Our aim on this trip is to put as much of the trip costs directly back into the local Egyptian community and economy as possible. In both Cairo and Dahab we stay at small locally run hotels employing local staff. We do not use large international chains. In Cairo we use local Egyptologist guides for our trip to the Pyramids, Sphinx and Egyptian History museum.
The dive school we use in Dahab is locally run and uses a majority of local dive instructors. The schools owners Mohammed and Sarah are passionate about the local environment both above and below the water and seek to pass this passion on to their clients. As such, education about protecting and conserving the reef is an integral part of every dive course. Clients are informed for example about the importance of maintaining distance from sensitive environments, not touching or chasing animals, abiding by all national park laws, securing equipment etc. and all buoyancy practise is undertaken in sandy areas. In addition all advanced courses incorporate a Naturalist dive which focuses on local marine life and how best to care for it.
The dive school supports, and is a member of the PADI organisation Project Aware-a charity that advocates environmentally friendly SCUBA diving. Through this association the dive school is involved in local clean up days-both above and below the water. Free dives are offered by the school to anyone helping on these days. The school also supports, and is a member of, the South Sinai Association for Diving and Marine Activities. This organisation restricts diving areas so that the reef is not damaged and builds platoons for easy exit and entry limiting further coral damage. The dive school also supports the local recompression chamber.
The dive school is an integral part of the local economy. Local Bedouins are used for all transport requirements and Bedouin dinners can be organised for clients if required. Clients also have the opportunity to undertake camel safaris with local Bedouin-a fascinating insight into a different way of life and a way to support local families directly. There are a plethora of local restaurants that the dive school are happy to advise on.
As a company 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, (sponsoring a child ourselves) 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!
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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