How Eco Tourism Has Saved the Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda

How Eco Tourism Has Saved the Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda

According to the 2011 gorilla census, there are only 880 Mountain Gorillas left in the wild worldwide. Making it a critically endangered species of ape. Half of this population is found in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in south western Uganda. The other half is found in the magnificent Virunga Mountain ranges. These are shared by Rwanda (Volcanoes National Park), Uganda (Mgahinga National Park) and Democratic Republic of Congo (Virunga National Park).

The mountain gorillas are endangered and at risk of extinction. There are many International and regional bodies working hard to protect the gorillas and their habitat. These include the International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP), Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, Rwanda Development Board and Gorilla Doctors, among others.

African Jungle Adventures in Rwanda and Uganda

Man is the main threat to the mountain gorilla population in Africa. This threat is through activities of poaching and encroachment to their habitat. Therefore, Eco tourism is the way forward towards the protection of the mountain gorillas in Rwanda through the following ways;

In the first instance, Volcanoes National park Rwanda today has 10 habituated gorilla groups available for ecotourism purposes. Mountain Gorilla trekking is the main tourist activity in the park. A maximum of 8 persons are allowed to visit each gorilla group per day. And tourists are only allowed to stay with the gorillas for a maximum of one hour. Man is a visitor in small groups for a short period of time. This promotes responsible travel and protects the gorillas and their natural setting.

Additionally, gorilla trekking rules have been put in place and clients are briefed before starting the trek. The rules aim at protecting the mountain gorillas and their habitat. These rules include;

  • Not to litter in the gorilla habitat
  • Not to make noise in the forest
  • Not to smoke, drink or eat near gorillas
  • No taking pictures with flash cameras
  • Keep distance of 7 meters from the gorillas
  • Not to touch the gorillas
  • Dig a hole in case you want to ease yourself and bury it after
  • Cover your mouth when coughing to avoid transmitting diseases to the gorillas.
  • If a person has flu or cough, they are not allowed to go gorilla trekking

Other tourist activities in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda include golden monkey tracking, adventurous hikes to Dian Fossey tombs and Iby’Iwacu cultural village tour. The latter is where tourists learn about the ways of life of the local people. Tourists also learn about their cultures and actively participate in local music, dance and drama.

Iby’Iwacu cultural village’s main object is to demonstrate the ways of life of Rwandese to tourists. The Rwandese earn a living from their activities. Through goats for gorilla project, tourists to Iby’wacu cultural village donate US $25-50 to purchase a goat for an ex-poacher’s families, thus saving the gorillas in Rwanda.

Many Eco-lodges and resorts have been constructed around Volcanoes National Park for nature lovers. Such lodges are constructed from local/natural materials such as volcanic stones, bamboo and wood to blend with the environment. Such Eco-lodges include Virunga Lodge, Mountain Gorilla View Lodge, Le Bambou Gorilla Lodge and Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge among others.

Through Eco-tourism around Volcanoes National Park, the local communities are sensitized about the value of gorilla tourism, and they directly benefit from gorilla tourism revenues. For example, during this year’s Kwita Izina (Gorilla Naming ceremony in Rwanda), Rwanda Development Board and Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund launched 12 classrooms at Gatebe Primary school. During the 2015 Kwita Izina ceremony, Bisate Learning centre in Musanze was launched and today has over 2300 students. Many other schools get support from eco-tourism revenues around the park. Additionally, the local communities are rewarded with medical centers and piped water from gorilla tourism revenues.

Furthermore, ex poachers have been employed in different sectors of tourism such as eco-lodges and in the park. Most porters and park rangers were ex-poachers, now fighting poaching and saving the Mountain Gorillas. Because they now benefit from the gorillas, they can no-longer go back to poaching, thus saving the mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda. How Eco Tourism Has Saved the Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda

This post was submitted by Paul Basudde, who works with African Jungle Adventures in Rwanda and Uganda.

Ecology in Bali

Ecology in Bali-Sustainable Ecotourism Directory with listings in Indonesia.
ubmitted by Sumber Sari Eco Villas – www.sumbersariecovillas.com

Ecology in Bali improving. One of our Villagers, on the Reef Preservation/Conservation Project has only got a stump on one arm rather than 2 complete arms. He lost this half of one arm in dynamiting the reef to kill/catch fish in his younger days !!
Now, at least he understands that a healthy reef, brings in more fish that can be netted from the beach with a team of the villagers without damaging more coral – they are now catching as much fish as the village needs, and have set up a Reef Patrol to stop people (the Javanese, given the chance, still come across the Strait and do it, dynamiting that is) damaging our villagers livelihood and Bali’s Ecology.
Just an interesting aside, as to what education and understanding can do, with a bit of help with some Ecological thinking that benefits everybody !!

To see listings in Indonesia on Eco Tropical Resorts/Sustainable Ecotourism Directory go here: Indonesia Eco Lodges.

Sri Lanka Eco friendly resorts

Five Eco Resorts in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is indeed a wonder of Asia. With its diverse flora and fauna, it makes a great touring destination. It’s no wonder that Lanka is one of the hottest travel destinations of the season. From exotic beaches to thick green forests, Lanka has it all. So without further ado, here are the top five eco resorts that will make your trip a memorable experience –

  1. Back of the Beyond Kahandamodera –

Located near the picturesque beaches of Tengalle, this resort combines leisure with pleasure. It’s a perfect spot to lay back, enjoy the silky smooth sand, and the tranquil peach as the ocean waves ripple to and fro. The villas offer you privacy as well as comfort. Each villa is split into two eco-friendly units, a three bedroom bungalow and a one bedroom cottage. Both come equipped with a ceiling fan, mosquito nets and neat bathrooms with hot and cold water facility. The bungalow boasts a separate dining area and an outdoor sleeping area. It offers stunning views of countryside as well as the sea, and is capable of housing roughly ten adults and three kids. It has to be booked as an entire house. The cottage can house three adults and is built apart from the bungalow and hence can be booked separately. The resort has a resident chef and staff to aid the tourists. The place gives an earthy feel, and has a friendly outdoor feel to it that makes it homely.

  1. Boulder Garden, Sinharaja –

It’s the Holy Grail for nature lovers. As the name suggests, the hotel is quite literally carved in jagged stones, and rooms are essentially caves in the rocks. Fret not; the USP of Boulder Garden is it’s unique combo of nature and technology. The rooms are modeled to resemble cave like structures, but they provide all the essential services. Natural light is used efficiently; the open rooms allow maximum sunlight in the rooms. It’s famous for its rustic, natural environment, and even has a rock-set swimming pool. It serves as a base camp for those interested in exploring the neighbouring rain forests.

  1. Kalundeva Retreat, Dambulla –

A perfect place to explore the cultural triangle, Kalundeva Retreat is situated among lovely green mountains and misty lakes. It’s a two chalets and a three-bedroom bungalow retreat. Each room is air conditioned and has a plasma TV of its own, although those lovely paddy fields and mesmerizing sunsets outside are far more inviting. It has a panoramic view of paddy fields and lakes, and serves as a perfect base to explore the Dambulla Cave Temples and Sigiriya Rock Fortress.

  1. Kulu Safaries, Yala –

They offer you the luxury to actually live in a national park, something that’s very rare and rewarding experience. Wake up to the melodious chirping of exotic birds, enjoy the sunrise, and feast on the local cuisine – it’s a complete package. Yala National Park houses a wide range of animals and birds, so if you are patient enough, you’ll be rewarded with a wonderful sighting of the Sri Lankan Big Four – the elusive Sri Lankan leopard, elephant, bear and wild buffalo.

  1. Madulkelle tea and Eco lodge, Kandy –

Housed in lush green Knuckles Mountains, Madulkelle Tea and Eco Lodge offers you a humble yet cozy abode. Secluded from the hustle and bustle of the city, the lodge has quality canvas tents. Each tent comes with a double bed, attached bathroom and wooden furniture, panning out into an outside terrace that overlooks the famous tea plantations. The separate dining building has a library, dining hall, and several indoor leisure activities. Adorned in traditional English furniture, it has an open fire place which perfectly complements the homely ambiance. Close to the Sri Lanka’s culture capital Kandy, it is a great place to stay and explore the northern country.

To see some of our Sri Lanka Eco Resorts, please click here:Eco Resorts in Sri Lanka

Apply and acquire your Sri Lankan Visa and be assured to enjoy your stay at one or more of the beautiful Sri Lankan Eco resorts.

Thailand Eco Lodges promoting Ecotourism

Beyond Borders: Rethink ASEAN Ecotourism

Workshop for ASEAN – Promoting Ecotourism

By Bronwen Evans, owner-operator of Faasai Resort and Spa: FaaSai Resort and Spa
In addition to its natural beauties, Southeast Asia has warm weather, cultural diversity, amazing eco-systems, easy accessibility and affordability. Little wonder that it is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world. It is about to get even more popular, as next year it will join together in a new common market – the ASEAN Economic Community.  This means more roads and rail networks will go in and (in time) a single visa will be available for travel within the region. Obviously this will attract more tourists and this may disappoint ecotravelers who come to Southeast Asia because they are looking for authentic local experiences in quiet and unspoilt destinations.

Rice threshing the old fashioned way

Surin Laopha the owner of Faasai Resort threshing rice the old-fashioned way

It is heartening therefore to see that ASEAN is embracing the concept of ecotourism and Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism and Sport, recently hosted a workshop for regional tourism leaders called Beyond Borders:  Rethink ASEAN Ecotourism

The workshop was supported by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Designated Area for Sustainable Tourism (DASTA) in Thailand and Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA). The Thailand Community Based Tourism Institute (CBT I) designed and facilitated the programme, with Jaranya Daengnoi and Peter Richards the lead facilitators.

The programme was very practical and in addition to talks by industry leaders there were field trips to ecotourism operations in south eastern Thailand.

The field trips were to the Jumrung Community, Rayong Province, a community initiative which offers visitors a chance to experience eco, agro and educational tourism; Huai Raeng Community in Trat province, a community-based initiative which offers boat trips to mangroves and homestay; and Faasai Resort and Spa, a small family-owned eco-resort which offers similar local trips, hands-on experience in the resort’s organic farm and “forest cuisine” – dishes based on locally-grown herbs such as Siamese cardamom.

Sites of Kung Wiman

Workshop attendees visited sites of Kung Wiman, near FaaSai Resort

 

All the places have a focus on agricultural tourism, supporting local communities, learning and sharing, and supporting cottage industries. There is also a unique Thai element to all three as they emphasize Thailand’s concept of the “Sufficiency Economy”.   This is not merely “sustainability” in the commonly understood meaning, but stress ethical values and “sufficiency” – living within your means, sharing resources, living as part of a community and cultivating resilience to external shocks.  This draws upon Buddhist traditions of kindness, tolerance and simplicity and the concept was developed by His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Religion is an important part of Southeast Asian culture, and there is much common ground between Buddhism, Islam and Christianity, which have many devotees in the region. This was certainly evident in the people attending the workshop. When I spoke about values-based tourism from a Buddhist perspective, the Muslim members of the group were very receptive and enthusiastic about the idea and talked about their own heritage and experiences as we visited the sacred Bodhi tree at the resort.

While the group discovered many commonalities between eco-tourism practitioners in Southeast Asia, they also shared knowledge about how to develop successful ecotourism ventures. Ideas included creating memorable experiences, designing special packages to attract long-stay travelers, students or special interest groups,  using online media effectively through story-telling and developing social networks and communities of interest.

Thankfully, governments are coming to appreciate the value of this kind of small-scale tourism. It attracts travelers wanting to get off the beaten track and have a more authentic experience while it is low-impact and ensures that the money spent by tourism mostly remains in the local community.

White Water Lake

White Water Lake – the sanctuary and organic farm operated by Faasai Resort

Mr Pasit Poomchusri, the Deputy Director-General of the Department of Tourism in Thailand, led the workshop, which followed on from previous initiatives aimed at capacity-building within the Thailand tourism industry.  He sees good ecotourism potential in Thailand’s coastal eastern provinces, Rayong, Trat and Chanthaburi. These destinations offer a good alternative to travelers. They are only a few hours’ drive from Bangkok and have many resources such as sea and mountains, marine and forest parks, biodiversity, strong local communities, delicious food and agri-tourism.

As a local operator, I find it very encouraging that the Thai government is giving such support and encouragement to small eco-enterprises and I feel enthusiastic about the possibilities for ASEAN operators to work together in the area of ecotourism.

Bronwen Evans is a New Zealander who, together with her Thai husband Surin Laopha, is the owner-operator of Faasai Resort and Spa, an award-winning eco resort at Kung Wiman in Chanthaburi, Thailand.. To see their listing on Eco Tropical Resorts please go here: FaaSai Resort and Spa.

The Creativity OF Eco Tourism In Uganda

Eco Tourism in Uganda
Eco-tourism basically focuses on environmental conservation and sustainable development. Eco-tours help to save forests, cultures and the environment in general. Eco tourism is all about saving the environment around you and preserving the natural luxuries and forest life. Whether it’s about a nature camp or organizing trekking trips towards the unspoiled and inaccessible regions, one should always keep in mind not to create any disturbance in the life cycle of nature.

Eco-tourism sites in Uganda are endowed with an abundance of wildlife and ever green vegetation. The attractions are; the apes, birds, butterflies, green vegetation, reptiles, flowers and wild animals like elephants, baboons, warthogs, chimpanzees, bush backs, monkeys, bush pigs, buffaloes, mountain gorillas and cool natural fresh air.

In all of Africa, Uganda is blessed by Nature with a wide range of rain forests, wildlife sanctuaries, rich cultural history, spectacular national parks, active volcanoes, botanical gardens, snow capped mountain with their rich flora and fauna gives you abundant and diverse choices making it the perfect country to visit if you are interested in environmental tourism and the unforgettable wildlife experience.

For those interested in nature, and who love traveling and recreation, we welcome you to the Pearl of Africa (Uganda). Eco-tourism here focuses on local cultures, wilderness adventures, volunteering, personal growth and learning new ways to live on our vulnerable planet. Traveling to different destinations is where the flora, fauna, and cultural heritage are the primary attractions like our well conserved national parks, forests and mountains.

For Eco Lodges and Tours in Uganda go here: Uganda Eco Lodges and Tours
This article submitted by: Green World Safaris

Bryn Elltyd Eco Guesthouse

Zero carbon, 1883 guesthouse business lines up for UK wide eco award

 

Eco Guesthouse in the U.K.

House is at bottom of this ramp that was used to lower slate wagons on to ffestiniog steam railway. Railway is so old it is pre steam engines. 1830,s it all rolled with gravity2ok long

**2014 Winner of Considerate Hotelier Green Team**

Bryn Elltyd eco guesthouse, 700ft up in Snowdonia has made it to the last 3 in the prestigious Considerate Hotelier awards. This national UK competition examines the sustainability and green ethos of, usually much larger hotels. Ceilia and John’s tiny 3 star, 6 bedroom, guesthouse are on a shortlist of 3. Pitted against the likes of the Best Western Hotel chain’ hotel in Suffolk.  It does not worry them, last year they competed in the awards against large 20 bed, 5 star hotels. They won and sat next to the Savoy green team to discuss carbon reduction.Lake in background is one of 2 hydro plants within 200m. This one has LAKE pumped up 3k and 400m up hill most nights. When they want power, open tap and full power in 6 seconds. store wind power electric etc

Steam train at back

Very old steam train

Green does not mean compromise as Bryn Elltyd shows. Wi fi, sauna, 3 electric car charge points etc. It is all carbon neutral, all energy comes from renewable. Having had solar panels since 1983 John and Ceilia like to think they tread lightly on the land for their grandchildren. Many organizations discuss climate change and carbon reduction, but this business has acted and runs only on renewable energy.

Heating uses a local wood bye product that is turned to gas and burnt at 900c. Amazingly for a house up a Welsh mountain it has computer inter-grated solar panels that work to make hot water. Other solar arrays make 240v electric. All the work has been done by John or by employing local engineers.

Spot the solar thermal and solar electric arrays. turf roofed lined with sheeps wool and cosy.

Spot the solar thermal and solar electric arrays. turf roofed lined with sheeps wool and cosy.

Rain can be a welcome resource here. It is harvested to flush loos(toilets) and water the garden and there are also two commercial hydro plants within 200m. Sewerage goes through 3 natural biological chambers then a small reed bed and into a duck pond, with ducks. John says ” Don’t panic the system is smell free and the loo flushing is normal.  Bryn Elltyd was built in 1883, had an out side tap in 1983 and has now evolved into carbon neutral. It has been a long adventure using my 25 years experience of teaching technology and engineering. High tech solar integration works, as does low tech conservatories, soaking up the heat into 39inch thick walls and vents to put this warm air into the house.  Together with my wife Ceilia we did what most parents dream about. The children went off to uni so we put the house on the market, sold up and moved to this stunning area where we used to holiday. Take care in the Hobbit room, lined with cozy sheep’s wool, turf roofed and dug into the mountain. It has had two marriage proposals in it so far……..’’

The Considerate Hotelier Awards are in London on 13th June.  It was won last year by the Savoy hotel and our little green zero carbon guesthouse with 6 bedrooms is against  a 34 and a 396 bedroom hotels that are part of national chains. No worries.

To see their listing go here: Bryn Elltyd Eco Guesthouse in the UK

Yoga is better when surrounded by nature, especially in the tropics

Guess What? Yoga is better in nature

Breathe deeply… The air is clean at tropical eco resorts in the heart of Bali, Indonesia. While Ubud is commonly considered the yoga capital of Bali, its rapid growth, traffic congestion and poorer air quality is now sending nature lovers further into the hills of central Bali where not only is the air clean, but you can also drink and bathe in pure mountain spring water and eat clean local food.

The traditional heart of Bali is rich in culture, the way Bali used to be before tourism ran rampant in the south of the island. Here in central Bali you navigate your way by which volcano you are on. The largest volcano, Mount Agung in the east rises to over 3,000m. The slopes are too cold and barren to be inhabited but Agung provides a stunning sky scape that can be seen from nearly anywhere in Bali. Heading west, the steaming active volcano of Yoga in nature in Bali, IndonesiaMt Batur rises inside the collapsed volcano of Kintamani.

On the western slopes of Kintamani at 1007m elevation, surrounded by nature, near Plaga and the famous big long bridge, is Bali Ecovillage. Here the days are mild but be prepared to rug up in front of an open fire of an evening. Bali Ecovillage provides two yoga spaces and free classes for guests when they have guest yoga teachers from April to November to help guests connect with the beautiful location. Yoga makes more sense in nature and many guests have experienced the joy of their very first yoga class here in the mountains. Both yoga spaces, one indoor and one large outdoor bamboo bale have views across a valley to a wall of trees where often the mountain mist can be seen rolling down the valley. The 19 bed resort is available to hire for yoga and health retreats. Bali Ecovillage has more of an earthy farm stay feeling than a resort and is a wonderful place to connect with nature.

Further west, closer to central Bali is Bedugal and another volcanic mountain Batukaru. On the south west slopes of Mt Batukaru, in north Tabanan district, you will find two Eco lodges in even greener rainforest surroundings.  Bali Eco Stay, a boutique and very comfortable 5 bungalow eco resort can expand to 14 beds for small retreat groups. The lovely rectangular timber yoga bale has food forest views and is available for self practice or for yoga retreats. The grounds of the resort have lovely mixed tropical gardens over looking rice paddies with views to the ocean. The resort sources the purest of water from a mountain spring and  is on the banks of a small mountain stream that tumbles down a stunning waterfall, providing hydro power to the resort. At only 400m elevation, the weather is mild and you only need a light cardigan on the coolest of evenings. www.baliecostay.com

From Bali Eco Stay take a 20 minute drive through jungle, food forest and coffee plantations, with a slight climb in elevation up to 750m, to find the award winning Sarinbuana Eco Lodge. It’s round yoga bale makes a stunning presence as you wander down a winding stone path towards the forest. With timber floor and a towering woven bamboo roof, this is a happy place to breathe in deeply the clean mountain air while you stretch and twist your body through yoga. The bale was built for retreat groups up to 14. Do your own yoga or book a private yoga lesson from Val who lives just 100 m up the mountain. www.baliecolodge.com

Val and her husband Craig plan to open their own rainforest retreat and spa, complete with forest yoga bale by mid 2014. www.balicascade.com So eco lovers… Head to the mountains of Bali to discover unique and wonderful Eco lodges where you can breathe in deeply the fresh clean air and stretch and twist to give your body a yoga holiday. Be prepared to get off the beaten track where the roads are bumpy, but doesn’t that just add to the adventure and make you feel clever for finding these special secret places in the heart of Bali. By Miss Ronnie Eco Tropical Resorts Journalist 2014.

Golfo Dulce and Eartwatch in peninsula Costa Rica

Golfo Dulce & Earthwatch in Costa Rica

The owners of Saladaro Lodge participated in an Earthwatch sponsored program recently.   They shared some of their thoughts and are taking an active role in a new study which will take place next year.

Centro de Investigación de Cetáceos CEIC – Costa Rica (CEIC) is a non profit working to help preserve Golfo Dulce. They have been studying the whales, dolphins and the supporting habitat of the Golfo Dulce since 2005 with the intent of collecting more knowledge and monitoring impacts. Some of the dolphins they have known during this time have an advanced fungus derived from chemicals used on the palm plantations. These groups help with collecting data on species, time, temperature, actions as well as identifying individual animals and comparing to previous photos. They also monitor people’s impact on the beaches surrounding it.

As a part of the program they also study poison dart frogs on the Osa peninsula and will be starting a new study of the Aguja (needlefish) at Saladero Lodge this coming July, 2014. Our location is one of the few critical areas for the aguja spawning on the west coast of Central America. The type of rocky beach and temperature is very important for the eggs to hatch. They are a primary food source for the dolphins.

Their primary goal is to prove that the Golfo Dulce is a unique marine area that needs to be protected and to influence the government into making all of it a Protected Marine Area.

For more information click here: Saladero Eco Lodge