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R E S P O N S I B L E edition 1 – 2020

be the difference

Get off the Beaten Track and say ‘NO’ to over-tourism

w w w. re s p o n s i b l e t rave l l e r. c o. z a


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Offering marine enthusiasts a range of life-changing experiences, designed to improve their skills and employability prospects.


Comment

Welcome to another edition of Responsible Traveller.

In this edition we get off the beaten track and show that great experiences can be had without contributing to over-tourism at iconic, popular sites and destinations. Experience the wonderful city of Bangkok differently - as the locals do... take commuter trains, buses and water taxis, walk side streets and alleyways, visit local temples and little known sites and eat where the locals eat . Go beyond the beaches in Mauritius and explore this Indian Ocean Island like a local with Attitude Hotels and take the path less travelled in the KwaZulu-Natal and explore lesser known beach, bush, battlefields and ‘berg destinations. Learn about whales and the routes they travel with Dyer Island Cruises, about the importance of connecting with locals with Duara Travels, how luxury and sustainability can work together with Holbox in Yucatan Peninsula and why Colombia should be on your 2020 travel list. But as always, the responsibility of being a responsible traveller lies ultimately with the person travelling and the choices they make. Let’s ‘be the difference’ in 2020 - choose to not waste water, to switch off when you leave the room, to stay, shop, experience and eat local... and to search for the off the beaten track sites and experiences. This all goes a long way in conserving the planet and helps to provide employment, contribute to the local economy and make a difference in people’s lives. By choosing to have conversations with locals and experiencing the ‘real’ destination, you add value and return home with irreplaceable memories. Enjoy the read… and be the difference.

Tessa Magazine Information edition 1- 2020 Publisher / Editor Tessa Buhrmann Cell: 083 603 9000 tessa@responsibletraveller.co.za Design & Layout Michele Mayer Cell: 082 934 6940 creativelink@mweb.co.za Advertising & editorial enquiries tessa@responsibletraveller.co.za Digital Subscriptions www.responsibletraveller.co.za

Responsible Traveller Published by Spotted Mongoose Media CC (CK 2008/178482/23) Contact Details P.O. Box 3, Gillitts 3603 KwaZulu-Natal South Africa Tel: +27 31 7674022 Cover Image: Western Shores - iSimangaliso Wetland Park pic - Debbie Cooper

Disclaimer Responsible Traveller is published by Spotted Mongoose Media CC. The information provided and the opinions expressed in this publication are done so in good faith and while every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of its contents, neither the managing editor nor the publisher can be held responsible for any omissions or errors; or for any misfortune, injury or damages that may arise. All rights are reserved and no material from this magazine may be reproduced without the written consent of the publishers.

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Contents REGULARS:

Comment 03 Being a Responsible Traveller 05

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DESTINATIONS & PLACES TO STAY: Get off the Beaten Track... say ‘NO’ to over-tourism 06 The Mauritian Way 42 Colombia Calling 54 Take the path less travelled in KwaZulu-Natal 62 Holbox, a sanctuary to rest and coexist with nature 94 Where in the World is Guinea-Bissau? 102

CONSERVATION & ENVIRONMENT: Whale Routes 26

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Serena Hotels win at the Kenya Eco-Warrior Awards Attitude Hotels calls for a tourism that leaves positive footprint

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Hotel Verde achieves 6-Star Green Star Rating 83 Guinea-Bissau Dept. of Tourism and Handicrafts signs MOU

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COMMUNITIES: Duara Travels connecting travellers & local people 84

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www.responsibletraveller.co.za


Being a

Responsible Traveller

Responsible travel is a way of enjoying the many sights, experiences and memories of the destination you have chosen. It ensures that visitors and local communities alike share the benefits of tourism and travel equally, and it promotes greater understanding of and appreciation for fair and equitable business practice. Responsible travel is about putting back into travel what you get from it, and here are a few considerations that you could make when next you travel.

• Ask to see your tour operator's responsible travel policy. • Ask to see the environmental policy of the accommodation establishment that you have selected – don’t be fooled by vague and unsubstantiated claims. • Help the local economy by buying local produce in preference to imported goods. • Ask your tour operator to establish the extent to which local communities enjoy benefits from your economic spend during your stay at a location. • If bargaining to buy an item, bear in mind that a small amount to you could be extremely important to the seller – be realistic and fair. • Realise that often the people in the country you are visiting have different time concepts, values and thought patterns from your own, this does not make them inferior, only different. • Cultivate the habit of asking questions and discover the pleasure that you can enjoy by seeing a different way of life through others eyes. • Use public transport, hire a bike or walk where convenient – you'll meet local people and get to know the place far better – always be safe and considerate. • Use water sparingly – it is precious inmany countries and the local people may not have sufficient clean water – challenge any wasteful practice at your hotel or lodge. • Switch Something Off – whenever you leave your room, switch unnecessary lights and equipment off and play your part in reducing greenhouse emissions.

• Don't discard litter when visiting outof-the-way places and attractions, take it with you and dispose of it at your hotel or lodge. Waste disposal is often a major problem at outlying attractions and sites and it leads to litter and unhealthy environments for locals. • Respect local cultures, traditions and holy places. For example, ask permission before you photograph local people – in some countries it can cause offence. • Learn more about the cultural experiences that you are exposed to – avoid ‘sound-byte’ tourism and encourage tour operators to provide more insight into the dances, songs and traditionalexperiences that they present to you. • Do not buy products made from endangered species, hard woods, shells from beach traders, or ancient artefacts (which have probably beenstolen). When visiting gift and curio shops, be aware of the source of the products on sale and if in doubt, don’t buy. • Read up on the countries you plan to visit – the welcome will be warmer if you take an interest and speak even a few words of the local language. • When you get home drop your tour operator a note to let them know how you got on.

Essentials: www.heritagesa.co.za www.fairtrade.travel www.trees.co.za www.rhinoafrica.com

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GET OFF THE BEATEN TRACK...

one way to say ‘NO’ to over-tourism

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Catching a local commuter train with Local Alike

Words & pics - Tessa Buhrmann responsible traveller 07


Outside the Grand Palace

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here’s much to be said about over-tourism, and a quick Google search will reveal posts about irate locals protesting their overcrowded cities, island beaches being closed to allow the natural environment to recover and city officials moving Instagram-worthy branding in an attempt to reduce the inundation of local landmarks by selfie-obsessed tourists. In a recent visit to Bangkok my hubby and I had the opportunity of seeing the reality of over-tourism in action and chose to see this incredible city differently, by getting off the beaten track.

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The desire to travel is often sparked by the need to see certain landmarks – in Paris its the Eiffel Tower; in London its Buckingham Palace and in New York its Time Square… and in Bangkok it’s the Grand Palace. We thought we’d give it a bash, it is after-all a ‘must-do’ when in Bangkok. Which is what every other selfie-stick wielding tourist in the city was thinking. One look at the crowd waiting to gain entry was enough for us to look at each other knowingly and walk straight past.

Did that mean the end of our search for amazing sights in the City? Not at all... we just chose to look for them in different places. Our introduction to the side streets and alleyways of Bangkok was thanks to Local Alike, a travel company offering a wide range of off the beaten track community-based tourism experiences – experiences that contribute to the preservation of the local way of life, culture and tradition as as well as preservation of the environment. responsible traveller 09


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A Bangkok side street responsible traveller 11


Our guide Khun Arm had us nipping through alleyways, dodging food carts and placid pooches and hopping on a local commuter train that shook its way along jungle lined tracks, past wooden homes that had seen better days to a nondescript train station in the middle of nowhere. Here we caught a ride through the suburbs on an open-back local taxi to a fishing village in a place called Bang Khun Thian. First we popped into a local primary school where we learnt about mangroves, made tiedyed cloth and walked through their organic vegetable garden, which included chickens and frog farming (yep, for frog’s legs). This was followed by a longtail boat ride with Uncle Sorn, to his homestead. Here his family cooked and served us a lunch of traditional (H-O-T) Thai food where soup, prawns, fish, vegetables and cockles was served. And where do the cockles come from? The large rectangular pond in front of the house... where some of us ended up knee deep in mud - someone had to stay dry and clean to document it! Once we had cleaned up Uncle Sorn explained the intricacies of cockle and prawn farming to us, as well as the difficulties – he and his wife are aged and once he is too old there is no one to take over his farm. On this sad but realistic note he walked us to the jetty and waved us goodbye in yet another boat. This time it was to see a submerged region that just 45 years ago had homes. Now all that remain are the electricity poles randomly sticking out of the water in what has now become part of the sea – and some people still think that climate change is a myth! The aquatic birdlife on this section was amazing as the waterways are lined with mangroves and the remaining structures make a great perch. A visit to the iconic Jim Thompson Museum is on most people’s ‘must-do’ list of when in Bangkok. Not just to see the restored home of the ‘legendary silk king’ Jim Thompson, which houses his collection of antiques, some over 1,000 years old, but also to rest awhile in the beautiful gardens which offer are a wonderful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. In 1967 at the peak of his life Jim disappeared without a trace while on holiday in Malaysia. His legacy to the world would be the craft of traditional silk weaving, which he found within the narrow alleys of Bangkok, and admiring its beauty decided to take Thai silk to the world. So popular are these silk products still that 12 responsible traveller

Off the beaten track with Local Alike


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visitors converge on the onsite shop with their gold cards, Euros and Dollars ready to shop up a storm.

Views across the beautiful beach at La Gemma

We could have chosen to visit Jim Thompson Museum as a stand-alone experience, but with Local Alike Khun Arm guiding us, we discovered another world across a nearby canal in Baan Krua Nua, an old community with a rich history and heritage in the production of Thai silk. The people of this district have specialised in the weaving of silk since after WWII and it was with Jim Thompson’s help that their craft found an international market. We started at Uncle If’s house where we saw how the traditional looms worked, watched the bobbins being filled and then watched Malai, who has been weaving silk for 50 years, in action with the loom - it takes a whole day to create 6m of silk cloth. Following this we went to Uncle Ood’s house to learn how silk is boiled, washed and then dyed the traditional way. Inspired by our local experiences with Khun Arm we decided to do as the locals do and catch a water taxi to Old Bangkok - this was when we attempted to visit the Grand Palace – even though we had been warned about possible crowds from other travellers. Catching the water taxi was easy, once we had worked our way through narrow alleyways and asked for directions we were soon aboard and churning our way through the choppy water of the canal. The boat drivers know only fast or slow creating waves and much splashing! We passed traditional wooden homes - some in better repair than others, narrow walkways often overflowing with potted gardens and laundry hanging precariously close to the splash zone. On board we were protected by thick plastic anti-splash sides which limited our visibility but also saved us from being doused in yucky water!

Along a canal off the Chao Praya River

Emerging to street level, taking careful note of where we were, we headed down streets lined with trees adorned with fairy lights, as well as banners and garlands in reverence and respect to the king. Detouring by tuk-tuk to the Chao Phraya River, we hopped on a longtail boat which, fighting its way through the ‘river highway’ of choppy water took us up and down one of the canals.

river to well-kept and cared for. A beautiful wooden house with ornate carvings and several temples with gleaming roofs and spires of gold. Heading back towards the pier were numerous other boats, including an interconnected section of four huge barges with a tugboat on either end. The river is a veritable highway, it’s just a pity about all the water hyacinth and the abundance of floating garbage.

There were a variety of craft in various stages of disrepair, an assortment of houses, from old and rickety and about to be consumed by the

Back on land we headed for the Grand Palace... but no, other less famous sites were where we would be heading!

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‘Choosing to take the off the beaten track route through this wonderful city enables visitors to see the authentic side of Bangkok. It’s the Bangkok I would recommend and it’s the experience that benefits the locals far more than an ‘insulated, glitzy hotel and airconditioned cab’ type experience could ever offer...’ 18 responsible traveller


Before leaving our hotel, the Siam@Siam Design Hotel in the popular Pathum Wan District we decided to take it a little slower with some time spent walking through Lumpini Park, a favourite with the locals where men snooze under palm trees, mom’s watch their kids in the playpark and older folks get together to share a meal. The nearby Bangkok Art and Culture Centre offered not only a wonderful reprieve from the heat with its well airconditioned space, but thought-provoking and interesting exhibits as well as the option to support local artists and creatives by purchasing their wares. Still in search of not-so-famous sites we headed to the Pullman Bangkok King Power in the

Ratchathewi District. Deciding to follow the advice on the hotel map of the area we chose one of the local eateries along the popular Rang Nam Road (or alley as google maps calls it). We chose Baan Ajarn, not due to its proximity to the hotel or its inviting exterior, but by the fact that it was packed with locals – always a good indication that the prices are affordable, and the food is good. Which it was on both accounts but listening to the soulful sound of Elvis Presley while dining was a tad random. In keeping with our choice of going against the flow of over-tourism, we decided on a day incorporating a little-known palace, a local temple and a little-explored monument... all within a kilometre or so of our hotel. responsible traveller 19


We started with the Suan Pakkad Palace and Museum, where the restored Thai home of Royalty nestles within a lush garden beneath the BTS Skytrain line. There are archaeological, historical and cultural exhibits that give great insight into the region as well as that of Thai culture. The music room has an interesting assortment of traditional Thai musical instruments and the antique furniture throughout is exceptional. Next was our search for the Wat That Sanarun Sunthikaram Temple. Following rather obscure directions we headed under freeways and across busy roads, through little lanes and alleyways and watched the locals buying and selling freshly cooked food and produce, lazing on steps, having conversations‌ and just doing life. With the help of a friendly local who spoke English we found our way to the temple with its ornately carved architecture, golden spire, resident cat and golden Buddha, who was at least 10m tall with locals paying their respects. Next was more dodging traffic and side streets, with shops, markets and food, to the Victory Monument. It was erected in 1941 to commemorate the Thai victory in the FrancoThai War. The central obelisk is surrounded by five statues that honour the army, navy, air force and the Thai people. It is in the centre of a traffic circle, so we chose to view it from afar, not wanting to risk our lives by gambling with the Bangkok traffic at close quarters! When in Bangkok one must visit a night market. We chose not to do the exceptionally popular Chatuchak Market and instead took a Grab taxi (like Uber) to the Ratchada Rot Fai Train Night Market. A delightful market where the locals go to shop and eat. We walked the long avenues selling clothes, curios and a variety of other goods but the highlight for us, and most visitors, it seemed were the abundance of food stalls. They sold everything from fresh coconut milk and iced smoothies, to mountains of seafood, sizzling satays and just about everything you could think of – including trays of crispy fried insects. There were bars in abundance each pumping out a mixture of Thai and popular western music - a great place to stop for a icy glass of local Chang beer! One cannot visit Bangkok without a visit to Chinatown. Most people visit in the evening for the abundant street cafes, food stalls and 20 responsible traveller


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vibrant nightlife. Choosing again to be different we took the Sky Train and a local commuter bus and arrived there mid-morning. The streets and alleyways were a hive of activity, a Chinese man was setting out his display of decorative lanterns, another was readying his display of delicious looking giant peaches, another was pulling a cart loaded with produce.

sizzling on the grill. There was even a coffee shop, V Coffee by Earth, complete with a trendy looking barista who made the yummiest iced cappuccinos. Hairbands, Christmas hats and every conceivable ‘made in China’ item you could imagine was for sale – including stainless steel straws. And the locals were shopping… and eating in abundance.

There were odd shaped grapes and the fattest cherries I had ever seen, large bags of dried shrimp and weird looking mushrooms. Sugar cane juice being made to order and bananas

At a local Chinese temple tables groaned under the weight of offerings, incense sticks smouldered, and candles burned. Deities shone brightly as their golden beings caught the light

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and worshippers bowed their heads in reverence to their gods. The colourful façade of the entrance contrasting with the clear blue of the sky. Chinatown was busy but not to the extent that the evenings would be – we had been warned to beware of pickpockets and petty crime, but never once did I feel threatened or uncomfortable. A definite benefit of visiting during ‘off-peak’ times. Choosing to take the off the beaten track route through this wonderful city enables

visitors to see the authentic side of Bangkok. It’s the Bangkok I would recommend and it’s the experience that benefits the locals far more than an ‘insulated, glitzy hotel and airconditioned cab’ type experience could ever offer. And it relieves the pressure on the over touristed sites that eventually, because of their popularity, lose their charm. •

www.thailandsa.co.za www.localalike.com www.siamatbangkok.com www.pullmanbangkokkingpower.com responsible traveller 25


CONSERVATION PROFILE

Whale Routes ... 26 responsible traveller


CONSERVATION PROFILE

Humans aren’t the only ones with a penchant for travel. There are some that enjoy a lengthy ‘cruise.’ Every year southern right whales and humpback whales make a migration along the South African coastline that in turn attracts thousands of whale loving, international human visitors. So why does anyone go on holiday? Warm waters, sunshine, relaxing days, a little love. Well, for whales, all the above. words - Brenda du Toit and photos by Marine Dynamics biologists and crew.

Southern Right Whale breeching Image credit - Sandra Hoerbst responsible traveller 27


CONSERVATION PROFILE

Southern Right Whale The southern rights head from the subAntarctic to the waters of the Western Cape from June to November, sometimes staying a little longer on either side. They enjoy the sheltered bays off the coastline and congregate in areas such as De Hoop, Gansbaai, Hermanus, and Cape Town. The journey is up to 3000kms and can take about six weeks. They arrive to mate and calve in these waters. The area from Rooi Els to Gansbaai is not called the Cape Whale Coast for nothing. Southern right whales 28 responsible traveller

were sadly once the ‘right’ whale to hunt, hence their name. Now they certainly are the ‘right’ whale to view, whether from land, sea or air. Southern right populations are also seen on the shores of Argentina and Australia, but these seem to be distinct populations. The annual aerial survey of the southern right whales has been done for the past forty years by the Mammal Research Institute Whale Unit, and it has been determined that on average the whales show a


CONSERVATION PROFILE

Image credit - Sandra Hoerbst

affects males and can be seen in about 3 to 6% of southern rights. The whales are not albinos, but rather this colour variation is due to a recessive gene. Each whale has a distinctive pattern of callosities on its head – raised calcified skin patches that over time are colonised by barnacles and whale lice – which help in identification.

The southern right whale population in South Africa is doing very well, increasing at its biological maximum of approx. 7% per annum. Global numbers are estimated to be 15 000 individuals, approximately 5000 of which utilise the southern African coastline. This is still only 10% of what the population was estimated to have been prior to whaling. The numbers visiting our coastline have created a little concern. In 2018 there was a bumper year with over 1000 individuals – including 532 calves. Whilst 2019 would then technically be a rest year, scientists are still concerned that the 2019 aerial survey only showed about 200 individuals. There are some further studies assessing if there may be a possible food problem in the sub-Antarctic. Interestingly, 2017, whilst a good viewing year did not have that many individuals mating so it is possible some did not make the migration the previous year, but no one can be sure. There are a few southern right whales who decide not to make the migration back and they tend to feed up the West Coast. These would usually be the ‘early’ arrivals people see around May. The main food source for southern right whales in South Africa, off our west coast, are minute planktonic animals called copepods.

three-year cycle of mate, calve, rest, although this could be shifting to between five years between birthing. Gestation is twelve months. Their assumed life span is between 50 to 100 years. A sighting on the 2019 aerial survey showed a distinctively marked female – a white 7 pattern on her back – that was first seen in 1984 and not seen in South Africa since 2013. She was travelling with a calf. Occasionally whales are born white which will darken to grey/brindle. This generally

Further south in the southern ocean, mass feeding opportunities are available for the whales, but off South African waters they feed on larger zooplankton, called Euphasiids. Feeding behaviour is rarely observed as the southern rights are here to mate and calve and they build up their reserves before making the migration - They can eat an incredible 600 to 1600kgs of food per day during their feeding months. However, feeding behaviour has been witnessed off the South African coastline as the whales will not miss an opportunity to feed should one arise. Both southern right and humpback whales are filter feeders using their baleen plates to sift out the plankton, copepods or krill. Each jaw will hold over 200 baleen plates that are over 2 metres long. responsible traveller 29


CONSERVATION PROFILE

HumpbackWhale

Image credit - Hennie Otto - Slashfin Skipper

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CONSERVATION PROFILE Humpback whales, so named for the curving of their backs when they dive, make the 3000 km migration from the sub-Antarctic islands towards Mozambique’s warmer waters. Their objectives are the same – to mate and calve. Some calves are born on the northern migration and they continue the journey together – true family travel. The whales spend time in the Antarctic from December to April. Their migration route is split into two broader routes, one up the west coast to Angola, Congo, Gabon and offshore islands; and one up the east coast of Africa to Mozambique, Tanzania, Madagascar and the Indian ocean island groups. One Humpback whale has been recorded visiting off the coast of Brazil in 1999 and again off Madagascar in 2001 a year later, an epic migration of 9800 kilometres. Humpback whales can be seen moving past the Western Cape coastline between June to August, and then on return migration November/December. This year there was quite a party to attend and hundreds of humpback whales were seen off the West Coast lunge feeding on krill. Humpback whales belong to a group of whales known as ‘rorquals’ which is a term that refers to the grooves that run from the underside of the lower jaw to the naval. These grooves allow for throat expansion when feeding enabling the whale to engulf large quantities of prey at once. The throat grooves contract and push out the excess water and the baleen plates trap the food. The Humpback whale is famous for its incredible breaching behaviour and its beautiful ‘singing.’ It’s white wing-like flippers are unmistakable, and its tail has a distinctive pattern which is used to distinguish individuals. Humpback whales are believed to calve every two years and their population is doing well, with a global population estimate of up to 140 000 individuals. They are believed to live between 20 to 50 years, having distinctive social groups of about 3 to 15 individuals.

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Bryde’s Whale Image credit - Sandra Hoerbst

Bryde’s Whale Some whales prefer not to go too far from home. South Africa has an inshore population of Bryde’s whales which do not migrate although there is a seasonal shift in the summer to the south-east coast.

This whale feeds on shoaling fish like sardines, anchovy, juvenile maasbanker and maybe zooplankton, so will generally be seen where there is a feeding opportunity, and often following the large groups of common dolphin.

The Bryde’s whales generally satisfy their nutritional and reproductive needs within their warm, temperate distribution, freeing them from making latitudinal migrations. The name is pronounced “Broo-dess” or ‘brewdus” as it was named after a Norwegian by the name of Johan Bryde.

They are quite a hit with divers on the annual sardine run. Off Gansbaai, they are often found just off Dyer Island but are not always the easiest whale to observe as they can spend up to 20 minutes underwater. However, guests on Dyer Island Cruises have been lucky enough to capture some of their incredible lunge feeding behaviour.

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DID YOU KNOW? All whales are under threat. We all know that any journey has its perils and for whales these migrations could lead to possible death. Some of the threat’s whales face are: • • • • •

boat collision entanglement pollution offshore gas and oil developments even whaling in some areas

Know your whales... Bryde’s Whales

Scientific Name: Balaenoptera brydei Size: 12-15m Weight: Up to 21 tons Blow: Single tall blow Identification:

Small dorsal fin

Image credit - Sandra Hoerbst responsible traveller 33


CONSERVATION PROFILE

Humpback Whales Scientific Name: Megaptera novaeangliae Size: 13-15m Weight: Up to 30 tons Blow: Single bushy plume Identification:

Small dorsal fin

Southern Right Whales Scientific Name: Eubalaena australis Size: 14-16m Weight: Up to 60 tons Blow: V-shaped plume Identification: No dorsal fin / Callosities

Image credit - Wilfred Chivell

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CONSERVATION PROFILE

Image credit - Wilfred Chivell

Image credit - Wilfred Chivell

Image credit - Hennie Otto - Slashfin Skipper

Click HERE for more info on scientific achievements... and the websites below for more information. www.sharkwatchsa.com www.whalewatchsa.com www.dict.org.za www.marinedynamics.org/ academy responsible traveller 35


CONSERVATION PROFILE A curious whale coming in for a closer look

DID YOU KNOW? In South Africa permitted whale watching vessels can approach whales from 50m (most vessels have a 300m limit). However, a whale can approach the vessel. Whales are often very curious and provide some incredible viewing opportunities for guests on board. A case of who is watching who! 36 responsible traveller


CONSERVATION PROFILE

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CONSERVATION PROFILE

See these whale species off the coast of Gansbaai, South Africa, with Dyer Island Cruises Dyer Island Cruises, part of the Marine Dynamics tourism hub, is based in Gansbaai, a town on the Cape Whale Coast, and it is here that you can see both these species, as well as the more resident Bryde’s whale. Dyer Island Cruises is Fair Trade Tourism certified and the vessels, Whale Whisperer or Dream Catcher both have Blue Flag status. This is a company that believes Your Choice Makes a Difference and is involved with critical conservation and community work with the Dyer island Conservation Trust.

CONTACT: DYER ISLAND CRUISES www.dyerislandcruises.co.za whales@marinedynamicstravel.com ph: +27 (0) 82 801 8014

Image credit - Kelly Baker

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CONSERVATION PROFILE

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NEWS

Lake Elmenteita Serena Camp and Amboseli Serena Safari Lodge Win at The Kenya Eco-Warrior Awards Serena Hotel’s Gold Level Eco-Certified properties, Lake Elmenteita Serena Camp and Amboseli Serena Safari Lodge won two awards under the “Social Impact” category during the 2019 Gala Dinner of the Eco-Warrior Awards. The Eco-Warrior Award is an annual fete hosted by Eco-Tourism Kenya to recognize tourism industry players’ that embrace sustainable business practices in their day-to-day operations. This year marks the 14th edition of Eco-Warrior Awards themed, “Tourism, Jobs and the Green Economy – A Better Future for All” in line with the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) global theme. Grace Nderitu, CEO Eco-Tourism Kenya says, “The Eco-Warrior Awards are an indicator of the strides the industry has made in achieving sustainable tourism business practices. We understand that the protection of our natural resources, environment and people is a key factor in the growth of the industry.” Lake Elmenteita Serena Camp (LESC) took the lead whilst Amboseli Serena Safari Lodge (ASSL) took the 1st Runners up position under Lake Elmenteita Serena Camp

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the Social Impact category. Similar, to other Serena properties, these properties continue to give priority to the local communities living around its areas of operation so as to ensure economic independence with the end goal to better navigate uncertainty and thrive towards a sustainable livelihood in the future. Mahmud Jan Mohamed, Managing Director of Serena Hotels says, “As pioneers and active players in the tourism industry, Serena Hotels is aware of the significant contribution it has in the economy of Kenya. Providing educational, entrepreneurial and health support is crucial not only for improving the quality of life for the communities, but also provides an enabling environment for sustainable business practices.” Serena Hotels has endeavoured to bring best practices in social, cultural, environmental and economic development to an alluring yet fragile area in Kenya. The company’s sustainability programs respond to the needs of the environment, economy and the communities while aligning towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations Development Programme.


NEWS The win by LESC and ASSL was a consolidation of various sustainable initiatives in a more focused and sustainable manner under the “Adopt a School” concept. This concept introduced sustainable programs within neighbouring community schools with a focus on having a holistic positive impact on a child. The various initiatives under the program that we believe act as a catalyst for positive economic, social and cultural change include; •

• • •

Tree planting with a focus on fruit and herb trees to enhance food security and nutrition - since 1991, ASSL has planted 1.6 million trees. Community & schools’ health outreach programs that include free consultations (over 600 consultations per annum) at our staff clinic and subsidized medication. Physical infrastructure and educational aids. Training opportunities such as internships to the local youth. Literacy/Reading for children program - 7 children libraries with about 2,482 beneficiaries per annum at both LESC and ASSL. Environmental conservation clubs talks, litter collection, lunch and game drives

for high performing students, Christmas gifts and party. A unique initiative, carried out by LESC is the ‘Soap for Hope’ Project. This is where guest soap that would otherwise be discarded is recycled and sanitized into fresh soap bars with the aim of improving hygiene standards whilst repurposing soap that was headed for the landfill. To date 97 kg of guest soap has been recycled by Kiboko Primary (120 students).

Mr. Jan Mohamed, adds, “We believe Tourism is the strongest driver of prosperity and our initiatives have had a multiplier effect for poverty reduction in the areas we are located within. Every company would like employees who are prepared to adopt in the modern workplace, but this requires investing long before adulthood. Building an ecosystem that supports education in the early years is a critical place to begin the formation of a skilled workforce. By investing in the community activities and offering fresh opportunities, we can support the future prospects of our communities and country.” •

www.serenahotels.com

Amboseli Serena Safari Lodge

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The Mauritian Way 42 responsible traveller

Words - Tessa Buhrmann pics - Attitude Hotels & Tessa Buhrmann


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here is a hotel group in Mauritius that enables its guests to experience the Mauritian ‘art de vivre’, the authentic Mauritian way of life. The team at Attitude Hotels, led from the front by CEO Jean Michel Pitot and COO Vincent Desvaux de Marigny, promote their ‘Otentik Attitude’ by doing things differently, authentically – from the celebration of Creole, the national language (there are Creole riddles on the bedroom walls at Zilwa, which means ‘Islander’ in Creole), to Mauritian street food and cuisine, to the vibey Sega dancing and love of music, its art, crafts and ethos of hospitality. In short, they invite guests to experience their beloved Mauritius as they would… like a local.

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Piments (Chilli Bites) – and lick your fingers after eating them the traditional way. The rustic and colourful food carts are named after the ‘Tabagies’, small grocery shops selling fast food and other necessities. Or dine at Kot Nou, meaning ‘at home’ in Creole, which offers the traditional home-cooked flavours of Mauritian Cuisine, exactly what their ‘granmamas’ would have made. Enjoy a rum cocktail to start, and rum arrange to finish off the meal. At Zilwa Attitude, Lor Disab, the Creole word for ‘right on the sand’, offers typical Mauritian dishes in a relaxed traditional holiday cottage vibe where one sits with feet in the sand under an open verandah. The ultimate in authentic dining is to be a guest in a Mauritian home, and with Attitude Hotels you can. Enjoy an Otentik Dinner (authentic) in the home of one of their Family Members (the staff, almost all of whom are Mauritian, are very much part of the Attitude family). These authentic experiences are on offer on a weekly basis and are a highlight for all who attend. After a warm welcome you’ll be invited to join the family in the kitchen to check the curry in the pot, help fry the chilli bites and master the technique of making roti. Enjoy the friendly vibe, chat, laugh and sip rum whilst you enjoy the starter of chilli bites and other delicious battered vegetables .Then dinner is served… chicken curry, faratas, pickles, rice and vegetables with sweet wine. Eat with fork or fingers, the choice is yours. Learn more about your hosts traditions and have your hand henna painted, try on a saree and sway your hips and dance to the rhythm of the Sega. A fun and unexpectedly memorable evening!!

So, how do they do this you ask? Through food, music, crafts and exploration... MAURITIAN CUISINE: There is nothing better than getting to eat your way through a destination. And with Attitude Hotels there are many ways to do this. Get your street food vibe on for lunch at the Taba-J beach food carts where dholl puris, roti (also known as faratas) and curry de grois pois (butter beans) sit side by side with spicy tomato rougaille, pickles and Mauritian Gâteaux

Inspired by all this fabulous cuisine? Then put on your apron and join an Otentik Cuisine Mauritian cooking class with one of the hotel’s chefs. Learn all about local produce and exotic spices, discover how to create the perfect chicken curry or fish vindaloo among many others and take home your favourite local recipe. MUSIC: Once a week in all Attitude Hotels guests are invited to join in and enjoy an evening under the stars, with feet in the sand and vibrating to the pulsating rhythm of the Sega, the traditional Mauritian songs and dance. Traditionally Sega was a nostalgic and artistic heritage sung in Creole, that used to tell of the joys and sorrows of the local people, responsible traveller 45


now however, its beat and intensity provides entertainment to all. Additionally, guests can join special classes and learn how to play some of the local instruments, such as the Ravanne, Triangle and Maravanne. CRAFT: Holidays often mean shopping, and what better way to do this than by supporting local artisans and craftsmen. Attitude Hotels offer a weekly Otentik Bazar where handmade woven baskets, bags and cases made of recycled sails and beautiful unique postcards by Evan Sohun, a Mauritian artist, and much more are on offer. All items are ‘made in Mauritius’, many from recycled materials, and true to the brand’s Green Attitude promise all profit from sales go directly to the craftsmen. What was once a once-a-week experience will soon be rolled out in ‘new-look’ boutiques stocking sustainable and ‘made in Mauritius’ only products. EXPLORE: At Attitude Hotels guests are encouraged to get out of the hotel and explore, and so committed to this are they that they developed the Otentik Discovery App, a unique and original Mauritian guide. This free travel companion enables guests to discover off beaten track sights and unexpected treasures. Walk, ride or drive… you can choose, just download the app and off you go! Take a street food trip in Port Louis with a stop the Bazar (central market) with tables laden with an incredible variety of fresh fruit and 46 responsible traveller

vegetables, an assortment of spices, a meat, fish and seafood section and even a section selling herbal medicines. Or there’s the Chinese biscuit shop, who from this very unassuming little shop is the biggest supplier of Chinese cakes in Port Louis. Take a timeout at Café Shanghai for some dim sums – which are apparently the best in Port Louis, as the queues will attest to. Find your way to Mimosa’s where you’ll find the best 100% Mauritian Indian Dholl Puri - a round pancake made from flour and split peas and filled with local curries and chutneys. Keep a look out as you go for splashes of colour from the street art that adorns the walls adding to the masterpieces from a bygone era – the historic walls, old doors and roughly paved sidewalks. Other Discovery’s will have you exploring small villages along the coast where you can visit a small workshop crafting souvenir pirogues and meet the craftsmen. Or spread some love at Joie de Vivre an association of parents of handicapped children who have a stall where one can stop for a heart-warming chat with one of the ladies or children and purchase local handicraft. And visit the ruins of an old sugar mill dating back to 1820 or just a stroll along one of the local beaches. You’re guaranteed to find picturesque corners, unexpected treasures and beautiful encounters with the local people. The Otentik Discovery App is available to download on Google Play and the App Store.


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Zilwa Attitude

Part of my stay was at Zilwa Attitude in Calodyne on the Mauritian north coast, the only Attitude hotel to be built from scratch. Designed by award winning Mauritian architect Jean-Marc Eynaud, Zilwa (Creole for ‘islander’) is inspired by traditional Mauritian homes and seaside bungalows it offers a relaxed, rustic chic style that fits perfectly with its beach location. The veranda was the perfect spot to make the most of the views across the beach to the azure blue ocean beyond, the sea breeze offering a wonderful respite from the heat of the day.

After a morning of snorkelling I made my way to the end of the jetty for the pontoon raft ride across to Gran Zil Island for some relaxing time in the sun and a beach barbeque lunch. The smoky aroma of seafood, fish and chicken cooking over the coals greeted me on arrival, a quick inspection said there would be time for some sun and a quick dip in the ocean. I was soon helping myself to all the deliciousness of an island barbeque accompanied by salads, bread and an icy local beer. All eaten off enamelware, which is what one would do on the beach with the locals.

A couple of signature local experiences on offer are the beach barbeque and a morning with a fisherman. As any local will attest to, a beach barbeque is a must when on the island, and I was fortunate enough to experience this…

Another experience on offer, that will have to wait for my next visit, is a morning with a fisherman. Wake up early, pop on your shorts and Dodo flip flops, meet your fisherman at the Zilwa jetty and set off just as the sun peeks over

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the horizon. Spend some time on the water chatting and learn about the treasures of the ocean from this experienced fisherman before enjoying a traditional fisherman’s breakfast of vanilla flavoured tea from a thermos, a traditional Mauritian roll (sandwich) and some chilli bites before heading back to land. The rest of my stay was at the recently refurbed and now 100% single use plastic free Lagoon Attitude (previously Sensimar Lagoon Mauritius). Located on the shores of the beautiful Anse la Raie lagoon in the north of Mauritius, this hotel with its Travelife Gold certification is the flagship property for Hotels Attitude commitment to social and environmental sustainability practices. So much so that at the

opening of the hotel they committed that all seven of the other properties will be single use plastic free within the year. On arrival at Lagoon Attitude guests are presented with a beautiful re-useable water bottle easily filled at the water dispenser near reception or at the bar and there are no pesky little plastic tea, coffee or sugar sachets in the rooms. All guests need to do is pop into the ‘shop’ for freshly ground coffee, sugar cubes, milk powder, tea bags and hot chocolate, decide how much you need, pop it into the small glass jars available and you’re sorted. With nothing going to waste. Walking around the property I discovered the solar system hidden on the rooftops resulting in an almost 100% renewable energy source responsible traveller 51


Lagoon Attitude

– generators are a back up for dull weather days when the system can’t cope with the demand. The ‘plastic’ bin liners one sees are actually made from corn – at a vastly higher expense that regular plastic would be and the predominantly endemic water use-friendly garden. Other eco-initiatives that create awareness for guests includes upcycled decorative items and furniture in the hotel’s rooms and common areas as well as eco-workshops for guests teaching how to make reef friendly mineral sun cream, making bags from old t-shirts etc. Marine conservation is key for Attitude Hotels: blue net bags are provided for the collection of litter when beach walking, snorkelling or even scuba diving; mineral sunscreen, that is 100% natural and non-polluting, is provided at the swimming pool and beach for guests and visits to the Marine Discovery Centre whose purpose it is to show and protect the treasures of the Island’s lagoons is recommended. •

Click HERE to read about Attitude Hotels

www.hotels-attitude.com 52 responsible traveller

‘Eco initiatives that create awareness for guests includes upcycled decorative items and furniture in the hotel’s rooms and common areas...’


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COLOMBIA CALLING words - Linsey Schluter

Why you need to add South America’s hottest destination to your 2020 travel wish list 54 responsible traveller


Colombia is shaking off the shackles of its past and emerging as one of South America’s most exciting tourist destinations. After decades of political discord, conflict and the devastating impact of Colombia’s warring drug cartels, the country now has much to celebrate. Julian Guerrero, Vice Minister of Tourism, says Columbia has experienced continuous growth in tourism for the past 15 years. This is due to the increase in air access, hotel investment across the country, and the welcome arrival of more cruise lines year on year. Colombia is enjoying an extraordinary rebirth, and there is no better time to enjoy the charm, history and incredible beauty of this South American gem. Perhaps the best reason to add Colombia to your travel wish list is the sheer diversity of its offering: a Caribbean coastline to the north, a Pacific coastline to the west, the Andes mountain range, unique ecosystems, rainforests, amazing animals, vibrant cities and a thriving art scene. It really does have something for everyone. It’s tough to put together a definitive list, so here are just five reasons to visit Colombia in 2020:

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Cotton Top monkey

pic credit - The Treadright Foundation

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ITS WEIRD AND WONDERFUL WILDLIFE Colombia is the second most biodiverse country on the planet, falling just behind Brazil in the diversity stakes. Set out on a Colombian adventure to discover the Amazon’s pink river dolphin, the breathtakingly beautiful jaguar, the giant guinea piglike Capybara or the rare cotton-top tamarin monkey.

“The cotton-top tamarin is one of the most endangered primates in the world,” says Teresa Richardson, Managing Director of The Travel Corporation in South Africa. “The TreadRight Foundation, The Travel Corporation’s non-profit foundation, announced this year that it would be working in partnership with Proyecto Tití, a conservation program in Colombia to support the survival of this species. This is yet another way we are striving to always make our travel matter, through our dedication to sustainable travel,” adds Richardson. Colombia is chock-full of other curious creatures (including poison dart frogs and exotic butterflies) and rich birdlife too. Topping the list for sheer drama is Colombia’s national bird, the mighty Andean condor. However, the country boasts more than 1,900 bird species, making it a bucket-list paradise for keen birders.

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pic credit - Ricardo Gomez (Unsplash)

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ITS CITIES, TOWNS AND NEIGHBOURHOODS

Both Bogota (Colombia’s capital) and Medillen (about 400 km north-west of the capital) have transformed into exciting, economic hubs bustling with life, festivals and Latin American flavour. Although you still need to practice some common sense when visiting these cities (avoid certain areas, try not wander the streets alone after dark, take care of your belongings and hide your valuables out of sight), most visitors are struck by the warmth, joy and friendliness of the Colombian people. You’ll fall in love with Bogota’s street art and enjoy its eclectic selection of restaurants and craft breweries – or be swept up in the atmosphere and history of Medellin. The best advice is to join a local guide on a walking tour, to get a real sense

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of Colombia’s past, spirit and miraculous transformation. Richardson says that the absolute highlight of the new Trafalgarbranded ‘Columbia Rediscovered’ itinerary, is the opportunity to experience Medellin’s famous aerial lift system and escalators up to Comuna 13 (once dubbed the murder capital of the world). “As heartbreaking as the local stories are, they are also very inspirational. The guides and the community lived through unimaginable times in the 90s, and now their main source of income is from tourism. Learning directly from them, walking the streets, seeing the art, the businesses, it all gives you hope. This tour is about celebrating life,” says Richardson.

COLOMBIAN FOOD

Colombia is famous for its fresh, exotic fruit and wonderful produce. Colombians pride themselves on their authentic, local dishes, which have a strong Spanish influence. Richardson recommends trying the different fruits, as many of them will be completely new to foreigners. “Colombia’s markets have the most beautiful fruit on display, and Colombian street food is not only delicious but a great way to familiarise yourself with the culture, local ingredients and regional dishes,” she adds. As Colombia becomes more popular as a tourist destination, it is also putting itself on the ‘culinary map,’ with award-winning restaurants in Bogota, Medellin and Cartagena. In fact, Popayán in the west of the country is the only place in Latin America to have been declared a ‘City of Gastronomy’ by UNESCO. It is well worth a visit, especially to sample typical Colombian dishes like carantanta, empanadas and tamales de pipian.

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pic credit - Milo Miloezger (Unsplash)

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COLOMBIAN COFFEE

For coffee lovers, a tour of Colombia’s famous Coffee Triangle is a must-do, bucket-list experience. Locals would argue that it’s Colombia’s perfect tropical weather that allows them to grow the best coffee in the world, and they might be right. The coffee region is characterised by mild temperatures, lush, green landscapes and rolling hills, brimming with coffee plantations as far as the eye can see. Hop into a jeep and spend a few days exploring the area, learn how Colombian coffee is produced, enjoy coffee tours and tastings and mingle with local coffee farmers. 60 responsible traveller


pic credit - Robin Noguier (Unsplash)

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ITS SHARE OF ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME EXPERIENCES

For adrenalin junkies, it’s hard to beat Colombia in terms of adventure and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Once again, this country has it all: white water rafting on the Rio Verde, boat trips on the Amazon, diving or snorkelling in Tayrona National Park or a jungle trek to Colombia‘s La Ciudad Perdida (Spanish for ‘Lost City’) for avid hikers. Colombia is an exciting destination and the Colombian tourism authority is working hard

to position the country as safe, colourful, warm and welcoming. There is no doubt that Colombia is still a little rough around the edges. While more independent travellers will happily explore the country under their own steam, others might consider a guided excursion. For many years Colombia’s somewhat cheeky tourism slogan was “The only risk is wanting to stay.” We’d recommend booking a trip in 2020 and experiencing this magical country for yourself. •

Words & pics supplied responsible traveller 61


Take the path less travelled in

KWAZULU-NATAL

Mtunzini’s uMlalazi Beach just south of the river mouth

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Words - Tessa Buhrmann


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opular for its beach, bush, battlefields and berg, KZN offers a veritable smorgasbord of experiences to visitors to the region. Here are a few reasons to look beyond the obvious when making your beach, bush, battlefields and ‘berg holiday choices… BEACH - Mtunzini, meaning ‘Place in the

Shade’, is an unspoilt coastal town with much to offer the birding or wildlife enthusiast. The town, situated on a hill overlooking the coastline, has pristine dune forest and an estuary lined with mangrove swamp forest. The uMlalazi Nature Reserve in Mtunzini offers visitors wonderful opportunities to experience both land and water… canoe and fish in the estuary, take romantic walks on the beach, swim in the ocean and spot wonderful birdlife and a variety of small game in the coastal forest. The Mtunzini beach is wild and wonderful, with sand dunes that appear to stretch on forever - there are no lifeguards and the sea here can be treacherous, so swimming is at one’s own risk.

BEACH Pics - Terry Stallard

Take an easy walk through the mangrove swamp near the main parking area of the uMlalazi Nature Reserve and besides great examples of black and white mangrove, you get to walk past Dunn’s Pool – a man-made ‘bathing area’ dug out of the banks of the uMlalazi River safe from crocodiles and hippos. John Dunn was a legendary hunter, trader and the white chief of Zululand, and played a significant part in the history of the Zululand region. A highlight of this area is the striking Raphia Palm (Raphia australis) Forest. This grove of Raphia Palms is one of the few declared natural monuments in the country and is the best place to spot the rare Palmnut Vulture which nests close to the top of the palm whose fruits form an essential part of their diet.

Dune flowers

Birding enthusiasts will enjoy spending time in the lush mangrove swamps and forests of Mtunzini and the uMlalazi Nature Reserve where, in the company of a local birding guide you’ll likely be able to tick several specials of the region, from the magnificent Palmnut vulture to the little-known mangrove kingfisher, African finfoot and Green Malkoha. responsible traveller 63


BUSH Pics - Debbie Cooper

BUSH - When you say ‘iSimangaliso Wetland Park’, most people think of Cape Vidal and the Eastern Shores – popular because it offers beach-and-bush in one destination. But what many don’t realise is that across the length and breadth of this World Heritage Site a veritable wonderland of beach and bush destinations await. The area is vast. It extends from the Mozambique border in the north to Mapelane in the south, spanning up to 220km of pristine coastline and extends inland to include False Bay Park as well as the uMkhuze Game Reserve – a terrestrial area of 239,566 hectares - the whole Park, including the expanded Marine Protection Area is now over 1.3 million 64 responsible traveller

hectares! What makes iSimangaliso so special is the incredible diversity of habitats which include coral reefs, long sandy beaches, coastal dunes, lake systems, extensive wetlands as well as grasslands and bushveld. All offering a variety of outdoor pursuits, from snorkelling and scuba diving, to game viewing and bird watching as well as turtle tracking and whale watching in their respective seasons. The coastal Eastern Shores side of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park is famed for its wetlands, water birds, crocodiles and marine species, while the Western Shores side is appreciated for its spectacular views over the Lake St Lucia Estuary and its drier palmveld vegetation with its diverse mammal species and


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abundance of raptors. Receiving only half of the rainfall of its eastern neighbour, the Western Shores offers visitors a completely different experience, with giraffes in abundance, great herds of waterbuck and plenty of buffalo. The easiest option is to turn off at the the Dukuduku Gate, on the road just before one enters St Lucia, or alternatively, the Park can be accessed from the major N2 highway via the Charters Creek off-ramp. If you’re pressed for time, enter at the one and exit at the other. One thing I loved about the Western Shores is that it is a great example of successful land rehabilitation. These open palmveld grasslands were once a forestry plantation, which by nature is a severely degraded eco-system. In the space of a just over a decade, iSimangaliso has removed thousands of hectares of alien trees and rehabilitated the natural landscape – the amazing thing is that no new vegetation was planted, nature did what it does best... grow, with dormant seeds sprouting forth. This rehabilitated landscape has seen the reintroduction of historically occurring game including elephant, serval, tsessebe, giraffe, nyala, white and black rhino, buffalo, zebra, red and grey duiker, and wildebeest. And the numerous pans and wetlands offer visitors the opportunity of seeing hippos, crocodiles, many species of buck and an abundance of bird life. This section of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park was opened to visitors in 2013. The roads are in good condition and the ablution blocks new. There are several loops and lookout points and a great picnic site with towering trees alive with birdsong. The new uMthoma Aerial Boardwalk overlooks Lake St Lucia’s narrows and has views as far as Cape Vidal in the north and Maphelane in the south. It is also a great place to sit quietly with the binoculars as the surrounding trees and hillside are alive with birds – especially in the early morning. Charters Creek, historically a favourite with fishermen, is a great spot to take a breather with expansive views across the lake. It is located on the Nhlozi Peninsula that juts into Lake St Lucia. Still a firm favourite with anglers (the appropriate fishing licences are required) and bird-watchers due to its lakeside setting providing great opportunities to view forest birds as well as a variety of aquatic birds, both fresh-water and marine.

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BATTLEFIELDS Pics - Tessa Buhrmann

Bruce Hopwood showing me the plaque beneath the Ultimatum Tree

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BATTLEFIELDS - Do a google search for KZN Battlefields and the Isandlwana and Rorkes Drift Battle Sites are sure to feature – the Battle of Isandlwana was after all the greatest defeat the British army had suffered against ‘a technologically inferior indigenous force’. What many don’t realise is that on that same fateful day troops were marshalling elsewhere and on the coastal plains of Zululand war was already afoot. An ultimatum had been given, one that no Zulu king (or any king for that matter) would abide by. War was inevitable, and as it seems, just what the British wanted. Route 66 is one of the oldest trade routes through Zululand between Gingindlovu and Phongolo. Settlers in Port Natal (now Durban) would set off in ox-wagons on well-worn tracks into the heart of the Zulu Kingdom to hunt and trade, stopping first for permission to do so from the Zulu king. We don’t stop to ask permission before starting our Route 66 Zululand Battlefields trip, but do begin where the drama of the Anglo-Zulu War for all intents and purposes began - on the banks of the Thukela River, the traditional boundary between colonial British Natal and Zululand.

View over the Thukela River from the site of the British encampment

‘An ultimatum had been given, one that no Zulu king (or any king for that matter) would abide by. War was inevitable, and as it seems, just what the British wanted...’

Beneath a large wild fig tree is a plaque marking the spot where in December 1878 King Cetswayo was given the ultimatum, disband your troops or else by the British. He clearly rejected this demand which resulted in the British invading Zululand on the 22 January 1879. The first Zulu attack on the British in defence of their territory was on the coastal plains near Eshowe during a breakfast break taken before climbing towards the higher ground of Eshowe. Known as the Battle of Nyezane by the British and Wombane by the Zulus, this encounter saw 12 British soldiers and in excess of 400 Zulu soldiers killed. This, and their defeat at Isandlwana, caused the British to retreat to Natal to regroup, get more troops and weaponry and to re-plan their strategy. It was, however, the beginning of what would be a futile war for the Zulus as any attempts at reconciliation and avoidance of war were ignored. Route 66 offers more than just battle sites and memorials, of which there are many. There’s responsible traveller 69


Fort Nongqayi Museum

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Proteas at the Chennell’s protes farm


Dlinza Forest Aerial Boardwalk

plenty to get side-tracked with… from the Dlinza Forest Aerial Boardwalk in Eshowe to the fields upon fields of proteas on Jane and Jono Chennell’s protea farm – guests of their B&B are offered the opportunity of a farm and pack-house tour where hundreds of thousands of proteas are sorted, packed and readied for export. Dlinza Forest Aerial Boardwalk, which, at 125-metres long and at an elevation of 10 metres, allows visitors to walk right under the canopy of the indigenous scarp forest. The Dlinza Forest is one of the many beautiful forests of Zululand but is probably the most accessible and is visited by birdwatchers from all over the world hoping to catch a glimpse of one of the many bird species to be found there. Early morning is the best time to visit when the forest echoes with the calls of Trumpeter Hornbills, Purple-crested Turacos and Narina Trogons, just a few of the 65 forest bird species in Dlinza. A great overview of the history of the region can be found at Fort Nongqayi Museum which covers a wide range of local interest from natural and missionary history to wars between kingdoms and battles against the tsetse fly. The Fort was built after these wars when Zululand was made a colony of the British Empire.

Cemetary at the Norwegian Mission Station

Also of interest in Eshowe is Fort Mondi - the Zulu name for Bishop Schroeder who was at the Norwegian Mission Station during that time; KwaBulawayo, King Shaka’s capital for 12 years before he moved to KwaDukuza; Coward’s Bush, where legend has it that Shaka tested the bravery of his soldiers who had been accused of cowardice by ordering them to throw themselves into the aggressively thorny Kei Apple (Dovyalis caffra) and the lone grave of a British soldier who was killed by accident while on the march in 1888 – left undisturbed showing the great respect the Zulu people have for the dead. We spent the night at Mtonjaneni Lodge with its views over the Valley of the Kings and across the rolling hills to Ulundi in the distance... this is where the British gathered for their ‘take two’ against the mighty Zulu nation at Ulundi during the Anglo-Zulu War. It is also where King Cetshwayo sent gifts of ivory, amongst other things, in the hopes of persuading the British to withdraw. The Mtonjaneni Zulu Historical Museum has an exceptional display of artefacts from the Anglo Zulu War and from here a guided tour of King responsible traveller 71


A re-creation of Odini, King Cetshwayo’s capital on the original site

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Dingane’s Spring can be undertaken. We delved further into Zulu history and culture as we travelled along this route to The Spirit of eMakhosini, a memorial to the Zulu kings buried in the valley below; uMgungundlovu, the royal palace of Zulu king Dingaan and then on to the KwaZulu Cultural Museum and King Cetshwayo’s royal settlement at Ondini (near Ulundi) which was razed to the ground after the final battle of the Anglo-Zulu War. On the 4 July 1879 the British crossed the White Mfolosi River and headed in the direction of Ondini, King Cetshwayo’s capital. The force of over 5,000 men, two Gatling guns, and 12 artillery pieces was too much for the 20,000 strong Zulu warriors that awaited them – the Zulu’s didn’t have a chance and the battle lasted less than 45 minutes and resulted in the death of approximately 1,500 Zulu warriors and 12 men on the British side. This, the Battle of Ulundi, was the last battle of the Anglo Zulu War of 1879 and the stone memorial pays tribute to those lost on both sides.

Battle of Ulundi Memorial Statue of King Cetshwayo at Odini

After the Battle, King Cetshwayo fled to Ngome Forest near Nongoma and evaded capture for nearly two months before being captured and sent by ship to Cape Town where he was held captive for 3 years before going to London to plead his case to the Queen. He was an object of great curiosity in Britain as the man who had destroyed the British army in the Battle of Isandlwana. Cetshwayo returned as a free man in January 1883, but during the Zulu Civil War of 1883-1888 he was forced to flee and took refuge with British in Eshowe where it is suspected he was poisoned. He died in 1884 and is buried just outside Nkandla Forest. The KwaZulu Cultural Museum at Ondini, which was opened in 1984, houses one of the most representative collections of the rich cultural heritage of the region and is famous for is collection of beadwork. There are also several items which belonged to King Cetshwayo who ruled the Zulu nation during the Anglo-Zulu war of 1879.

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‘BERG - Named ‘Ukhahlamba’ by the Zulu people and ‘The Dragon Mountain’ by the Dutch Voortrekkers. The awe-inspiring Drakensberg Mountains, with their massive cliffs towering over grasslands, riverine bush, lush yellowwood forests, fresh mountain streams and cascading waterfalls, form an enormous barrier separating KwaZulu-Natal from the Kingdom of Lesotho. In combining sheer natural beauty with a wealth of biological diversity, this 243 000-hectare mountainous region known the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park well deserves its international status as a World Heritage Site. The lower slopes of these mountains were once teeming with herds of eland, prized game for the San, the original inhabitants of this region. Some 350 years ago they were displaced by African tribes and the arrival of early European settlers, but evidence of their reverence of the eland can still be seen as rock art in numerous cave and overhang sites between Royal Natal National Park in the north and Bushman’s Nek in the south. The popular and easily accessible Giant’s Castle Main Cave Museum is the commercialised of any rock-art site and is a mere half-hour hike on well-marked paths. But for a more off the beaten track experience visit the Kamberg Rock Art Centre for a guided four-km hike up to the Game Pass Shelter to view the incredibly well-preserved San paintings depicting their way of life - chances are you’ll be the only ones visiting. Your local guide will explain the history and culture of the San people as well as the meaning behind the art. Enjoy the wildflowers and diverse grasses on-route, fill your water-bottle from the mountain stream, look out for eland, bushbuck and gazing skywards one might be lucky and spot a Lammergeier, the endangered bearded vulture. Specials for birders in this region are the Drakensberg Siskin and the Drakensberg (orangebreasted) rock jumper. It is a tough hike if you’re unfit but take it slowly and enjoy the views as the result is worth the effort! •

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‘BERG Pics - Tessa Buhrmann

‘Hike up to the Game Pass Shelter to view the incredibly well-preserved San paintings depicting their way of life chances are you’ll be the only ones visiting...’


Below: Selby our guide from the local Mpofana village

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WHERE TO STAY: MTUNZINI AND ZULULAND ROUTE 66 – Toad Tree Cottage A charming three-bedroom cottage set beneath towering trees in a large indigenous garden overlooking rolling sugarcane fields outside Mtunzini. Taking its inspiration from the colonial farmhouses of yesteryear my host Bruce Hopwood has lovingly restored the cottage after years of hunting demolition yards, auction houses and junk shops for authentic building materials from the past - it has features taken from old railway stations, gentlemen’s clubs and churches which have long been demolished. The delightful bedrooms have been decorated in themes that celebrate the three distinct cultures of the region, the walls intricately hand-painted in keeping with each theme. The African Room has the textures and earthy colours of Africa and is simply furnished with local works of art and crafts. The English Room is done in the style of the British Arts and Crafts Movement and is beautifully furnished with family antiques. The Indian Room, which was my favourite, is romantically inspired by the intricate and richly decorated Mughal palaces of the East, which made me feel like an Indian princess sleeping in her boudoir. The beautiful 5-acre garden which has been landscaped for year-round interest consists almost entirely of indigenous trees and plants and makes up an impressive private botanical collection. I loved the dappled sunlight filtering through the trees, the birdsong that greeted me each morning and the nightjar that serenaded me to sleep each night. As well as the lush garden that surrounded me as I stepped out onto the verandah, the glistening swimming pool and the comfy chairs where I had my early morning coffee.

www.toadtree.co.za 76 responsible traveller

Pics - Tessa Buhrmann


Toad Tree Cottage

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ISIMANGALISO WETLAND PARK – St Lucia Eco-Lodge With its perfect location in close proximity to the Indian Ocean, the St Lucia Estuary and the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, St Lucia Eco Lodge makes exploring the region a breeze. Add to that its views over the treed garden, dense coastal forest or the ocean, and you’re set for a relaxing stay. But what I loved most were all the eco-initiatives that are proudly displayed for all guests to see – their ’50 Shades of Green’. Owner Kian Barker tells me that the list needs to be updated as they have now exceeded 50! These include the obvious water saving requests to guests, recycling, planting indigenous and using LED for all lighting and illumination. They have even used solar reflecting paint to reduce the need for air-conditioning. Rainwater harvesting, water saving showerheads, solar heated water and sundried laundry are just a few more. But the one I was most impressed with was their impressive array of solar panels and the use of threephase balancing technology which has reduced their electricity usage substantially and resulted in30% of their power being renewable. The staff are wonderful – always available with a smile and always happy to help. So much so that one evening while waiting for supper I was called to ‘come quickly’ so as not to miss seeing a hippo in the road. As it turned out, mommy hippo was taking her young one for a stroll right through the property!! Quite a sight to see, and something that the town of St Lucia is renowned for.

www.stlucia-ecolodge.co.za

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St Lucia Eco Lodge

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KAMBERG – Qambathi Mountain Lodge An old farmhouse has been lovingly restored and now boasts wonderfully quirky decor - handmade & locally sourced, nooks and crannies to relax in and much attention to detail. Fabulous food, great hospitality and bunch of eco-initiatives (I loved the handmade soaps and powdered toothpaste) including locally sourced fresh, organic and free-range produce. What enthused me most though was the wonderful team led by inspiring young couple, Stephen and Nadia Maritz. Stephen, who had lived in the UK for 15 years, has a British passport and had a high-level job in the finance industry, and Nadia who from a banking background started teaching yoga. Earlier this year they chose to leave their comfortable lives in the UK to buy a farm (and country lodge) in South Africa - without even seeing it!! And at a time when so many are thinking of leaving the country & selling their farms. Their reasons? Stephen wanted to return home and Nadia, his Polish wife, had learned to love this country... and they want to make a difference and add value to people’s lives. I loved their enthusiasm, their positive outlook on life, the way they treat their employees and their guests. The way they are committed to treading lightly, using eco-products as well as sourcing local, organic and free-range produce. A stay at their special spot in the Kamberg mountains, Qambathi Mountain Lodge is more than a holiday, its where your soul will be refreshed, and your energies renewed.

www.qambathi.com 80 responsible traveller


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NEWS Attitude Hotels calls for a collective movement and commitment for a tourism that leaves a positive footprint on Mauritius Invited global tourism industry and media were able to experience firsthand the incredible commitment made by Attitude Hotels to operating sustainably at the opening of the newly renovated Lagoon Attitude on the shores of the beautiful Anse la Raie lagoon in the north of Mauritius. “You discover today Lagoon Attitude, our new eco-committed hotel, as hoteliers and a Mauritian group, and simply as citizen of Mauritius and the world, we need to take our responsibility and play our role”. This was the opening line of the speech by Jean Michel Pitot, CEO Attitude Hotels at the launch of the Lagoon Attitude Hotel. He went on to invite “guests, Family Members, and our partners to join us in a collective movement and to commit for a tourism that leaves a positive footprint on Mauritius’”. “Dear friends” he said “tonight is not just the opening of a new hotel…tonight we are celebrating the launch of a gigantic movement, a movement that will make Attitude operate differently in view to preserving our planet and of course our beautiful island”. He went on to explain that the idea is not just to minimise the negative impacts of their actions, BUT to be ingenuous and invent new ways of doing things. At the beginning of 2019, they did a study to better understand their impact of the local economy. “Today we employ 1600 people and procure far more than 500m Rs locally… the study revealed that we in fact supported more than 3700 jobs in the country”. He emphasized their willingness to protect Mauritian cultural and environmental heritage and that there is a need to provoke a behavioral and mindset change within each one of us. ‘‘Attitude is determined to make a sustainable difference, hence its decision to reinforce its commitment to sustainability and to adopt a more militant approach in order to bring iconic positive changes in the tourism sector whilst having an impact on our Mauritian environment and economy. Sustainability is the responsibility of every individual, every day and we believe that as a local Hotelier and Mauritian Group, or simply as a Mauritian we are bound to drive the changes towards making sustainability the “new norm”. These sentiments were confirmed by Vincent Desvaux de Marigny, COO Attitude Hotels . 86 responsible traveller

“Tonight it is OUR call and we thus invite our guests, our family members and our partners to embark in our endeavor, to take the commitment to contribute to the sustainable development of tourism because we are convinced that the more people know why sustainability is important for the Tourism Sector, the greater the force behind this effort will become. You are thus called to commit to the pledge that the Tourism Sector aims to create a positive footprint for Mauritius”. Together they said “this Pledge is our commitment, our Promise made to our guests, our Family Members, our partners, our fellow citizens and to our planet, that Attitude will contribute to the present and future well-being of the environment, economy and society. And we seek to be leading by example”. •

www.hotels-attitude.com


NEWS Hotel Verde Cape Town achieves 6-Star Green Star SA Existing Building Performance rating from GBCSA The Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) has awarded a 6-Star “Green Star SA Existing Building Performance (EBP)” rating for Hotel Verde Cape Town, Africa’s greenest hotel. This puts the hotel at ‘World Leadership’ status according the to the GBCSA’s certification tools. GBCSA strives to accelerate the development and adoption of best green building practices so that all buildings are designed, built and operated in an environmentally sustainable way. Dorah Modise, CEO of GBCSA, says, “The EBP rating is achieved through assessing the environmental performance of any existing building in operation - items such as energy and water monitoring, management policies and plans are required in order to achieve the rating.” Dorah adds that the evaluation also addresses the relationship between landlord and tenants, but that the focus is on making the operations and management of the building efficient in order to maintain optimal performance. The ratings given for this system are: 4 Stars - “Best Practice”; 5 Stars - “South African Excellence”; 6 Stars - “World Leadership”. “Hotel Verde Cape Town Airport was awarded the highest score achieved for Green Star SA EBP v1 in South Africa to date,” Modise exclaims, “which further emphasises their comprehensive sustainability strategy, implemented from the ground up, across all elements of the hotel operations.” Commenting on the rating, Mario Delicio, founder of Verde Hotels and passionate

advocate of sustainability, said how fitting it was to be awarded this prestigious accolade whilst celebrating their sixth year in hospitality and sustainability. “I am immensely proud of the team at Hotel Verde Cape Town Airport – this is a phenomenal achievement - everyone’s input, ever-improving performance and a passion for operating green hotels has resulted in the ultimate reward. May we continue to grow, contribute and prosper in all things sustainable,” he concluded. Andre Harms from Ecolution Consulting, who consulted on the project, adds, “Here you have a building that is literally green from the ground up. Almost every possible sustainable initiative option was considered at the time of design and construction. What is truly remarkable is the commitment to a holistic thrivability journey, with a view to creating a hospitality offering that is sustainable at every level, and increasingly so over time. Continued eco-friendly operations have resulted in this, our second award from the GBCSA, and we are immensely proud of this achievement.” Hotel Verde Cape Town Airport showcases some of the most advanced, environmentallyconscious technological installations and construction methods in addition to procurement and operational practices in the world. Verde Hotels remains committed to growing a portfolio of luxury green hotels and green buildings in Africa, and around the world. •

www.verdehotels.com

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DUARA TRAVELS... connecting travellers & local people

Johanna cooking with her host at Lembeni village

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W

hen the founders of the the Finnish start up, Duara Travels, were travelling in Africa and Asia, they encountered two problems: first, it was surprisingly difficult to step out from the touristic areas where everything was built for tourists and seeing the real local life felt impossible. Second, the money from the tourism industry rarely seemed to reach the locals with low income level. The experiences of the three Finnish women, Johanna, Annika and Elina, led to the idea of an online platform through which travellers can find accommodation with a local family and participate to their daily life for few days. In this way travellers connect with local people and bring tourism income to rural areas in Africa - 60 % of the price paid by the traveller, goes directly for the local community. Duara Travels was founded in 2015 with the first destination villages being in Tanzania. Today, four years later, the company operates with 28 villages in nine different countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Eleven of the villages are located in Africa: Tanzania, Kenya and the last arrival, Ghana. The idea of the concept is simple: Travellers get to stay in rural villages which are difficult or impossible to reach without the help of the company and where they will most likely not meet other tourists during their stay. In addition of being hosted by a local family, they also get to participate to the daily tasks of the villagers. Depending on the destination, travellers participate in milking cows, feeding buffaloes, picking tea, fishing, participating on fish auctions, shopping in a Masai market...and the list could continue!

words - Salia Binaud, COO Duara Travels pics - Duara Travels

Although the host families do not always speak English, the travellers have had amazing experiences based on cultural exchange and the discovery of a totally different lifestyle. An English speaking local contact person is available in each village to assist the travelers to meet their hosts and find out how to arrive at the village by public or private transportation. responsible traveller 85


The message of Duara Travels is: “ when we travel we want to meet local people and see real life. We dream about being treated as family members, not as guests, that’s what we wish our travellers to experience as well. Most of all, we want to value and benefit locals wherever we go.”

Our host family at Mtwara

Therefore, the company doesn’t want to influence the service and the infrastructure too much, they want the locals to be able to to show what they want from their life and build the experience by themselves for the travellers. Duara’s business model has been built on these thoughts, according to which 40 % of the incomes go directly for the host family, 10 % for a local contact person, who helps the travellers with practicalities related to transportation and language in the village, and 10 % goes for a local community group saving money for the common needs of the village. The company keeps 30 % of the money for the development of the company and the remaining 10 % go for the international money transfers, as it is important to pay each of the beneficiaries directly. The first destination country for Duara Travels was Tanzania, where Duara co-founders Elina and Johanna travelled in January 2016. The aim of the journey was to find as many Duara villages as they could, and collect feedback from families and local contacts on the concept. They spent a total of five weeks in the country and stayed in seven villages, five of which became active Duara villages after their trip.

Johanna Vierros answers a few questions about their field trip. .. Which were the highlights of your stays in the villages? “Spending 5 weeks in Tanzania finding and onboarding Duara villages is one of the best experiences in my life. We started our journey in Kigamboni, an urban community in Dar es Salaam, and after that headed off the beaten path. In Mtwara, a small town in the very south of the country, we got to stay in a house without electricity and visit some neighbors living in clay huts. In Ziwani village, the family wanted us to see how they really cook, and we caught one of their chickens and ate it. I was impressed to see how actively children participated in the everyday chores in the family. 86 responsible traveller

In Kizimkazi, a fisherman village on the West coast of Zanzibar, I got to participate in a fish auction one morning at 6am. One of the boats had caught a shark, and I saw it being dragged on the beach and sold to a local restaurant owner. That is a sight I will never forget”. Was there big differences between the villages? “All Duara villages in Tanzania are special for their own unique feeling and way of life, but if I had to choose a favourite, the answer would be Likamba. The beautiful scenery and


‘The message of Duara Travels is: when we travel we want to meet local people and see real life. We dream about being treated as family members, not as guests, that’s what we wish our travelers to experience as well. Most of all, we want to value and benefit locals wherever we go...’ responsible traveller 87


Landscapes at Likamba

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colours of this small village located in the hills of Arusha took my breath away. The ride there was also something else – our Duara contact picked us up from a bus stop but we didn’t take the bus there but hopped on motorbikes. The path to the village is easier to ride with bikes and also gave way more credit to the beautiful green landscape than a car ride.”

Fish auction at Kizimkazi

What did you do with the host families? “I genuinely think that the best part about Duara is the fact that you get to know local families and enjoy the pleasure of doing not much with them. The best moments in the villages have happened when nothing major has been going on – either cooking dinner, playing hide and seek with the children, drinking tea with the elderly not understanding a word from each other’s language but still somehow finding a connection with them. We took care of farm animals, cooked dinner and took walks in the neighbourhood.” How did the host families welcome the concept and the idea of working with the company? “Almost all families were excited to join Duara from the moment we told them about the idea. Some were hesitant and didn’t decide right then and there. Since the very beginning communicating about the concept as honestly and openly as we could was a top priority, and we strictly avoided misleading any of the contact people or families.” Today, Duara Travels has sold more than 1600 nights for 500 travelers and brought 33 000 euros for the communities in the developing countries. The company is constantly asking feedback from travellers, but also from the host communities for developing the concept and for following the impact of the business in the host villages. In her masters’ thesis, Johanna Vierros, did a qualitative research of the impacts in the first villages and interviewed many families in Tanzania as well. In addition to financial income, many of the locals mentioned the pride in their own culture following Duara. For many, the social aspects of hosting travelers were even more important than the financial impact. 90 responsible traveller

Elina getting to Likamba by motorbike


Our hosts at Kigamboni

The chicken at Ziwani village

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LAUNCHING IN 2020...

Duara Travel’s off the beaten track experiences in Finland The original idea of Duara Travels was to focus on the Global South where the income level of local people is lower than in Europe. However, the aim has also been to help rural areas to increase their income and self-employment level, and to become economically more sustainable. As in various countries, also in Finland, the countryside is becoming more and more deserted and many of the daily services have moved to bigger cities. Public 92 responsible traveller

transportation to some areas is getting rare and locals have to move to the cities for work. But, there are still plenty of people who want to stay in their home villages and maintain their original farm works or handicraft professions – and some that are using new technologies for remote working. Therefore, Duara Travels has decided to answer for those who have many times asked for Duara villageexperiences in Finland!


Fishing in Finland

Despite that Finland is the home country of the company owners, tourism is increasing fast in Finland and so is the idea of “living like a local”, so we feel that now is the moment to try the concept in a totally new destination. As Finland is not interested about masstourism but wants to offer pristine and unique experiences while preserving its environment and the local culture, Duara’s concept fits perfectly on the market.

We want travelers to see another side of Finland in addition of Santa Claus, reindeers and Finnish Design. By starting to operate with our first Finish villages at the beginning of 2020 we will help people to discover what they don’t know about Finland and to immerse in the real local life of the Finns*

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HOLBOX,

a sanctuary to rest and coexist with nature

O

n the northern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, you will find an island with calm warm waters, where flamingos float in the sky, the stingrays visit the shore followed by small multicolored fish. When you arrive at Holbox, you will be surrounded by mangroves and beautiful beaches. You will never feel guilty about relaxing and doing absolutely nothing. words - Joe Richard pics - Las Nubes de Holbox

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To add to your unplugging, in front of Las Nubes de Holbox, an exclusive Eco-boutique hotel on the island, you will find an extensive sand dune visible during low tide. All you have to do is dive into the waist-high water, which will allow you to cross all the way into the Yum Balam reserve. You will be able to enjoy it’s beautiful views and exuberant fauna. Upon your return, you will be able to relax in the beach club, and enjoy your time swinging in a hammock while listening to the sounds of the waves crashing, accompanied by a delicious Caribbean drink. Las Nubes offers the perfect spot for relaxing on a private beach while enjoying a book under the shade, or if you prefer you can do an activity such as paddle board, kayak, snorkel, beach volleyball or yoga. There is a lot of space to do any or all of these activities. To continue with your unplugging, spend your afternoons on the deck of the Sabor de las Nubes restaurant, while observing the beautiful colors of the Caribbean Sea, where you will always be accompanied by several seagulls, and possibly curious iguanas. You will also be able to try delicious dishes such as ceviche, magnificent lobster, octopus tostada and even salbutes and delicious homemade pastas. You won’t have to worry about what to choose because all the dishes are a guarantee, as all the products are fresh and locally sourced. The beautiful sunsets are followed by magnificent starry nights which you will be able to observe from the bar or from one of the many panoramic balconies. If you are in luck, you will have the opportunity to experience the bio luminescence, where the sea comes alive with small lights at the crashing of the waves. Every moment will add on to your relaxation, on Holbox, you don’t have to worry about anything, not even your clothes. Simply ditch your shoes and enjoy the disconnect that the true essence of Holbox will give you. In addition to this, Las Nubes takes on its commitment in an eco-botique space inside the Yum Balam bioreserve, on a tiny island in the middle of the Mexican Caribbean, surrounded by crystal blue waters and beautiful mangroves. “Our experiences with our guests are not implicated, they are improved, by the sustainability and coexistence with a natural paradise.” 96 responsible traveller


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These commitments include: RESPONSIBLE CONSUMPTION - Visitors and residents of the island value this earthly paradise where we are located, for this reason and with intention to preserve it. We work with the local economy by not offering animals that are endangered, such as snails, lobsters and octopus are not offered in temporary ban. RESTAURANT - At El Sabor de las Nubes we stopped using Styrofoam and we have replaced it with 100% biodegradable and compostable 98 responsible traveller

packaging. We also joined the initiative of reducing the use of straws, where the would only be provided if a guest ask for it. The straws that are provided are made of bamboo fiber, which is 100% biodegradable. SUITES - we help to reduce the ecological impact, such as LED lighting, shampoo and conditioner that are biodegradable, reduce the change of towels. And, we do not use chemical products for cleaning the rooms. To reduce the consumption of PET bottles, customers are offered the option of


consuming purified water that is in a crystal pitcher placed in the room. FAUNA - In our wildlife protection program, the hotel received help from Pronatura, to modulate and control the intensity of the lights that are located outdoor to avoid confusing the turtles during the period of hatching, since they use the light that reflects the moon over the sea as a guide. WATER - The hotel has a treatment plant that helps to clean the water from the laundry,

kitchen and biodigesters, and take advantage of the vital resource for watering the green areas of the hotel, protecting the mangrove, as well a rainwater collector that is used if it is necessary in the facilities TRAINING - The hotel has a trainee program by professional about good practices in the environment which is main purpose is to be more conscious in the recycling and the use of water.

www.lasnubesdeholbox.com responsible traveller 99


NEWS Samara Private Game Reserve welcomes first lion cubs Just one year after welcoming its founder pride of lions, Samara Private Game Reserve is celebrating the birth of its first litter of cubs. Born to the first wild lion and lioness to roam the Plains of Camdeboo near Graaff-Reinet in over 180 years, these cubs represent a victory for wild lion conservation. “We are ecstatic about this birth,” says Sarah Tompkins, founder of Samara. “It’s a sign that our move to rewild the landscape to create the conditions for new lion populations has been successful.” The birth of the lion cubs is significant for its contribution to wild lion conservation in a region from which lions had gone locally extinct. Lions have come under threat globally for a number of reasons, chiefly habitat loss, conflict with humans and the illegal trade in lion bones as substitutes for tiger bones in Eastern medicine. Within South Africa, the canned lion trade, in which lions are bred and hunted in captivity, threatens the survival of the species in the wild. There are now estimated to be just 3,000 wild lions in the country. “Lions are the sentinels of wildness in Africa, and the success of these apex predators in our protected areas is a key indicator of the effectiveness of conservation measures,” comments Professor Graham Kerley, Director of the Centre for African Conservation Ecology at Nelson Mandela University. The latest additions to Samara’s lion population are thought to have been born in September, after a typical gestation period of 105-120 days. For the first few weeks of their lives, lion cubs remain hidden in dense vegetation to avoid detection by potential predators. In choosing to give birth on one of the reserve’s steep mountain slopes, their mother has given them the best chance of survival. She has periodically moved den sites across the escarpment, not far from her hunting grounds on Samara’s plateau grasslands, where large herds of black wildebeest and blesbuck abound. The introduction of lion into Samara at the beginning of 2019 represents one of several initiatives by Samara to restore the Great Karoo’s rich biodiversity. Over the past 22 years, thousands of wild animals have been successfully reintroduced into the private reserve, the Eastern Cape’s largest, including antelope, zebra, buffalo, cheetah and more recently, elephant in 2017. Added to this, the 100 responsible traveller

Samara team has worked hard to improve vegetation communities by rehabilitating eroded land, planting Spekboom and managing water catchments in this semi-arid region. All told, the activity undertaken by Samara in recent years means that the reserve – located in one of just 36 global biodiversity hot spots – is close to achieving its goal of restoring this Great Karoo ecosystem to optimal functionality. “The birth of the first wild lion cubs in the region in almost two centuries is a wonderful milestone on our journey,” Tompkins concludes. “It serves as a great incentive to continue our commitment to the preservation of this fantastically biodiverse region.” •

www.samara.co.za


NEWS MOU signed by the Department of Tourism and Handicrafts of GuineaBissau and United GB at key time for tourism growth On the 22nd of October, the Department of Tourism and Handicrafts and United GB announced a new agreement to boost tourist numbers in Guinea-Bissau. Following a high-profile discussion, the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed at the Government´s Palace in the capital Bissau, by Mike Tavares, CEO of United GB, and Catarina Taborda, Tourism Secretary of Guinea-Bissau. The objective of the Memorandum of Understanding is to enhance cooperation between the DOT and United GB in identified areas of mutual interest with a view to: • promote tourism as a tool for the development of Guinea-Bissau in line with Africa’s Agenda 2063 aspirations and goals on sustainable economic growth. • build strong partnerships to support the development of the tourism sector in Guinea-Bissau.

to increase visitor numbers and revenue for the destination.

Under the agreement, both entities will work together, to develop quality tourism, particularly in attracting new source markets and to promote Guinea-Bissau as destinations to be visited as part of a single holiday. Mike Tavares, CEO of United GB, said: “Under this mutually beneficial agreement, we look forward to working closely in making GuineaBissau a referent benchmark tourism destination. Together we have ambitious targets to encourage record numbers of visits to GuineaBissau from high-spending markets. This new partnership aims to capitalise on opportunities by aligning our work and marketing activities in these countries where appropriate.” •

www.aunitedconsulting.com

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So where in the World is Guinea-Bissau?

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Guinea-Bissau is a tropical country on West Africa’s Atlantic coast that’s known for national parks and wildlife. The forested, sparsely populated Bijagós archipelago is a protected biosphere reserve. Its main island, Bubaque, forms part of the Orango Islands National Park, a habitat for saltwater hippos. On the mainland, the capital, Bissau, is a port with Portuguese colonial buildings in its old city center. As places around the world begin to disappear forever due to environmental changes, ecotourism is becoming more popular and important than ever. The jewel of the crown of Guinea-Bissau, is the beautiful Archipelago of Bijagos, the hidden gem of the Atlantic and UNESCO world heritage! Islands, creeks, mangroves, islets, sandy bays and no more than 11 settlements on 88 islands. The biological richness of the islands makes them a unique space, especially in the fauna and flora. The archipelago is the only place in the world where one can see hippos swimming in ocean. Furthermore, the islands are also home to five of the seven endangered species of sea turtles and rare migratory birds. You can also find dwarf crocodile, African forest elephants, West African Manatee, Atlantic humpback dolphin, buffalos and large marine herbivores, such as the manatee. The beaches are accompanied by rich forests offering a great natural diversity. The islands crystal waters are bursting with fishes and are still unspoilt as it awaits your first cast. The adventure seekers can discover several coral reefs, perfect for diving and exploring. • words - Mike Tavares

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15 AMAZING COUNTRIES Countless amazing responsible tourism experiences

If you’re a traveller who’s concerned about the impacts of your travels, then Southern Africa is the destination for you. In the three years that the African Responsible Tourism Awards has been running, a whopping 46 awards have been

handed to tourism organisations from Southern African countries. Some have gone to shine on the global stage, with southern African countries having racked up 11 wins at the World Responsible Tourism Awards since 2015.

ANGOLA

BOTSWANA

DRC

LESOTHO

MADAGASCAR

MALAWI

MAURITIUS

MOZAMBIQUE

NAMIBIA

SEYCHELLES

SOUTH AFRICA

SWAZILAND

TANZANIA

ZAMBIA

ZIMBABWE

The Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa (RETOSA) is a Southern African Development Community (SADC) body responsible for the development of tourism and regional destination marketing across the 15 Southern Africa countries. www.retosa.co.za

Profile for Responsible Traveller

Edition 1 2020  

In this edition we get off the beaten track and show that great experiences can be had without contributing to over-tourism at iconic, popul...

Edition 1 2020  

In this edition we get off the beaten track and show that great experiences can be had without contributing to over-tourism at iconic, popul...

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