Responsible Travel in Uganda

Uganda is located along the equator in East Africa and bordered with Kenya to the east, South Sudan to the north, Democratic Republic of Congo to the west, Rwanda to the southwest and Tanzania to the south. Uganda is filled with rich biodiversity, lovely landscapes, and diverse cultures, all that boost its status as one of the best destinations where visitors can engage in responsible travel. 

Responsible travel in Uganda incorporates quite a number of practices, all of which are aimed at reducing the negative impacts of tourism to the environment, biodiversity and culture.

Several best sustainable tourism practices are recommended, such as choosing eco-friendly accommodation facilities, low-impact safaris and abiding to specific tourism guidelines. By supporting responsible tour companies like Raptors Africa Safaris and community initiatives, tourists directly enhance conservation efforts and socio-economic development through travel. This is observable among the indigenous people such as Batwa in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, and the pastoralist communities like the Karamojong and IK people around Kidepo Valley National Park. 

With over 40 languages, hundreds of customs and traditions, excellent crafts, melodious music and beautiful dances throughout Uganda, everyone has a chance to participate in responsible travel. There are women craft cooperatives, weaving baskets and making pots. Uganda has got different lodges owned by locals and observe best practices of sustainable tourism.

The Bigodi Wetlands Sanctuary is managed by a community based-organization, which conducts tours, produces and promotes local crafts among other things, while at Queen Elizabeth National Park, there is the Katwe community group that offers tours around Lake Katwe salt-lake.

In addition to the aforementioned, there are more examples of community-based tourism in Uganda, ensuring that tourists’ money stays at the grass root and reaches the people who require the assistance. Most tourism activities are done in the national parks with official guides, which subsequently leaves out the local communities and their businesses out. So, if visitors consider other activities beyond safaris, their money will reach further into other things hence improving the overall livelihoods of local Ugandans.

Visitors on Uganda safaris should consider responsible travel to make meaningful contributions to the wellbeing of local communities and conservation efforts while experiencing the country’s natural wonders and cultural richness. This is done through education, infrastructural development, medical care and others. Moreover, interacting with the locals during cultural tours fosters mutual understanding and respect between either party.

Their traditional ways of life are largely preserved and their roles in the tourism sector magnified. Observing responsible travel in Uganda can also leave a positive footprint on Uganda’s tourism industry hence helping to preserve its precious heritage for future generations.

Tips to consider for responsible travel in Uganda

Traveling to remote areas where most of Uganda’s wildlife is witnessed requires you to wear clothing that covers your knees and shoulders. Long trousers are preferred compared to skimpy outfits. Most communities in the upcountry areas of Uganda are sensitive to people showing off seductive parts of their bodies. However, there are exceptions, for instance in the nightclubs of most cities you can wear such clothing. 

In case you wish to take photos, you must ask for permission for the people since this raises suspicion of your intentions. Your tour guide should advice you on this critical issue.

If you are on a gorilla trekking adventure, ensure to avoid physical contact with mountain gorillas. Stand at least 7 meters away from them. This ensures that disease transmission is minimized since they can catch a cold too. Also, you are advised to spend a maximum of 1 hour in the presence of gorillas to protect them from human pressure and disturbances.

Avoid the lure to handout gifts or money to people asking for them or street children. Giving people cash encourages begging, which subsequently encourages the local people to view tourists as sources of money. Instead use the money to offer gifts or donations to institutions, or the local government for development projects. This can be done after consulting a reputable tour operator.

Since Ugandans are mostly conservative people, when it comes to expressing affection greet them with a handshake. Ensure you do not express romantic gestures and actions in public.

Ensure that your backpack is not full because you will encounter many spots where crafts are sold at pocket-friendly prices. Aim especially at buying craft items directly from local shops since they sell original productions. This ensures that your money directly supports local initiatives.

Do not litter in the protected areas or anywhere, since this pollutes the environment, and with disastrous consequences to the flora and fauna of Uganda.

If you are Caucasian, Ugandans will mostly call you ‘mzungu!’ Understand that this is not an insult, so you should simply smile and wave at them.

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