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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.

New Accommodation Old Drift Lodge

Wild Horizons is proud to introduce Old Drift Lodge, an extraordinary new luxury tented lodge on the banks of the mighty Zambezi River at Victoria Falls. Old Drift Lodge is a bush paradise that exudes an old world charm, admits modern luxuries, and is a symbol of the harmonic existence that can be achieved between man and nature. The lodge is expected to open 23 April 2018.

Old Drift Lodge, speaks to the rich heritage of the area. A ‘drift or ‘ford’, is a shallow place in a river or stream where it is possible to cross safely without using a boat. Around 1898, the Old Drift was used as a crossing point over the Zambezi River between what was then Southern and Northern Rhodesia (today Zimbabwe and Zambia). The site swiftly became the busiest crossing point of this period as supplies were ferried and cattle swum to the opposite bank. The rustic settlement of Old Drift was eventually abandoned as settlers relocated and the town of Victoria Falls began to transform into the adventure destination it is today. While the rest of the world moved forward, Old Drift was reclaimed by nature and returned to its original state. Trees took the place of the buildings, wildlife replaced the people, and in the pristine National Park, the Zambezi River was the only traveler to watch the changes take place. The soil upon which this lodge is built has been fertilized by a history of hard work and innovation.

Old Drift Lodge offers family friendly accommodation, with each air-conditioned suite decorated with stylish furnishings, fitting of a bygone era, which blend in seamlessly with the natural environment. The spacious canvas suites all have a private lounge, indoor and outdoor showers, plunge pool and an outdoor bath overlooking the Zambezi River. Guests will be accommodated in 10 double suites and 4 family suites.

 The main lodge area has 360 degree views, north facing onto the Zambezi & south facing onto a water hole. Old Drift Lodge is an environmentally friendly property with a strong focus on keeping our carbon footprint as small as possible.

Transfers to and from the lodge are by luxury cruise boat and take approximately 15 minutes from Victoria Falls. Activities offered at Old Drift Lodge emphasize the rich natural environment, focusing on the abundance of wildlife that roams through the Park and swims the Zambezi River. The Zambezi National Park can be explored by road, river or on foot, satisfying guests needs to experience every aspect of this natural utopia. A mere 4.5 kilometres from the town of Victoria Falls, Old Drift Lodge guests remain in close range to the variety of attractions and activities that the town has to offer.

‘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.