In 2016, Deeper Africa will unveil a new kind of wildlife safari. Their Zimbabwe Conservation and Culture itinerary introduces guests to anti-poaching patrols, lion guardians who mediate conflicts between lions and communities, and people who protect wildlife at the village level. The highlight of this safari is joining in on an actual patrol with anti-poaching rangers.
“This is an active itinerary, that involves not just watching wildlife, but also doing things to keep them safe from poachers,” says Deeper Africa Co-Founder, Wil Smith. “The experience is all the more real if you can do something positive like disarm a snare.”
The 10-day itinerary brings guests of Deeper Africa to Hwange National Park, Lake Kariba, and Gonarezhou National Park – lodging is at Gonarezhou Bush Camp, Somalisa Camp, Bumi Hills Safari Lodge, and Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge.
Hwange National Park is home to Zimbabwe’s largest conservation area with wildlife including elephants, cheetah, lions, and many other animals. Guests get to know the communities who live side by side with wildlife: children who walk to school in lion country, hunter-gatherers who now guide photo-safaris, and villagers who contend with elephants raiding their gardens. Guests meet the Long Shield Guardians, courageous men and women who chase lions away from schools and villages armed only with drums and vuvuzela horns.
At Bumi Hills guests will travel with the Anti-Poaching Unit and learn how poachers are caught as well as uncover snares and forensically examine poaching crime scenes. In a tracking exercise in Gonarezhou National Park guests will venture on foot to “poaching hot spots” alongside expert trackers and a master wildlife guide. They will meet the Shangaan people, heirs to a hunter-gatherer culture, who have found wildlife conservation to be a pathway toward prosperity and development.