We have always believed in the power of tourism to be a significant force for good. Our trips and your tourism dollars play an important role in supporting the livelihoods of thousands of people and communities around the world as well as conserving the wildlife and the wild places we visit.
With international travel put on hold by the coronavirus pandemic, the impact on communities dependent on tourism has been absolutely devastating. To help mitigate this crisis for our longtime partners and their families on the ground, Wilderness Travel started reaching out to past travelers to give small donations through a couple of GoFundMe campaigns. These initial fundraisers were such a hit we decided to launch a couple more, then a couple more, then a couple more—your generosity and selflessness surpassing our expectations at every turn.
From the 14 campaigns now live, you have helped raise over $125,000 (and counting)!
On behalf of our guides, porters, camp staff, bus drivers, boat crew, and their families who received this much-needed assistance, we would like to thank you, our generous travelers, for supporting those who make it their life’s work to preserve and protect the amazing places we visit. Please know that these fundraising campaigns are all still live and you can still donate.
Thank you again for being a part of the WT family and for your tremendous compassion and support. We speak for our entire worldwide team when we say we cannot wait to share more amazing adventures with you again soon.
—Wilderness Travel Staff
Tanzania’s Kili Porters
Kilimanjaro guides, camp staff, and porters rely almost completely on the income they receive from assisting climbers and sharing their boundless enthusiasm and expertise. The salary and tips they receive help them feed their families, send their children to school, and pay for any social service needed such as medical care. July through September is typically the busiest climbing season, but without tourism, they have no income stream and are receiving little to no financial support during this time.
WT and our travelers raised $9,085 specifically for our guides and porters for our Kili treks. The money went to our team of about 150 people just in time for “Nane Nane”, or Farmer’s Day, on August 8th. This is an important Tanzanian celebration in recognition of the contribution of farmers to Tanzania’s economy and people. We wanted to make sure this year’s Nane Nane celebration is bountiful and filled with joy and the promise of a better tomorrow.
Enjoy this video from our partners in Arusha, Tanzania:
I donated because the porters and staff made this a trip of a lifetime that I will always remember. Thank you!
Peru’s Guides and Inca Trail Porters
Our Peru staff comes from Patakancha in the highlands above the village of Ollantaytambo. They belong to a community known as the Puka Ponchos, whose ancestors were herders that took care of the llamas belonging to the Inca army and royalty. Wilderness Travel has been working with this community for as long as we’ve been a company, over 40 years. Many are even second-generation team members.
This staff and their families rely heavily on the income they receive from assisting trekkers. Without tourism, their income has dwindled to $0 and they are receiving little to no financial support from the Peruvian government. April through December is typically the busiest trekking season, but COVID–19 has abruptly cut off their means of income this year.
Wilderness Travel and our local trekking partner organized emergency relief food boxes to our amazing team of hardworking ground staff. These food boxes contained rice, oatmeal, evaporated milk, lima beans, noodles, brown sugar, lentils, vegetable oil, and tuna fish. Our travelers raised more than $11,000 specifically for this fund. Here’s a quick video from our partners in Peru:
My husband and I had a fantastic trip several years ago and have great respect for the skills of the porters. They shared their services, music, food, and humor. Happy to have the opportunity to help!
Nepal’s Sherpa Porters
The local Sherpa guides and porters have been hit especially hard during the pandemic as tourism came to a halt at the beginning of their busiest season. WT and our partners on the ground organized a food delivery to send food staples such as rice, grains, dal, cooking oil, and soap to our guides and porters. Rice is a very important staple in the Nepali diet and a 100-pound bag of rice costs only $50. We were able to raise $9,945, thanks to our generous donors. Here is a quick video showing we’ve been able to donate.
Uganda’s Guides and Porters
While most porters in Uganda are subsistence farmers, the bulk of their income comes from assisting visitors as they track the mountain gorillas of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Without tourism, porters have no income.
WT organized a food delivery to the porters in August 2020. We donated a vehicle, fuel, driver salary, and stipend for the multi-day trip to Bwindi and back, and our travelers raised more than $4,127 to purchase staples such as beans, rice, posho (maize flour), sugar, cooking oil, and bars of hand soap. We were able to deliver 10kg of posho, 10kg of beans, 10kg of rice, 5kg of sugar, 2kg of salt, 2 liters of cooking oil, and three bars of laundry soap to just over 100 families that will last them for many weeks, even months! Check out this video of the food delivery.
The work these porters do is an integral part of the Gorilla experience. Their help in surmounting difficult terrain made our journey most enjoyable and educational. Thank you.
Helen M. T
Bhutan’s Guides and Drivers
Bhutan’s incredible staff and their families rely heavily on the income they receive from tourism, and September through December is typically the busiest season for travelers, but COVID–19 has abruptly cut off their means of income this year. Their salary and tips help them feed their families, send their children to school, and pay rent. Without tourism, they have no income stream.
WT and our partners on the ground are organizing a food delivery to send food staples such as rice, lentils, milk powder, cooking oil, and soap to our guides and drivers. We raised more than $8,000 for this fund.
Check out the video of the fundraising result.
Zimbabwe’s Local Village
Stanley Dube, our beloved veteran Botswana safari leader, and his wife started a project in their local village in Zimbabwe to tackle a traditionally sensitive subject—to assist with collecting and distributing sanitary supplies to the women and teenage girls in their community and surrounding villages.
Their “Sanitary Bank” stockpiles and distributes supplies to schools, churches, and local community centers, benefiting close to 500 orphaned children, single mothers, and elderly heads of families who have taken in grandchildren who have lost their parents. Additional supplies are then distributed as needed to other families in the surrounding villages.
Together with our travelers, we raised $10,037 for this project so far!
Here is a quick video from Stanley:
Sandy and I had a wonderful safari with Stanley in Botswana in 2009. Hi Stanley, your project is great!
Madagascar’s Guides and Staff
Madagascar is among the poorest countries in the world, so government assistance during the pandemic is non-existent. The situation is becoming dire and many of the guides and their families are very hungry. WT and our partners on the ground organized a food delivery of rice and other staples for the guides, as well as small cash donations for Madagascar’s Independence Day on June 26, so they could celebrate with their families. Our travelers raised $4,465 for this fundraiser. Here is a quick thank-you video from our guides:
Morocco’s Guides and Camp Crew
March and April are typically the busiest season for our Morocco trips, but COVID-19 has abruptly cut off the season and left our amazing guides and Sahara camp crew without financial means. WT and our partners on the ground organized an emergency financial relief fund for our local guides who lead our groups throughout Morocco and the hardworking Sahara desert camp crew who take such good care of our travelers. Thanks to the support from our travelers, we were able to raise $6,850 for our guides and camp crew. These funds were given to families just in time so they could celebrate Aid-el-Kebir (the “big feast”) at the end of July. Often called the Moroccan Thanksgiving, this time celebrates the end of Ramadan and is a time for families to get together and share special meals, often including lamb with couscous, over the course of three days. Parents also buy new clothes for their children to wear during the celebration and beyond. The Aid expenses typically run about $200-$300 for a family of four.
Enjoy this quick video from our Morocco friends:
Galápagos’ Boat Staff
While the Galápagos Islands are now officially “open” to tourists again, the reality is that international travelers are not expected to fully return until late 2021. Unfortunately, most locals do not have savings to sustain this extended period without hardship. WT and the owners of the ships the Mary Anne and the Passion, organized a fundraiser for our hard-working Galápagos staff, crew, and their families. This money will go towards food, rent, and children’s school supplies. At the time of writing, we’ve raised more than $9,000.
Ethiopia’s Guides and Lodge Staff
In Ethiopia, the salary and tips our local guides and lodge staff receive help them feed their families, pay rent, and send their children to school. August to October is typically their busy season, but all operations have abruptly halted due to COVID-19. The situation is becoming dire and many of the staff and their families are becoming desperate.
WT organized this fundraiser to send food and money to our guides and lodge staff on the ground, and our travelers raised $1,500 so far.
Here is a quick video from some of our guides:
Ethiopia is an amazing country: ancient history, tribal cultures, and beautiful and diverse landscapes. Tourism is essential and like many other countries, is now suffering due to the lack of tourism. Those who love the continent need to do all we can to be supportive during these challenging times.
Almost half of Namibia’s land is dedicated to conservation, and the Namibian conservation community is critical in the preservation of wildlife and their habitat. Rangers specifically dedicate their working lives to the protection of Namibia’s threatened iconic species, spending an incredible amount of time in the field exposed to the harsh elements of a desert environment for data collection and anti-poaching efforts. As such, Rangers need to be equipped with field uniforms and gear, much of which must be replaced on an annual basis given the demands of the environment and the frequency of use. WT and our past travelers to Namibia were honored to sponsor the equipment and outfitting of the Rhino and Lion Rangers during this uncertain time. This gear includes boots, socks, trousers, shirts, hats, backpacks, headlamps, water bottles, jackets, bedrolls, tents, binoculars, and GPS devices.
June through September typically sees the most travelers to Namibia, and while we are happy to report that ranger salaries have been secured for another year, they will unfortunately not have funding for gear renewal until late 2021 at the earliest, which means some rangers will be wearing the same boots for two full years, covering 15 miles a day in them.
Wilderness Travel and our partners on the ground are organizing emergency financial relief to the amazing team of Namibian Rhino and Lion Rangers. So far, we have raised more than $5,000 for gear!
I met these rangers on a trip to Namibia. They are dedicated and definitely worthy of our support. They protect rhinos and are from local communities.
Roberta J. S
Egypt’s Guides & Boat Crew
Our local guides, drivers, Lazuli boat crew, and our two amazing Egyptologists, Ahmed Ali and Mohamed Ossama, rely heavily on the income they receive from assisting travelers in Egypt. The salary and tips they receive help them feed their families, send their children to school, pay for medical bills, and pay rent. Without tourism, they have no income and are receiving little to no financial support locally, and it isn’t clear when tourism will fully resume. We created an emergency relief fund for our hardworking staff, and thanks to our travelers, we raised more than $6,000 so far.
We are all so appreciative of our wonderful time with Ahmed and crew of the Lazuli and are praying for better days ahead for all of you who gave us memories and experiences we will always treasure.
Carol and Kurt L.
Tanzania’s Safari Guides and Staff
Tanzania’s stunning landscapes create the perfect backdrop for a transformative safari experience, and our dedicated guides and camp crew are the key to making our safaris here so special. June through September is typically the busiest safari season in this region, but COVID–19 has abruptly cut off their means of income this year.
WT and our local partner organized emergency relief food boxes for our amazing team of hardworking ground staff during these tough tims. These food boxes contain rice, maize corn, cooking oil, beans, tea, sugar, detergent, washing powder, and sanitary items. To date, our travelers raised more than $10,000 for this campaign!
Patagonia’s Bus Drivers and Guides
Our Patagonia journeys are some of our most popular trips, and for good reason. Our team works hard to make these adventures a reality and is extremely dedicated to sharing the best this unique realm has to offer. Many of the staff rely solely on the income from tourism, and with an uncertain future of when trips can resume in this part of the world, many are struggling financially. Wilderness Travel and past adventurers to this iconic region are raising funds for the drivers and guides.