Wycliffe Sande is the founder of ethical and responsible tourism company Sandfield Travel, which specialises in tailor-made safari holidays that make a lasting positive difference to communities in Africa. Wycliffe was literally born at the side of a road in Uganda, orphaned at 13 and nearly died of malaria himself, so the responsible travel philosophy of his company couldn’t be any closer to his heart.
The best group trip you have ever been on:
I have been lucky enough to go on some amazing group trips over the years which makes this question a difficult one to answer. Since I can only choose one, it has to be a trip to Uganda last year – I was leading a team of volunteers to work on a community medical clinic. I met really amazing people and learnt a lot. We went to places which you wouldn’t normally find on a tourist’s Uganda itinerary. We visited fishing villages, one of the biggest pineapple farms in the area, coffee farms and banana farms. The bananas are a local type called matooke, which are eaten cooked – it’s almost unique to Uganda and very typical – it’s the staple food here in central Uganda. While work on building the clinic was ongoing, the medical volunteers on our team went to see patients using our van as a makeshift clinic. Many people came to be seen – on one particular day, about 90 people were given medical advice or treatment. Although I knew there was a lack of medical assistance in the villages in Uganda, I was really overwhelmed by the sheer need and I became even more determined to do whatever we can to complete the facility. This trip was my best by far, not due to the amazing wildlife or tourist sights, but due to visiting and learning more about the places and things that wouldn’t usually be on a sightseeing itinerary, and also meeting and exchanging ideas with new friends.
And the worst?
I can actually say I have never been on any trip that was bad. I’ve been blessed in this way so far, but I am very mindful of how trips can turn nasty. I always try to take caution in my trip planning.
What’s your favourite UK destination for a group day out?
It has to be a day trip to London, because there is just so much to see and do. You hear so many different languages that you can even feel like you’re not in London at all; that’s how diverse it is. Amazing places for food. Visit Camden market stalls, cruise on the Thames or just take a walk round the famous places and buildings.
What makes a good group trip?
For me, it’s great organisation and advance preparation, and asking all the relevant questions beforehand. The best group trips are interesting and a great way of learning about different people and their way of doing things – but also learning about yourself. There is something special about small group travel that makes the whole experience different, but you do need a very experienced guide who has an intimate knowledge of local areas. I think small group trips work so well because the experience of having been somewhere special is shared.
What do you always pack?
I know it’s obvious, but for me it’s passport or ID first, then my camera. Depending on the environment and climate I am going to, clothes are then packed accordingly; a couple of pairs of jeans, easy-to-wash t-shirts. My laptop goes in too. I do travel light so that I can enjoy the experience with ease, without lots of clutter and advanced gadgets. I try to ask questions about the areas I am visiting, but as a rule of thumb, any expensive jewellery is left at home regardless of whether I am visiting Paris, Nairobi or Kenya on a safari.
And what do you leave out?
My special watch or jewellery that means a lot to me and cannot be replaced. That goes for anything else that has a lot of sentimental value to me. This would be my advice for everyone.
What was your favourite trip last year?
My Uganda trip, because it was so special, and because I met and made friends with some amazing people.
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