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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

Wild Horizons Featured in Vanity Fair, March 2018

Vanity Fair, March 2018.

We are proud to be featured in this progressive, positive article in Vanity Fair, March 2018.

The story features the Wild Horizons Elephant Sanctuary at The Elephant Camp and highlights the positive impact the Tourism Industry and Responsible Travel can have on conservation.

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AZTA & ZTA AWARDS – 2017

We’ve done it again!

Wild Horizons is pleased to announce that we have been awarded the BEST GROUND HANDLER in 2017, by AZTA (Association of Zimbabwe Travel Agents) for the 6th consecutive year. Wild Horizons provides a complete range of Activities, Attractions, Transfers, Accommodation and a Café in Victoria Falls. We are the lead provider of adventure activities such as white water rafting and gorge swings. We operate tours that range from cultural excursions, wildlife viewing and ethical wildlife interactions to tailor made experiences for corporate and incentive groups.

Association of Zimbabwe Travel Agents Award

We offer transfers throughout the Victoria Falls area for guests from a single person to large corporate & incentive groups. Wild Horizons manages four unique lodges. The Elephant Camp, The Elephant Camp West, Imbabala Zambezi Safari Lodge and Old Drift Lodge. Wild Horizons also owns and manages The Lookout Café in Victoria Falls.

We also received the Best Tour Operator’s stand award at the Sanganai / Hlanganani – World Travel and Tourism Africa Fair, 2017. The award celebrates the Wild Horizons portfolio including our social responsibility and promoting richness in cultural diversity (through various cultural tours – Cultural Connections, Meet the People, Home Hosted Meals, Pay it Forward to mentioned but a few). Tours focused on support of orphanages in Victoria Falls such as Rose of Charity as well as school tours were recognized.

Sanganai / Hlanganani – World Travel and Tourism Africa Fair celebrated its 10th anniversary with 206 buyers and 300 exhibitors’ the most attended since its inception!

We thank our agents & guests for the continued support!

Zimbabwe Travel Agents Award

‘The Elephant Camp furthers efforts & aims for Top Sustainable Tourism Award’

The Elephant Camp has recently been invited,  with other leading hospitality establishments in Victoria Falls, to spearhead a new project in Zimbabwe. This is to be part of Green Tourism, the largest and most established sustainable certification programme in the world, with the aim of achieving one of their respected awards.

Green Tourism Award means that a business works responsibly, ethically and sustainably; contributes to their community; reduces their impact on the environment and aims to be accessible and inclusive to all. Businesses that meet the required standard receive a Bronze, Silver or Gold award.

The Elephant Camp has worked tirelessly since its inception, to reduce the impact of the business on the environment and improve links with the local community and now feels the time is right to join the programme. We currently have the following initiatives in place and look forward to expanding upon these:

  • Solar Heating: All of our water heating systems are either solar or currently in the process of being converted to solar.
  • Worm Farm: All plant waste there from Elephant Camp, as well as most elephant dung from our resident herd, is fed into our worm farm, creating valuable compost for use in our organic vegetable garden.
  • Organic Garden: In order to supply as much organic produce to our guests as possible The Elephant Camp produces much of its own herbs, spices and vegetables for use in our kitchens.
  • Indigenous Tree Planting Program: To rehabilitate areas that were once denuded of trees by uncontrolled wood collection, we created an indigenous tree nursery. Trees are grown from seed and are transplanted once established, into areas in need of rehabilitation.
  • Biological Monitoring and Erosion Control: The Elephant Camp employs a qualified Environmental Officer to monitor the biology of the reserve and assists with mitigation. Bi-annual biological surveys are conducted, alien vegetation is eradicated and soil erosion is carefully managed in the reserve and on neighbouring communal areas.
  • Community Relations: We make every effort to employ staff from neighbouring areas, and work closely with the community on projects such as transporting thatch from neighbouring areas annually for roofing of homes in neighbouring areas annually for roofing of homes.
  • Education: The Elephant Camp frequently hosts school children on educational trips, teaching them about and allowing them to experience, the beautiful natural environment and the threats that face it today.

The Elephant Camp will be graded on-site by a qualified team of assessors against a rigorous set of criteria, covering a range of areas such as energy/water efficiency, waste management, biodiversity, social involvement and communication.

Craig White, Operations Director said:

Wild Horizons pride ourselves on being driven by a team that is passionate about our environment, and fully committed to sustainable environmental practices. The inclusion in Green Tourism is an exciting development to our business, as The Elephant Camp strives to be a leader in sustainable tourism practices. Whilst we have come a long way on our own initiatives, the inclusion in such a prestigious body gives us a host of new challenges which we are determined to meet in our quest to reach Gold Standard status.

It is also extremely exciting on a National level, to see that Zimbabwean Tourism has evolved to the stage where international bodies such as Green Tourism are keen to establish a foothold in the country. This inevitably encourages  local companies to strive toward sustainable environmental practices. International travellers are seeking out establishments that practise environmentally sustainable  tourism. This naturally encourages operators to look closely at their businesses from an environmental perspective, or risk being left behind as  tourists become more discerning in their holiday choices.

About The Elephant Camp

The Elephant Camp is a luxurious and intimate lodge under canvas within easy reach of Victoria Falls. Situated on a private concession with breathtaking views of the Victoria Falls’ spray, and the spectacular gorges which separate Zimbabwe from Zambia. We also cater to exclusive groups and families at The Elephant Camp West, which has exclusive suite accommodation for 8 guests in 4 luxury tents.

About Green Tourism

Green Tourism awards recognise places to visit that are taking action to support the local area and the environment in general. Green Tourism is the largest sustainable certification programme of its kind, assessing hundreds of fantastic places to stay and visit worldwide, with Zimbabwe being the latest addition to their portfolio.

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