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Bild: Vivien Riener

More than “seeing the world” – ecotourism in East Africa

by Vivien Riener

Angaza Ecoventures is a small tour operator based in Western Kenya that organizes and operates individualized tours in Kenya and other parts of East Africa. The unique selling point of Angaza is its sustainable and social orientation: Managing director and activist Evarastus Obura pursues the goal of promoting biodiversity and the preservation of livelihoods in the regions he visits. Thus, the unforgettable experiences on a trip with Angaza are at the same time a benefit for local communities and ecosystems.

Image: Vivien Riener

When I came to Kenya for the first time in 2010, I had little more idea of Africa than the stereotypical images that “The Lion King” on the one hand and the posters of various aid organizations on the other hand had conveyed to me. As a recent high school graduate, I wanted to “see the world” and when an old school friend invited me to visit him in Kisumu on Lake Victoria during his year abroad with a volunteer service, I sensed the opportunity for an adventure – cut into digestible morsels. As it turned out, the right track. And at the same time much more than I could have imagined. Thanks to Evarastus.

Image: Vivien Riener

When Evarastus takes visitors like me to the shores of Lake Victoria to observe hammerhead birds and kingfisher species, he has a lot to tell and the enthusiasm shines from his eyes. As a teenager, Evarastus saw the reed belt and swampy zones around the lake shrink. Sediments washed in from the higher altitudes caused the peripheral zones to silt up – a consequence of unsustainable agriculture.

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Another problem was introduced plant species such as the water hyacinth, which spread rapidly and disrupted and greatly altered the original ecosystem network. The habitat of diverse plant and animal species was about to disappear. But as an enthusiastic amateur ornithologist and with a great appreciation for the natural abundance of his homeland, Evarastus decided to become active. Together with five classmates, he started an action group for the care of the sensitive biotopes; a high-profile commitment that ultimately resulted in the protected status of the areas as Important Bird Area (IBA). As it turned out later, this was the cornerstone of Evarastu’s career as a social entrepreneur with an ecological mission.

Image: Vivien Riener

The success of his first nature conservation project was followed by many more years of commitment, during which he founded and implemented various eco-social projects in cooperation with organizations such as Birdlife International, Nature Kenya, even the UN or NABU Germany . Among other things, one of his projects was also a place of assignment for volunteers from Germany, who were taught ecological basics here – like my old school friend, through whom I came to Kenya for the first time.

Today, Evarastus is the director of Aganza Ecoventures, a social-ecological tourism company that aims to offer guests a unique and authentic travel experience by meeting criteria of sustainability and social sustainability. Evarastus

Image: Vivien Riener

Experience and passion for the environment and the strengthening of local communities can be experienced up close when you are on tour with him through Kenya or other parts of East Africa: whether cycling through Hell’s Gate National Park, hiking in the rarely visited Kajulu Hills, cooking together in Amboseli National Park or in unique accommodations with wild hippos in the back garden: Evarastus knows what he is doing and, above all, why. His life’s work is to support nature and people in his home country through his company.

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Latest project of Evarastus is a program to promote global citizenship, also known as Global

Contact: Angaza Ecoventures www.angazaecoventures.com

Email: samwanadre@gmail.com

Kenya Assemblies of God, at Imani Café Building Ring Road P.O. Box 9362-40141 Kisumu Evarastus Obura Email: evarastus@yahoo.com Tel & WhatsApp: +254 723 412 576

Citizenship. It is primarily intended to promote exchange between young people in Kenya and other places in the world in order to demystify misconceptions and stereotypes about cultures, lifestyles and perceptions. Evarastus was inspired by his own experiences on international educational trips and clichéd ideas of the “West” in his own country – and in dealing with naïve visitors like me.

Through my journey with Evarastus, I learned that in a country like Kenya, which as part of the Global South is structurally disadvantaged by global trade and power politics, there is a need for doers like him. When people like me from the Global North use our capital and powerful passports to “see the world,” it matters who shows it to us so that we can come home with a richer and more complex picture. At least richer and more complex than cartoons and billboards can convey to us.