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Donga stick fighting tournament of the surmaThis tour travels through some of the most remote regions in the world, away from the well beaten tourist trail. I and Our guides will brief travellers on appropriate behaviour, both cultural and environmental, and when camping we make a point of ensuring that we leave no permanent traces of our stay behind, taking all rubbish with us. We work with our local suppliers to highlight best practice in terms of environmental issues.
When camping we are careful to use only appropriate spots that will not have any detrimental effect upon the surrounding environment, rather than necessarily camping in the most picturesque places.
While visiting villages in the Omo Valley, we are careful only to stop at villages that we know will welcome visitors, and negotiate with tribal elders to ensure that our visit will be received sensitively. At each village we employ a local guide, providing employment and income for isolated communities which often do not have many opportunities to earn money.
Our teams and local guides will carefully explain the customs and cultures of the various groups visited to ensure that our travellers are able to behave sensitively towards fragile communities, and help them gain from tourism while not being affected by some of its more negative aspects. By visiting these communities, many of whom live outside the cash based economy, you are able to contribute to their ability to trade with mainstream society and gain some of the associated benefits. These communities are often looked upon as backward, and as something to be assimilated into society. It is hoped that by increasing interest from tourism less enlightened local administrators will realise the intrinsic value of their cultural diversity.
Travellers also have the opportunity to support local communities by purchasing local handicrafts, souvenirs.
In our pre-departure information we include guidelines about photography. This is particularly relevant in the Omo Valley where the tribal groups are incredibly photogenic, although traditionally quite wary of visitors. Although many people are happy to be photographed, others are not, and we emphasise to our travellers the importance of respecting people’s wishes.
Our philosophy is to only use small and locally owned suppliers, meaning that the income remains within the country and creates a real economic contribution. We also feel that the passion inherent within such suppliers means that your experience will be enhanced. We also try to engage with our suppliers on an equal basis, getting the lowest possible price usually isn’t the best outcome for local communities and is ultimately unsustainable. We aim to always treat our suppliers fairly and with respect; they are after all part of the key to our success and to us working together is much more than just a business arrangement, but an ongoing relationship that we aim to ensure truly benefits everyone involved.
We believe that tourism is a double edged sword that needs to be wielded very carefully. Our philosophy is to have a limited amount of departures - usually between one and three a year - for each of our itineraries. By limiting our presence in areas where local culture can be quite fragile, we hope to avoid as much as possible the phenomenon whereby an area changes in character due to repeated and prolonged exposure to tourism. We want to visit an area as friends, not intruders and to ensure that what we see will also be there for others to enjoy for many years to come. This is especially pertinent in the Omo Valley where tribal cultures are under much pressure from both tourism and mainstream Ethiopian culture.
We generally works with local teams as we grew up working with big companies before and unlike many operators we believe that to send a foreign Tour Leader along to accompany your trip is an unnecessary burden on your wallet and our carbon footprint. We believe that we locals know best. Our local guides only use locally owned accommodation and tribal villages. This means your money stays in the area to benefit from the tourism industry.