Sustainable Tourism

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Tourism has a lot of positive influences on Africa. It supports the economy, it creates awareness and it helps to protect national parks and its wildlife. Without tourism the gorillas, the elephants and many other animal species would have been extinct. However; Tourism has negative influences as well. As a tour operator we have the responsibility to limit the negative influences on social/economic aspects, and environmental issues as much as possible. Matoke Tours hopes that generations of people can continue to enjoy the natural beauty of this wonderful continent. 


“Nature is not a place to visit. It is home.” ― Gary Snyder


What is sustainable tourism?

"Sustainable tourism is tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities" 

Conceptual definition

Sustainable tourism development guidelines and management practices are applicable to all forms of tourism in all types of destinations, including mass tourism and the various niche tourism segments. Sustainability principles refer to the environmental, economic, and socio-cultural aspects of tourism development, and a suitable balance must be established between these three dimensions to guarantee its long-term sustainability.



Thus, sustainable tourism should:

1) Make optimal use of environmental resources that constitute a key element in tourism development, maintaining essential ecological processes and helping to conserve natural heritage and biodiversity.

2) Respect the socio-cultural authenticity of host communities, conserve their built and living cultural heritage and traditional values, and contribute to inter-cultural understanding and tolerance.

3) Ensure viable, long-term economic operations, providing socio-economic benefits to all stakeholders that are fairly distributed, including stable employment and income-earning opportunities and social services to host communities, and contributing to poverty alleviation.

Source: World Tourism Organization

Matoke Tours & sustainability in Africa


Travelife certification

Matoke Tours has committed to sustainability management in line with Travelife standard and is actively working towards a Travelife Partner status.

Travelife is a leading training, management and certification initiative for tourism companies committed to reach sustainability. It supports tour operators and travel agencies in managing and improving social and environmental impacts by complying with sustainability criteria.

Sustainability management is all about commitment and consistent sustainable business practices: it includes products, environmental impacts are monitored and managed and how affiliated suppliers are supported on their road to sustainability.

Read more about Travelife here: 


TourCert Check” certificate

Matoke Tours received the “TourCert Check” certificate!
“TourCert Check” is a sustainability management training for tour operators and comprises a training on sustainable tourism, a corporate sustainability assessment and the implementation of CSR-measures.

The certificate reinforces Matoke Tours’ status as a sustainable and quality-oriented company. We assume our environmental and social responsibility by consciously managing our impacts on the ecosystem and society around us. 

Matoke Tours is the first Uganda based tour operator to receive the “TourCert Check” certificate!


Social responsibility to staff

Matoke Tours ensures viable, stable employment and social services to our staff. Our office staff gets besides a good salary a free health insurance for themselves and a discounted health insurance to their direct family. As well our staff receives a pension plan.

On top of that they receive regular trainings on general level like first aid, fire emergency training and health, but as well more specific trainings which are focused on their specific position in the company.

We send our staff regularly on familiarization trips to new lodges, new activities and new areas within Africa to get familiar with the products we offer.  


Every year we bring at least 1 employee to one of the tourism fairs in Europe. They get some additional holiday in Europe too to be able to explore Europe as bit as our clients do in Africa.  In this way they can get to know the culture and way of living of most of our clients. 

Matoke Tours has been offering internships to students from local schools focused on tourism. Some of them even get employed after they have finished their internship.


Matoke Tours unique Omutti project

Until the development of 100% eco-friendly engines, each flight you take unfortunately produces carbon dioxide (CO2) and contributes to climate change. As a facilitator, Matoke Tours is partly responsible for this. We therefore donate $5 us dollar for each person that books a tour with Matoke Tours to our own project: Omutti. You can as well choose to donate to this project yourself. 

Omutti means "Tree" in Luganda, which is the most common language in Uganda, where the project is based. 


Why is Omutti Unique?

1. There are more options to make your flight carbon-neutral. However, most of these options focus on planting new trees. When you plant new young trees after they have been logged it takes at least 20 years to grow. Matoke Tours Omutti project is instead adopting existing trees. By doing this we avoid trees being logged and wildlife disappearing. 

2. Matoke Tours could as well joining existing initiatives. We did decide not to do this because some of the money we collect will go to projects outside Africa. We wanted to plant trees in Africa, as we operate in Africa. 

3. Matoke Tours wanted 100% of the income to go to adopting trees and not to salaries, stationaries or other costs

4. Matoke Tours wants to be transparent and we can be this by inviting you to see the results of the project with your own eyes when booking a tour in Uganda with us. 


Matoke Tours Solar light project

Previous travelers with Matoke Tours often wanted to contribute in some way to the people they meet during their tour. Matoke Tours is often requested to give some advice. We came across a great initiative that we would like to promote; Barefoot Power developed a small light that works on solar; the Firefly. The goal is to provide affordable, clean and safe solar lighting and phone charging systems to the people of the bottom of the global economic pyramid.

You can order the Firefly(s) through Matoke Tours for only US$ 55 per fire fly. Please order the Firefly(s) on your bookingsform or by email. We will make sure your guide will give it to you on the first day of your tour.


The benefits of the firefly solar light: 

Income generating

  • Allows local businesses to extend working hours.
  • Promotes entrepreneurship and sustainable business through sales and distribution of the Firefly products.
  • Saves spending on kerosene and phone charging.


  • No emissions lead to environmental.
  • Benefits Renewable, free source of clean energy.

Education & Safety

  • No risk of house fires and the lights are cool to the touch, making them safe for children. Accidents related to fire are most common in Ugandan hospitals.
  • One light can impact up to 5 people in each house hold and encourages students to study in the evening.

Matoke Tours & sustainability in Uganda


Matoke Tours, voted sustainable leader Uganda

Matoke Tours is proud to be voted sustainable leader in Uganda. 

UCOTA (the Uganda Community Tourism Association) developed a set of sustainable tourism criteria based on the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria. The survey measures a business's performance on the three key elements of sustainability: management, social/economic benefits, and environmental considerations.

From the gathered statistics, Matoke Tours was voted among the 5 most sustainable tour operators in Uganda.

More info...



Karamajong Tribes/ Uganda red Cross

Tourism can be a good income generating business for many people in Uganda. Unfortunately some great places in Uganda are never or rarely visited and that is not only a pity for you, but also for many Ugandans who could make a living out of tourism.

Matoke Tours is innovative and takes its responsibility by bringing you to places where no one else will go. One of these examples is Karamoja; an area in North-Eastern Uganda where the Karamajong people live. They are related to the Maasai in Kenya and live and dress the same. The main difference is that not any other tourist is going here.

We visit a small town, Kotido, where we visit an authentic Karamajong Village. All of this is in cooperation with the Ugandan Red Cross, having a project there. All profits of this tour go to this project and contribute to the area. Local people have been trained to be a guide and others generate direct income from providing food, drinks and accommodation.

Your visit directly contributes to the village we visit.


Uganda Conservation Foundation

Matoke Tours is member and active supporter of the Uganda Conservation Foundation.

Uganda is rebuilding fast following decades of political upheaval. The wildlife and wild places are slowly recovering but the pressure on natural resources, in a country with the world’s third highest human population growth rate, is immense. Achieving the balance – between human development and wildlife and habitat conservation – is critical. This is precisely the aim of the Uganda Conservation Foundation.

UCF was set up to help previously war-stricken, heavily poached, high biodiversity regions in Uganda and Central Africa. Working with the Uganda Wildlife Authority, UCF seeks to sensitize communities and demonstrate through practical projects how financial benefits can be gained from conservation. Read More....


Visit our own village project and meet the people

This is one of our direct initiatives (in co-operation with a Dutch Tour Operator called Sawadee), which is based in the small village of Namwendwa, in Kamuli District (Eastern Uganda). If you'd like an authentic Ugandan experience, we strongly recommend that you join one of our hiking and cycling tours through the village. During your visit, you will learn how to cook the local food (such as Matoke), brew your own Ugandan Gin (Waragi), and of course meet the local people and experience how they live day-to-day. You can choose either to stay at a local homestead or camp on the farmer's land. Our trained guides (resident villagers) will accompany you and introduce you to the members of the community. All proceeds from the trip (approximately $30 per person) will go towards supporting the community's milk production. This is a great opportunity to mix with local people and experience the true flavour of Uganda!


Bulungi Foundation

The Bulungi Foundation is based in Jinja. It is focusing on (mainly) children who are mentally and/or physically disabled.

In Africa a disabled child is often seen as a punishment from God and they are often killed or hidden deep in the village. There are no special schools, no funding, no tools to make their lives easier and they live often isolated lives.

The Bulungi Foundation is trying to do everything in their power to get them out, bring them to school and give them their lives back. A truly wonderful project that Matoke tours loves to support.

When you travel with Matoke Tours to Jinja or Kampala you can visit one of their baby homes. Children will be extremely happy to meet you and it is a wonderful experience for both you and the children.

You might consider leaving a little contribution at the foundation.


Developing Tourism Economy in the North

Northern Uganda has been off the tourism map for over 20 years, due to the armed conflict between rebels and the government. 

Now that the region has been stabilised, Matoke Tours and the Fondazione 4 Africa programme (F4A) from the Italian NGO AVSI are working together to develop tourism activities in Northern Uganda. 

The programme has already begun educating and training people from the north to generate income from tourism. The north of Uganda has excellent potential to attract hikers. Several beautiful mountain areas are completely undiscovered and once paths are created and guides are trained as part of this effort, the area will be ready to welcome enthusiastic tourists from around the world. Programs that showcase the unique cultures of the area can also be developed.

In addition to developing the tourism destinations in northern Uganda, the goal also includes developing capacities of local people and diversifying their income base.

At the moment, Matoke Tours and F4A/AVSI are working on three programs in and around the towns of Gulu (art), Pader (shea butter project), and Kalongo (hiking).

Click here for a video of the project in Gulu. 

Community projects AVSI

AVSI Foundation is an international not-for-profit, non-governmental organization (NGO) founded in Italy in 1972. Its mission is to support human development in disadvantaged countries. Every person and every community represents a resource, regardless of their vulnerability and AVSI’s mission is to help people in becoming aware of their own value and dignity.

AVSI has been working in Northern Uganda since 1984 implementing development programs in the areas of education, health, livelihood and agriculture.

In Pader AVSI is supporting in partnership with COOPI, the Pader Shea Nut and Agri Porcessors Cooperative Society, a group of 240 collectors and processors of shea nuts into shea butter. Shea provides an important additional source of income for the farmers in Northern Uganda, especially for women that do not own land, moreover the promotion of shea products has an important environmental sustainability implication as it prevents from cutting the trees. Thanks to the promotion of tourism in Pader through Matoke Tours AVSI will support the cooperative in introducing value addition through simple activities like proper post-harvest handling or better processing into butter, soap or other products in order to increase its competitiveness and potential to earn income.

In Kalongo AVSI has been supporting for the past 20 years Dr. Ambrosoli Memorial Hospital which is a private not-for-profit health institution with a mandate to deliver health services with special preference to the poor and most vulnerable and disadvantaged, and the secondary school St Charles Lwanga with the promotion of photography, media and agriculture education activities. AVSI intends to use the proceedings coming from the Matoke Tours travelers to support the education of the youth in Kalongo in Secondary and Vocational education.

In Gulu AVSI works with the Cooperative Wawoto Kacel. Wawoto Kacel means "walking together" in local language and it is a unique experience of art and craft cooperative that provides for its 130 members (most of them vulnerable, HIV positive and disabled) a place to earn an income through a fair work, to express creativity, to find a positive social interaction and especially to build up a world of dignity for them and their families. Matoke Tours offers exiting workshops to travelers, whereby they can learn how to make traditional African jewlery or postcards from banana leaves. The income generated throught this workshops will help the cooperative to increase its production while providing social security to its members.’

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