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Slum Tourism - An Introduction To This New Phenomenon


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Slum tourism is a phenomenon that began in Kenya by a Dutch tour operator that thought it would be a good idea for people to see what life is like in one of Kenya's poorest slums, Kiberia. The idea behind the tour is so people can understand more about the country and the people that live here rather than just travelling on a safari for two weeks, perhaps making a short trip to the beach for a couple of days before heading home without seeing what else happens in the country. Tourists pay an extra £20 to be taken around Kiberia, Africa's largest slum by a guide who lives within the community to get a first hand impression of the way some people are forced to live in Kenya. The tour usually consists of viewing inside a few of the tin shacks as well as visiting an orphanage in the area to see the work that is being done to help save some of the children and babies who have lost their parents to HIV/AIDS.

All of the money is said to go back into Kiberia so the people can benefit rather than just be exploited.

As you can imagine this type of tourism has not come without it's criticism. Many groups feel tourists are treating this experience almost as a zoo whereby they only look from the outside and take pictures of people in abject poverty only to leave with a souvenir if you will.

Although the concept seems a little strange and as a tourist you may feel rather awkward walking into an environment like that with your camera, many people living in the slums may take offence to what your doing but others will welcome tourists as long as they are receiving some financial gain from it.

The idea is that the people who take these tours only do so for the best part of a day before they head off on their journeys for their safari tours which are usually in Kenya but can also be over the border in Tanzania at destinations including the Ngorongoro Crater which is a large volcanic caldera, the Tarangire National Park and the Selous Game Reserve which is one of the largest faunal reserves in the world.


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