Home #WHERETONEXT Africa Empowering Communities and Protecting Wildlife: The Transformational Journey of Eco-Conscious Travel with...

Empowering Communities and Protecting Wildlife: The Transformational Journey of Eco-Conscious Travel with Nkuringo Safaris

Deep and meaningful travel, which connects travelers with local communities, teaches them about local cultures and provides authentic experiences, is set to be a key trend this year, Forbes shares.

In fact, over two-thirds (69%) of tourists want the money they spend on travel to go back to local communities, reveals Booking.com’s Sustainable Travel Report. 

But despite this growing popularity, two in five admit they don’t know how or where to find tours and activities that give back to the local community. What’s more, many travel experiences that pose as being regenerative have a destructive impact on local communities.

Lydia Eva Mpanga, Founder of Nkuringo Safaris, says: “Some travel opportunities inadvertently exploit indigenous cultures and prioritize tourist leisure over the well-being of local communities. Take, for example, accommodations that bring crowds of wealthy tourists over to impoverished rural areas, just to have them sip cocktails by the sunset when locals are forced to travel hundreds of kilometers just for clean drinking water.

“On the flip side, working on the ground in Uganda and Rwanda, we’ve witnessed firsthand how impactful meaningful travel can be. It can be incredibly rewarding for travelers while also uplifting and empowering local communities. It’s all about doing your research and selecting destinations that truly benefit those who live there.”

Nkuringo Safaris has an incredible property owned by a local Ugandan family that is located above the jungle canopies of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and offers the ultimate regenerative stay for eco-conscious travelers. 

Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge is one of the first carbon carbon-neutral certified properties in Uganda and lies perched on Nteko Ridge at an altitude of 7000 ft, overlooking a dense rainforest and chain of volcanoes home to the only remaining mountain gorillas in the world.

It provides an excellent base for those looking to venture out and track these mighty apes, with everyone who does so paying a sum to support their conservation. 

Beyond its commitment to sustainability and wildlife, Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge supports local children through its Nkuringo Junior Stars Program. 

The initiative particularly focuses on helping girls stay in school as just half (53%) of female students complete the compulsory first seven years of education, according to research, primarily due to poverty. Impoverished families often require their daughters to stay at home and help with the housework or other income-generating activities. 

Through Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge’s fair trade policy, the lodge sponsors local parents through guiding training courses that provide them with skills that enable them to earn a sustainable salary to raise their children, without them having to drop out of school.

The lodge also supports the Nkuringo Crafts Project, an initiative aimed at equipping young people with skills in crafting handmade items such as carvings, paintings, baskets, and jewelry, by selling their beautiful creations in its gift shop.

In addition, the property has a Pack for Purpose program in place that encourages guests to carry a small gift in their luggage for low-income families living in nearby villages.

Travelers can find the Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge hidden amongst forest trees, flowers and shrubs, on the southern edge of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The accommodation offers 18 rooms in 16 residences with full amenities divided into 2 two-bedroom family villas, 5 Luxury Forest Suites, 6 garden cottages, and 3 Standard Garden Cottages.

Despite Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge’s impressive commitment to sustainability and nature, it’s the landscape that does the talking at this accommodation. Every room boasts breathtaking views over the imposing Bwindi Forest, and the garden chalets soar above the Virunga Mountains range, while rickety walkways lead guests around the property.

The luxury cottages are completely eco-friendly and were built using locally sourced materials. 

Papyrus and volcanic rock have been used to make the ceiling and wooden floors, while corrugated iron sheets support the rainwater catchment, providing the lodge’s primary water source. Unused, excess water is then distributed throughout the local community. 

Light and heating at Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge are entirely powered by solar energy. The accommodation also has an onsite vegetable garden that supplies the kitchen and a tree-planting program that encourages every guest to “plant a tree” in its beautifully maintained gardens. 

The cottages themselves showcase locally-styled furnishings, spacious rooms and an abundance of natural light. They are also complete with private viewing decks with 360-degree views over the volcanoes and forest canopy below. 

Guests can choose between luxury forest suites and family villas, each of which boasts complete privacy and overlooks the jungle. Beyond gorilla trekking, guests can visit local communities, go hiking through the impenetrable forest and drift along the gentle waters of Lake Mutanda on a canoe.

Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge is a seven-time winner at the World Travel Awards (WTA) as Uganda’s Leading Safari Lodge and TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards since 2015. 

Nkuringo Safaris is a licensed tour operator that offers unforgettable, safe, intimate, and authentic Uganda and Rwanda wildlife experiences. The company customizes gorilla trekking tours, honeymoon holidays, cultural encounters, and private and group adventures to fit travelers’ preferences.