"Wildland travelers on this safari make an enormous difference and are agents for positive change in Africa. With water comes life, there's a better quality of life for villagers and an exponential increase in the numbers of elephants and other wildlife that people travel so far to see," said Kurt Kutay, Wildland Adventures' founding CEO/President.
In 2019, Kutay's company made investments and led a GoFundMe campaign to purchase, install and maintain solar-hybrid water pumps that are becoming game changers in and around Hwange National Park. "The fact that guests get to see the pumps in action, along with the herds of elephants that congregate to the waterholes, and then meet the rangers who protect them, and the communities who benefit from tourism, is incredibly gratifying to us and our travelers," Kutay concludes.
There are two departures of this life-altering conservation safari in 2020: June 10-20 and July 27-Aug. 6. The departure in 2021 is July 4-21. Guests meet teachers and children in village schools, sit with community leaders and spend a night in the field with anti-poaching patrols. On mountain bikes they pedal by creatures drinking at solar-diesel-pump-driven water holes and help monitor the pumps. Riding the colonial-era, 24-passenger Elephant Express rail car with an eye out for cavorting wildlife; canoeing on the Zambezi River; participating in game drives and in the excitement of viewing wildlife from underground blinds are part of the adventure that begins at Gorges Lodge at Victoria Falls.
Accommodations are pioneering lodges built on community land. Guest stays help improve schools, provide clean domestic water supplies and health clinics in local villages. Historically tribal communities received little direct benefit from Zimbabwe's booming tourism industry. For the rural village living next to a national park, wildlife was by no means an attraction. Elephants ate crops and lions killed livestock. These animals were problematic and to the locals something neither to encourage nor to protect. With the benefits from tourism providing income, water, food and medical care, today ex-poachers are working as guides and helping staff the camp.
The park is just an hour south of Victoria Falls, the first stop on this itinerary. From the bountiful falls of the Zambezi River, guests witness the arid realities within the park that has no major rivers. Year-round water supplies (including an aging infrastructure of diesel pumps and bore holes) are, therefore, unreliable for villagers and some 45,000 elephants. This region of grasslands and mopane woodland supports over 100 species of mammals including lion, leopard, cheetah, African wild dog and the rare sable antelope.
Included in the $7,180 per person double rate is a $500 tax-deductible donation to Wildland Adventures' non-profit Travelers Conservation Trust Foundation that dedicates 100 percent of contributions directly to support the communities guests visit. Last year was a severe drought year in Zimbabwe. Wildland contributed $4,000 to its partner's school feeding program which in 2019 provided 425,000 meals to children in the region.
If you have questions about our Water for Hwange Conservation Safari please contact our Africa Program Director, Chris Moriarty.
Here is a look at what guests experienced last year on our inaugural Water for Hwange Safari.