Responsible tourism: Central Africa vacation, Cameroon and Gabon
This tour travels through some very remote regions, many of which have barely been touched by the presence of humans, and we strongly believe in maintaining their pristine nature. The nature of this trip means that some nights are spent camping. We strive to ensure that we leave these areas as we find them and our team have been trained in strict no litter policies, meaning that we take all refuse to either be recycled or properly disposed of in nearby towns. We use gas for cooking, but on occasions may use firewood – but only where this does not deplete natural resources and deprive local communities from using this themselves. Washing of dishes is carried out well away from any water sources so as not to contaminate them.
In conjunction with our local team we work with hotels and guesthouses to implement best practices when it comes to environmental matters. This includes basic things like not replacing towels each day, as well as saving electricity and turning lights off.
Our travelers are specifically briefed on not to buy souvenirs made from endangered species – people in remote parts of Central Africa do not always have the same respect towards wildlife as most travelers will have, and can sometimes offer such things for sale. This also extends to bushmeat – it is quite common to find antelope, porcupine or even monkey served in restaurants, and we specifically advise our travelers against contributing to the depletion of local populations.
As with many of the trips that we offer, this tour has a strong focus on local culture and different ethnic groups. Where possible we try to ensure that local people benefit from our presence.
We spend time with the Babongo and Badgeli 'pygmies' in Cameroon and Gabon. Through long association with this area, our local team has established solid relationships with certain groups and our presence here is very much welcomed – we feel that it is very important to be seen as guests here rather than outsiders come to merely look. We are able to spend time with the communities learning about their traditions and customs.
We are careful not to disrupt the traditional way of life of the Badgeli and Babongo. As a way to say thank you for allowing us to visit, we bring traditional gifts, such as sugar, tea and so on – we do not bring modern accoutrements that may change their way of life as we feel that it is important for all tribal groups that any move towards a more ‘modern’ lifestyle is made on their own terms and not imposed upon them. We give gifts to the elders of the villages who will then ensure that they are distributed appropriately, rather than just giving them to individuals, which can cause problems, jealousy and fights within small communities.
These are very traditional areas with certain codes of behaviour, and the people here are not that accustomed to outsiders. We ensure that our travelers are appropriately briefed in order so as not to offend local sensibilities.
Where possible we encourage our travelers to spend their money with local businesses; for this reason we do not include meals where it is feasible to eat outside of the hotels, in order that local restaurants are able to benefit from the presence of tourism, rather than the income being channelled just to the hotel.