The Last Straw

The world is facing a plastic problem, and it is snowballing- but so is awareness and determination to halt the crisis in its tracks. Wild Horizons has several strategies in place, and all of these have seen massive success.

Only a few years ago plastic bottled water was thought to be an inescapable essential on safari. Then, the world seemed to draw a collective breath as images of sea horses carrying earbuds emerged. A plastic bag was found thousands of feet below the ocean’s surface in the world’s deepest trench. Birds were seen nesting in shreds of shopping bags.

As heartbreaking as it is to think and see these images, our planet and our wildlife need us to realise the extent of the damage that is caused by these fickle, yet indestructible products.

 

Searching for solutions 

Our mission began when we joined the ”straw war”, banning the use of plastic straws at all of our lodges and on our activities. The next step was to address the use of plastic bottles. We installed water purification systems at each lodge and provided every guest a reusable water bottle that they could refill with fresh filtered water. We stopped serving plastic bottled water during meal times and instead we provide purified glass bottle of water. The initiative has been a massive success, and we are proud to report a 100% decline in plastic water bottle consumption in all three lodges, with not one plastic bottle of water being provided.

 

Nine million reasons to join the war on plastic

Victoria Falls has an average of almost 605, 000 international visitors every year. If each visitor stays an average of 4 days and consumes 2liters of bottled water per day, over 9 million plastic bottles will be discarded annually. Recycling programs in Africa are severely limited, and one plastic bottle can infest the earth for 450 years before the elements can decompose it. The enormity of the problem can not be ignored.

We need to change the way we think about plastic. When we ”throw it away”, where is it going? When plastic is buried, it does not nourish the earth. It leaches toxins into the soil, poisoning or ensnaring wildlife. The purpose of a safari is to appreciate the earth’s natural beauty, a pleasure and a privilege that we will go great lengths to protect.

Five tips to limit plastic waste on safari 

Most plastic products take centuries to decompose, which means almost every piece of plastic ever produced is still in existence… much of it in oceans or landfills. The small changes you make now could create a big difference for future generations.

  • Say no to bottled water, and refill a reusable one.
  • If you are concerned about water quality when you explore off the beaten track areas, take a Life Straw or Steripen with you to filter out harmful bacteria. Alternatively, do some research and purchase a water bottle that has a built-in filtration device.
  • When you go souvenir or grocery shopping at local markets, take an eco-friendly cotton bag with you. These are light and very easy to pack.
  • Many people who go into rural areas are tempted to give the local children sweets, but the wrappers from these are extremely harmful to the environment. Instead, take a box of fruit with you.
  • Avoid travel-sized toiletries and plastic-packaged toiletries when you pack. Instead buy a bar of shampoo, conditioner and soap with a steel tin to store it in.

If you have bought some new gear for your trip, remove any plastic packaging it may be wrapped in and send it to a nearby recycling station. Don’t bring it to the bush.

Chef Daisy: ‘I am vibrant’

There is something hypnotic about watching a chef preparing a meal. The soft hand that shook mine moments ago now confidently wields a butchers knife, swiftly slicing up ingredients like they are made of butter. I can hear the smile in Chef Daisy’s voice as rich aromas rise in warm waves from her frying pan. Her tone seems to be in tune with the sizzle, and her story emerges through the plumes of steam that have started to dance between us.

Daisy’s passion for cooking began in her modest family kitchen, where she watched Chef Daisy sitting on the deck of The Lookout Cafeher mother lovingly prepare traditional meals. Since then, she has worked at the Wild Horizons Lookout Café and now on the Malachite, a luxury dinner cruise boat.

These exciting kitchen environments have inspired Chef Daisy’s skills and become transferable to the taste of her cuisine. Her bold and fearless experimentation with flavours mirrors the dramatic landscape of the Lookout Café, an iconic restaurant perched on the edge of the Batoka Gorge. Today, as the Malachite slips along the surface of the Zambezi, Daisy plates up her popular Beef Mignon. “The Zambezi River is breath-taking and refreshing, so the environment on its own makes the brain fresh”, explains Daisy, as she trickles a decadent jus over her dish. The dots and squiggles of nouveau cuisine are artfully incorporated, but they are accompanied by hearty, wholesome ingredients that strike the delicate balance between home cooking and fine dining.

As in all kitchens, a sense of urgency buzzes through the atmosphere around us, but the calm smile never leaves Daisy’s lips. Her lightning-quick hands stir and sprinkle fresh herbs into the simmering pots, but there is no futuristic culinary chemistry or flamboyant tableside showmanship. The ingredients for the Malachite dining experience are simple- spectacular food, prepared and served by a spectacular team, in spectacular surroundings.

While Daisy favours fine dining when she cooks, her favourite meal is Mild Peri Chicken served with a parsnip puree, asparagus, baby carrots and chilli sauce. Like her, it is unpretentious yet inimitable- the kind of meal you would want to share with friends. Though Daisy may work like a machine, there is emotion in her food that resonates with all who taste it.

Chef Daisy describes herself as a “vibrant, energetic woman who is willing to go the extra mile” and she shows this in her food. An hour ago, we sat down at a table laden in fairly ordinary groceries. Under Daisy’s expert hands, the vegetables, herbs, spices and meat came together in a delicious dish that only someone who truly understands and appreciates good food could create.

At Wild Horizons, a spirit of empowerment, passion and positivity emanates from within. The women in our company shape our vision to make a difference, and their fierce sense of strength and leadership weaves a golden thread throughout the organisation. Keep an eye on our website for more blog posts about the many Wild Horizons Wonder Women.

Join Chef Daisy on a Malachite dinner cruise by booking here, or get in touch with us at info@wildhorizons.co.zw

Carol Makuwire: ‘I am a pioneer’

“I am not just a boat captain responsible for my passengers. I am a pioneer, responsible for inspiring other women to break into the profession.” Her voice may be soft, but the message is clear and delivered without a tremor of nerves. Twenty-two-year-old Carol Makuwire is a valued ambassador for Wild Horizons, navigating unchartered waters as she strives to become the first female boat captain working on the Zambezi in Victoria Falls.

Carol joined the Wild Horizons team in 2017 as a trainee chef at the Lookout Café. To allow trainees to experience different sectors of the organisation, chefs will often work in the Café as well as on the cruise boats. Before her first sunset cruise was over, Carol had decided to step away from the kitchen and join the crew. Inspired by her profound appreciation of and connection to the natural world, Carol started studying for her guides license and Skippers license with the Inland Waters Ministry of Transport.

Understanding that boat captains charismatic personalities shape the guests experience , Carol began shadowing the Wild Horizons boat captains during her free time. The crew took Carol under their wing, and to help her grow in confidence, they encouraged Carol to perform part of the briefing on the cruises. “I was nervous at first”, she admits with an easy smile, “but I love working in nature and I love people, so with the support of the others I started looking forward to the talks”. Having achieved one milestone, Carol was ready for the next challenge. She sat her Skippers exam and became licensed.

Having chosen a challenging, male-dominated career path, Carol has not been immune to the glass ceiling, but she dismisses the occasional negativity. “People will sometimes tell me I am too small to be in charge of a big boat, and that I was better-suited training to be a chef”. Without a shred of bitterness, she shrugs off the comments and says with a knowing smile , “I am here, I am doing this, and if you are not going to be supportive, then I am not going to listen”.

While Carol works alongside her mentors, she continues her studies for her Professional Guides Licence with a sense of determination that reflects the joy she derives from following her heart. In celebrating strong women like Carol Makuwire, we not only validate her hard work but also hope to inspire other women to pursue their own dreams.

At Wild Horizons, a spirit of empowerment, passion and positivity emanates from within. The women in our company shape our vision to make a difference, and their fierce sense of strength and leadership weaves a golden thread throughout the organisation.

Keep an eye on our website for more blog posts about the many Wild Horizons Wonder Women.

An interview with guide and photographer, Vusa Sibanda

Vusa Sibanda’s journey to becoming a guide began in the Matetsi region of Zimbabwe, where he worked as a tracker for eight years. Roaming along animal superhighways, Vusa would use misplaced twigs, imprints in the sand and naked tree branches to draw a map in his mind, illustrating wildlife movements that would be indecipherable to the untrained eye. Recognizing his talent, recruiters for the FGASA program offered Vusa the opportunity to spend two months in South Africa to complete his guide-training course. Five years later, Vusa is a highly respected and valued guide at Old Drift Lodge. While his days as a tracker have drawn to a close, Vusa’s boundless knowledge of the bush and his acute attention to detail is reflected in his exquisite wildlife photography. Safari Guide and Photographer Vusa Sibanda

Vusa’s Instagram page resembles an archive of experiences and safari moments frozen in time through the lens of his Canon Camera. Scrolling through the images will take you on a sentimental journey back into some of the most wild and untouched places on earth. “One thing I have learned being in the bush, is that every animal, tree and stretch of landscape has its own character”, muses Vusa. “I am in the wilderness everyday and have been since I was young, but I am always excited to go on the river and on a game drive because I know that the wilderness will show me something I have never seen before”. While many people will scour the National Park looking for big game, Vusa believes that the subject of the photograph is not necessarily what determines a great shot. It is the moment that they spring into action, be this a bird in flight, a lion yawning, or a buck prancing through the trees. Outside his lens you might see a bird nesting or hippo wallowing, but the gentle click of his camera is reserved for the fleeting moment that they take off, or tear open the surface of the Zambezi River, leaving him with a hard copy of that powerful moment.

Vusa’s camera has been an ever-present companion on his ventures into the wilderness and his passion has become a vessel through which he shares his expertise with guests at Old Drift Lodge. In an increasingly digital world, memories of the present are scrolled instantly into the past. However, Vusa’s images will compel you to look closely, look twice and look slowly. Through the glass screen of your phone or desktop, you can peer into his wild world and understand what it looks like in a given moment.

@vusasibanda2002