South African Chris travelled extensively as a school-leaver. He then got a job with an overland operator where he met Steve, truck driver, builder and tour leader. They clubbed together and set up their own business from Chrisís spare room, renting the corner of a farmerís barn to build a single truck. They were the first overland company to go from Nairobi to Cape Town and now have a streamlined UK office where all staff have previously worked, or travelled with us on the road. Their truck crews are the eyes and ears of the company and ensure they maintain mutually beneficial long-standing relationships with local suppliers.
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Our aim on this trip is to put as much of the trip costs directly back into the local Egyptian and Jordanian communities and economy as possible. All the hotels and restaurants we use are small, two or three star, locally run establishments. We use local guides, reps. and operators at all the places of interest we visit-for example, in Luxor, our local rep Tayeb, sources the donkeys for our village trip from his own family and neighbours and has been doing so for the past five years. This allows village families to gain extra income beyond their subsistence farming. In Jordan we work with a local partner and your trip will be led by a local Jordanian.
This trip uses a variety of local transport including train, bus, ferry and felucca-supporting local transport providers. Use of the train and felucca, in particular, prevent the carbon emissions of another vehicle on the road. The feluccas are owned and run by Ahmed Fauzi and his extended family Ėwe have been supporting their tiny felucca business from its start. They have recently managed to expand to 3 small sail boats which completely support their large extended village family.
Upon booking this trip (as with all our trips) clients receive detailed pre-departure information which includes advice on responsible travel. This information is re-emphasised by the Tour Leader at the start of the trip. For example, clients are advised about respecting local customs (particularly in terms of dress and behaviour); water conservation; and animal welfare. The latter is a salient feature of this trip as we use carefully selected donkeys and horse-drawn carriages for local sightseeing Ė again directly supporting local communities.
Our maximum group size on this trip is 20 thereby reducing the environmental and cultural impact of our tours.
We support two charities in Egypt. In Cairo we have donated computers, teaching materials and provide regular financial assistance to the Sudanese Community Development Program-a school for Sudanese refugee children. We have also helped the school set up a Sponsor-a-Child scheme, and arranged a letter exchange between the Sudanese children and a school local to our UK office.
This promotes opportunities for inter-cultural understanding and provides the Sudanese children with great encouragement. We can arrange pre or post-tour visits to the school, and many of our clients regularly donate old clothes and shoes to the Sudanese Refugees via our collection system at our Cairo Hotel. Most recently, in autumn 2008, we funded installation of an air conditioning system in the schools computer room as this room was unusable in the heat of summer.
In Luxor we sponsor the Sunshine Project International, a home for abandoned and orphaned children. Apart from a regular financial commitment we have also donated bedding and play equipment to the school and even delivered a sandpit from the UK. Luckily there was no need to deliver any sand! Clients on the Egypt trip are given the opportunity to visit the home in Luxor and regularly donate baby toiletries and toys directly there themselves.