When we set up Ayana Journeys, one of the key goals we set for ourselves was to support the array of inspiring grass-root projects we love, bringing them together to create awesome experiences for travellers around the world. Often we feel tourism companies reinvent the wheel and begin their own community-based experiences, just so they can call it their own. In fact, there are already loads of amazing things to discover that are being implemented by community members, sometimes with the support of international organisations or advisors and sometimes independently. We think it is more responsible to support these kind of experiences, rather than boosting our own ego!

Inspirational community-based ecotourism in Mondulkiri
Recently, we’ve begun supporting an ecotourism initiative in Mondulkiri. So far, we’ve sent three groups to this hidden oasis nestled in the Seima Protected Forest, and are proud to have been able to connect these intrepid travellers to a pioneering project still in its infancy. The newly set up camp has been founded by wildlife experts in partnership with community members, with the main

Credit: K.Hobson

Credit: K.Hobson

objective  of conserve faunal communities, with a focus on those listed as globally threatened. The site is incredibly significant as it is home to more than 38 of the species on the ‘red list’ and is in fact the world’s most significant site for some of these species! What is more, this biodiversity hotspot is also home to the Bunong people, one of Mondulkiri’s indigenous communities. The Bunong people have complex cultural ties to land and forest, hold animist beliefs, and practice unique cultural traditions. This makes this beautiful location fascinating for both cultural and natural learning opportunities.

Sadly, the area has suffered environmental degradation in recent years. The model now adopted here is to engage community members with conservation through responsible nature-based tourism activities, whilst also protecting local livelihoods. Local guides are now showcasing their exceptional primate diversity with nature-loving guests from across the globe. To help maintain engagement from community members, tourists pay extra when they see rare black-shanked doucs or yellow-cheeked crested gibbons, which encourages both guides and local community members to see the direct link between economic benefit and conservation of the forest.

“Observing the local guides intimate connection with the forest was incredible and allowed us to truly understand the extreme importance of conservation in this area.  The overall mission is to encourage the Bunong people to effectively manage and run the ecotourism project alone. This is such an important element to sustainable development and it was so refreshing and exciting to see that it was implemented here on the ground in Cambodia”
– 
(Ayana Journeys guest, April 2015)

Credit: R.Martin

Credit: R.Martin

For our wonderful travellers…
This is just one example of the many community driven initiatives Ayana Journeys supports through our tours. If forest trekking and glamping among nature in Mondulkiri isn’t for you, we’ve also partnered with homestay programs that focus on cultural tourism and locally run cottage industries which might appeal more instead. Cambodia is rich in these pockets of inspiration, and we can’t wait to share them with you. We’re in the process of setting up day experiences based on this philosophy of connecting amazing initiatives, but can also offer longer adventures across the country connecting a huge range of small-scale ethical tourism projects. Request a Handcrafted Journeys itinerary, and we’ll create a special experience rich in these meaningful connections.

For community-based tourism entrepreneurs
As passionate responsible travellers and tourism professionals, Ayana Journeys team has already established partnerships with emerging community-based initiatives and will be supporting capacity building and on-going support to enable projects to become (more) self-sufficient and successful. If you are reading this and involved with a new tourism program designed to protect cultural heritage or enhance wildlife conservation, through community engagement and responsible tourism – we would love to hear from you. Get in touch!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This