Responsible Cultural Experiences

Responsible Cultural Experiences in Malawi, Zambia & Zimbabwe

How to get the most out of your holiday in Zambia, Malawi & Zimbabwe… and give back too.

What is responsible tourism?

Responsible tourism is travelling in a way that limits your negative environmental, social and economic impacts by making smart choices about your accommodation choices, the companies you support, activities you undertake and the things you eat and buy, to name a few.

Now this doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice the quality of your holiday, quite the opposite in fact, it opens up opportunities for you to immerse yourself fully in the environment and culture of the destination you have decided to visit, and that’s what a holiday should be about, right?

I am going to tell you how to make the most of your holiday with us in Zambia and Malawi in a way that is sensitive to the areas you are visiting and can actively benefit the community and environment around you – as well as creating a well-rounded, and meaningful holiday experience for you! So here are a few ideas of what you could get up to while you’re over here that will support and preserve this beautiful part of the world for future generations to come.

Responsible cultural experiences

  1. Go shopping at Tribal Textiles! (Zambia)

What’s it about?

A home textiles company that creates beautiful hand-painted textiles for your home in a transparent and sustainable manner empowering the local community through creative and sustainable enterprise. Their commitments include fair employment, medical and social responsibility, gender equality, recycling initiatives, sustainable waste management, fresh food donations to a local orphanage, financial support to Malimba school and raising funds to protect wildlife conservation projects.

What can I do?

For visitors to South Luangwa, a stop at Tribal Textiles is an event in their safari calendar.

Guided by one of their artisans, you can walk through the space to experience the Tribal Textiles production process and see their talented team of starchers, painters and sewers performing their skilled work. Then you can finish your visit with a tour of the shop to purchase a truly stunning and unique souvenir as a special reminder of your Zambian experience.

The showroom is set up around a leafy courtyard where you can relax and enjoy food and drinks at the Courtyard Cafe. You can even practice your creative skills by performing an Art Safari and painting your own cushion to take home.

So, when you’re on your shopping frenzy, and struggling to close your suitcase, you can do so with a free conscience and be assured your purchases have contributed to a good cause.

  1. Visit Kawaza Village (Zambia)

What’s it about?

Just outside the South Luangwa National Park in Zambia lies Kawaza, a normal, working, rural village. This village opens its arms to visitors from all over the world who want to acquaint themselves with the daily lives of the local people and experience the Kunda culture.

There is nothing contrived or artificial about Kawaza Village, it is simply a symbiotic relationship allowing the local community to benefit from the tourism the national park brings and for visitors to immerse themselves in the local culture.

What can I do?

On a visit here, you can make an appointment to take a tour of the Kawaza Basic School which has just 7 teachers, 10 classrooms and over 1000 pupils and meet the headmaster and children who are always thrilled to meet people from different countries.

If you wish to give some support, the school gratefully welcomes donations and child school fee sponsorship. The local community at Kawaza have set up a tourism project (with Constantino, your guide, running the show) where they can show guests what life is like living in a rural Zambian village. They have a few traditional mud huts which are available for visitors to spend the night. The overnight guests get to sample some of the traditional cuisine for dinner and after dark are entertained with drumming and dancing around the camp fire, so scrap that dad-dancing-at-a-wedding routine and get those hips moving.

It is also possible to visit the clinic, pay your respects to the village chief, as well as visit a local healer who will explain how he uses medicinal herbs and plants, and traditional healing methods. Guests are also invited to take part in everyday village activities such as brewing local beer, grinding the maize, drawing water at the well and picking maize in the fields.

Any support you can offer here is always gratefully received, whether it’s sponsoring a school child, donating to the clinic, purchasing some souvenirs from the local craftsmen or bringing useful items from home as gifts, such as stationery, clothing (culturally appropriate) or books & toys etc. It is an enjoyable and eye-opening experience, particularly for children who are meeting children their same age living a very different life, and is often described by guests as a highlight of their trip.

  1. Glam up at Mulberry Mongoose (Zambia)

What’s it about?

The South Luangwa valley jewellery shop! The shop is entirely staffed by local women who handmake every piece of jewellery using natural and sustainable materials from the area. Antipoaching patrols supply them with the snare wire to create their most celebrated collection, which is mixed with semiprecious stones, freshwater pearls and hand carved wooden beads.

The entire team is a group of creative and courageous ladies from an area where unemployment is high, and their income allows them to be self-reliant and actively support their families.

What can I do?

Pay a visit to the shop! A fantastic place to stock up on stunning gifts for your loved ones (and for yourself of course). The real clincher is that from every piece of jewellery sold, Mulberry Mongoose donates to the antipoaching patrols helping to remove the snare wire traps that kill and injure many of the area’s wildlife.

By buying their accessories, you’re helping them raise thousands of dollars for this vital work to save elephants, big cats and antelope.

  1. Wildlife Conservation Safari, Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe)

The Wildlife Conservation safari aims to raise awareness of the wildlife conservation efforts that are taking place in the Zambezi National Park.

The Conservation safari starts off with a presentation by a member of the Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit (VFAPU). You are given the full background and history of the unit and are able to learn about many fascinating aspects involved in the unit’s operations, the challenges faced and the huge successes VFAPU has achieved to date. You will be educated on the various types of poaching that take place in the region and are shown how snares that are used to poach the wildlife are laid. Following on from this, you are taken for a field trip into the Zambezi National Park where you are tasked to record game sightings, identify spoor, patrol and sweep for wire snares and generally visit areas to investigate for any signs of poaching.

The important aspect of this activity is that it enables VFAPU to visit areas that are not often patrolled and the more wildlife conservation safaris that run, the more frequently these areas are covered. This safari effectively provides a useful presence at ground level, to deter various forms of poaching, whilst you get to play an important role in the conservation efforts of the Zambezi National Park.

  1. Make waves with Ripple Africa (Malawi)

What’s it about?

Deforestation is one of the biggest issues currently facing Malawians. As a country that gets heavily affected by the El Nino phenomenon, that combined with the rampant deforestation is a vicious circle that brings about drought, flooding, soil erosion and hotter climates, this in turn creates famine, poverty, illness and displacement.

Climate change and deforestation are creating a more inhospitable environment, making the people that inhabit it more desperate and more reliant on the trees for building materials, firewood, charcoal, transport etc. With the high population density that afflicts Malawi, the tree population does not have a chance to regenerate and the people’s usage of them is unsustainable.

Ripple Africa is undertaking a huge planting project that, with donations, is planting quick growing trees surrounding communities, providing immediate benefit to the people and preserving the country’s indigenous forests.

But their project doesn’t stop there, they recognise the importance of educating people to change the way they think about their natural environment and change their destructive and unsustainable practices to ease the demand on Malawi’s indigenous forests. By involving individuals, community groups, local schools, and encouraging tree planting at household level, Ripple Africa aims not only to conduct tree planting in Africa, but to slowly change the philosophy in which people use their natural resources, forever.

What can I do?

If you’re travelling near Chintheche, take a half day and visit their offices and volunteer’s lodge where their volunteer projects manager will conduct a talk about the nursery and their Changu Changu Moto fuel-efficient cookstove. Get involved in making their eco-friendly bricks and actually make a Changu Changu Moto.

They also sell carbon offsets. The Changu Changu project is currently supporting over 40,000 households to change their way of cooking, saving over 80,000 bundles of wood per week. They are audited annually to verify the savings in carbon emissions so you can be confident that their project really is benefitting the environment in Malawi.

Their cookstove project and other environmental projects, education and health programmes are all supported by income from selling carbon offsets. So, as well as offsetting your carbon footprint, you will be making a real and sustainable difference to communities in Malawi.

  1. Chembe Water Project (Malawi)

What’s it about?

There used to be a high incidence of preventable water-borne diseases such as cholera and dysentery, especially in children under five years of age.  The proximity to the lake in these communities make wells and bore-holes unsafe as well because of the high-water tables during the raining season, leading to contamination of deep-drilled water sources.

The Chembe Water Project uses pumps to pull water out of the lake from 150 meters.  The water is first sent through a particle filter to remove any debris and sediment.  Next, the water passes through a state-of-the-art ultra-violet treatment system to eliminate any disease-causing bacteria, viruses or microorganisms.  The water is stored in major tanks throughout the village which then supply community taps with a consistent flow of water.

What can I do?

Take a village tour around Chembe Village if you are visiting the Cape Maclear area, and you will see these 41 taps that provide clean drinking water to over 20,000 people but require maintenance every two years. Just £20 will pay for a new tap, fitting and pipe repairs to their huge tanks in the village. In return, they will happily paint your name on the tap block and you will receive a photo to stick on your fridge!

  1. Get festive at the Tumaini Festival (Malawi)

What’s it about?

Dzaleka is Malawi’s only permanent refugee camp, housing over 32,000 refugees and asylum seekers who have been forcibly displaced from their homes in conflict zones such as Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Rwanda and others.

This rich combination of cultures creates an eclectic community with lots to offer in diversity of arts and cuisine that they wish to share with fellow Dzaleka residents and the Malawian people who have welcomed them to their peaceful nation; and so, the Tumaini Festival was born.

Created and run by the refugees themselves that, through entertainment and artistic expression, promotes intercultural harmony, mutual understanding and peaceful co-existence.

Over the past 4 years over 24,000 people have attended the event, and 153 performing acts from across Malawi, Africa and the world shared the same stages with performers from Dzaleka. Tumaini Festival has united 15 nationalities of performers: DRC, Rwanda, Burundi, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Norway, Japan, Brazil, Mozambique, Belgium, UK, Italy, Somalia and South Korea.

The festival gained national and international media coverage. It has so far achieved a media reach estimated at 50,000,000 people worldwide, presenting a genuinely different and positive story about refugees.

What can I do?

Tumaini Festival has represented a unique opportunity for refugees to share aspects of their lives with interested visitors, to exhibit and sell their crafts and connect to a wider community.

​The event happens annually and is well worth a visit. Support the cause and purchase some of the clothing, crafts and food that has been made in the camp and enjoy the beats while watching the impressive amalgamation of joyous African culture. You can even stay the night with a resident family during the festival period as part of their Home Stay Programme, get involved in the festival preparations, hear their stories and explore the life of refugees in Dzaleka.

  1. Visit a national park! (Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi)

Now this is an easy one, you will notice that you will have to pay entry fees and some sort of conservation fee to visit any national park, this isn’t just for the sake of it but this small contribution from you will be put towards conservation projects that protect the flora and fauna of the area.

The more tourism a park attracts, the more revenue is generated for the preservation of the park. Camps and lodges in and around the park will also pay fees in order to operate in the park and are charged per bed night, so the higher the occupancy, the more money is given back to the park.

So, strap on your Velcro sandals and have your khaki at the ready, come and experience a safari of a lifetime and know that you’re contributing to a greater cause.

If you would like to visit one of these destinations during a safari tour, please contact us to arrange your trip.

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