Spotlight on Don't Ditch Your Travel Dreams

During these challenging times, it may feel like you’re climbing a proverbial mountain with the summit far from sight. All you want is to getaway – to escape – and thankfully, we’re here to help you do just that. 

Meet the Communities Keeping Uganda's Mountain Gorillas Safe

Meet the Communities Keeping Uganda's Mountain Gorillas Safe
Spotlight

Tracking the endangered mountain gorilla is undoubtedly one of the most exhilarating encounters with wildlife we can have, but their conservation is still an uphill battle.

The gorilla is just meters away, sitting on a jungle bed picking leaves from a tree and looking directly at you with his big brown – uncannily human – eyes. We share more than 96 percent of our genetic material with these gentle giants, which no longer feels surprising when you find yourself experiencing one of these intimate moments of connection firsthand.

The rich vegetation of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda is one of the few places in the world where mountain gorillas can survive. Their numbers were critically low until the formation of the national park in 1991 when conservation efforts began to make headway, largely funded by sustainable tourism initiatives. Since then, gorilla tracking has become amongst the world’s most sought-after encounters with wildlife, allowing local economic growth and a rare conservation win as the gorilla population slowly grows.

There are now 600 mountain gorillas in Bwindi, half of the total population worldwide, with 12 habituated families, which means those gorillas are familiarized with human contact and are safe for tourists to visit.

The success can also be attributed to collaboration between different conservation groups, communities and initiatives, who work in sometimes hostile environments with the mission of protecting these mysterious and beautiful primates.

Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA)

The UWA manages 10 national parks across Uganda, including Bwindi, and administers the conservation and tourism activities taking place there. Mountain gorillas are threatened by poaching, human contact, disease and habitat loss, and it’s UWA’s responsibility to develop strategies to address these challenges, which includes employing stakeholders and communities that live in the protected areas in order to incentivize them to value and preserve the wildlife there.

To track the gorillas, you must first buy a permit from the UWA, either through your tour operator or direct from their offices in Kampala. Permit numbers are limited – only eight people are allowed to visit each gorilla family per day – and at high season they often sell out.

Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH)

A veterinary doctor and premier primatologist, Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka saw the impact human disease was having on gorilla populations and founded CTPH to tackle community, animal and environmental health with one holistic approach. The NGO now provides health care services and hygiene education to the local community and trains a Human and Gorilla Conflict Resolution Team to safely move primates away from farmland. CTPH is also behind the social enterprise Gorilla Conservation Coffee, buying beans from a cooperative of 500 farmers at higher-than-market prices. The idea is that the more locals who benefit from the gorillas’ ongoing presence, the more tolerant they’ll be when their banana plants are inevitably destroyed and the more actively they’ll participate to protect the species.

CTPH hosts tourists in simple accommodation at their conservation center and organizes gorilla treks led by their own staff, as well as with Dr. Kalema-Zikusoka herself.

Reformed Poachers Project

Many children in the rural villages of Bwindi were once pulled out of school early so they could learn how to hunt bushmeat and grow up to be poachers, just like their fathers. Now, thanks to a number of initiatives such as the Reformed Poachers Project, there is an alternative. Making use of their experience and knowledge of the forest, former poachers and their adult children are offered alternative employment as porters for tourists who come to Bwindi to track the gorillas. When you depart on your trek, you’ll be offered the opportunity to hire a porter for USD $15. They will clear paths, carry your bags, and help you cross difficult terrain. Many of these young men and women will share a similar story, and the small fee you pay is a way for the benefits of tourism to reach further through the community and stop the cycle of poverty that pushes people into poaching.

The project also trains former poachers and their children in farming, providing tools and education; all they have to do is hand in their hunting gear. The crops, such as coffee, oyster mushrooms and honey, are sold to local schools, restaurants and hotels, and also feed their families. To support the work of the Reformed Poachers Project, look for opportunities to purchase produce or enquire with your tour operator about taking a community tour. Since it began in 2010, the number of snares found has dropped from 800 a year to nearly zero.

To plan your own gorilla tracking experience, contact your travel advisor.

Photo Credit: Conservation Through Public Health

andBeyond Presents: Caring for the African Community and the Environment

We sat down with Shaun Strydom, Group Sales & Global Concierge Manager at &Beyond, to discuss their Africa tours and how &Beyond is making an impact in African communities.

Q:Tell us a bit about &Beyond and the products and services the company offers.

&Beyond designs personalized high-end tours in 13 countries in Africa, five in Asia and four in South America, offering discerning travelers a rare and exclusive experience of the world.

We own and operate 29 extraordinary lodges and camps in iconic safari, scenic, and island destinations in Africa and South America. This enables us to positively impact more than nine million acres of wildlife land and 1,200 miles of coastline.

Established in 1991, &Beyond strives to leave our world a better place than we found it through our care of the land, wildlife and people, and through the delivery of extraordinary guest experiences. We have established an intimate relationship with some of the world’s last remaining unspoiled natural places and the communities that surround them. In combination with our highly skilled guides and rangers, this allows us to deliver extraordinary guest experiences that feel profoundly meaningful.

Q:In which African countries does &Beyond offer tailormade tours?

  • South Africa
  • Botswana
  • Zimbabwe
  • Zambia
  • Namibia
  • Mozambique
  • Kenya
  • Tanzania
  • Rwanda
  • Uganda
  • Zanzibar
  • Seychelles
  • Mauritius

Q:What types of tours does &Beyond offer, and which types of travelers does &Beyond cater to?

Type of Tours:

  • Romance
  • Impact and Participative Journeys
  • Adventure
  • Family
  • Culture
  • City
  • Privately Guided
  • Special Interest
  • Wildlife / Safaris
  • Photographic
  • Wellness
  • Small Group Journeys

Type of Travellers:

  • Couples / Honeymooners
  • Single Travelers
  • Adventurers
  • Wildlife Enthusiasts
  • Generational Travelers
  • Culture Lovers
  • Speciality Seekers

Q:How is &Beyond making an impact in local African communities?

What lies at the core of &Beyond’s impact achievements is a vision that puts our guests, as well as the land, wildlife and people of Africa, Asia and South America at the very heart of our business.

Simply by traveling with &Beyond on an authentic and customized journey, each guest is supporting our dream to leave this world a better place.

From our greater impact model down to the minute details of our lodge activities, extraordinary guest experiences power our commitment to Care for the Land, Wildlife and People under our custodianship.

Our Vision 2020 was established in 2015 to unite &Beyonders toward our key focus areas of Care for the Land, Wildlife and People. Our subsequent Impact Review documents of 2017, 2018 and 2019 measure and report our progress and learnings against our agreed Vision 2020 goals:

Care of the Land

  • Reducing our direct carbon footprint
  • Sustainable use of water
  • Zero plastic water bottles across our lodge footrpint

Care of the Wildlife

  • Protection of endangered species by focusing on at least three endangered species
  • Active management of the wildlife population to maintain biodiversity where we have full control of the land
  • Supporting wildlife conservation education

Care of the People

  • Maximize our localized shared value opportunities through economic benefit
  • Maximize our localized shared value opportunities through capacity building
  • Maximize our localized shared value opportunities through social service infrastructure

Visit www.andbeyond.com/impact for more information

Q:If you had to recommend just one tour to travelers who truly want to make a positive impact on the destination they’re visiting, which tour would you recommend and why?

We recommend &Beyond’s Phinda Impact Journey - South Africa tour where guests can embark on a journey of discovery with this privately guided, 7-day small group, set-departure journey that aims to highlight conservation and community development activities, which underpin the &Beyond ethos of “leaving the world a better place than we found it.”

  • A small group of maximum eight guests, which means plenty of flexibility and exclusivity
  • Guided throughout by an &Beyond specialist ranger, with access to renowned conservationists
  • Incredible opportunities to get involved with a host of signature adventures, including conservation activities, behind-the-scenes insight on what it takes to be a qualified &Beyond guide, and spending a day immersed in the local community
  • Unparalleled wildlife experience of &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve, which is host to the Big Five, as well as excellent viewing opportunities of cheetah and the rare black rhino
  • Exclusive accommodation at &Beyond Phinda Zuka Lodge, complete with private chef and butler
  • Photographic Guide to guide each guest on their photographic journey, along with a canvas of the best photograph sent to each guest after their safari

Q:What makes an &Beyond vacation unique?

Our core ethos of "Care of the Land, Wildlife & People" drives all that we do. When guests travel with us, they make a meaningful contribution to the preservation of our world's cultures and wildlife.

At &Beyond, we are all about tailoring each journey around our guest's specific interests or expectations. Our collection of perfect moments are often exclusive to &Beyond, ensuring a unique adventure.

We are on call 24/7 to assist you throughout your journey. Over 2000 &Beyonders, including guides and ground logistic teams ensures you are in our hands from the moment you arrive to the moment you leave.

10 Responsible Tourism Experiences in Uganda and Tanzania

What to Pack for an African Safari

What to Pack for an African Safari
Travel Style

You’ve booked your safari, and now you’re stuck at the first hurdle: what on earth to pack. Well, here’s a handy list of dos and don’ts for a successfully packed suitcase with both safety and sustainability in mind.

There are over 400 national parks across 50 or more countries in Africa, and the safari experience varies extraordinarily from one to another. The temperature, humidity, exposure, and topography can all affect what you need to pack, as can local culture and customs, or the type of animals you’re hoping to see. Overwhelming? Sure, but this list will provide a great starting point for any trip. And, ultimately, once you’re on the ground watching a pair of lions recover in the shade of an acacia tree after mating, it really won’t matter what shoes you’re wearing.

Luggage

The small aircraft which service the parks impose tight weight restrictions. If you’re planning a fly-in safari, then use a lightweight duffel to save your available weight for clothes and supplies.

Clothes

In general, pack practical, lightweight and quick-drying fabrics in natural tones (khaki, beige or tan, but not white). Avoid bright colors, which can deter animals, especially blue which attracts tsetse flies. In some parts of Africa, camouflage clothing is also inadvisable (in Zimbabwe, it’s actually banned). Also, be aware of local religions and customs; in many places, it’s considered inappropriate to reveal too much thigh or midriff.

Walking shoes

Your shoes will depend on the terrain. If you’re doing a self-drive safari or have a guide, then comfortable shoes with a decent tread for the occasional game walk will be sufficient. If you’re gorilla tracking in the jungle, you’ll need waterproof hiking boots and a tolerance for mud.

Long trousers

An amazing number of creatures are ready to bite your ankles.

Waterproof jacket

Warm fleece

Game drives leave early in the morning and, with peak season during winter, it can get cold.

Cap or hat

Bandana

These are indispensable to wipe the dust from your face or lens and to keep the sun from your head.

Cotton or linen long-sleeved shirt

A dress

Women, this might seem counterintuitive, but if you’re doing any off-the-beaten track travel, chances are you’ll have to squat more often than once to use the toilet and potentially in areas without total privacy – a dress makes this much easier and less exposing. Leave the jumpsuit at home! Also, pack a sports bra for those bumpy roads.

Sunglasses

Gear

Water-filtering bottle

Cut down on plastic-polluting water bottles, and invest in a LifeStraw, a gravity-powered purifier, which removes bacteria, parasites and viruses from any water. With each purchase, a child in need receives safe water for an entire school year.

Quick-drying travel towel

Solar charger

Camera with a telephoto lens

No, the zoom on your phone will not be sufficient for good safari photos. You’ll need a lens with a reach of at least 300mm, otherwise, you may as well put your camera away and enjoy the moment. It’s also advisable to pack spare memory cards, a protective filter for your lens, and a microfiber cloth to wipe dust away.

Headlamp / flashlight

If you’re camping a good flashlight will also help scare the hyenas away when they come prowling around the campfire.

Binoculars

You should keep a safe distance from the wildlife so as not to disturb them in their natural habitat. In the Masai Mara, they impose a 25-meter limit, and with some animals, like rhinos, you’ll be lucky to get that close. A good pair of binoculars will ensure you get the most out of the experience even from afar.

Packing cubes

If you’re visiting more than one destination, these are game-changing for unpacking and repacking your bag.

Converter

Watch

Take the opportunity to put your phone away.

MapsWithMe

This app offers offline maps of the whole world and good navigation, and, when it comes to much of Africa, they are more comprehensive than Google Maps.

Animal guidebook

If you’re on a self-drive safari and don’t have a ranger, a thorough local guidebook or app will help you distinguish an impala from a reedbuck.

First Aid

As with any adventurous travel, it’s alway wise to have your basics at hand: antihistamine, Band-Aids, painkillers, rehydration kits, antiseptic, a thermometer (for confirming the severity of a fever), anti-nausea tablets, Imodium, and whatever medications you require. Most importantly, make sure to pack antimalarials and bug spray (30 percent DEET or higher is needed for it to be effective against malaria).

Cosmetics

Sunblock

Pack SPF 30 or higher, and buy a brand that’s reef-safe, biodegradable and non-toxic (Suntegrity, All Good, and Thinksport are good options).

Hand sanitizer

If you’re using a “bush toilet” (as they call doing your business while on safari), then you can’t wash your hands, and in these moments, hand sanitizer is your friend. Antibacterial agents like triclosan are toxic for the environment, so choose a brand without the bad stuff.

Eyedrops

Dusty conditions can cause irritation to your eyes.

Toilet paper

Unscented deodorant

Animals will retreat from smells they don’t recognize, so avoid anything perfumed.

And finally, make sure whatever you bring into the park leaves the park with you!

International culinary delights

Tempting dishes from our featured destinations give you a taste of local culture. From succulent roasts to exotic spicy fare and some divine desserts, you’re sure to find plenty of delicious recipes to try at home.

How Travel Advisors Are Elevating Your Culinary Experiences Abroad

Want to make your palate sing on your next international adventure but without the stress of making it happen on your own? An increasing number of people are turning to their neighbourhood travel advisor to put the pieces together.


Successful travel advisors are like their counterparts in finance, business or sports: each professional leverages expertise to deliver the most value for their clients’ investment of time and money. And current demands for unique culinary experiences provide exceptional opportunities for these experts to use their global connections and deep product expertise to elevate any itinerary. How exactly are these travel professionals ensuring your next trip abroad touches all the right taste buds? Let us count the ways.

THEY MAKE THE RESERVATION; YOU JUST HAVE TO SHOW UP.

If your travel advisor is customizing an itinerary especially for you, complete with all details covered but free from strict wake-up calls or departure times, let restaurant reservations be the thing to dictate when you go where. And they can help make that happen, too. Thanks to insider knowledge and a commitment to offering the best value to clients, travel advisors can ensure memorable dining experiences are part of any itinerary, no matter how hot the ticket. Understanding booking timelines and availability at top restaurants throughout popular locales means that they are helping their clients secure even the most difficult reservations, or at least putting in the time trying so you don’t have to.

THEY ADVOCATE FOR THE PROVERBIAL ‘APPETIZERS’ AND ‘DESSERT.’

A group departure need not begin and end with the scheduled dates and times, especially if your travel advisor should have anything to say about it. There is plenty to enjoy pre- and post-tour in order to further elevate any scheduled travel experience, with the options varying based on your destination – and travel advisors are helping their clients make the most of the opportunities at hand. Setting out on a river cruise in Amsterdam? Why not have your travel advisor recommend and book a beer and cheese experience prior to setting sail? Or, is your organized tour ending in Paris? Try spending a few days exploring a region that your tour didn’t visit – travel advisors know what option will suit their clients best and these expertise are being leveraged at record rates.

INTRODUCTIONS TO LOCALS ARE PART OF THEIR REPERTOIRE.

Incorporating local dining experiences is in high-demand for travellers today but it’s not always easy to find in destination connections who will jump on the chance to host you for dinner and cocktails in their home. Alas, travel advisors know the best companies with which to work when it comes to setting up clients with immersive dining experiences that not only offer outstanding food and drink, but also provide a true sense of place. Certain tour operators have clients dining with winemakers while exploring vineyards, spending evenings with multiple generations of the same family as they share the history of their property over a hearty meal, or learning how to play an instrument while throwing back a pint and a plate with local musicians.

EPIC, ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME DINING EXPERIENCES ARE ALWAYS ON THE TABLE.

It’s always a treat to discover your travel advisor has set you up on a tour that visits iconic sites like the Louvre or Vatican after typical closing time, free from other tourists. It's even better to discover when certain after-hours admissions come with some sort of culinary delight, whether hors d’oeuvres, wine or full sit-down dinners. Once again, in-depth product knowledge comes into play as travel advisors get a sense of your interests and connect you with the experience that will best resonate. Perhaps it’s a meal in a crowd-free art gallery with a dining tableset in front of centuries old artwork. Would you prefer a lunchtime picnic in a chateau? Equally possible. People understand now more than ever that their travel advisor is the right person to know in order to make great things happen.

LOOKING FOR A THEME? THEY CAN DO THAT TOO.

Are you a sucker for French wines? Big on beer? Want to immerse yourself in a new culture with a well-known chef? Whatever your interest, there’s probably a trip made for you – and your travel advisor will be able to best determine exactly what and when that might be. From themed to specially-led crises and tours, the breadth of opportunities for amazing, immersive and memorable travel experiences is astounding – though for the average traveller, can be hard to find. This is why people are leaning on their travel advisors to play matchmaker – and coming home happy because of it.



Step aboard the world’s greatest ships

Each month we’re showcasing our cruise partners to bring you the latest on the cruise line and their ships. With different cruising styles and a variety of ships to choose from, you’ll find these profiles helpful for selecting the cruise that’s right for you.