A realm of wonder that captures the hearts and imaginations of many around the globe, Africa is a prime destination for experiential and transformative tourism. Indeed, there are natural vistas, cultural sites, and local experiences there that cannot be had anywhere else and such is the specialty of Augustine Tours, founded by Augustin Ndikuriyo.
Offering African Wildlife Safari Tours in East Africa, Augustin’s company pursues a unique partnership between local destinations, the company, and tourists themselves, contributing to a self-sustaining, mutually beneficial cycle that pioneers a new way for international tourism in the modern age.
In this spirit, Augustine Tours also seeks to offer an edifying and educational experience for travelers, going beyond safaris and seeking deeper connections with the land surrounding the tourists.
Reminding us that tourism is about people wherever we might go, Augustin Ndikuriyo explains that the company’s tours are tailor-made and bespoke, speaking to the needs of individual groups in a specialized way but with all tours tied together by certain universal themes and expectations.
One signature Augustine Tours experience, the 13-day-long Gorilla Trek through Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi, gives guests an overview of the region’s wildlife and people. Touching on each country individually and offered all year long, the Gorilla Trek is guaranteed to make a lasting impression on guests and goes beyond the simple safari.
Looking beyond business, Augustin Ndikuriyo discusses some of the challenges he faced getting things started and the importance of having a solid team during the global COVID-19 pandemic. Looking towards the future, Augustin outlines plans to explore marketing and bringing the reality of Africa and the possibilities there to a global audience. We then conclude our discussion with a look at Augustin’s day, what motivates him, what scares him, and one thing about himself that others might not know.
Augustin, you are the founder of Augustine Tours in East Africa. Tell us about the tour company and the exciting adventures tourists experience.
Augustine Tours is a tour company specializing in African Wildlife Safari and cultural tour experiences. Our primary focus is to provide experiences that benefit visitors and the local communities. This is a win-win situation as the visitors get first-hand travel experiences and the local employment benefit from the dollar spent by tourists.
How does Augustine Tours promote education and cultural experiences for visitors?
That is a good question. Tourism goes beyond seeing the wildlife and taking shots of beautiful sceneries and beaches. At Augustine Tours, we strongly believe that tourism is a great channel for both educational and cultural exchange.
If you are passionate about wildlife, you will learn conservation, how wildlife species depend on their habitat, and which role humans need to play to protect those at risk, for instance, the mountain Gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda.
Secondly, tourism is about people and by people. Our cultural experiences bring together people from different backgrounds, cultures, and traditions. Visitors have an opportunity to interact with the local communities and understand the culture and traditions of the destinations they visit.
Our tailor-made tours are therefore designed to answer those travel needs and interests. We carefully listen to what our client needs and design a doable itinerary utilizing our local expertise. In our 13 years of experience, we have seen people returning home with “fantastic memories and very positive impressions.” about the countries they visited.
The 13-day Gorilla Trek is one of the most unique and popular adventures available. Tell us about the excursion.
The 13-day overland tour to Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi offers an experience beyond the Gorilla trek. It is a mix of wildlife, culture, and nature where visitors will explore the unique finest scenery and cultural riches of the three countries. Gorilla trekking in Uganda’s Bwindi National Park is the signature of this tour. The tour can run at any time of year.
Who are the typical tourists who sign up for an Augustine Tours experience?
Our typical clients are tourists who are looking for first-hand experience with wildlife and cultural aspects around East Africa. They come from different countries and educational backgrounds. Our main clientele comes from USA and Europe.
Seeing the area’s animals is not the only activity on tap during a tour. What are some of the other sites and sounds visitors experience?
East Africa tour activities are not limited to wildlife safaris. In fact, that is why we promote tailor-made tours to make sure we don’t book our clients into pre-packaged itineraries which don’t necessarily resonate with their needs. In tourism, a “one-size-fits-all” approach doesn’t work. There are other interesting activities like agricultural tourism, culinary tours, etc… Our team is well-positioned to marry our client’s travel needs and the local reality.
How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect the tour business?
As you already know, the travel industry was one of the most hard-hit sectors during the pandemic. Thank God, my family and colleagues were kept safe. We had to take a break from our daily operations which was indeed an unfortunate situation for us.
The good news is that our team is back to work. Borders are open, no more covid-19 tests or quarantine. Our overland tours are back to normal times. Tourists are visiting East Africa.
Africa is rich in wildlife and culture. How interested are the non-African tourists to learn about the region?
Interesting question. From my experience, I haven’t met a single tourist who only needs a wildlife safari. You just remind me of one couple from the UK that spent 3 weeks in Rwanda and Burundi. From their 21-day day, they only had 4 days of wildlife experience, Gorilla trekking, and chimpanzee tracking in Rwanda. The rest of the days were spent exploring and learning the culture, traditions, agriculture, and local community projects. When before flying home, I received a beautiful email from them:
” Augustin, we are waiting for our flight to Doha and leave Rwanda with fantastic memories and very positive impressions.
Thank you for everything your team has done to make our visit memorable, safe, and satisfying. Thanks for the visit to the museum of the campaign against genocide today. „
What were some of the challenges you experienced in the early stages of Augustine Tours?
I remember in 2010, after leaving my job as a hotel receptionist, I had an idea of building a tour business, but it wasn’t that easy as I had no digital marketing skills or enough capital to pay an expert. With my savings of $1500, an old DELL Laptop bought from a US Marine who stayed at the hotel where I worked, I decided to follow my passion. Through determination, I did extensive training in online marketing and web development.
How do you measure success as a CEO?
Because, I am also a digital marketing expert, setting SMART goals is my guideline. Setting and communicating the company strategy and vision and building the culture of Augustine Tours is my main task. Over a given period, this helps me assess the success of the company projects on the financial or brand awareness level.
What is the future of Augustine Tours?
Augustine Tours is and will always be committed to being a long-standing bridge for those who want to see and explore the Unexplored Beauty of Africa.
On the other side, in 2024, I intend to start a marketing company that will provide digital marketing solutions to tourism companies.
Augustin, how is a day in your life?
My morning starts with a prayer and bonding time with my daughter before she heads to the daycare center.
At 9 am, I check emails and follow up on ongoing or completed tours and later I carry on working on projects until 4 pm.
Dividing my workday into segments enables me to have an organized plan which allows me to assess my productivity on business and family aspects.
The evening is a time for my wife and daughter to share a family meal, jokes, and funny stories, or an evening short walk when the weather allows it.
What is something most people don’t know about you?
I am not scared of the less-traveled road. Being different isn’t an issue if it makes a positive difference.
What makes you smile?
This is the tough one. There are a ton of things making me smile. An honest smile makes me smile and of course when I see people acting well with each other.
What scares you?
I am scared of people who always follow trends.
If you had the power to change just one thing in the world, what would it be?
I would remove prejudice and lack of empathy.
To know more about Augustin Ndikuriyo and Augustine Tours please visit https://augustinetours.com/