Wilderness Safaris believes in honest, mutually beneficial and dignified relationships with their rural community partners which deliver a meaningful and life-changing share of the proceeds of responsible ecotourism to all stakeholders. One way in which Wilderness Safaris promotes this by offering guests visits to local villages and various cultural experiences in the communities adjacent to the wild areas in which they operate.
In Zambia, Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park is home to Wilderness Safaris’ Toka Leya Camp. The lodge works closely with Sinde Village. Sinde Village has approximately 162 households and over 2000 people, and is made up of four smaller villages: Katiba, Lypwaya, Siatela and Mulauli.
Wilderness Safaris guests visiting Toka Leya have a great opportunity to experience and interact with the local community through these cultural visits. The first stop on the cultural village tour is to the local primary school – Twabuka. This is where Children in the Wilderness (CITW) operates our programme. The school’s Eco-Club is very active, and it meets weekly where trained Eco-Mentors run our lesson plans. Children from the Sinde Village Eco-Club are selected to join in on our Annual Camps.
Visits to Twabuka Primary School have resulted in many guests supporting our children through our Scholarship Programme. While at the school, guests have the opportunity to read with the children and visit the ecological gardens.
In Siatela Village the guests are welcomed with traditional dances, visit the women’s garden and are given practical experience in basket weaving. This interaction helps guests understand how communities live, and exposes them to their history, livelihoods and ways of living.
At Katiba Village the women and youth specialised in carving, sewing and knitting. During the village visits, guests have the opportunity to try their hand at carving or sewing. Guests are also shown how the village head (leader) lives in the community, and how the leader works for his people.
The village visits bring development to the area through sales from local products, donations from guests, scholarship for children and, more importantly, cultural exchange which brings understanding between guests and the community.