GIVING back while travelling can make for a more meaningful and memorable travel experience, with many travellers looking to enrich the lives of those living in local communities that they visit, far beyond simply leaving a generous trip. Jasmine Hanna has put together five trips which have harnessed the power of tourism to help to improve the standard of living and opportunities of the communities that they visit.
G Adventures — seven-day Local Living Ecuador — Amazon Jungle
A personal favourite of G Adventures founder Bruce Poon Tip, the seven-day Local Living Ecuador — Amazon Jungle, ventures into the Amazon rainforest. The trip originates from the very first tour the company ran in 1990 and is still operated with the same community today. Travellers spend four nights in a homestay with an a local Quichua family in their small village in the Amazon. During their time in the village, travellers take walks with the locals, who show them their way of life and teach them about medicines of the rainforest, and spiritual ceremonies. G Adventures has been bringing groups to the community every month for over 30 years, which Poon Tip said has transformed and culturally preserved the community, allowing them to live their traditional life in the Amazon. Today, 11 different G Adventures tours in Ecuador visit the Quichua village. Using the money from tourism, the community has been able to fight off drilling by miners and won a battle in court against a government mandate that children learn Spanish as their first language, which would have meant giving up their native tongues.
Abercrombie & Kent — 11-day Wildlife of Kenya & Uganda
Abercrombie & Kent’s 11-day Wildlife of Kenya & Uganda visits the Bwindi community, where the operator’s philanthropic arm, A&K Philanthropy (AKP), has a number of projects. During the private journey, travellers can choose to visit the Bwindi Community Hospital & Nursing School near Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp, where AKP sponsors Nursing School Scholarships for students. The school was built with the support of A&K guests and provides health care to communities living around Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, among the poorest people in the world. It is training a new generation of nurses to work in rural clinics addressing the health needs in these communities. There is also the option to take a tour of the Bwindi Women Bicycle Enterprise, which employs six local women. This village bike shop and tour enterprise provides these women with the opportunity to earn an income while also giving their community vital access to transportation. The women are directly involved in the repair, assembly, and sale of bikes around the area. With AKP support, the bike shop receives restock shipments on a regular basis. Travellers can also visit the Ebenezer Primary School, which AKP provided support for to build the classrooms and administrative building, as well as for resources for the students’ education. Guests can further get involved in these projects by donating to AKP, and are able to direct to which program they would like the donation to support. This itinerary also takes travellers to the Laikipia Plateau region, where they can search for lions and elephants on safari, and to the Masai Mara, for a stay in a vintage safari camp. Bwindi is also known for its population of the endangered mountain gorilla and guests spend two days trekking through the forest to locate one of the habituated gorilla families.
AAT Kings — Bushfire Recovery Giveback Experience: #EmptyEsky to Shoalhaven
This season’s Australian bushfires saw many regional tourism businesses devastated and emptied of tourists during peak season. In response, AAT Kings moved quickly to launch not-for-profit bushfire relief experiences to provide support directly to tourism communities. The experiences were designed in collaboration with the local community to inject funds into local businesses and support farmers. The #EmptyEsky to Shoalhaven ex-Sydney day trip’s first stop is Kangaroo Valley, for morning tea at a local caf or a spot of shopping for leather goods, antiques or artwork in the town’s stores. Next up is the Nowra Farmers Market, where fresh and seasonal produce is sourced daily, with some items coming from the farm to shelves within 24 hours. Travellers are encouraged to bring along an esky to fill with produce and the many delicacies available from local farmers. Guests are then treated to a private lunch at Bangalay Dining, made from locally sourced and native ingredients, and hosted by the people who produced them. Over lunch, travellers have the chance to hear the stories of recovery of those who were affected by the bushfires, before heading back to Sydney.
World Expeditions — 14-day Rebuild Nepal — Manedanda School & Annapurna
The 14-day Rebuild Nepal — Manedanda School & Annapurna trek, departing 1 November 2020, is part of the Rebuild Nepal series, which World Expeditions has operated since the devastating earthquakes of April 2015. The series has seen the World Expeditions Foundation (WEF), with the assistance of travellers around the world and local tradespeople, rebuild classrooms in four remote mountain communities (to the value of AU$200,000). WEF funds the costs associated with the project and relies on volunteer labour of travellers to work alongside the paid local tradespeople. This itinerary sees travellers take part in a three-day community project working alongside locals to rebuild the kindergarten and school, and a six-day trek in the Annapurna region. No specific skills are required of the travellers, just a commitment to assist at the worksite for six to eight hours over the course of three days.
The project will see travellers help construct two rooms at the Manedanda Primary School, a Thami community which is an indigenous highly marginalised community within Charikot. The extra rooms will be used for the school’s office and kitchen/store, with the extra space to allow for more hygienic food preparation and classrooms more conducive to learning.
Travellers will also have the chance to gain insights into the Nepali mountain culture by working collaboratively with the community and transferring skills. USD$500 has been included in the trip cost and will be directed to the cost of the project work, including the purchase of materials and the transportation of the materials to Lura, as well as the wages of a local trades person to oversee the project work.
Crooked Compass — 11-day Remarkable Rwanda
Remarkable Rwanda is designed to showcase a women-led transformation in an emerging destination and in the process, provide an economic benefit to local businesses and their communities. The tour takes travellers and immerses them into the daily lives of Rwanda’s women, who are at the forefront of the country’s re-emergence, with the male population decimated by the genocide. Along with visiting the destination’s renowned mountain gorillas, travellers connect with the small entrepreneurial businesses led by women that are transforming the country. By including this particular focus in the tour, Crooked Compass travellers make a commercial connection with these people and their businesses, providing them with an immediate economic benefit. Travellers on this itinerary also spend time in a village that was previously home to a gorilla poaching enterprise which through education and an appreciation of the long-term benefits of sustainable “gorilla tourism”, is now a leader in this space. The trip is designed to see travellers leave Rwanda with a greater understanding of its dark genocidal past, and an appreciation for the place the country has become as it has healed.