We know that one of the main reasons people come to stay with us is probably because of the amazing South Luangwa National Park, and the abundant variety of animals, plants and general serenity. We also know that the majority of you would like to leave the park and surrounding areas in the same, if not better, state than when you arrived, so as not to spoil this one-of-a-kind area for generations to come. Some of the ways we as a lodge help to conserve and protect this invaluable natural resource is by supporting Conservation South Luangwa, Helping Hands in Snake Safety, as well as the community based Raise-a-Smile Zambia. More information here. Responsible safaris are also something that we pride ourselves in, showing how safaris can be beneficial to the area, the park and the wildlife, by simply following the rules, allowing the guides to work ethically, and by being considerate of the environment we are in.
Sometimes though, we all get caught up in the moment during our game drives or walking safaris, and we think to ourselves, “hey, it’s only one time, how bad could it be?” and then we proceed to break some of the rules that are established to protect the wildlife, the community and the ecosystem in general. Here are some helpful reminders about the consequences of these little bends of the rules. We hope that you’ll take this to heart, and appreciate that we are not trying to take away from your experience, rather just to inform you about the repercussions of these little diversions.
One of the main issues we’ve observed since we started this little business is that guests will often want to get as close as possible to the animals, and often this will mean asking the guide to take the vehicle off the established track or road. There are a few problems with this, starting with the obvious, that you may get stuck and find yourself in amongst a pride of lions or a herd of buffalo with no way out. In this case we would have to send someone to rescue you, who would then also have to go off road and risk the same fate.
One of the lesser considered consequences of going off-road though, is that it is against the rules of the national park, as well as the guides code of conduct. Now, the guide may very well oblige your request in the hope that you will be more generous when it comes to tipping, but he does this at the risk of being banned from the park for three months. That’s three months where he cannot provide for his family. You may notice the occasional car out in the park with only one person in the driver’s seat and no one else. Often this person is out “monitoring” the guides behavior on behalf of the DNPW, and reporting any rule breakers to the park authorities. So, we’re sure you can see that having that one picture a few meters closer to the leopard is not worth risking the guide’s livelihood, or your own safety.
Sadly, another all too common problem in the park, and the surrounding areas is litter. Now, we accept that a lot of this does actually come from the local community, the lodges where rubbish bins and burning pits are raided by baboons and so on, but we are all trying to combat this through other means as well. You, as the guest also have the responsibility of making sure that you don’t contribute to the problem. Photos of animals are great memories to cherish, but imagine those same photos where the giraffe has a plastic bag caught over its mouth, or the Puku has a plastic bottle top caught in its throat, or the cute Vervet Monkey is choking on a cigarette butt. None of these are scenarios that you would want to see played out. So, if you are out on a drive, or a walk, or going to the village, please remember that no matter how small the litter may be, it will have a knock-on effect somewhere down the line. No animal’s life is worth the convenience of not finding a rubbish bin, or keeping the rubbish with you until it can be disposed of properly. Don’t be part of the problem, be part of the solution.
Finally, and this one may have less of an impact on you or the animals, but we’d appreciate you taking the time to understand why we only allow a certain number of people on the vehicles. It has been known to happen that people will depart from the lodge with the allowed number of passengers, and then stop at the gate to pick up more, thinking that we won’t find out. Apart from being dishonest, this practice results in excessive wear and tear on the vehicles. With such a large load, and the condition of the roads and tracks, the vehicles and the frames for the seats take a huge amount of stress. Part of the reason we are able to offer such affordable safaris is because we limit the damage done to our vehicles, and the wear and tear on them by reducing the weight they are carrying. If we have to continuously spend more on keeping these game viewing vehicles running, we are eventually going to have to increase our prices. This doesn’t only apply to the overloading, but also to going off road, which causes substantial wear and tear. We only hope that you can see where we are coming from on this, and that you respect our vehicles so that everyone who comes after you can enjoy this beautiful park as much as you have, at the affordable prices we offer.
So now that’s over with, we really hope you enjoy your stay, and that you enjoy many happy, responsible safaris with us. This park is truly one of a kind and it would be sad to see it turn into “just another national park in Africa”
Have a great time, and remember, take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints.