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Responsible tourism: Zambia safari in Luangwa with Victoria Falls
The company that owns the camps takes pro-active steps to ensure the properties and tourism activities are run in an environmentally responsible manner. This is important in protecting the fragile ecosystems in which they operate and that wildlife and local people rely upon for their survival.
Green Technology Over time they are introducing the latest green technologies into all of the properties. This includes solar energy systems for providing power, solar water heaters for guest showers and the use of green design construction principles including living grass roofs, natural air cooling and the use of non-fired bricks.
The benefits are clear - the outlet of CO2 to the ozone layer is significantly reduced, along with the use of firewood and the resulting contribution to deforestation.
Water Conservation The conservation of water is of critical importance in the environments they operate, where many local people do not have ready access to safe, clean drinking water and droughts are commonplace. They conserve water through regular maintenance to reduce leakages, fitting flow restrictors on shower heads and taps where possible, watering our gardens and grass roofs at cooler times of the day, planting only drought resistant native plants where landscaping is necessary, and implementing a guest towel re-use and water conservation programme.
Waste Water Treatment All waste water from the kitchens, guest bedrooms and staff houses is run into a sewage systems and biologically treated as it runs through natural sand filters. The water outlets are tested regularly. In this way they can be sure that they are not introducing harmful toxins into the protected environments in which they operate.
Waste Management All of the waste produced is recycled, re-used or disposed of responsibly. In order to reduce waste, they avoid the purchase of glass bottled and tin canned goods where possible and offer our guests refillable steel water bottles in place of plastic water bottles.
They use recycled paper in offices and in brochure production, and recycle waste paper and cardboard through local community paper-making. This has the added benefit of providing livelihood streams for our neighbouring communities.
Any non-degradable waste is separated and burnt or transported to Lusaka and Lilongwe for responsible disposal. All of our rubbish pits are covered to prevent littering of the environment and to protect wildlife.
The lodge owner has, for over 20 years, been committed to ensuring that neighbouring local communities benefit from their presence through grass roots sustainable community development initiatives. They understand the interdependence between local communities and the wildlife and natural resources that tourism depends upon. As they operate in rural areas that lack other development opportunities, they understand that they are in a great position to impact positively on local people's lives. Their commitment to poverty reduction interventions has been recognised through the winning of international responsible tourism awards.
Healthcare The lodge owners founded the Luangwa Safari Association Medical Fund, which contributes to the upkeep of the government’s rural Kakumbi Health Centre; which borders the South Luangwa National Park and provides healthcare for more than 20 000 residents. Through the medical fund they provide a volunteer international doctor at the clinic, along with medical supplies and medicines through client donations. They also support Chikowa home-based HIV project, an outreach project run by the community to support and help people living with HIV.
Education The lodge owners believe that investing in education provision in the local community is one of the best contributions they can make to neighbours. Education is key to ending the cycle of poverty in rural African communities. The Kawaza School Fund has become one of the biggest success stories in the Luangwa Valley, and has inspired both guests and other safari operators in the area to work together to change lives through improved education provision. It has not only improved the standards of school buildings in the area, but also access to educational materials. This fund, amongst other things, has enabled children to benefit from smaller class sizes and more classroom time with qualified teachers.
Towards the end of 2009 a former Director set up a pioneering local charity in the Luangwa Valley called Project Luangwa, which brought together safari operators in the area to ensure that tourism benefits neighbouring communities fully through the delivery of education and business development programmes financed by the lodges and their guests. The Kawaza School Fund is now administered through Project Luangwa and today creates an innovative, effective and coordinated approach to community benefit from tourism.
Trade Not Aid They purchase as many locally available supplies as possible to stimulate local trade. In Zambia 80% of vegetables are purchased from local farmers. In this way they secure the freshest ingredients for their guests and at the same time support local enterprises and producers. They also contract local craftsmen for new buildings and in the refurbishment of our existing properties and support local artisans by selling their wares in the gift shops and for furnishing the properties.
With active support community members from Kawaza Village set up and manage the first authentic cultural village tourism enterprise in Zambia. Thye encourage trade with Kawaza Village and are the main supplier of guests, marketing them internationally through the website and tour operator partners and acting as their Booking Agent.This community enterprise now provides employment for 10 village members, financially supports orphans and elderly people in the community and provides their local primary school with textbooks and learning aids. Kawaza Village Tourism Project was the winner of the prestigious Silver Otter Award, given for the Best Overseas Tourism Project by the British Guild of Travel Writers, and is a role model for other community-owned and managed cultural tourism enterprises in Africa.
Cultural Sensitivity They have in partnership with the local community developed a Responsible Code of Visitor Behaviour that is shared with guests before they go into the community for village visits so as to protect traditional cultures and minimize the impacts of tourism on living culture. They also provide guests with an Insider's Guide to Responsible Safaris which includes important cultural aspects.
Pack for a Purpose Robin Pope Safaris has partnered with Pack for a Purpose to enable our guests to help make a difference to the lives of children living in Zambia and Malawi. By using spare space in their luggage they are able to pack school, medical and sports supplies from home for use in our neighbouring communities.
Reviews of Zambia safari in Luangwa with Victoria Falls
You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the vacations.
I am reborn! Simply the best vacation I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
It was OK
A bit disappointing really
Reviewed on 08 Jun 2016 by Louise Race
1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?
A bit of background: we contacted the vacation provider about a Tanzania vacation and then, as we emailed back and forth, we came up with a cunning plan to go to Zambia (our daughter and son-in-law had recommended it as a less-touristy country in Africa), first to Nkwali in S Luangwa National Park, and then to Tongabezi near Livingstone. Memorable moments: The first was seeing leopards in S Luangwa National Park -- I'd seen one before, lolling in a tree. My OH had seen none. It was our wish to see them and Jacob, our guide, was expert enough to make it happen. Unlike in Kenya (which we had also loved at the time) the animals were dispersed - it being green season - but Jacob spotted leopard spore, tracked the prints, was alert to a herd of impala and their 'body language' and told us where he thought the leopard was. And immediately I saw this brutal sleek shadow in a thicket. 'It's there!' We followed a beautiful two-year-old female leopard and saw her up close. Jacob also interrupted bush breakfast because he was hearing alarm calls and we set off to encounter another on the move. Later in the trip, at Tongabezi, we caught the lunar rainbow at Victoria Falls - a gossamer light display set against thundering power - and the next day went back to see the solar rainbow, walk the falls and took the helicopter flight. I never knew water could make you laugh and cry at the same time but the falls do. Having said all this, the magic of Africa is that even without all this, I would have loved the trip. Who could know in advance that a flight of yellow-billed storks in formation against a blue, blue sky would hold you still? That a giant grasshopper leaping from the long grass into my hair - truly- would shake you with laughter?
2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?
One: if you go in May, when the water is thundering, you don't - contrary to internet advice - need to buy double entry visas to Zambia. I imagine you need to do this later in the year, during dry season, but not when the Zambezi is at its mightiest and we could have saved some money if we'd known this. The helicopter ride was well worth it. We went with the operator Tongabezi fixed up and there were just two of us to the chopper, so again, all the internet horror stories about one person wedged in the middle being unable to see, did not happen. Apparently, some people book their activities separately before they arrive at Tongabezi. I can't imagine why. Tongabezi's staff know what's a rip-off and what's not and we were very happy we trusted them. If it cost a bit more (I don't know if it did) we did not mind as we'd gone all that way and spent all that money and were not going to penny-pinch and compromise the experience at the end.
3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?
Yes. the local safari company, who run Nkwali, started an excellent scheme helping local women and particularly teenaged girls -- we called at the Project and bought loads of stuff from them. You can also sponsor reusable (washable) sanitary towel sets. Sounds crazy but they discovered girls were dropping out of education because they were missing two months of the educational year because culturally and practically their menstrual cycle was a matter of secrecy. At Tongabezi, my OH visited the school they set up/sponsor and is now sending them art supplies. Fabulous place. All the staff we met at both centres took huge pride in their jobs.
4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?
The best we've ever had. We want to repeat it in the dry season, probably in two years' time.