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How can my luxury holiday to Africa remain sustainable & responsible?

Kenya - Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Elephant Orphanage

How can you help Africa’s endangered wildlife and environment and support local cultures and communities whilst still enjoying the splendour of this magnificent continent? By ensuring that your luxury safari holiday is taken sustainably and supports important projects.

As a part of our philanthropic efforts we support several charities in Africa which are at the “sharp end” and make a real difference on the ground to local people, environment and wildlife. You too can support local causes and charities on your luxury safari, whilst experiencing all the wonders that Africa has to offer, and knowing that you are helping to protect them.

Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

The Lower Zambezi National Park in Zambia has recently been declared the world’s first carbon neutral National Park. The announcement was made at the Paris Climate Conference in December 2015, and the exciting development recognizes the commitment from the African tourism sector towards a carbon conscious future, setting new standards in eco-tourism, not only in Africa, but hopefully across the globe.

The Lower Zambezi is home to wonderful walking safaris, excellent game and luxurious accommodation. There are a range of exciting activities such as fishing and boat trips, walking safaris and canoe trips, as well as the more traditional game drives in a vehicle. Now you can enjoy all of these, safe in the knowledge that you are not adversely affecting the environment.

So what does this mean for Zambia and for your safari holiday? It means that the Park, and every tourism concession within, is now reducing and offsetting all greenhouse gases from its operations. The Park generates no greenhouse gas emissions from the tourism operations, thus meaning you leave little or no carbon footprint in the reserve!

Every concession in the Lower Zambezi National Park, and several lodges and camps in the surrounding Chiawa Game Management Area participated in the effort, reviewing and reducing emissions from the lodges, the head offices, staff travel, even food production. They then set about improving energy efficiency, which included investing in solar panels in an aim to reduce the use of generators.

  • Zambia - Lower Zambezi - Chiawa camp and Old Mondoro -
  • Zambia - Lower Zambezi - Chiawa camp and Old Mondoro - boat elephant
  • Zambia - Lower Zambezi - Chiawa camp and Old Mondoro - canoeing
  • Zambia - Lower Zambezi - Chiawa camp and Old Mondoro - canoeing

One of our favourite lodges in the area, the beautiful Old Mondoro Bush Camp, took part in the effort. This offers wonderful walking and game viewing in an unbelievably beautiful area, whilst remaining a “true” safari camp that blends and sits well into the landscape.

On safari here, one can see wildlife in incredible densities, such as waterbuck, zebra and wildebeest. Elephants are often seen swimming the Zambezi River to feed on the grassy islands where buffalo also graze. There are also large lion prides, and leopards are frequently seen.

Tassia Lodge, Laikipia, Kenya

Tassia Lodge is a brilliant place to spend time and get a really authentic feel of the bush, but without sacrificing any comfort. Located in northern Kenya, on the very edge of the Laikipia Plateau, it has stunning views over the surrounding wilderness, the 60,000 acre Lekurruki Community Ranch and the Northern Frontier District which stretches away towards Samburu.

Tassia is a wonderful bit of heaven for those who love the more natural things in life. This is a place for those who simply want to relax before or after a safari, to get away from the rigours of early morning game drives and who simply want to immerse themselves in Africa.

Here you won’t meet other people when you are in the bush: you can walk with a local Laikipiak (Mokogodo) Maasai guide, use a bow and arrow, throw spears, visit the local communities, flycamp, walk with the camels and camp out or just relax.

Tassia supports several local community projects, including a partnership with the local Maasai to form a Women’s Group called “AnTassia”. The local women use traditional Maasai beading skills to create authentic designs, creating beaded cloth bags, belts, bracelets, coasters, jewellery boxes and candleholders.

  • Sustainable responsible Africa - Tassia - AnTassia Womens Group
  • Sustainable responsible Africa - Tassia -Walking.jpg
  • Sustainable responsible Africa - Tassia - Maasai

They use recycled materials wherever possible, and each woman hand-makes the items in her own particular style so each creation is unique. This wonderful group creates a source of income for the local Maasai families and gives them independence and self-sustainability.

When the project started in 2009, twenty Maasai women were involved. Now there are over a hundred local women involved, helping to sustain families and educate the local children.

Tassia is now working on a new project to build and supply a school in the area for local children aged 4-8 years of age, who are often unable to walk the 8-10kms in each direction to the government-provided school. The school will be constructed and furnished from local materials and Tassia also aims to provide general school supplies.

You can stay at Tassia Lodge and visit the AnTassia partnership, and even purchase some of their wonderful creations, knowing that your money is going directly to supporting the local community.

Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and Elephant Orphanage, Kenya

In Tsavo East where David Sheldrick was a wildlife warden, the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust has an elephant orphanage which is doing so much to help elephant conservation. Here, young elephants who have been orphaned are hand-reared and cared for by their keepers before being prepared to return to the wild.

Rescued infant elephant orphans first spend several years in the Trust’s Nairobi nursery unit. Here they may go through a deep grieving process and need gentle nurturing and care from the Nursery’s keepers. These keepers become the orphan’s new family, and hand-rear them on formula milk developed by Daphne Sheldrick after years of trial and error.

Once they reach three to four years old and are thriving physically and psychologically, the ex-orphans are transferred to the stockades in Tsavo East, to Ithumba and Voi, or to a new location in the forest opposite the park, Umzima Springs.

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  •  Kenya - Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Elephant Orphanage

The Sheldrick Trust has built a camp near the stockades in Ithumba where one can have a close experience with the orphaned, ex-orphaned and wild elephants. This truly is an opportunity of a lifetime, and your stay here directly benefits the wildlife trust.

You can watch the elephants being given their milk feed in the early morning and hear from their keepers about the histories and personalities. You can then meet at the watering holes mid-morning and watch them having a feed and a dust bath or see them bathe in the water.

They then browse further in the bush and you can follow them. Providing you stay with the keeper, you can get very close to the ex-orphans, and they are curious (if a little nervous) about strangers.

At five or six years of age, the elephants are weaned off the milk in preparation for their return to the wild. They then become semi-independent and about a year after that – the gates are opened and they are free to go.

Many choose not to leave straight away, but they are given the opportunity to be free and live the life as an elephant as part of a herd again – something that would have been unthinkable had they not been saved by this vital and life-saving charity.

  • Kenya - Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Elephant Orphanage

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust does so much to help the elephant population, including anti-poaching action. It also is involved with rhino conservation, and campaigns worldwide against the ivory trade.

All of its vital actions are costly and there are a number of ways that you can help. They have a ‘Make a Wish’ gift program where you can buy essentials items needed in the day-to-day running of the Trust. You can also foster an orphaned elephant and receive monthly updates about your chosen orphan, or you can visit this wonderful cause in person.

The camp is sold on a sole use basis and the elephant experience is totally private. This is a completely private experience that one has, not with anybody else, and it is worth its weight in gold.

Background and Lower Zambezi images courtesy of Chiawa Camp & Old Mondoro.

Tassia and AnTassia images courtesy of Tassia Lodge.