October 19, 2013 @ 3:14 pm - posted by Robert

Justin from Responsible Travel talking at the Adventure Travel Show about eco friendly responsible tourism with a strong emphasis on you travelling like a local.

If you’re interested in volunteering with companies with a strong responsible travel and ecotourism ethic, Click here to watch the Big Beyond video. There is also a great Blog post written by one of their volunteers.  Click here to read article.

If you’re more interested in animal conservation, have a look at the video by African Conservation Experience (ACE). Click here or listen to their podcast from the Adventure Travel Show in 2013 click here.


My first memory of travelling myself or going on a holiday was I guess in the early 1970’s and I went here with my family and this is Brixham Harbour in Devon.  I don’t know if any of you have been, beautiful little fishing harbour in Devon.  But also very very popular and packed with tourists basically eating fish and chips and ice creams.  And I think I was conscious that i’d crossed over the line, I’d become a tourist.  And it felt very uncomfortable.  I desperately wanted to fit in, I didn’t want to stick out like every other tourist. I remember trying to blend myself into the background almost, and a tourist came to me and asked me the way, asked me some directions and I felt really proud, I thought thats great, he hasn’t thought I’m a tourist, he thought I’m a local.  And I guess I became conscious at this time that when we visit somewhere it is always somebody else’s home.  And I guess we’re all tourists to an extent, but I certainly didn’t want to feel like a tourist when I travelled.

Going on a few years now, this is the Rwenzoris mountains, the fabled Mountains of the Moon in West Uganda.  Here I was about 26, 27 and i’d taken a sabbatical year from my career working as in an advertising agency.  And I rocked up at a little village, picked up a local guide, very informal, no set up for tourism, and we walked around these fantastic peaks, very close to the equator, 16,000 foo,t glaciers on the top, very mysterious and magical place.  You may have seen it on BBC’s Africa program recently, I think I spent about two weeks there just trying to get one shot of the mountains when the mist and the clouds and the fog wasn’t there, and my memories of it were very much the same.  But very strongly about travelling with a local guide I absolutely love that.  Him and his mates, just for four days we went out, and camped and slept in caves and I got to know him and it was just a really great privilege.

They’ve got these giant lobelia.  Which I think is one of the reasons why it sounds so, it looks so other worldly and they call it ‘the mountains of the moon’.  I love places with great names. Mountains of the moon.  Near by is the impenetrable forrest.  As soon as I heard the impenetrable forrest I really really wanted to go there.

This is a trip on the Zambezi river.  Zambezi runs between Zimbabwe and Zambia.  Fabulous wide river which you can canoe down if you’re brave and perhaps slightly fool hardy, and I did a five day trip going canoeing down there.  Fabulous, fantastic, absolutely incredible.  In the night we just moored our canoes on a little sand island in the middle of the river, put the paddle into the ground as a rest for the mosquito net and just slept there under  the stars, with all of Africa around and the elephants coming down to the water.  Really extraordinary trip.  Finished up a National Park which was somewhere I very consciously wanted to go.  It was the only place in Africa at the time where you could walk, do a walking safari unaccompanied.  to a foolish young guy that sounded really really appealing.

I obviously went to the Okavango delta and spent a few days out again with a local guide in a Makoro this is a makoro, this wooden tree hollowed out.  this water is extremely extraordinary clear.  So clear that getting a little bit cocky I looked down to the water and I thought I’d like to have a go at paddling so I said to the guide ‘I will come to the back and I will paddle’.  Looked down at the water and it looked about 18 inches deep, stepped off and as I stepped off I heard him shout ‘no’ and I went in and it was 10 – 12 feet deep and I went straight under.  Beautiful clear water.  This is Botswana Okavango Delta.

My guide, in the makoro behind, fabulous guy, met him, he sat down in the canoe waiting for me, got into the canoe.  It was only after half a day I realised that he only had one leg, consciously why he had sat in the canoe. For the next 2-3 days he hopped as we walked around the wildlife reserves, but never held us up.

So that’s the Okavango Delta.  And I travelled by bus, taxi, I borrowed bicycles, and here on the back of a truck with local people through Zambia, in fact overnight into Zambia across the border.  And I think I got a great sense of freedom, a great sense of adventure, and a great sense of connection with local people because inevitably got talking and I lost that fear of them and us and I discovered ways to gauge and just to be with people from a completely life to my own and that is something that has stayed with me very strongly ever since.

Responsible Travel on your sabbatical

About Robert

Robert was born with a Wonderlust and nothing excites him more than travel. He recently spent time living in Vietnam teaching English. Upon his return, he and Liz set up CareerBreak360 to help others achieve their Career Break goals.

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