Ecological Artist

Meet Shorai Matambanadzo – Conserving wildlife and empowering girls through art

I am an ecological artist. My responsibility is to make residents in a cluster of villages where I work outside Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, aware of the connection between art and conservation. One place I do this is Rise and Shine Girls Club sponsored by Global Sojourns Giving Circle.

The 35 girls in the club have grown up seeing their male relatives chop down trees, carve small animals to sell to tourists and ferry the curios to market. This tourism-based art model threatens the once-plentiful hardwood forests of Southern Africa, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species. Erosion and other impacts of deforestation are made worse by the erratic climate.

For these girls, woodcarving is the only art they know. So Auntie Sfe and I are introducing sustainable art forms, with drawing, composition and photography lesson. All three can enhance awareness and sharpen observation, providing new and creative ways to see the world and its interconnections.

In 2018, we want to take the Rise and Shine girls to conservation areas, introduce other art forms, and assemble a team that will produce, if we can find a camera or two, a photo show or video documenting the impacts — both good and bad — of tourism on their villages.

Change must start with these girls. Perhaps they will be among Zimbabwe’s first generation of indigenous environmentalists or eco artists.

 

Special Experiences

“Young Explorers was a true gem – an experience our girls will never forget.”

We recently sent clients – a lovely couple with four daughters – on a Botswana Young Explorers safari. We knew this would be a great fit for their family as they expressed they wanted their daughters to be engaged, to learn but to also have fun! 

Young Explorers focuses on the whole family, offering up an incredible opportunity to discover the wonders of the African wilderness- together. Activities for children include learning to track animals, identify birds and start a fire with sticks. Families can explore the bush at their own pace, and expert guides offer parents a respite. 

Young Explorers is an exclusive experience. Only one family at a time has the use of the private, six-bed camp- including your own professional guide, personal chef, waiter, housekeeper and dedicated mokoro guides.  The guides are spectacular!  Engaging, entertaining, loving what they do and it shows.   

This is one of the most heartfelt and exciting experiences a family can have traveling together.  We love Young Explorers! 

 

 

Young Explorers was probably the highlight – just because it was so intimate and Opie was an amazing guide. Young Explorers Footsteps was a true gem – an experiences the girls will never forget. Having that experience first was really wonderful and got them to truly appreciate the wild. The elephants in camp on a daily basis definitely got everyone a bit excited.  Boris V.

Special Places

Just back from Kenya, GS traveler Cindy Krueger of Seattle give us a glimpse into this remote, dramatic place that filled her soul.

“Ah, Sarara — an oasis in the midst of the Matthews Range of northern Kenya. This stunning place, in the 850,000-acre1 Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy, has a little of everything. You can walk to the singing wells2 or up into the hills with your guide, unusual in safari country.

“Enjoying the unspoiled/authentic Samburu culture is part of the magic of Sarara, and a village visit is possible. While they are related to the Maasai, the Samburu are distinct from them.

“The watering hole beneath the camp ensures wildlife near the lodge. It is lit at night, and watching the ‘ellies drink under a starlit sky is quite the experience. Sarara has a wonderful conservation story, which is getting better every year. Don’t miss a visit to the just-licensed elephant orphanage at Reteti Elephant Sanctuary. Feeding time for the little ones is a great time to be there.

“Your hosts are warm and welcoming. The food and accommodations are wonderful. You are the only lodge in hundreds of square miles, so tranquility is guaranteed.” — Cindy Krueger, GS traveler from Seattle

1. About 1,328 square miles, or slightly larger than Rhode Island.
2. Local men sing individual songs at wells to call their cattle to drink. Each herd knows its song

GS Client Helps 58 Children in Zambia Attend Pre-School

Because of the Rasin-Waters family’s generous support of the GS Giving Circle, 58 children in Livingstone, Zambia – who would otherwise not have the means – will attend pre-school this year.

It was a joy to see the little ones’ gratitude during Donna Rasin-Water’s recent visit, and equally inspiring to observe how deeply Donna listens and responds to a small community’s needs.

Thank you Donna and the whole Rasin-Waters family!

 

Ah-Maaa-Zing! Primate Adventure in Uganda & Rwanda

Ah-Maaa-Zing!

We must have said, “Ah-Maaa-Zing!” 300 times. There was something around each bend to excite us, and the special moments we shared with gorillas and chimpanzees – moving through their activities with them – captured our souls.
 
I can’t remember being so excited in anticipation of a tour – I could hardly sleep the night before! When I joined two of our lovely clients on a Global Sojourns “primate-focused trip” in Uganda and Rwanda, I expected thrills. But I had no idea just how enthralled I would be by the countryside (especially in Uganda) and by our adventures.

These included:

  • Going in search of tree climbing lions (and finding them)
  • Exploring the shores of the Kazinga Channel in a private boat – taking in elephants, hippos, buffalo, antelope, wondrous birds, rustic fishing villages, and more
  • Absorbing breath-taking views and landscapes
  • Sharing the rhythm of life alongside gorillas and chimps.

We chose to participate in the habituation programs for both the gorillas and chimps.  This differs from the regular one hour treks that are most commonly done (both require permits).  
 
To say it was an experience of a lifetime, would be an understatement! The habituation programs allowed us to spend few hours in their midst- an experience simply beyond words.  
 
Gorillas were the highlight of our trip.  My first glimpse of the silverback moving through the dense mountain forest was electrifying, and something I will always carry with me. As you can see from our photos, we were accepted by the majestic beasts and at times they approached us within inches.

Following the chimpanzees was also deeply moving.  We lucked upon the Alpha chimp early in our trek, and followed him as he ventured through his morning in the forest, calling out to his mates, beating his chest, pounding tree trunks, feeding, contemplating, and grooming. It was pure joy when he allowed us to tag along.

These experiences were such a privilege. I was so taken by them, and by the warm and welcoming people of Uganda, that I am returning next year.  And you are invited to come along!  Join us or have us design a customized primate adventure for you.
 

My “on the go”… office!

Hopefully you can leave your work at home when you go on travel adventures but, for those who can’t, we recommend this practical and hardy, yet lightweight bag: Eagle Creek’s Straight Up Business Brief RFID.

With different sections for electronics, paperwork, and travel accessories, it keeps items organized and provides padding where it’s needed without bulk. It can be carried over the shoulder, as a backpack or strapped onto a wheeled bag.

I’ve dragged it to many countries on many an adventure, through all kinds of conditions and terrain. It’s done a great job protecting my electronics and it holds up great.  

 

10 Cool Things to Do in 28 Hours in Franschhoek in Winter

A taste of the many things on offer in the winelands!

1) Visit the art gallery and wine cellars at Glen Carlou

2) Visit local potter, Nico Liebenberg, at his workshop

3) Enjoy a fantastic lunch at Babel

4) Roam the gardens at Babylonstoren then climb “the mountain” for terrific views

5) Olive and wine tasting at La Bourgogne

6) Beer tasting at Tuk Tuk microbrewery

7) Shop for art in town and at Grand Provence

8) Hike one of our favorite trails at Mont Rochelle

9) Wine tasting at Rupert & Rothschild

and top it off with…

10) Cheese tasting at Dalewood Cheese Farm

Then back in Cape Town for sunset!

Great Luggage for Safaris

The perfect solution to those light aircraft luggage restrictions

Load Hauler Expandable

If your safari includes traveling between camps in light aircraft, you’ll need to use luggage that works within the airlines’ requirements.  The luggage compartments of these planes are limited in space and thus the need to have soft sided luggage. While some of the companies will let us get by with our beloved 22″ bags with 3 soft sides, most require that the bags be soft-sided all around and no wheels.  When wheels aren’t allowed, I’ve found Eagle Creek’s Load Hauler to be the perfect solution.  It offers the space of a duffel while providing the option of carrying it as backpack which lightens the load while traveling through airports.

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3 Favorite Active Adventures in Africa

If you’re looking for ways to be more active and adventurous in Africa, here are some great ideas for you!

 

Mountain Biking through Damaraland, Namibia

Damaraland in northwestern Namibia is home to the famous desert adapted elephant as well as some of the most spectacular landscapes known to man. Here you can cycle up ragged canyons, across rugged steppes and through petrified forests. The terrain is challenging and captivating, and for those in reasonably good condition, it is an exciting opportunity not to be missed!

Tracking chimpanzees in Mahale National Park, Tanzania

Mahale National Park in western Tanzania is a magical place, home to some of Africa’s last remaining wild chimpanzees. Careful hours of trekking with experienced guides leads to that incredible moment when you come upon the chimps…and suddenly they are everywhere! Sitting quietly on the forest floor, one catches a glimpse into their daily lives – their feeding, playing, squabbling foraging and grooming. Spending time with these magnificent primates is a true privilege!

Chimp trekking

Game Viewing by Microlight

Microlight flights offer a breathtaking, uninhibited and unique way to view wildlife from above and is an extremely adventurous way to discover the beauty of Africa’s game reserves (with a pilot of course!). Microlighting actually started in the 1970’s but these days the equipment is a lot more advanced and the sport has a global following! With the right wind conditions, imagine a bird’s eye view of a sunrise with troops of elephants gathering below. It’s an experience you won’t soon forget.

Microlight

 

Keep checking the blog, more great adventure ideas coming!

 

What to Wear on Safari

We recommend packing light, wearing khaki & neutral tones  
Packing
  • Khaki and neutral tones allow us to blend in with the landscape. They’re easy to mix and match (so we pack less) and if we get dusty it doesn’t show
  • Khaki/beige shorts and shirts are also deal as they are least likely to attract the animal’s attention … and least likely to need washing.
  • We suggest comfortable clothes that are cool, but that can be layered to keep us warm in the evening or for early morning wildlife viewing. Light weight shirts and fleece pullovers are ideal. Zip off pants that turn into shorts take up less space.
  • Pack light for your trip; laundry is complimentary at most safari lodges and camps.
  • Do not bring camouflage clothing as it is not considered a fashion statement in Africa… camo might draw unwanted attention at airports or border crossings.
  • Packing with layers in mind is important. To layer while also packing light, use clothing items made with lightweight, quick-dry, versatile fabrics. They are worth the investment!
  • If you’re spending time in a large city, you might pack one “smart casual” outfit.
  • In respecting the local cultures, it is recommended that women wear a skirt or shorts that cover their knees when visiting local people in the rural area.

 

Check out our super handy Safari Packing Checklist!