Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Who are the Great Trekkers !

The Great Trekkers Safaris is a social enterprise focused at promoting responsible tourism for sustainable community development.The company is based in western Uganda a region well known as a hub of the best tourist attractions. This is due to the fact that out of the 10 National parks found in Uganda, 8 of these game parks are found in the region including Bwindi Impenetrable Forest which hosts more than 50% of the world’s total mountain Gorillas. The region boosts of a wide range of nature and wildlife attractions, the best weather conditions throughout the year and it has two famous mountains that is Mt. Rwenzori one of the highest mountains in Africa with a snow capped peak and Mt. Muhabura another Volcanic mountain found in the region.  
As one of our core value, active community participation is our responsibility and for sustainable tourism to be realized, communities must be involved at every stage of development.
To be a leading travel and tours company that fronts sustainable tourism across Uganda and the region at large.
Mission Statement            
To be a first link point in accessing the best tourist destinations, providing the best tour services across the region while fronting community tourism for sustainable development. 

Uganda, the Pearl of Africa a country to discover? Is it a safe country? Friendly with foreigners? Is it interesting to invest?
In 1907 Sir Winston Churchill a former Prime minister of United Kingdom while on his “Africa Journey” visited Uganda and in his own words he said For magnificence, for variety of form and color, for profusion of brilliant life — bird, insect, reptile, beast — for vast scale — Uganda is truly “the Pearl of Africa.” I have moved the entire of this continent from the North to the south, West to the East, Uganda is truly the Pearl of Africa

From the beautiful landscapes, to the friendly welcoming people with rich cultures, to amazing mountain snow capped ranges of Mt. Rwenzori, Uganda is a place to discover. Uganda has 10 National parks with several game reserves that harbor the Big 5 (Rhino, Buffaloes, Elephants, Lion and Leopard). The country is home to the highest Gorilla Population found in one of the most thick jungle of Bwindi impenetrable National Park, with the most number of Chimpanzees found in Kibale natural forest, Uganda is the home to the source of R. Nile one of the longest in the world and has the largest fresh water Lake Victoria and many other lakes, the country has been ranked the best travel destination in Africa and the 4th best in the whole world by Rough Guides The country was ranked the most welcoming and friendliest nation in Africa by the BBC They say “Facts and Statistics don’t lie” the above truly explain why Uganda is the best Country to discover.
Uganda has been very peaceful and safe for the past 30 years now, the country is very peaceful and with enough security for any person visiting. It’s a great potential for business and Investment opportunities with its favorable climatic conditions, best weather throughout the year and fertile soils. The country is among the top 10 producers of good coffee in the whole world and the second in Africa.
The country is very rich in minerals including Gold, copper, Iron, and currently the Country has discovered Oil in the western part of the country (Albertine region)

Great Trekkers is sustainable tourism. What is sustainable tourism?
True, Great Trekkers is a tour company which fronts sustainable tourism as a great pillar for community development. Sustainable tourism is the concept of visiting a place as a tourist and trying to make only positive impact on the environment, society and economy. Tourism can involve primary transportation to the general location, local transportation, accommodations, entertainment, recreation, nourishment and shopping. Through sustainable tourism, there must be a balance between the environmental, economic and socio-cultural aspects of tourism development, as it plays an important role in conserving biodiversity. Sustainable tourism minimizes the negative impacts on the environment and local culture while contributing to income levels of communities, offering employment, and the conservation of local ecosystems.
As a company we realized a need of promoting tourism which is beneficial and sustainable not only to the company owners but also to the communities. For nature and environment to be conserved, then communities must be involved in sustainable projects.
What resources do you count?
§     We count our experienced Team of Staff who are passionate and professional about the work they do both for the company and the community at large.

     As the only registered Tour Company located in the Western which is focusing on community and sustainable tourism, the communities of Rwenjeru found it very important to work with us. The owners of the Community land have entrusted us with their land such that we design better strategies on how to promote and develop the site.
§    The 12 hectares of community land is strategically positioned and it borders Lake Mburo National Park with great scenic views good for Camping. And we have so far conducted several outreach Community programs to the nearby communities where we sensitized the communities the Role of local tourists in boosting tourism for sustainable growth and development. It’s on the same land that we intend to establish an Eco-friendly Camp site in the near future with the support of partners. 

What role do the communities play in your project?
§      Our communities help us in implementation of our conservation Initiatives-The tree planting project at Rwenjeru community Camp site is implemented by the local communities who ensure that the trees are well protected.
§     Communities provide the required Art & Craft items which are displayed and sold to travelers at the Rwenjeru Craft Market Centre
§       They organize cultural music and dance performances which are showcased to the visiting tourists 

A portion of your profits go to the community, is not it? Explain an example of your activity.
As a social enterprise we realized a need of supporting community based initiatives which other companies couldn’t do. As a company we are sharing our profits with the community. Currently we are supporting 2 schools located in Lake Mburo National Park (Nyabuhama and Rwenjeru Primary Schools) where we have launched Wild Life Clubs and our plan is to establish an Eco-friendly Community Camp site where people could have more direct benefits once employed as workers among other related benefits. We are giving back 20% of our company profits to the communities for Charity initiatives and educational support to 20 children studying in the above mentioned schools.  Some of these children had dropped out of school and had started burning charcoal for business and hunting animals in Lake Mburo National Park as a way to raise an income through selling of animal meat. We are sponsoring these children by paying half of their fees and providing scholastic materials. Our plan is to have more support if we can have more people willing to support and sponsor the education of these vulnerable children

Projects for the future
§      Our future plan is secure more partners and support to enable us establish an Eco-friendly community camp site at Rwenjeru community where we intend to build a community Library to enhance the reading culture among the most vulnerable communities. This community Library would enable people get access to information on nature and wildlife conservation and we intend to use the same Library for community meetings and dialogues.

§      We intend to build a Community training & Skills centre for the Youth and Women who will be       trained in Art & Craft making and the produced craft items can be sold to the visiting tourists or even exported to the external markets abroad.

§     We intend to establish a modern Computer Laboratory (I.T Community Centre where we shall be teaching people basic computer skills) This I.T Centre would also enhance the research and reading culture of basically the Youth who will be trained on how to effectively utilize internet for research, marketing their local packages and products among many others  

       Send a message to travelers, and why they should choose an agency like yours to meet Uganda.

First and foremost I thank everyone reading this article and I take this opportunity to invite you to plan a visit to this beautiful, welcoming and peaceful country well gifted with the best nature and wildlife attractions. By choosing to travel with our agency, you not only enjoy the best safari experience but the money you pay to our agency for a Safari to Uganda leaves a good impact to the communities. We don’t just focus at earning profits we share the same profits with our community as our focus is to promote sustainable tourism for community development.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Supporting Community Based tourism initiatives is the way to go !

The Great Trekkers Safaris was started in April 2014 and later registered in March 2016 . As a community based tour company, we realized a genuine need of starting up a social enterprise which would not only benefit company owners but would also benefit and develop the communities. We happen to come from Western Uganda widely regarded as tourism hub with the best cultural, nature and wildlife attractions but we realized that the available tour companies’ only front profit making at the expense of the people in our communities. So we came up with the idea of starting up a community based tour company that fronts Community Based Tourism for sustainable growth and development. We started up by organizing several community camp experiences for young people where we got the opportunity to discuss community related issues in line of tourism, conservation and empowerment as young corporate while promoting such unknown sites.

As a Social enterprise we realized the need to supporting children education among the most vulnerable families who are staying in the most rural conservation communities of Lake Mburo National Park by taking them to school because we discovered that most of the conservation areas which had the highest number of hunters and poachers were dominated by the highest number of school drop outs who would engage in charcoal burning business, animal hunting and other related activities as a way of raising some income to sustain their lives.

This has not only enabled these children to acquire education but it has also created a safe environment for the animals in Lake Mburo national park which was facing extinction and encroachment from the indigenous pastoral tribes of the Bahiima.  

Planting trees for Eco-Tourism
As a company we have not just stopped at sponsoring these children in school but we have opened up wild life clubs in all the 4 primary schools in the conservation areas of Lake Mburo and Bwindi impenetrable national parks where pupils are being taught the need to conserving our nature and environment. “For conservation to be realized then it must start with the Children and Youth” Reference World Wildlife Day – Main streaming the Youth in Tourism

Official Launch of Wild Life Club at Nyabuhama P/S Rwenjeru Community –Lake Mburo National Park 

Establishment of an Eco-friendly Community Camp site- Rwenjeru Community Camp site
Due to the fact that we are the only registered Tour Company located in the Western region which is focusing on community and domestic tourism, The communities of Rwenjeru found it very important to work with us. The owners of the Community land have entrusted us with their land such that we design better strategies on how to promote and develop the site. The 12 hectares of community land is strategically positioned and it borders Lake Mburo National Park with great scenic views good for Camping. And we have so far we organized  12 successful Camps at the Site and also conducted several outreach Community programs to the nearby communities where we sensitized the communities the Role of local tourists in boosting domestic and community Based Tourism.

During the monthly Open Market day at the Camp site
As a social enterprise tour company, we have created an open Craft Village Market on the camp site where every month we invite all the communities in this conservation area to come to the camp site with their locally produced items, crafts, food produce etc where they get to sell and have market for their goods. 

Traditional cultural performers at the camp site
We have also established this community camp site as a regular stop over for all our visitors, clients and volunteers in all the packages we are marketing 

As a community based Tour Company, we found it very vital to design a suitable package for primary & Nursery Schools whereby we get to organize and arrange Study Trips to such schools partnering with us at affordable rates while providing them with cheaper transport and trip guiding options. This package has been highly welcomed by the many schools we have so far visited and it has offered pupils a chance to visit their own national parks, cultural and heritage centres etc thus appreciating the need to cultural, nature and wild life conservation 

Monthly Community Youth Camps
As one way of boosting community and domestic tourism, the company has been conducting monthly Camp trips for young professionals and other corporate bodies and so far the Company has organized and facilitated 4 successful Camp trips with the main aim of instilling a spirit of camping among the Youth who make up 65% of Uganda’s total population. Through the same community camps, we not only stop at sharing community related challenges affecting domestic tourism but we also get to identify the unknown eye catching destinations / sites that need to be promoted which we later visit and get to publish them on our website , in our Company Magazine and we still add such places to our itineraries for travelers to know about their location.

Weekly Radio Talk Show on Community Tourism
The western region of Uganda is dominated by remote areas due to the rough topography that makes such areas inaccessible and 75% of the people listen to Radio which is the most effective and affordable channel of communication. And as a Company we found it very difficult to reach out to all people if we were to use any other channel apart from Using Radio Talk Shows to sensitize the communities on issues of Community tourism, Nature & Environmental conservation so that people get to understand that tourism is not only for the government and foreign tourists but it’s for us all.

Rogers Nasasira while on his weekly tourism RadioTalk Show 26th /Feb/2017
Currently we have been conducting our weekly Radio Talk Shows on Radio Rukungiri 96.9 FM and we hope that we can always have continuous shows if we get to have good funds to keep the programs running. 

 For sustainable growth and development to be realized, we must join efforts in supporting these initiatives. Community based tourism is the way the way to go. By traveling and Booking with our tour company get the assurance that the money paid for your memorable Safari leaves a positive impact to communities as 20% of the company's profit is specifically reserved for community support and empowerment programs.