On this trip we stay at small, locally run campsites (or bush camp). Whenever possible we buy our food in local markets, thereby directly supporting local communities. We use local companies to run all our excursions and local guides at sites of historical interest. For example, in Egypt we use local Egyptologist guides to visit the Pyramids and Sphinx.
We try to stay at campsites that also have a commitment to the communities they inhabit and we do what we can to further support their initiatives; for example the Meserani Snake Park in Tanzania started as a campsite but has become an integral and important part of the local Masai community.
The campsite organises guided walks to local Masai villages-the Masai villagers themselves are the guides and all the profits go to the villages. The campsite has also established a medical centre for the local Masai community and this is partly funded by the profits from an on-site shop selling local Masai crafts. We have donated basic medical supplies to the medical centre and make a regular monthly financial contribution.
We also visit a number of conservation /community projects en route-that support local communities and conservation initiatives directly. In Uganda for example, our clients have the opportunity to visit the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary which cares for rescued or orphaned chimpanzees. Clients are also of course given the opportunity to visit the mountain gorillas in Uganda, or Rwanda-a large part of the fees for this go towards conserving and protecting these magnificent animals and their habitats.
Before commencing the tour all our clients are provided with detailed pre-departure info which includes information on Responsible Travel. This information is re-emphasised by our Tour Leader at the start of the trip-clients are, for example, advised about respecting local customs particularly in terms of dress and behaviour; water conservation; respecting and conserving wildlife and their habitats; purchasing of endangered species products and so on.
Charities supported on this trip:
We support two charities in Egypt. In Cairo we have donated computers, teaching materials and provide regular monthly 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 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.
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. Our travellers in Egypt are given the opportunity to visit the home in Luxor and regularly donate baby toiletries and toys directly there themselves.
In Nairobi, we sponsor a baby elephant, Kamboyo, through the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.
In Uganda, groups have the opportunity to visit to Soft Power Education-an organisation that provides education to Ugandan children. Some of our clients have returned to Uganda at the end of their trips to undertake voluntary work here.
In Zimbabwe, we have become involved with the Hupenyu Hutsva Children’s Home in Harare. We came upon this Home by accident-during a visit to Zimbabwe 7 years ago. One of our Directors was taking some supplies to a nearby childrens home and got a bit lost! He ended up at Hupenyu Hutsva by mistake and was impressed by what he saw, in terms of the staffs dedication and commitment.
The Home receives virtually no outside support as the children are older and not as cute and attention grabbing as the babies and toddlers of the Home nearby. We are very proud of our involvement with this Home as we can see the small differences we have made and we know that it has been important to the Home to just know that someone outside even cares about what is happening there. We have donated educational materials, bedding, clothing, sports equipment and computers to the Home.
In 2008, we also funded the installation of a borehole at the Home-enabling them to be far more self sufficient in food production and enabling the children to learn valuable horticultural skills (our generous travellers donated seeds and gardening tools.) Since 2007, we have run an annual 'Kids Week' event, using one of our trucks and 2 or 3 of our crew to take all the children and staff out on a series of day trips, finishing the week with a big party. Many of the children rarely leave the compound they live on so it is always a big adventure! The most recent one of these was in May 2014 when we used four of our Expedition vehicles to take 88 children and staff out for the day. Whenever possible our trips visit the Home. The children enjoy challenging our groups to a game of cricket and then winning, convincingly!