Rwanda wildlife tour

Responsible Travel, Travel Team

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Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Rwanda wildlife tour

Environment

The company that organises this vacation is a multi-award-winning responsible travel company. They try to ensure that nothing they do at home (in UK) or abroad compromises the environment or wildlife or exploits people. They believe in ensuring that travelers are well-informed, as an informed traveler tend to be a more respectful and sensitive traveler. They also believe in giving back to the country, people wildlife and environments which are affected by tourism.

We like to ensure the hotels we use are sensitive to their environments. At Mountain Gorilla View Lodge, the value the environment so much that they have been careful in the design and construction of the property to ensure that the environment is not damaged. To do this, they have used mostly locally available materials. Aside from this, they are working closely with the neighbouring communities where to ensure that these communities also get to benefit from company. These include buying farm-fresh produce from local farmers as well as providing training and employment opportunities to some of these people keen on working in the hospitality industry.

Serena Hotels who own One & Only Nyungwe House , was founded with the strategy that very few locations are unsuitable for tourism activities and that it is often possible to combine developmental objectives with real economic sustainability and profitability. It strived to bring best practices in social, cultural, environmental and economic development to some of the most deprived, remote and yet alluring but most fragile areas. It has contributed towards economic growth, development of tourism and a range of ancillary services, development of local human resources, as well as conservation of cultural and natural heritage, while reducing the ecological footprint of its properties to the minimum possible.

The Company focuses on innovation and programmes that respond to the needs of the environment, economy and society/communities – the fundamental tenets of Sustainability. Serena Hotels continues to play its part by aligning its programs towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) set out by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). These help to direct the Company’s sustainable development agenda by aiming to inspire its various stakeholders take a wider consideration encompassing a long-term view when making business decisions. They have integrated their initiatives under three key focus areas namely, Responsible Business, Environment and Community Engagement under the definition of sustainability. Responsible management of natural resources in their operations has been a part of their business since construction of their first hotel over four decades ago. As the Company expands, developments and operations have and continue to be guided by a dynamic ecological-policy focusing on actions and projects related to climate change, water and energy conservation, air emissions, reducing and recycling waste to the extent possible, conserve biodiversity, restore natural habitats and respect of local tradition, culture and heritage.

The 23 guest rooms and suites at One&Only Nyungwe House are all designed to fit harmoniously within the natural surroundings, utilising local African craftsmanship inspired by Rwanda and offering a contemporary look and feel. In such a precious environment, conservation and support for local communities is of the utmost importance at One&Only Nyungwe House. Experiences include the opportunity for guests to participate in Umuganda - a nationwide initiative in Rwanda in which locals spend the last Saturday morning of every month working in the local community, giving back in some way, from developing infrastructure to environmental protection. At One&Only Nyungwe House, many of the herbs and vegetables used at the resort are grown in the Chef’s Garden, where guests are able to join the chef to discover local ingredients.

For every person that travels with the company, it plants trees through The Travel Forest initiative. Depending on where they plant and the requirement of the specific area, they plant either indigenous trees or a mix of indigenous and non-native species. Planting non-native seedlings may seem counter-intuitive but doing this can often help any remaining indigenous forest from being cut down (e.g. for fuel) as some non-native trees grow much more quickly than indigenous types. They particularly aim to save ancient or older indigenous forest, through offering an alternative option for fuel requirements of local communities. In addition to this benefit, their Travel Forest initiative helps with such things as planting for water-course retention, soil erosion, shade and even food – all depending on what is planted and where. They have planted almost 100,000 trees to date in various degraded locations including the Andean mountains in Peru, northern Tanzania and Malawi. This has always been done in conjunction with the local communities who plant and then tend the seedlings. Trees are far more important to the health of this planet (and us) than many people imagine. This global Travel Forest initiative can and does make a big difference.

Our UK head office has a good policy of recycling, reducing and re-using (electricity, paper, plastic etc). They also buy only fair-trade goods such as tea, coffee, and use biodegradable detergents etc. They also make a point of buying only top eco-rated equipment (e.g. monitors).

Community

Serena Hotels continues to give priority in employment to the local communities living around their areas of operation so as to ensure economic independence with the end goal to better navigate uncertainty and thrive towards a sustainable livelihood in the future. Their properties focus on providing opportunity to the local community through purchasing fresh food stuff; selling artefacts and handicrafts from various local community groups in their gift shops; and skills development and employment through work-training opportunities that allows youth to gain marketable skills leading to meaningful work. They enhance guest experience by exposing them to the diverse range of local cultures and ethnic groups through art, dance, song, musical and theatrical displays whilst economically empowering the local people. Other support initiatives includes provision of free medical consultation, health outreach programs and support through a broad range of charitable causes and community programs that takes the form of cash, food, clothing, visits to orphanages, hospitals, old-people's homes, homes for the physically or mentally challenged and other disadvantaged groups.

Serena Hotels works with schools around its properties in various ways to ensure children have a conducive environment for learning. This is achieved through a number of initiatives that influences positive attributes on a child, thus having a holistic positive impact on a child’s upbringing and development that will, hopefully in the medium to long-term assist to gradually transform the quality of life for generations to come.

They also have a procurement strategy which thrives on local sourcing. At all costs, they encourage and promote local community-based suppliers and eco-friendly products - fresh food stuff is purchased from local farmers and companies that support small scale producers and disadvantaged groups. Their suppliers are informed of the Serena standard of quality and cleanliness expected of them, and if a gap is identified the company offers training to the local entrepreneurs on how to strengthen their business skills, record keeping, setting up a bank account and how to acquire working capital to bridge credit periods. Suppliers are also encouraged to reduce packaging or package in recyclable/biodegradable material and comply with international human rights and labour standards.

In terms of information, all travelers are given guidelines on Traveling with Respect, which includes advice on cultural aspects of your travels as well as protecting the environment. For any community-owned or run project, they also have a Community Tourism Information sheet for travelers to help explain how to get the best from the experience, and what to expect (good and bad). For trekkers, the company have a Porter Policy in place, a copy of which is given to clients. They also have a Responsible Wildlife Viewing guide too. For anything more specific, e.g. rules about visiting gorillas, this information is also given to clients. In addition, they offer more information about the native people and cultures in a destination country, which all adds to a traveler being more aware.

The company works with partners on the ground in each destination, and only uses local guides. They also primarily promote locally owned services (hotels etc). They have eco-rated about 300 properties worldwide which they work with closely, so they are very clear which accommodations have good environmental and social responsibility credentials. This information is used to ensure that any traveler wanting to ensure they are really making a difference, can choose between one property and another on eco-issues.

They also promote community-owned projects and services where applicable and possible. Indeed, they were instrumental in setting up two community-owned ventures in Tanzania and Peru.

The company backs a charity with funds and administration. This is a registered UK charity whose principle aim is to relieve the poverty of indigenous communities in areas outside of the UK which are affected by tourism. The charity backs poverty alleviation, education, cultural preservation and conservation projects within these regions. It has backed schools, clinics, micro-business projects and more. It is a charity we encourage our travelers to donate to if they would like to give something back.

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