West African Journey
While we were living in Africa, ecotourism was evolving into a distinct industry. Our philosophies have always ascribed to this popular "new" kind of travel.
It's not hard to figure that eco-travelers leave behind no negative effects on the land, people and animals which they encounter on their journey. Moreoever, we recognize that it is entirely possible to have a beneficial impact on the areas which you visit. This is both an "eco"-logical and "eco"-nomic approach: a "don't touch, spend money" policy. By spending our money wisely we can encourage the maintenance of traditional practices which are in rapid decline; we have done this for years, and we take it one step further....
Our mission is to use our knowledge and understanding of West Africa to provide an arena for cultural exchange. As such, it is difficult for us to see ourselves as an ecotour simply because we do not stress the "natural" aspects which are usually associated with such ventures. However, having lived in the region, we realize and respect that the natural environment of the Sahel region (the savanna/arid forests south of the Sahara) is deteriorating, largely due to deforestation and overgrazing. We make every effort to sustain the natural environment of the region. We, and anyone who joins on our journey, expect to be positive role models to everyone whom we encounter.
One of the greatest dangers to the Sahel is that its inhabitants are not aware of the extent of danger of the impending climate changes associated with deforestation. Already, the Sahara has encroached into formerly forested regions. We hope that by acting as positive role models and not using wood for fuel or souvenirs, and by promoting alternatives such as propane burners for cooking, we can teach at least one person that there are alternatives to cutting down trees.
Balance our concern for the land with our interest in its people. Respect the varied ethics and practices of the regions. Create opportunities for both the traveler and our national hosts to learn from each other. Mutual understanding between the more developed and less developed peoples increases the conservation techniques of everyone involved. It will even affect you!!
In the end, we hope that the traveler leaves having had a rewarding experience. And perhaps more importantly, we do wish to leave behind something priceless- our good example.
"We will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand; we will understand only what we are taught." --Baba Dioum, Senegalese conservationist