Green Safaris and The Green Safaris Foundation

In what is another difficult week for our industry we wanted to share a bit of African sunshine from our webinar last week. Green Safaris’ Founder, Vincent Kouwenhoven, shares his recent experience of travelling to Zambia and the Green Safaris properties. He also introduces the inspiring Green Safaris Foundation and speaks of their acts of ‘Covid Kindness’ over the pandemic.
Travelling to and from and around Zambia and Malawi
Vincent Kouwenhoven: How happy I was to be back in Africa. We had a very warm welcome in Zambia and Malawi. Airline requirements vary slightly, so it’s important to check before travel. If an airline/ country requests a pre flight negative Covid test there is an option to have these tests in Livingstone or Lusaka.

 

Requirements for entry into Zambia and Malawi are:
* A valid negative PCR Covid Test before entry that is no more than two weeks old.
* Temperature check on arrival.

 

Travelling around was incredibly positive and we felt incredibly safe throughout our whole itinerary. Health and safety measures are taken incredibly seriously in Zambia but carried out in a very friendly way. I have never had my temperature taken as much as over the last five weeks in Zambia. I was very surprised to see people wearing masks all over Zambia and Malawi as this has certainly not been in the case in the NL. The contamination of Covid in Zambia and Malawi is incredibly low with the three main reasons covering demographics.; the average age is 20 years old, outdoor living and the warm climate. Despite this, the governments in both Zambia and Malawi have taken measures incredibly seriously.
Escape Covid Chaos – working remotely with a view…
Vincent: It surprised me to meet so many international travellers on our travels. The main difference appeared to be that people are travelling for longer and doing two / three week + itineraries. It has also been encouraging to see the growth of new bookings since September with our reservations team receiving 75 new bookings for the end of this year into next (around 800 bed nights). Thankfully there are still people who don’t want to wait!. Having spent a week at each property it has inspired us to think about Long Stay options for people to work remotely in Africa.

 

Escape the covid chaos! Take your work with you, and instead of worrying about future lockdowns and the rising virus statistics around you, treat yourself to a month or more working in your dream destination. Even better, do so whilst making a positive difference in the world. Green Safaris are creating some radically marvellous Long Stay Specials to help you get from your couch to the banks of the Zambezi River.
An update on Green Safaris Properties
Ila Safari Lodge is open and has been the preferred booking option for Zambian Residents in Lusaka. Sindabezi, Tongabezi and Kaya Mawa are all open and attracting a fair share of the domestic markets. This has been great for keeping up the morale of our staff as they are incredibly passionate about their core jobs.

 

Chisa Busanga Camp and Shawa Luangwa Camp were initially due to open in June of this year but with Covid, have been delayed until 2021. Shawa will open on 1st May and Chisa will open on 1st June 2021. Jacob Shawa found the beautiful location for Shawa Luangwa Camp 10 years ago. It is located on the eastern side of Luangwa River below the Nsefu Sector. Together we wanted to build a really open set up in the heart of pure wilderness. The tents are built on a raised platform with incredible 270 degree views. A pontoon runs from the camp across the Luangwa River to enter the park in one of the prime areas away from the hustle and bustle of the main areas of the Park as well as being able to access the Nsefu Sector within a 15 minute drive.

 

We have ordered four more electric game vehicles that have just arrived. We have also expanded our solar power plans. We are testing some e-mountain bikes, which would be a lovely activity to add to our portfolio.
The Green Safaris Foundation
We started back in March with our Covid Kindness projects. Not knowing what the impact on our communities would be, we started with a lot of educational/ information projects on Covid. We moved to building sanitation systems such as water pumps with hands free and hand sanitiser stations. We put systems in place food distribution for the elderly who should have been in isolation.
In hindsight there were never outbreaks around our camps, so we were lucky. We started intensifying our conservation efforts. When it became clear to us what was going to happen in March, and being driven by our passion for conservation, we knew we need to keep job retention around our lodges despite potentially having zero revenue until April/ May 2021. We didn’t want to lay off any of our staff. We had to keep the staff busy through massive maintenance jobs and conservation projects, so that all the camps are in top shape to welcome guests again.

 

Likoma Island
* Clean up Likoma Programme and investment in bin collection and education in all the schools to make the island clean and plastic free.
* Reforestation programme combined with an introduction on smart stoves.
* Expanding our community garden providing local food to the lodges and to the community.
* Education programme support many of the schools * Helping the local hospital on the island.

 

Ila Safari Lodge
* Expanded our community farm by introducing pigs and chickens, as well as going completely organic.
* Reforestation there in the form of a bamboo plantation.
* At the beginning of lock down we were really concerned about poaching. We continued to do game drives to patrol and invested in an anti-poaching until on the Busanga Plains.
* We asked many of our staff members to start teaching about conservation and organic farming in the local schools.
* We invited all of the school children for a visit to the Kafue National Park. This has developed into a fully fledged programme to do this regularly.

 

Tongabezi
* Tujatane School
* We’ve started a reforestation programme in Livingstone
* We’ve started an organic community farm here. Providing food for the lodges and the communities.
* Clean up Livingstone Programme in terms of education and the practical clean ups.
We have ordered four more electric game vehicles that have just arrived. We have also expanded our solar power plans. We are testing some e-mountain bikes, which would be a lovely activity to add to our portfolio.
Tujatane School
Emma Kennedy: Tujatane, meaning let us all hold hands together, was set up in 1996 by Vanessa Parker. Originally there were just 15 pre school pupils and now there are over 280 ranging from pre-school to grade nine. The school focuses a lot on community and all of the children live in the surrounding Samonga area and have parents who work at the lodge. We continue to support children to finish their whole educational schooling up until grade 12 and even on to University. The school is funded through international donations. The school has a an ICT room, an amphitheatre and an art room. We work in a more holistic way and try and develop each child as a whole with a range of extra curricula subjects. We also feed the children so they get a breakfast, lunch and an evening meal before they go home. The school closed when Covid hit and remained closed until the middle of September. We have continued to support and interact with the children. We ran a food support and hand outs for the students and the community. We also educated them in what Covid is and ensuring that people feel safe.