The African continent is a land of cultural and natural beauty – a precious place that should be protected and improved upon by all those who visit. Conscious travelers who choose to take their vacation in East Africa, in particular the country of Kenya, can enjoy sustainable and responsible tours by booking with One Horizon Africa. The great thing about travel sustainability is that it doesn’t have to take away from the experience at all.
In fact, with One Horizon, it adds to the overall enjoyment. Knowing that you are respecting the culture and environment of the destination that you are a guest in gives you peace of mind. Tourism, like any industry, can be filled with profiteers who disregard local communities for their own ends. The history of Africa is replete with examples of this where colonization, corporations and dictatorships rob the people of what was rightfully theirs.
This troubling past has led to some serious issues plaguing the continent, none more devastating than poverty. Although Kenya’s economy is the strongest when compared to its neighbors, a large portion of the locals here still live under the poverty line. This is why One Horizon’s mission is to alleviate poverty in the nation that they operate. They give tourists the opportunity to give back through a range of 50 or so different programs.
Each program works hand-in-hand with community leaders who all drive the various initiatives. Many are focused on food and water, others on renewable energy and reducing emissions, some on health, and a few on housing resettlement and vocational training. Wherever possible, One Horizon encourages visitors to participate and support these programs – part of the reason why their motto is “holidays that change lives”.
Even if guests don’t have the time to volunteer, they can still book tours with One Horizon and do their part – as this non-profit entity employs locals, encourages local purchasing, sources goods and services from local businesses, and manages village and wildlife interactions in a responsible manner. There is no better way to travel off the beaten track and connect with Kenyans than on an exceptional One Horizon experience.
Different Tour Options with One Horizon
One Horizon’s sustainable and responsible tours in Kenya fall into a couple of categories: Signature Itineraries and Unique, Private & Group Tours. The Signature Itineraries range from 1 – 8 days and enable travelers to meet everyday Kenyans – be it entrepreneurial grandmothers who are conquering poverty or Maasai warriors. Day trips are great add-ons to an independent trip, while multi-day journeys can make up an entire holiday.
There are 2 choices for the Unique, Private & Group Tours. The first is the Kenya 360 option that runs for 3, 4 or 5 days. Like all tours with One Horizon, the focus of these experiences is on connecting with locals. Private guides lead the trips and professionally cooked meals are provided by chefs to keep you fueled. Another cool aspect about the Kenya 360 tours is that you are transported via helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft flights.
The alternative for the Unique, Private & Group Tours is the My Maasai Life Series Tours. If you have ever dreamed of getting to know a culture like the Maasai, then this is your chance. Guests bond with the villagers and learn about fascinating customs. Maasai elders share stories and wisdom passed down through generations, warriors showcase their strength and defense capabilities, and women offer insights into what married life is like.
If you are a charity-minded person but can’t make it to Kenya, you will be pleased to know that One Horizon has a giving section on their website dedicated to donations. From homes and shelters, to electricity and fresh water, to sewing machines and clothes – these gifts help change the lives of Kenyan communities. For those who are intrigued by sustainable and responsible tours in Kenya, we outline the best with One Horizon below.
Best Sustainable & Responsible Tours in Kenya
- Signature Experience 1 Day Tours: Meeting ordinary Kenyans doing extraordinary things is the promise of these day trips. With 7 tours on offer, travelers are truly spoilt for choice. The Maasai Magic Tour provides a closer look at the practices, structure and values of the proud Maasai people. While the Resilient Women of Kenya Tour takes guests to a thriving Kikuyu village where grandmother’s operate their own pig farms.
- Signature Experiences 2-6 Days Tours: Longer itineraries allow visitors to immerse themselves in the colorful communities of Kenya while at the same time staying at some lovely accommodation. For example, the Insights of Life Tour is a 6 day culture safari that stops by a women’s empowerment center, a pig farm run by a go-getting granny, a soup kitchen, a traditional Maasai village and Lake Naivasha to see hippos.
- Wildlife and Community Tours: Combining community with wildlife, the tours in this category are once in a lifetime adventures. The 5 day Ololo Wildlife and Community Tour sees guests stay at the Ololo Safari Lodge in between visiting community-driven projects and taking game drives. The Walking Safari and Communities Tour is all about participating in grassroots social enterprises and enjoying safaris in a sustainable way.
- Special Events & Experiences: Imagine celebrating Mother’s Day in Kenya with local mothers, grandmothers and their families at a village party – or attending a rites of passage event in a Maasai village where a wedding or coming-of-age ceremony takes place (marking the transition from a boy to a warrior, otherwise called a “moran”). These are just a few of the amazing possibilities with One Horizon and their Special Events & Experiences.
Unique, Private & Groups
- Kenya 360: As the name suggests, the Kenya 360 tours afford travelers 360-degree views of Kenya from the sky as they helicopter and fly by fixed-wing aircraft from one beautiful destination to the next. The 5 day Awesome Kenya Tour is awesome because it features an epic helicopter ride from Nairobi to a Maasai village, then another helicopter ride to the Ololo Safari Lodge, and a fixed-wing plane flight on day 4 to Lake Naivasha.
- My Maasai Life Series Tours: Each member of a Maasai tribe plays an important role in keeping the traditions alive. Whether it be children, men, women or the elders – different ages and genders all contribute. On the My Maasai Life Series travelers can choose which members to interact with. For instance, women will love the My Life as a Married Maasai Women Tour and men will have fun on the My Life as a Maasai Warrior Tour.
How to Travel in a Sustainable and Responsible Way in Kenya
Due to its remote landscapes, villages and wildlife – Kenya is often visited on tours rather than independently. So the most crucial tip for traveling in Kenya in a sustainable and responsible way is to ensure that you book with a reputable company. Countless tour businesses operate in this African nation but only a few (like One Horizon) place community, conservation and the environment above all else. Here are 10 more tips to keep in mind:
- Offset your carbon footprint on platforms like www.myclimate.org
- Pack eco-friendly sunscreens, bug repellents and beauty products
- Don’t bring in or buy any plastics – be it coke bottles or plastic bags
- Always stay a safe distance from wildlife and never touch the animals
- Tip the workers that you encounter, small amounts can go a long way
- Shop locally where possible and don’t barter down the price too much
- Dine where the locals go and try to avoid touristy cafes and restaurants
- Learn words and phrases in Swahili, it helps you connect with the locals
- Dress respectfully, especially when visiting Maasai tribes or local villages
- Travel off the beaten path to explore the endless hidden gems of Kenya.