WHERE CONSERVATION IS A WAY OF LIFE
It gives me great pleasure to introduce you to one of the most magical places in Africa. Please follow me on a short virtual eco-visit of the Lower Zambezi National Park. Here we have designed a code of ethics and a safari guide manual for all the area’s safari guides to ensure more competent and sympathetic guiding which you will get, most especially, of course from your guides at Chiawa Camp & Old Mondoro.
Chiawa Camp & Old Mondoro lies on the banks of the majestic Zambezi River, in a wide valley amongst the trees, perched on the side of the rocky hills and mountains that shape pristine sunsets. As you arrive you will see that the camp sits in verdant vegetation under the canopy of evergreen mahogany trees. It has been designed to the codes of the Environmental Council of Zambia and the Zambia Wildlife Authority and what might surprise you is that its sympathetic design blends in almost completely with the environment rather than making a statement that stands out against it. Almost all the construction is made of renewable materials such as the timber floors and thatched roofs for the lounge/bar and an open dining room. Then you follow a path, and little by little you will discover the 9 guest tents.
Please come inside your tent! You will be given your personal aluminium water bottle filled whenever you want with purified Zambezi water. If you accept this present and agree with our idea, then together we will reduce consumption of more than 3,500 plastic water bottles each season. Do you know that if you drink water from a plastic bottle, 3.5 litres of fossil fuel was used to produce it! So this simple action not only significantly reduces non-biodegradable trash, it also reduces the use of fuel in the manufacture and transport of the bottles! If you take your bottle home with you as we invite you to and continue to make use of it, then you will make even more savings on behalf of the environment and even your wallet.
Now we will visit behind the scenes. Here everything is done to save energy: 12 volt inverter power is stored and used to reduce fossil fuel dependence, as low energy light bulbs are throughout camp, solar panels produce supplementary electricity. All 2 stroke outboard boat motors have been replaced by 4 strokes, reducing noise, carbon emissions and fuel consumption by 50%. Every week the resupply truck takes out our litter to preserve the environment. Your laundry is hand washed in cold water with biodegrable soaps. Behind the kitchen you will find an astonishing place: a charcoal walled store room with dripping water keeps vegetables fresh instead of refrigerators.
But it’s time to go for activities in the bush! Here too a policy of eco-responsibility prevails. There is palpable, sensitive interaction of the camp, its owners and employees/guides with the habitats and wildlife of the Lower Zambezi. Your guide will have a considerate attitude towards the ecosystem: wildlife is observed not influenced or interfered with by our presence, for example off road driving is kept for only unusual sightings. Even if you might find yourself watching a lioness with her small cubs - magical - you will be advised how to behave so as not to disturb this lovely family and you will agree to not approach to closely.
Should you opt to partake in a night drive the spotlights used will be covered with a red filter to minimise the glare in the sensitive eyes of all creatures you are likely to encounter. It can take over 35 minutes for a leopard’s eyes to recover from less than 60 seconds of exposure to a non filtered spotlight whereas red filtered lights have been shown to have no adverse effects whatsoever! Of course, being a mammal too, your eyes will also suffer less and you will have a much more comfortable and rewarding experience (you will see the wildlife will behave much more naturally and be more tolerant of your presence), as will the creatures you look at. But nothing comes without a price, in this case your guide will not only politely ask you to ensure your flash is switched off if you would like to take photographs (dial up your ISO instead) and your photos will have a grainy feel to them. And before you ask, no you won’t see fewer animals as a consequence; our frequency of nocturnal sightings has not at all diminished since using the red filters yet the quality of all night sightings has improved..
You will also be offered non-motorised activities such as walks and canoeing and be completely immersed in the wilderness as you participate to reduce emissions and fossil fuel usage. If you want to go angling you will be asked to practise catch & release and you will see that the enormous (or not so) tiger fish you have caught is shortly thereafter swimming happily back in the water! Chiawa Camp was the first tour operator to introduce this respectful practice and successfully lobbied with the authorities to have catch & release enforced in the Lower Zambezi National Park – still the only National Park in Zambia where this practice is mandatory.
During your time at Chiawa Camp & Old Mondoro you will be introduced to local, relevant principles of ecology & conservation and perhaps you will make the opportunity to visit and even contribute to Conservation Lower Zambezi, an on site charity co-founded by Chiawa Camp to ensure the Lower Zambezi will forever be protected.
And there you have it. So, at the end of your visit, you will leave empowered with the knowledge that your visit has in some way contributed to the long term sustainability of one of Africa’s finest wildlife and wilderness areas, and that you have been part of the solution, not part of the problem!