Conservation & community volunteering in Uganda

Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
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Volunteer travel - what's it all about

Are you looking for an adventurous trip with a purpose, or on a gap year or career break? If you want to make a difference in some of the world’s most important conservation areas - and in community projects - then volunteer trips are for you! Volunteers tend to have a sense of adventure, and come from a range of different backgrounds and from all over the world.
Edward Abbey said 'sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul'.

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Conservation & community volunteering in Uganda

Environment

Our promise to conserving local wildlife:

We're located right next to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park which is a lush green forest of extreme biodiversity, with over 200 species of birds, a variety of primates including rare mountain gorillas, hundreds of butterflies, the highest diversity of tree and fern species in East Africa, forest elephants, antelope, chameleons and much, much more.

All of our volunteers whether they're involved in projects directly with the national park or with the bordering communities are working to support conservation efforts. It's the core of what we do. We are focused on improving the habitat of wildlife inside and outside the park and reducing the threats from human habitation. Each of our volunteers will have the opportunity to learn about the wildlife of the local area in detail, play a genuine part in conserving it and we hope will come away with an even greater passion for and understanding about wildlife in other parts of the world too. Volunteers will be involved in wildlife clubs for kids, tree nurseries and reforestation in the local communities, educational excursions into the park with adults and children, and also working indirectly by helping grow income generation projects that help to provide an alternative for locals that rely on the threatened natural resources in the park.

Our water-saving initiatives:

Very few households where we're located in Uganda have the luxury of running water, including our own volunteer accommodation. We all have to rely on innovative ways to collect the rain and manage our use. Our volunteers will learn how to adapt and have the opportunity to understand why many people in the world value every drop of water for their crops, washing, eating and drinking needs. Some of our volunteers are even involved in designing and creating more innovative water harvesting systems for the local community. Other volunteers will be involved with projects relating to water pollution and helping to improve the sources of water entering the home of the rare mountain gorilla from the villages nearby and the homes of the locals.

Community

Campaigning for Change:

All of our Uganda project volunteers are working towards local issues identified during our in-depth research which always takes place within each of our destinations with a wide range of stakeholders before we operate there. Our ongoing and direct communication with the local community also enables us to adapt to changing situations. We are campaigning to integrate tourism and conservation and development in each of the destinations where our volunteers will be staying.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has become an island forest in a sea of rural farmers and timber trade, and there’s no transition zone between park and pasture. Apart from the civil disruptions that occurred in Uganda in the 1970s and 1980s, the main pressures on Bwindi Impenetrable National Park have come from the build-up of human populations on its boundaries. Bwindi is particularly threatened by agricultural encroachment, small-scale logging and poaching. However in many ways, Bwindi is a model for other tropical forest conservation projects and can definitely claim success in raising the population of the inhabiting rare mountain gorillas. Our volunteers will discover that there’s a lack of community involvement in the management of the park and not yet enough awareness around conservation and resource management. It’s been said that local people have lost their mind-set once rooted in the conservation of nature - because they often don’t have a choice. Despite this, many locals that once opposed the protection of this gorilla habitat are really starting to protect it themselves as they realise that gorilla conservation is starting to contribute to the local livelihoods around Bwindi.

Traveling with respect:

Our volunteers benefit from a well designed, rigorous and enjoyable orientation programme when they arrive in Uganda. This includes basic local language tuition to enable our guests to share a few words with their new community and they'll learn all about local customs and understand how to create great relationships with local people.

All our volunteers will be encouraged to immerse into the communities we're based in. The relationship we've built with the local communities has meant they're extremely excited to welcome our volunteers to live on their lands, share time with them and work together. We have explained from the basics of 'what a tourist is' to 'why they've travelled from far away lands to stay with them'. Our volunteers are coming to directly help out and some stay a lot longer than a typical tourist so they have the chance to really learn.

We create opportunities for genuine friendships to be forged and where respect is mutual. As an organisation we are also working toward improving the relationship between the host and guest for tourism in general, so not just our volunteers. This is tackled through tourism related education, training and the growth of opportunities through allied enterprises. We aim to enable all visitors to our destinations to have the warmest welcome possible.

Reviews of Conservation & community volunteering in Uganda

You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the vacations.

I am reborn! Simply the best vacation I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
Very enjoyable
It was OK
A bit disappointing really

Reviewed on 02 Mar 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Going to a country that was almost the furthest from my mind, staying in a village that you can't find on Google Maps, being immersed in spectacular countryside and doing one of the most personally satisfying projects day in and day out with open, friendly and uncomplicated people.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Read the participants' handbook carefully, rural Uganda is not for the fastidious. Be open to the limitations of the place and the people, and relax and enjoy it for its simplicity, honesty and cultural texture.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Undoubtedly. My efforts and all of the work of the operators is about helping rural communities move forward in the 21st century without handouts but by harnessing participants' valuable life experiences and skills.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Transformative, eye-opening and deeply satisfying.

Reviewed on 13 Jul 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Being in a community without feeling like an outsider. Everyone was willing to help and also be open about their lives. I loved everything about the experience.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Bring all printed materials or handouts for students. Bring all supplies needed for your training. Be prepared with a Plan B and a Plan C and be willing to improvise.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes. I know that it gave people a different perspective about how to handle their finances.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


It surpassed my expectations and made me want to go back as soon as possible.

Reviewed on 13 Aug 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


The women I met and worked with as a volunteer in Uganda. The women were strong, resilient, courageous, determined and inspirational. They were also welcoming of a white woman from Australia - making me feel one of them as we walked or sat in a circle to meet and explore opportunities. The women were so open to learning. They were committed to doing whatever it took to ensure their children had an education.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Embrace the opportunity to become part of a local community and connect with the local people. They have so much to teach us - simplicity in living, enjoy the little things, lived according to the seasons and share the journey with family and friends.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Absolutely - we lived very simply but lacked for nothing. It was great for the volunteers, great for the environment and great for the community.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Excellent - the philosophy of community development and building the capacity of people and communities is needed all over the world. This was one small example in Nombe, Southern Uganda would be a great model for the whole world. It was a privilege to work in this community and a unique opportunity to learn about another culture. Fantastic experience.

Reviewed on 01 Jul 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


We were most fortunate to have spent time with the communities of Bwindi especially the towns of Rubuguri and Nombe and how privileged we were to have been embraced by so many strangers who soon became friends and not just acquaintances. Our two weeks voluntary work in Uganda flew by with so many highlights, it is impossible to name even a few. The people, their positive attitudes and their willingness to learn, the scenery and of course the gorillas.

We don’t really know how to sum it all up but it was an amazing experience and one that we can’t really articulate to others apart from saying – “go try it and see for yourself because then you’ll understand”.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Just do it! You will never regret this decision to go to Uganda, you will only regret that you didn’t do it!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Our hope is that the people we came into contact with gained at least half as much from our meeting as we did from meeting them. In our humble way we hope that it helped a willing and able community to prepare for a life that will be changing in the next few years due to the coming of electricity and the expanding of tourism and to welcome the change because ultimately it will benefit them and make their lives all the richer.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Settling back into normal life feels quite strange and the more we tell people here about our experiences the more we realise how amazing it all was and how lucky we were to join the team at the very start of what is going to be a fantastic project for the Bwindi community.

Reviewed on 16 Apr 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


The fantastic welcome from the local people - they were so appreciative and really pleased to see us.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Learn a few words of the local dialect and use them to greet people. Ladies - wear skirts (below knee length) as much as is practical. If wearing trousers, stick to loose-fitting styles, not leggings. This sensitivity to the local culture is greatly appreciated.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes, most definitely, on all counts. All the projects are targeted at helping local people have better lives - through improved health, education and resources. Conservation awareness and environmental impact are also given great prominence.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


A heart-warming and emotionally rewarding experience; suffice to say, I hope to be able to go back again to follow up and see how things are progressing.

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