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The People Behind the Places: Africa

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Written by
Sascha Gill

It’s no secret that the travel industry is facing unprecedented times. Understandably, we’re no longer allowed to cross borders, and have turned to travelling from the comfort of our own homes through tools like books, films and magazines.

At Jacada, we’ve put together our ‘People Behind the Places' series to add to your reading material, and showcase how just one trip impacts a great many people.

If ever there was a time to demonstrate how we’re all connected somehow, it’s now. So, read on for an in-depth look at who goes into making a Jacada trip to Africa and learn more about why we believe you should postpone, rather than cancel your upcoming trip.

Local communities

At Jacada, people are at the heart of what we do. Whether it’s the local safari guide leading you through the Kruger or the chief of a Samburu village, journeys are more often than not about the people you meet along the way. Across Africa, the money generated by tourism also goes far in indirectly benefiting communities who aren’t directly involved in the tourism industry.

Proceeds from our trips directly benefit local communities through our charity partnerships, and Africa is no different. We’re currently supporting Uthando, a unique and innovative non-profit and Fair Trade in Tourism accredited company. The aim of Uthando is to raise funds and other forms of assistance for community development projects in South Africa. Uthando also offers meaningful experiences for individual travellers as well as groups in the sprawling and impoverished townships of Cape Town. Most recently, we helped fund the new Isiseko Educare Centre, a day-care centre, in the Cape Town township of Mfuleni. Without tourism, it’s likely that projects like these wouldn’t exist – as good a reason as any to postpone, rather than cancel, your upcoming holiday

 

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Local guides

Our guides bring the country to life through their personal stories and life experiences, and allow you to truly get under the skin of the country you’re visiting. In their safe and capable hands, you can rest assured you’re being well looked after from start to finish – and may even end up with a friend for life. To get a behind-the-scenes look at the life of a guide, we caught up with Lmeii Lekashira – better known as Ole – who works as a rhino conservationist and guide at Kenya’s  Solio Lodge

Ole’s journey into guiding began with his love of wildlife –  “I started as a spotter, as I was passionate about animals and wildlife. I wanted to teach people about our country and the beauty of our heritage. I had to start at the beginning, as a wildlife spotter, to gain the experience of driving guests and understanding what it is they wanted to see. After some time and lots of training, I progressed to become a driver and a guide.”

 

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On a daily basis, Ole’s day looks a little something like this: “I guide clients and teach them about the wildlife, and we track the animals on guided walks too. Even when we’re driving, we’re looking for the prints of the animals to see where they’ve been and see if we can find them. I’m conscious of the importance of conserving the land too, and teach people the importance of conservation for future generations. As guides, we must be sure not to destroy the environment with cars. We must understand the animals and their environment.” 

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It’s guides like Ole that help our clients have the most memorable in-country experiences, and our trips that help people like Ole keep their families afloat. When normal service resumes in the travel industry in a post-coronavirus world, it’s guides like Ole that will benefit the most from travellers postponing their holidays, rather than completely cancelling them.

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Hoteliers

Of course, there would be no luxury trips without luxury hotels. From tented camps to eco-lodges, Africa is filled with a plethora of luxury escapes. One of our favourites is a cutting edge eco-retreat in the heart of Rwanda’s Kigali. One of the safest cities across Africa, Kigali’s cultural centres, endless food markets and historical museums are sure to cast a spell on anyone who visits. In the heart of the action lies The Retreat, Rwanda’s first entirely eco-friendly resort. Owner Alissa Ruxin told us why running The Retreat is so important to her:

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“With The Retreat, we really wanted to set up something that had a focus on telling the stories of Rwandan people and the local community. We realised there was a gap in the market, as there were no boutique luxury hotels in Kigali. We took a massive risk in setting The Retreat up, as we didn’t know whether there’d be a luxury market or not. The risk seems to have paid off though, and now most of our efforts focus on positively impacting the local community through our hotel.”

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For those looking to venture further into the wilderness, Grootbos is South Africa’s best kept secret. On why she believes travellers should spend some time in Grootbos, Managing Director Julie Cheetham said “I think what really sets Grootbos apart though is the real foundation and depth with which conservation – both on a social and environmental level – is an integral part of the Grootbos ethos.” 

Grootbos

“Of course, we’re aware of the general negative environmental impacts of the tourism industry. However, we also believe that the right kind of travel – travel with purpose, whereby travellers visit places like Grootbos, is helping to keep cultures around the world alive. What’s more, anyone who visits can take comfort in the fact that they’re supporting a property that is doing good for both nature and communities.” It’s not just the hoteliers who benefit from tourism, and the trickle-down effect ensures funds generated from tourism helps build resilient communities across the globe. 

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Travel Designers & Concierges

It might seem that your Jacada journey begins and ends with your Travel Designer and Concierge. Of course, they’re an integral part of what we do; our client-facing team are designing once-in-a-lifetime journeys for individuals who appreciate luxury in all its forms. Whether you’re looking for meaningful time with your loved ones or the chance to reconnect with yourself, returning to the wild or meeting fascinating people with different stories to tell, they design journeys for those who wish to rediscover, reconnect and take part in something bigger. 

In fact, it’s this something bigger that gave us the idea of putting together this series, so we can introduce you to all the people who go into creating incredible Jacada journeys. As Africa Travel Designer Byron recognises, “For centuries, Africa has attracted the most intrepid explorers. At Jacada, it’s the variety of people we work with that makes our trips to this incredible continent extra special. We are proud to work with the best guides, conservationists and even helicopter pilots who can take you to the untouched parts of Africa.” 

Find out more about why you should postpone, rather than cancel your holiday here.