I have just returned from a visit to southern and East Africa and I am thrilled to share with you some examples of truly unique and special experiences that you can have as a part of your travel, that make a real difference to the natural world and the local communities whilst creating meaningful philanthropic experiences for you, too.
As the green shoots emerge metaphorically and physically, so we look to help vulnerable communities and ecosystems re-emerge from the effects of the pandemic. As you may know, every holiday and safari in Africa and Asia includes philanthropic elements to a greater or lesser degree, tailored around your own proclivities.
Having just returned from Uganda, Kenya and South Africa where I spent time with some truly inspiring projects working in conservation and community empowerment, I can wholly recommend these as deserving of our support. These fabulous philanthropic experiences can be incorporated into your travel to elevate your safari or holiday to the extraordinary!
1. Leopard and lion collaring in Queen Elizabeth National Park with the top wildlife veterinarian, Dr Ludwig Siefert. This is the only place in Africa one can do this and it can be undertaken for several days, or simply one afternoon, for the cost of a collar (around £5000.00).
2. Whilst in Queen Elizabeth National Park, one can go chimp trekking. You can also trek and spend time with the lost chimps who were part of the Kyambura Gorge group before they separated. This is quiet and far less touristy than the Gorge. One can also visit chimps at Ngamba Island, where the Jane Goodall research centre is located, to assist their keepers.
3. Take a walking holiday in search of black leopard in the Rwenzori mountains. These have never been formally identified but tracks have been spotted and these creatures have fleetingly been seen. You can be part of a pioneering exercise to perhaps find a new species of leopard!
4. Spend time with Ride 4 a Woman on the outskirts of Bwindi. This is a self-help women’s group that empowers women suffering domestic violence to earn a living, be financially independent and send their children to school. As a visitor the ladies can teach you how to make Ugandan food, how to pedal sew, how to weave baskets etc. The funding goes back into helping more women.
5. In Bwindi go gorilla trekking in the forest. Here one can actually visit or be accompanied by one of the Gorilla Forest Doctors. These people are extraordinary and this amazing organization is responsible for increasing the gorilla population through life-saving veterinarian interventions such as administering antibiotics when they catch a cold or helping heal them when they get caught in a snare.
6. Masiphumelele an African township in the southern peninsula of the Cape. Visit Mama Yendi who provides a day-school centre at her home for all the women who work. They feed 1000 children a month and take care of them. If the women can afford to donate towards the childcare, they contribute towards food costs, otherwise if they cannot afford it, they get it for free. This is a fabulous, fun, enlightening project that we support, and I encourage everyone to visit when in Cape Town.
7. Stay at Marataba Conservation Camps in the Waterberg Mountains. Marataba have brought a new concept to their two conservation camps, called Founders and Explorers. Here you take a hands-on role in their game count and their conservation activities. Engage in cheetah tracking, elephant counting, walking with the rangers to detangle snares and checking the progress of their tree rehabilitation program.
In August 2021 there is the opportunity for a small number of lucky guests to take part in their rhino conservation week, too, from 9-15 August 2021. It is a wonderful safari experience to be involved in a hands-on manner, as well as it being dynamic, responsible, and fun!
8. Take a walking holiday in Tsavo in conjunction with the Tsavo Trust. Have a luxury, private mobile camp erected for you in Tsavo East and join the Tsavo Trust teams on their aerial and vehicle patrols for unparalleled access to the ecosystem.
Their flagship 'Super-Tusker' project sees them monitor some of the largest and last elephants currently alive with tusks over 100lbs. You have the rare (and sadly fast disappearing) opportunity to get up-close and personal with these breath-taking gentle giants, even when they are deep off-road and normally inaccessible.
9. Visit the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Tsavo East or West to see orphaned elephants being cared for and learning to move back into the wild amongst wild elephant herds. There is a variety of choices of accommodation but the focus here is the deeply emotional experience of seeing these young elephants be cared for and grow. The average stay is around 3 nights and you have the chance to watch the calves feed morning and evening, as well as spend time with them during the day in the field, with their keepers.
10. In the Masai Mara stay at Mara Nyika Camp and visit the Mara Elephant Project. Nyika is a new camp set in the fabulous Naboisho conservancy, renowned for its wildlife. You can then be driven or flown to the Mara Elephant Project to see the vital work they are conducting to mitigate human-wildlife conflicts. Perhaps take a drive with their rangers to find a collared elephant.
11. In Laikipia, the Borana Conservancy’s annual game count survey takes place for only one week in February each year. A limited number of fortunate guests can spend time with their rangers seeking wildlife, determining the species and numbers of them in the field and recording them. You can see rhino, elephant, lion and much more.
12. The gorgeous SUJAN luxury camp in rural Rajasthan has just started horse riding safaris. The camp itself is utterly beautiful, every whim is attended to, and the leopard sightings here are always to be treasured and are extremely rewarding.
In addition, whilst here, one can visit the family’s foundation; The SNS Foundation. This was set up in 1976 to make a long-lasting impact in four key areas – education, health and hygiene, skill development, and conservation.
They are highly engaged with local communities around their camps across Rajasthan and work with the local authorities and various other bodies to preserve and protect the regions they operate in. A certain percentage of profits generated by Sujan camps are put back into these initiatives.
There are also a number of other initiatives such as Reality Gives, which is a school that supports students living in the slums of Delhi and Mumbai, and the students conduct the walking tours. They receive the full revenue from these tours for the school.
These are just a small selection of the many worthwhile and deserving charities that The Explorations Company and it's charitable trust Philanthropy Plus, have developed relationships with. To discover more you can visit our Philanthropic Handbook, or please do feel free to contact me with any questions or to discuss this further. Or, if you would just like to dream for now, you can do so at our Video Library.
Images by kind courtesy of:
Laragai House, Suzi Eszterhas and the Chimpanzee Trust, Ride 4 a Woman, Mara Elephant Project, SUJAN, Marataba Conservation Camps.