Ethical Travel in Kenya and Tanzania
I always try to travel responsibly. Ethical travel is very important to me, but it’s not always easy to navigate around the issues of a country. Kenya and Tanzania are both poor nations, have endangered wildlife and vulnerable tribes. Its not always clear what is right and what is not. I did some research to help you travel these countries responsibly.
This is a difficult one. There are so many tours to the Masai that we skipped, because it felt like a tourist trap. Later our safari guide Richard explained that they are real Masai. They are just no longer nomadic because the government is making the kids go to school. That is why there is more contact with the ‘civilized’ world and the tribes are changing. They still have their traditions, but it sometimes feels they are solely performed for tourists now. During my time in Tanzania I met a guy who grew up in the Datoga tribe and he took us to see his family. It was one of my favorite experiences, so it is definitely on the list of things to do. If you do want to visit a tribe there are a few things to keep in mind.
- Go with a guide that speaks the language
- They are people and not there for your entertainment
- Ask first if you want to take a photo
- Don’t hand out money or gifts. (It can encourage begging and dependence on tourists)
Although well meaning, sometimes volunteering does more harm than good. That’s why it is so important to research your project. An orphanage is a way to make money in a poor country. This means some of the kids might not even be real orphans and may just be used to attract volunteers. There are also a lot of trips to local schools. This might sound like a good thing to do, but if they have tourist walking in everyday taking photo’s this is disruptive to their education. If you really want to help out, make sure you do something you are qualified for. Building a school with no qualification is not a good idea. And don’t forget to be honest with yourself. Would you still want to volunteer if you weren’t allowed to take photo’s?
Climbing the Kilimanjaro
So this is something I haven’t done on my trip, but I know many people who have. It’s one of the most popular activities in Tanzania. The biggest problem is the maltreatment of the porters. Some of them have to climb the mountain on flip-flops while carrying your bag and their not even making €3,- a day. What you can do:
- Choose your company wisely.
- Make sure to ask them questions about how they treat porters.
- Before you start your trip check if your porter has the right footwear.
- Give tips directly to your porter.
- Report it if you see a porter being maltreated.
Swimming with Dolphins in Zanzibar
So at first I was actually really excited for this activity. It seemed harmless as it’s in the ocean and the dolphins are free. Then I read a few reviews. Turns out the dolphins are being surrounded and chased by the boats. The people carrying out these excursions don’t watch the dolphins behavior and are not experts. I have heard of diving excursions in Zanzibar where dolphins approach the divers. This is a nice alternative. You have to be extremely lucky though and it is not a given that you will see them. However you will have a wonderful diving trip anyway and if they do decide to visit it’s an added bonus.
More travel tips:
- Wear appropriate clothing: Tanzania is quite conservative. Especially the coastal areas there are a lot of muslims there. Make sure to cover your shoulders and legs.
- Learn a few words in Swahili. The locals really appreciate the effort
- Make sure your souvenirs aren’t made from bone, fur or coral.
- Ask permission to take a photo of someone.
January 13, 2017 @ 11:53
Very interesting post. Your first point about visiting local tribes is spot on. They are humans first and foremost and not there for anyone’s entertainment.
January 13, 2017 @ 14:57
These are so important, not just in Tanzania but everywhere! I really, really hate companies who just capitalise on traditional cultures and people with the pretense that “it’s helping them”. And it’s true that sometimes such tours do help, but there’s a certain way to go about it! Namely: in a respectful manner.
“Would you still want to volunteer if you weren’t allowed to take photo’s” – PREACH!
Romy-Brunette at Sunset
January 14, 2017 @ 09:41
It’s definitely important everywhere! I might do a post like this for other countries I visit as well. Glad there are people out there who see the importance of it!
January 14, 2017 @ 05:54
I LOVE this post. It’s so important to be knowledgeable travelers and tourists these days. So many tourist traps abuse the systems in place to help locals and the animals that can be ridden or played with are certainly not treated well if they can be man-handled in such a way. It’s important for more people to write about and share this information. Great post.
Romy-Brunette at Sunset
January 14, 2017 @ 11:50
Thank you! I hope to inform many more people. When I was younger I definitely didn’t know some of this stuff. So hopefully some people will see this and make different decisions while traveling.
January 15, 2017 @ 04:05
What a great article. You are so right in all of the points. Everyone should read this before going to Kenya and Tanzania. Like Rhiannon said above, we are also haters of companies who just capitalise on traditional cultures and their people. We are all human and should treat one another the way we would want to be treated. When going on a tour, we shop around and make sure we choose a company that is genuine and real to themselves and others. Thanks for sharing Romy
January 15, 2017 @ 08:51
Hey I definitely agree with what you say about visiting the tribes. In this touristic countries, the villages where these tribes live feels like being in a tourist trap. There’s no authenticity anymore and they are treated like if they were zoo animals. I just hate going to these places and I don’t go to these places anymore. If I have time, I try to explore the region on my own and find villages still untouched by tourists. you always find them, but you need time for that.
January 16, 2017 @ 19:47
In fact in this post you address very important aspects to take into account in countries like these. Sometimes the tourists don’t think what’s behind the visits to certain places and do everything only to achieve the ideal selfie to put on social networks without any kind of concern about people or animals. Congratulations on calling attention to these important matters.
January 20, 2017 @ 10:20
Kenya has been on my list for a long. But I never thought about ethical traveling. In fact it didn’t even strike me in the first place. This is a very good posts that had sowed an important lesson in my mind. Now I know how to go about visiting Kenya.