Community Initiatives named in the Green Travel List 2011
Here are the top five community initiatives that made it in the Guardian Green Travel List 2011, including a good food guide helping travellers pick up only the freshest, home-grown local produce in northern Spain and a unique volunteering project in Uganda.
>> For more information on the kinds of projects that made it onto the list, see: Richard Hammond's introduction to this year's annual Green Travel List.
Ewaso Lions Warrior Watch, Kenya
In Kenya’s northern Samburu region, young men – warriors – are trained to work in wildlife conservation as part of the Ewaso Lions Warrior Watch program, to address the imbalance that the people who spend the most time out in the bush among wildlife are the ones who have least input in decision making that affects that environment. Following training on data collection, basic wildlife ecology, GPS use, conservation, security issues, the value of wildlife, English, Kiswahili and basic arithmetic, the so-called “warriors” report back on wildlife sightings, incidents of poaching, community meetings and livestock issues. In return, Ewaso Lions pays them a small monthly stipend and provides meals. Nearby Sasaab Lodge, within the Westgate Community Conservancy, supports two warriors from the programme. Suites at Sasaab Lodge cost from $545 per person per night, including full-board accommodation and most activities.
Great Gorilla Project Tour, Uganda
One of several similar projects run by Way Out Experiences – a UK-based tour operator that specialises in volunteering holidays – the Great Gorilla Project tour puts a neat twist on the usual conservation holiday. Volunteers here don’t record data or monitor animals directly. Instead it’s all about spreading the message on gorilla conservation by paying to join a two-week trip to Uganda and help screen conservation documentaries donated by National Geographic and the BBC via a pedal-powered cinema. Volunteers take the cinema to remote rural regions, pedalling a stationary bicycle to generate the electricity needed to show the films, then on days off you’ll visit Ngamba Chimpanzee Sanctuary, go on a gorilla trek and visit the equator. More than 10,000 Ugandans watched the films in 2011. A 14-day volunteering on the Great Gorilla Project based at Mgahinga Gorilla National park, costs from ￡2,150 per person, including 13 nights’ accommodation, transport and most meals but not international flights.
The website that put travellers in touch directly with a vetted local with similar interests who, for a small fee, offer pre-trip advice and local knowledge for anything from a foodie weekend to a week’s surfing. The tripbod team have developed a knack for finding knowledgeable people with a passion for local culture and the environment, including local guidebooks authors, photographers and bloggers. Experiences range from £2.50 for a trip-planning chat over coffee in South Africa to £172.50 for a one-day “culinary discovery” of Italy’s Oltrepò Pavese area.
Wilderness Guide Training Programme
A 10-day outdoor training initiative set up by Scottish tour operator Wilderness Scotland for its own professional outdoor guides to learn how to inform clients about nature conservation, environmental issues and communicating sustainability to clients. Training modules include 'leave no trace', natural and cultural heritage interpretation, and story telling. Experts from around the UK contribute to the programmme. For programme dates contact Wilderness Scotland, tel: 0131 625 6635. Part of the programme has taken its inspiration from the Colorado-based ‘Leave No Trace’ centre for outdoor ethics (lnt.org).
Regional Good Food Guide, Spain
We were impressed by a guide to local food produced by holiday operator, Casas Cantabricas, that draws upon its experience of more than 25 years of selling holidays to northern Spain. The aim is to help its customers find where to buy local ingredients from shops and markets, and to point the way to the best local restaurants, from simple seafood tapas bars and country tavernas to the famous Michelin starred restaurants of the Basque Country. Each review includes recommendations and personal insights by its clients as well as the company’s staff who live and work in Spain. Food guide free to clients.
Read about the other initiatives that made it onto the Guardian Green Travel List in these categories: