Footsteps Eco-Lodge, Gunjur, The Gambia

Footsteps Eco-Lodge specialises in sustainable holidays, offering our guests a relaxing experience without damaging the environment, local communities, their heritage or customs.  Footsteps is a traditional African village, with 9 large huts and 2 cabins, all with ensuite bathrooms.  When we set up Footsteps ten years ago, we followed the illuminating advice of a friend who suggested that when setting up a business in West Africa, good intentions would not be enough.  A successful business would have to demonstrate it is “Good, Honest and True”, words which we have since incorporated into our mission and ethos, so that visiting guests leave nothing but their footsteps behind.

How Travelife helped us

When the Footsteps family celebrates its 10th Birthday in January 2013, we believe we have proved that Being Green really works for everyone.  By working alongside companies such as Cosmos we continue to become more sustainable and we have found our Travelife Gold award really rubber-stamps us, both as a sustainable business but more importantly as one who invests time and resources into community projects that make a real difference to local people’s lives.  We are proud to display our Travelife Gold award on our website, in our property and our marketing literature, to show our ongoing commitment to sustainability, both to Cosmos and our customers too.

How we have improved water efficiency

Our pool is unique because it is completely natural, using no chlorine, bleach or salt.  The water is filtered purely through reed beds and Senegalese black stone which is incredibly hard.  The pool water is pumped down from a reed bed filter using energy generated by solar panels, travelling approximately 3 metres to the bottom of the black stone.  The water rises up, falling over a weir into the bathing part of the pool.  The result is clean and pure but recycled pool water that has virtually no negative impacts on the natural environment.

How we generate our own energy

At Footsteps, we use both solar panels and wind turbines to generate clean power for the property.  This provides enough energy to run Footsteps kitchen fridges and freezers as well as supplying light to the guest rooms and power to recharge our guests’ appliances, including cameras, laptops, phones and iPods.
How we reduce waste

At the Footsteps Eco-Lodge, we try to waste nothing, even using empty fruit juice cartons as growing containers for herbs.    We also use Twin Chamber Vietnamese Composting toilets which use no water.  This system is remarkably hygienic and does not smell, creating great fertilizer for the flowers, and transforming waste into a valuable resource for our garden.

How we support local businesses

We support our local village through sustainable employment and purchase of food crops.  We also encourage our guests to really get to know the local people, while respecting their beliefs and customs.  For example, we encourage guests to visit the busy, bustling Serekunda Market or to visit the drum factory and see the local craftsmen making these instruments.  This activity has often resulted in the expansion of other local business such as taxis, excursion providers and environmental projects.

How we support local charities or community groups

Our local villages welcome our guests with open arms, inviting them to experience everyday life, including 3 stone cooking, thatch making and fish smoking.  Guests can even help with the pounding of the cassava leaf to make plassas (a traditional Gambian dish).

Gambian schools are in need of assistance and welcome guests to sit in with lessons and even join in with them. We encourage our guests to bring pens, pencils and any school supplies with them, before they come away on holiday, which are all gratefully received.

And what our guests think

Our guest feedback speaks for itself: “We loved our week with you and admire what you are trying to achieve and what you have already achieved. The chats we had with you were all so interesting: it is always fascinating to learn about other people's lives and their life choices.  The variety of experiences and the choices you offered was overwhelming.”

To find out more

This is just a snapshot of the Footsteps Eco-Lodge’s actions on sustainability and how we achieved our Travelife Gold award.  Find out more http://www.greentravelguides.tv/videos/the_gambia_footsteps