Responsible travel: Safari adventure vacation, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique
In the Luangwa Valley we stay at Wildlife Camp who donate 60% of their revenues to the Wildlife and Environmental Society of Zambia. The lodge is dedicated to the protection of the environment in the area, and the sustainable utilisation of this precious resource. All local communities are included in the running of South Luangwa National Park, so that they see the benefit of wildlife in a substantive way providing employment and the access to opportunities of creating wealth cuts down on the possibility of poaching in the park and in the long term the conservation of wildlife in the area.
Wildlife interaction: In all wilderness areas (Lower Zambezi, South Luangwa & Kruger National Park) we educate our clients of the proper way to behave when we near wild animals. While some of the instructions might seem like common sense, in the excitement of the moment they are often forgotten. Keep still in the vehicles or when on foot, keep quiet, no sudden movements, and most of all never create a situation where the animal feels threatened. We gauge how close we can get to the animal by how they react to the group's presence. In many instances, the best option is to keep still, and quite and very often the animal will approach the vehicle or group to satisfy their own curiosity.
Scuba Diving: On this tour tour, we have 3 chances along the way to enjoy scuba diving and snorkeling. Lake Malawi, Vilanculos & Inhambane. While most people who scuba dive have a healthy respect for the under-water environment, the tour leaders and local dive masters always remind divers not to touch any of the coral as it can cause irreparable damage, not to take anything from the ocean, and not to interfere with the aquatic life. We also follow a strict policy of not allowing anyone to dive who does not have the correct qualifications, and proof thereof to dive. Snorkelers are given the same instructions of how to behave with the aquatic life.
Low Impact tourism:
- Maximum group size of 12 clients & minimum of 4 clients, means that at all destinations visited, we do not over run the place that large groups can. Smaller groups create an intimate safari experience, and means that when we interact with local cultures and stay in environmentally sensitive areas, we do not leave a large footprint.
- Camping safaris mean that the environmental impact of your visit are kept to a bare minimum. We stay in designated campsites, and we leave each campsite in the same pristine condition when we leave. Camping safaris leave a very small footprint.
- Cooking on gas when feasible so that we dont have to burn firewood which depletes limited resources (particularly in desert environments Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Nxai Pan National Park & Makgadikgadi Pans National Park).
- Requesting clients to purchase small wooden carvings curio instead of large pieces, again to conserve the forests around the carving markets.
- Ensuring that we take all of our rubbish out of wilderness areas and use proper waste disposal facilities on all tours (and in the workshop). Bottled Water: We encourage clients to drink the local clean drinkable tap water wherever possible in order to minimize the amount of plastic bottle waste produced by the purchase of bottled drinking water.
Local guides: We use local guides on several occasions on this safari. Our canoe safari on the Zambezi River is guided by local guides who live in the area. They have intimate knowledge of the river, it's wildlife and the area. Most of them were born in the area, and have used the river for fishing for most of their lives. In South Luangwa our guides who take us on game drives and game walks all come from the community that live in the area that surround this national park. On Lake Malawi we take boat ride to the islands, and the boat is owned by the local people and the guides come from the community where we stay. The same is true of the Dhow ride to view Benguerra Island.
Food: All food and drinks on tour are bought in local grocery stores and fresh produce markets which creates economic activity directly from tourism. In Malawi & Mozambique, there are very few grocery stores, so the majority of food bought on tour is from local markets which are the only place for the subsistence farms to sell their excess produce. When eating at local restaurants we always try to take them to locally owned and run restaurants no large restaurant chains.
Local crafts and produce: At all local markets where fresh produce and crafts are sold and produced, we encourage the clients to barter with the local people. This not only allows the clients to get involved with the local way of life, and interact directly with the local people, but also provides them a platform to experience local life first hand. Having said that, we explain to the clients by bartering too hard for a good deal might seem like a lot of money at the time, but if the amount being haggled over is converted to either US$, Euro or GBP, it amounts to very little. This is the local livelihood and we advise them to keep this in mind at all times.
Accommodation: All campsites and accommodation used along the way is locally owned, and only employ local people. This provides direct benefits to local people through employment, and also the provision of food and services in the local campsites & accommodation.
Charities: In Maun we support Sibandas Fine Art & Fabrics. This is a local community initiative to employ local women who produce hand crafted fabrics. This is a non-profit organisation, and all visits from our groups generate some revenue for the charity and if any clients buy some of the products, it ensures that the charity remains self sufficient.
Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre: We assist a wildlife rehabilitation centre in Springs, outside Johannesburg. Judy Davidson runs a licensed rehab centre from a small holding. She is an amazing person, dedicating her life to the welfare of animals and makes enormous personal sacrifices to live on this plot and care for sick and injured birds. A variety of birds are cared for, from injured barbets, doves, and crows to a brown snake eagle, a gymnogene, and a spotted eagle owl. All birds are treated in a small makeshift clinic, and then kept in aviaries until they have recovered. Once able to fly, or care for themselves again, they are moved to a flight aviary, for a period until they have regained strength. They are then released back into the wild. Those birds which are unable to be released are kept in large aviaries and fed through various donations. We assist the project with donations of practical equipment including shade netting, paint, etc. These are used to repair and maintain several of the existing aviaries.