What you can do to make your trip sustainable
Influence of Tourism on Uganda
Tourism has a lot of positive influences on Uganda. It supports the economy for a big part, it makes people understand the country more and it helps to protect national parks, wildlife and the rainforest. Without tourism the gorillas and many other animal species would have been extinct. However; Tourism can have negative influences on Uganda as well. As a tour operator we have the responsibility to inform our clients about issues that may effect the environment and social situation of an area. We provide guidelines concerning nature conserving, animal welfare, social sustainability and tipping.
1. Nature conserving
Use of water
Water should ALWAYS be used sparingly. Energy is used in sewage and clean water processing; overuse could be depleting the water table and causing further pollution. ALL should follow the following policy:
Use of firewood/Campfires
- Try to have only an occasional fire as a treat, as it depletes natural resources / causes smoke pollution / may rob local people of their only fuel source.
- Wood collected should be dead wood off the ground only. Do not strip branches from trees as what looks dead to you may be just dry or dormant.
- Keep the fire small.
- Use a pre-existing fire ring where possible or the site of a previous fire.
- Be aware of fire hazards and local fire regulations.
- On leaving camp, the campfire should be ‘dug in’ so that you can be sure it is out and it is not an unsightly mess.
Litter and waste disposal and reduction of waste
The following policy should be adhered to when disposing of rubbish from camps at nature areas:
- Items that should be burned: paper & card.
- Items that should be buried: vegetable & food waste.
- Items that should be carried out: Plastics, glass & cans. Rubbish should always be disposed of where it is sure to be collected.
In national parks we will have to follow the guidelines of the national parks.
- Litter is a huge problem Uganda, where there is limited or no infrastructure for waste disposal, let alone recycling facilities. The first step is to ensure that we minimize our use of resources in the first place -in order to generate less waste. Then we try to ensure that waste is disposed of in the most effective way possible.
- Litter should always be disposed of responsibly. It is absolutely forbidden to throw trash out of the window when we are traveling.
- Cigarette ends should not be dropped on streets / behind bushes / overboard boats etc. but put in a rubbish bin or in pocket until a rubbish bin is available. We recommend smokers carry a receptacle to collect their butts. Plastic film cases are excellent for this and reduce the smell!
- On boats, rubbish must be carried back to facilities on shore and never dumped over the side of the boat or hidden behind rocks.
- Campsites should be checked for all litter before departing, including bottle tops and cigarette ends. Customers and crew should help in this respect.
In national parks we will have to follow the guidelines of the national parks.
- Be aware of and work within the limitations of local plumbing! In some countries toilet paper and sanitary protection cannot be put down the toilet as the sewage system is not able to cope with non-human waste. In these cases we advise clients appropriately and ensure that bins are emptied regularly.
- When we camp at a place where no toilets are available, the tourleader will always point out the area where people can go into the bush for toilet facilities. It is NOT allowed to leave any toilet paper behind. In wet areas people may burn the toilet paper; in dry areas toilet paper should be thrown in a dustbin.
2. Respecting animal welfare
- Never feed animals/fish. Giving them food other than or additional to what they usually eat is likely to make them ill or makes them dependent, so they cannot survive on their own in the wild
- Do not pursue animals, thus distressing them, for the sake of a photo / better look
- Do not try to touch animals/fish; apart from being dangerous, it can distress them
- Never pick flowers / leaves.
3. Social Sustainability
Ugandans spend a lot of time on greeting. They will ask you at least in three different ways how you are, before asking you how your family, your country and your tour is. When you are visiting a village or a person, take time for this important social part in Ugandan culture.
Eating with Ugandans
A Ugandan inviting you for dinner is the greatest form of respect. If you except the invitation, stop eating anything before you arrive, because Ugandan’s eat a lot! You should finish at least your first plate! Always leave just a little bit of your food on the plate to show you are satisfied. If you finish your plate totally they think you are still hungry. If you are a vegetarian tell them in advance that you don’t eat meat. Don’t say you’re a vegetarian, because they won’t understand. Use religion or medical reasons as an excuse.
Gifts and presents
- It is not advisable to give any money, sweets, gifts, medicines or presents to children, neither to adults.
- We discourage giving to beggars that are begging to tourists only/ in particular. Whilst in Uganda some people depend on begging for their livelihood, we regard giving money as a short-term solution to a more fundamental problem. Alpha Adventures tries to find ways we and our customers can offer more long -term support to the communities visited by supporting local charities and projects.
- Where possible, we will inform our clients about a development project or organization within this destination. It is preferable that this organization is supported by a foundation from your country of origin and has a website, you will have the possibility to give follow-up by contacting this foundation.
Visiting schools, hospitals or development projects
- Always ask permission to visit a school, hospital or development project. If they allow the group to visit the spot, we will ask whether somebody from the school, hospital or project can give us a brief explanation while guiding us around.
- After the guidance and explanation it is respectful to hand over a gift for the school, hospital or project. Distinction can be made between a small gift for the person who has been guiding and a present/money for the project itself. Interesting presents are pens, paper, exercise books, reading books, information books, (new and clean) clothes, toothbrushes, toothpaste, tea, sugar etc.
- We do not encourage to give ‘second hand’ medicines to hospital with description in languages that the people in hospital do not understand.
The following general advises should be given and besides this, each specific destination might have some specified instructions:
- Always ask permission in advance when making photographs of a person or his property (for example, his house or his cattle).
- Never make photographs secretly; if people do not want to be photographed we have to respect it.
- If people ask money to be photographed, it is good to check out whether this is the norm in this community.
- We do not encourage to pay for photographing people. Howerver; Don’t make that photo without either paying or their permission.
- When visiting certain small villages, schools or compounds, ask permission to make photographs and not until permission is given, clients are allowed to make photographs. It is respectful to meet, listen and talk first, before taking out the cameras of the bags.
- Do not make promises to send the photographs if you are not sure to keep your promises.
To respect Ugandan culture you can start with dressing appropriate. As long as you are at a lodge or a tourist activity you can wear what ever you like. When you go to town, a restaurant, a school or a market make sure you wear clothes with long sleeves. Woman should not wear tight shirts and shorts or skirts. It has to cover at least the knees. Men suppose to wear long pens as well. When going to church, weddings, funerals, introductions or official meetings you should dress as smart as possible. Don’t wear sandals in these occasions! Never go top less sun bathing, where ever you are. It’s offensive and disrespectful.
Foods and Crafts
We promote local sourcing of food and other local products. We encourage our clients to visit local bars and restaurants and experience local products and cuisine.
Visiting tribal groups
- All advises concerning photographing, begging, dressing etc. should be taken into account very strictly.
- All tourists should realize that they are ‘guests’ in the communities that are visited.
- We have to inform ourselves about the cultural issues, such as the way of greeting, payments, bringing presents, asking questions etc. The tour leader can inform clients about how to show respect to the community. (A good example is that it is polite to take time for greeting a family instead of making photographs quickly.)
- We will always try to find a local guide within the tribal group who can explain about the culture in English.
- Tourists and crew should not take the freedom to walk around on a private compound without asking permission. Realize that this is private property and some areas might be holy and are not allowed to walk.
- Tourists should not give money to individuals. If they want to donate something, it is good to donate to a community project (in some cultures you need to contact the chief).
Clients are advised to give a fair, reasonable tip to the local guides, cleaners, drivers etc. Tipping is very important but we can never force clients to tip, as it is voluntary. Our advice for local crew is the following:
|Your driver/guide:||3 – 4 dollars per person per day|
|Porters:||5 dollars for half a day (3-4 hours) 10 dollars per day|
|Rangers and guides:||10 -15 dollars in total (divided by amount of persons)|
|Restaurants:||5 – 10 % (In cheap restaurants 10%, in expensive restaurants a bitt less)|
|Hotels:||1 – 2 dollars per person per night|