As tourism continues to increase it is important that tourism areas are not adversely affected by tourism activities. All over the world, we have seen what happens when conservation and tourism don’t work hand in hand. Two prominent examples of this are The Great Barrier Reef in Australia and Maya Bay in Thailand. Both are examples of the destruction of natural habitats by tourism activities! The destruction of tourism zones can occur in many ways and if local people who live in and around tourism zones don’t associate positively with tourism then it can turn in to intentional and unintentional damage to the area.
The primary reason for the introduction of these activities was to promote local economic development through gorilla tourism. Uganda and Bwindi, in particular, welcomes many tourists every year, these activities have been set up to assist the local people who live around Bwindi to be able to also benefit directly from the visitors to Uganda. The ultimate goal is to convince tourists that there is more to Bwindi than just the iconic mountain gorillas and it is worth spending an extra night in Bwindi to partake in Responsible Tourism activities that help benefit local people. As we work towards that aim get in touch with Let’s Go Travel to see who you can plug in these incredible activities into your itineraries.
Making local people part of the tourism experience is key to ensuring that these zones are preserved and protected for the future. The Responsible Tourism Activities in Bwindi tries to address these issues by upskilling men and woman to enable them to provide products and services that can be bought by tourists who visit the area. The direct benefit being that the local people see a correlation in protecting Bwindi as they are gaining from its existence, the current generation can then reinforce this message of protection and conservation into the hearts and minds of the next generation, who will then also begin to have a positive association with Bwindi. It is important that these messages come from within the community as the reception and uptake of such messages are critical to conservation longevity.
1 – Uniquely Ugandan Baskets
One of the Responsible Tourism Activities is Basket weaving, not only can you purchase baskets that are made by ladies who live within Bwindi but you can actually participate and spend some time learning how to weave these baskets. What is so special about these baskets is that they have been designed in conjunction with a Ugandan Artist called Sanaa Gateja, who was responsible for providing a “weaving boot camp” where a number of ladies from Bwindi came to Kampala and spent a week with Sanaa as he upskilled them with a view to creating more attractive, robust baskets and a better quality than those previously made, therefore giving the baskets more of a chance of being sold. There are two locations where you can participate in this activity:
2 – Nature, Culture and Life Style Trails – Bwindi Specialist Guides Group
The second Responsible Tourism Activity is a set of three guided trails in Bwindi.
Traditional Rural Life and Batwa Trail – Buhoma Sector
Rubuguri Origins & Honey Trail – Rubuguri Town ( in-between Nkiringo and Rushaga )
Reformed Poachers Trail – Rubuguri Town ( in-between Nkiringo and Rushaga )
What is unique about these trails is that they are curated by a group of guides who have been specifically trained by Johnnie Kamugisha who is a leading figure within the Uganda Safari Guides Association and is the President of the Uganda Birds Club. This means that the guides are better equipped to deliver a more immersive experience that will leave you with a better understanding of the lives and culture of the people who live in the Bwindi. The guides all live locally to the areas that they work and were all previously guides who although volunteered had to be assessed alongside many others to qualify for this particular initiative.
All three trails are also mapped so that anyone who would like to do the trail can see what is entailed beforehand. You will also find more information on the training process involved in both activities by clicking here.
So if you are planning on coming to Bwindi and would like to participate in activities that will directly benefit local people then please get in touch.
I would like to thank the following institutions who worked together to make all of this possible: