Our top tips on making your trip to Africa more eco-friendly

1. Stay in eco-friendly lodges

We can help you choose lodges with eco-friendly credentials such as Mwaleshi in Zambia’s remote North Luangwa, or Mumbo Island in Malawi for the true Robinson Crusoe getaway. Many of these lodges are powered from solar panels, use compostable loos, and will recycle as much as possible. Even if a lodge doesn’t have particular credentials, you can still do your bit by reducing the number of towel changes in your accommodation, kindly refusing any plastic straws in your sundowners, and trying not to use too many paper napkins.

Mwaleshi Camp, Zambia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Choose lodges that give back to the local community

Many of the lodges we use make various forms of charitable contributions to the local area to help with sustainable tourism and other benefits to the environment.  Serra Cafema is one lodge where nearly all the staff are locals, and the land is leased to the Himba people for their livestock grazing.  Make your own contribution by helping with “Pack for a Purpose” which is widely recognised by a lot of the lodges we use.  This involves packing items that will be of use to the area you are travelling to and handing them over to your accommodation when you arrive for distribution.  Let us know if you’d like to contribute and we can suggest some suitable items depending on your destination.

Local Himba People, Serra Cafema

3. Consider alternative modes of transport

Walking and horse riding safaris are the obvious choices here, but how about looking at a mountain bike safari, or for those who’d like a more relaxed version of a biking safari, there’s the option of hiring e-bikes as well.  A few of the lodges, Lewa Wilderness being one, are now adopting electric safari vehicles too, many of which are being charged through solar panels back at the lodge.  Another option would be a leisurely canoe down one of the many rivers, in particular the Okavango Delta, Botswana in a mokoro.

Safari at Lewa Wilderness

4. Use a reusable water bottle

Often these will be supplied by lodges to be used instead of sipping out of plastic cups, and can often be taken home with you afterwards to continue the good work at home!  Many bottles will also claim to keep your drinks ice cold for up to 24 hours, perfect for those long days on safari in the midday heat.

Nomad Tanzania Water Bottle

5. Take a reusable shopping bag

Foldaway shopping bags take up very little space in your luggage and will eliminate the need for plastic bags during your trip.  These would be especially useful if you’re planning a trip to the shops in places like Cape Town, Zanzibar and Nairobi.  Tanzania have also now banned plastic bags completely, so all the more reason to go prepared!

6. Meet the local community

Take a trip into the local villages to meet the locals and browse the local shops.  These shops will provide you with much more authentic gifts and souvenirs than the larger hotel gift shops, and it will help to inject some money back into the local area.  If you’re off gorilla trekking in Uganda, be sure to visit the Bwindi Bar in Buhoma for a refreshing drink or a quick bite to eat.

Bwindi Bar, Buhoma

 

 

 

 

 

Insider tip: where to start your honeymoon when you’re tired from the wedding

It always seems such a shame that so many honeymooners jump right into an adrenaline-pumping safari when they’re still tired from the wedding and, more often than not, an exhausting overnight flight or two. So, wherever we can, we try to tempt our guests on a safari honeymoon to spend a day or two relaxing before they head off on their adventure. Here’s our pick of places to really relax…

Ras Kutani Honeymoon Relaxation

Lie back and relax at Ras Kutani

Ras Kutani– This ultra laid-back beach lodge is just a 20 minute light aircraft hop south of Dar es Salaam, so if your priority is to get your feet in the sand as quickly as possible it should be top of your list. There isn’t masses to do here except eat, sleep, snooze with your book and take a dip in the Indian Ocean. Ideal preparation for a safari in the Ruaha or Selous Game Reserve.

Wildwaters Lodge

Tub for two overlooking the Nile? Could be worse

Wildwaters– most people come to this luxury lodge beside the Nile for the excellent white water rafting that Jinja has to offer, however, the truth is that this tiny private island seems much better suited to doing nothing at all. The bathtubs out on the deck of your room are seriously romantic, and a dip in the pool just inches from the rapids would certainly be a great start to making life-long memories together. Follow this on with more magic with gorilla trekking in Bwindi National Park.

Tongabezi Honeymoon

Sundowners on the Zambezi? Yes please.

Tongabezi– this charming, rustic lodge on the banks of the Zambezi is one of our dream spots to start a safari honeymoon. It just seems made for the sort of magic you don’t find elsewhere- lunar moonbows over Victoria Falls, swimming in the Devil’s Pool, and gentle early evening cruises to watch the sun set. From here, it’s an easy hop on to safari in the South Luangwa National Park.

Giraffe Manor Honeymoon

Making memories of a lifetime at Giraffe Manor

Giraffe Manor– OK- so this one technically does involve a little wildlife- aside from the giraffes that you’ll meet at breakfast there are also a few friendly warthogs scampering around the lawns. However, with a couple of nights here you can truly relax before the early starts and long drives of a safari in the Masai Mara.

Winelands

Wandering in the Winelands

The Winelands– South Africa’s Cape Winelands are a truly blissful spot to spend a few days, whether it’s snuggling up beside the fire on a chilly winter’s day or riding through the vineyards on a hot sunny afternoon. Staying in central Franschhoek is the place to be for buzzing restaurants and the (occasionally raucous) wine tram, but if your wedding was party enough, there are some peaceful boutique hotels tucked away in the vineyards. Afterwards use the direct flights from nearby Cape Town to get up to safari in the Okavango Delta or Kruger National Park.

How to bargain well in Stone Town (even if you’re British and it’s all rather awkward)

One of the great delights of visiting Stone Town (and if you are on holiday in Zanzibar, this is the No. 1 on our do-not-miss list) is in buying treasures to bring home. There’s the fun of discovering some hidden gem you’d never find anywhere else, the post-holiday boast-factor (“Oh this? I picked it up in a little shop I know in Zanzibar…”) and above all, the fun of the bargain.

First of all- know where to bargain. Stone Town hotel boutiques or swanky air-conditioned shops where all of the stock has price-tags are unlikely to be as flexible as cash-only market stalls and owner-run shops.

Stone town

Perfect bargaining territory – visiting Stone Town from Matemwe Retreat

Serena Inn Zanzibar

Exploring Stone Town from the Serena

Do your research… If you spot something you like and want to buy it, ask around before you approach the store owner and get embroiled in negotiations. Who to ask? Well- ask the staff in your hotel (though don’t follow them to their brother’s shop) or our guide if you’re on a tour of the town.  It’s also possible to ask multiple store owners for a rough guideline price before you buy so you can compare, but you must make it clear you’re not looking to buy right away, or be  entangled in hours of unwanted bargaining and the poor stallholder will get his hopes up.

Remember, you really, really like the person you’re bargaining with, even if you’ve only known him for 5 minutes. Charm- and a touch of Swahili- always gets you the best price.  Try “Ni ghali sana” (“it is very expensive”) to help your cause.

Bargaining is supposed to be fun– be prepared for the odd touch of melodrama (“Oh, my friend, my children won’t eat if I sell it at that price”/”But my wife will divorce me if I spend $200 on a Zanzibar chest”). Making a good deal is fun. Be prepared to walk away if you really feel you’re being ripped off, but don’t come back unless you’re seriously planning to make a deal- it’s not fair on the man or woman who’s devoting half an hour of their day to you and not their other customers.

If you reach a price that you’re happy with, and the stallholder will sell to you at- go for it! There’s no perfect price- just the perfect one for two people in that moment. You might pay more or less than others, but you’ll always have a memory of striking a fun deal with a proper Zanzibari merchant.