Last year, one of our Africa experts, Matt Shock, was lucky enough to escape the UK and get away to the wilds of Zimbabwe for an exciting adventure exploring the vast wilderness of Hwange National Park in the west of the country. During the trip, he enjoyed an unforgettable adventure with Imvelo Safaris, whose aim is to support the area's local communities, land and wildlife. Read on to find out more about his trip and gain an insight into the importance of sustainable tourism in Africa...

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Taking Sustainable Safaris to the Next Level

There are dozens of incredible examples worldwide of lodges, hotels, projects, initiatives and schemes which embody the values of community-led, sustainable tourism and are real drivers in the bid to make our global tourism industry a better one. However, throughout my many years of travelling I have seldom seen a better example of a company working to highlight the importance of sustainable tourism than Imvelo Safaris in Zimbabwe. Imvelo take these values and principles to the next level, offering a safari experience which puts the local communities, the land and the wildlife at the forefront of the conservation battle, and very much imbues the visitor with a sense that they are visiting for the betterment of these three pillars.

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Supporting Local Communities

The majority of staff at Imvelo's camps in Hwange are from the local communities which surround the park. This allows the communities to see that the presence of the national park and its wildlife (what the tourists come to see), provide a direct benefit to the community in terms of jobs. More than that, however, Imvelo is one of the biggest contributors in the country to the communities' infrastructure, food and water sources, health facilities and other public services. The fact is, in today's world, local communities which have had land taken away from them for the benefit of wildlife and tourists need to (and should) see a return on these natural resources. Imvelo gives the communities a reason not to hunt or poach the wildlife which spills over from the park onto their land; it effectively helps them become custodians of the land and its resources for the betterment of all, not just the tourists who visit these wonderful wild places.

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An Authentic Safari Experience

Imvelo's camps and safaris are traditional, authentic, and simple. They focus on experience over luxury (but are still very, very comfortable), and are in some of the best game viewing locations in Hwange, be it the beautiful private concession of Bomani, next to the indomitable Ngamo Plains; the "Wild West" interior location of Jozibanini; or the elephant-centric position of Nehimba. Their guides are some of the best in Zimbabwe (which is a tough accolade to achieve!), and offer an in-depth, informative and enjoyable experience for all visitors to Hwange, irrelevant of safari experience or interest.

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Intimate Guided Safaris

Their privately guided safaris add a really personable touch to a trip away. Accompanied by one of their expert guides, you get to travel around the different camps and gain an intimate and informative experience in the various different areas of Hwange. Furthermore, some of their camps offer an incredible variety of experiences beyond game drives including horse riding, mountain biking, walking safaris, and even canoeing in the green season when the seasonal pans fill up.

For anyone visiting Hwange, I highly recommend looking at Imvelo's wonderful portfolio for an exciting adventure around Hwange and Zimbabwe. You will see first-hand the incredible approach they have to highlighting the importance of sustainable tourism in Africa and their efforts to promote a truly community-led eco-tourism which helps secure a brighter future for the people and wildlife of Zimbabwe while providing unbelievable experiences for the travellers who visit this remote part of the country.