Democratic Republic of Congo tour

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2018: 9 Jun
2019: 8 Jun
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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Democratic Republic of Congo tour

Environment

A key focus of this tour is the incredible wildlife found in the forests of tEast Africa. This is home to an incredible variety of wildlife including both mountain and eastern lowland gorillas, chimpanzees and other primates. We explore the forest in the company of local guides and travelers are extensively briefed on how not to leave a negative impact upon this area. This includes aspects such as not dropping litter and sticking to the trails, but also about not disturbing the wildlife and keeping quiet in the presence of animals.

The Democratic Republic of Congo is a poor country that is not able to allocate a vast amount of resources to the protection of its natural environments. The fees that we pay for visiting Virunga and Kahuzi-Biega National Parks help to conserve this special region, paying for rangers and conservation staff, but also allowing the forest to generate an alternative source of income. All too often in this region Africa, forests are simply seen as a natural resource to be exploited and are heavily logged, however tourism here provides a financially viable alternative to this destructive practice.

We spent time tracking mountain and lowland gorillas, chimpanzees and colobus on foot. The permits that we pay for here help to fund conservation efforts, and also provide employment for local people. Gorillas and other primates are often taken from the wild for either the pet trade or bushmeat, but the fact that gorilla tracking provides local employment gives nearby communities a reason to look at these as a long term resource that should be preserved, rather than a short term resource to be exploited.

Our travelers are specifically briefed on not to buy souvenirs made from endangered species people in remote parts of the region 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.

Community

Although the main focus of this tour is on wildlife, we always try to ensure that local people benefit from our presence. When exploring the national parks and reserves we try to employ the services of local guides, from the areas that we visit; not only are they able to offer greater insights and a more intimate connection with the place, but this helps to ensure that some of the income generated by our visit filters back to local communities rather than just being funnelled to centralised institutions. This also helps to show local communities that there is a financial benefit for them in preserving the natural environment.

We employ the services of people from that area. We employ the services of guides, porters, boatmen and drivers, all of whom will be supporting extended families, and for whom such income is important in an area where opportunities to earn money are limited. We pay our service providers fairly.

Our trip includes visits to a number of community run projects including a centre for former child soldiers, and our visit here helps to support the valuable work of this project in rehabilitating traumatised young people. In Kigali we take a walking tour organised by a local women's group, helping to empower an often economically marginalised section of the community as well as providing unique insights for our travelers.

On Idjwi Island we stay in a community run guesthouse owned by the local Ba'Aka people (or pygmies). This group is typically one of the most impoverished in the region but our two day stay in the island helps to bring income to this area.

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