presence of tourism, rather than the income being channelled just to the hotel.

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