We’re oh-so-suddenly in the season where shopping becomes a focus for many. Black Friday sales teasers are out and everything from your local newspaper to your Facebook feed is chockablock with advertisements for what you ‘need’ to buy this holiday season. We like to put our gift-giving dollars to work – finding something special for that special someone while supporting a good cause. To that end, we’re sharing some of our favorite finds from our collection of lodges, camps and ground handlers. Have a look – you might change your gift list this year!
Classic Africa Safaris
Goat cheese for good
Admittedly, this isn’t the most portable gift. And cheese isn’t likely to last more than a day or two for us before being devoured. But when you or your clients visit Kyaninga Lodge in Uganda’s Fort Portal area (for chimpanzee trekking and gorgeous hiking), a stop at the Kyaninga Dairy is a worthy one, not just for their delicious cheeses, but for the program the dairy supports.
Not only do they produce fabulous goat cheese (they consulted with Neil’s Yard Creamery in London to get started – the same folks who supply many of Harrods cheeses, as well as cheeses for most royal occasions in the United Kingdom), the effort funds the Kyaninga Child Development Centre (KCDC). Read more…
Fair Trade Shopping in Addis Ababa
Addis Ababa is a riot of color and bustles with action. Travel Ethiopia can get your travelers into its local art scene by planning an afternoon of shopping for your clients where they can visit fair-trade artisan shops and cooperatives. One favorite is Sabahar – offering stunning Ethiopian textiles that range from hand towels to elaborate scarves. Not going to be in Ethiopia before the holidays? Shame, but luckily you can get Sabahar’s products from retailers here in North America.
Another great stop is the Makush Art Gallery, which is filled with the work of talented local artists. An added bonus – it’s also a restaurant. It’s a great place to stick around for a delicious Italian meal afterward.
New Frontiers have found a gem in Cape Town’s Bo Kaap neighborhood which is a great shopping experience for anyone looking for a bit of ‘off the beaten’ track shopping in the city. Owner and designer Abi James began working with artisans from different parts of Africa and from that, SOUL Design started to emerge as a curated collection that combines the best of African craftsmanship with a bohemian flair. Abi will open her SOUL jewelry design studio to New Frontiers guests for an exclusive and intimate shopping showcase where they can view the full SOUL range and also have bespoke pieces made to order. It’s an authentic experience with mint tea/coffee or bubbles on offer while visitors browse and peruse her jewels.
SOUL pieces are created from a variety of materials and metals including brass, bone, wood and precious stone and she supports sustainable production and follow ethical sourcing. Each piece of jewelry is put together in her Cape Town workshop. In addition to allowing our guests to pop into her studio, New Frontiers have also created a jewelry crafting workshop experience that could be great for special interest groups, an activity for moms-and-daughters or anyone interested in jewelry and shopping for unique, local pieces. The activity is booked on request and requires a minimum of 4 people with an optional Cape Malay lunch.
Master woven textiles
Ecuadorian master weaver Miguel Andrango’s family has been practicing the trade for at least four generations. His four sons and daughters are involved in his ‘Tawantinsuyo Weaving Workshop,’ and his grandchildren are learning too. Tropic Ecuador visitors to Otavalo can spend time with him and see his outstanding work firsthand, including a special visit where guests can share a meal with Miguel and his family, followed by a short weaving presentation and master class. The quality of the items produced at the workshop is superior to most market’s machine-woven products, and purchases go directly into the efforts of this community to keep this ancient art alive. Learn more about this special visit here.
De la Gente
Your clients can immerse themselves in Guatemalan culture with tours and shopping excursions with Maya Trails partners De la Gente. They can also shatter the anonymous surface of the coffee industry and meet the producers crafting their morning cup of joe. Activities available include cooking classes, enjoying a meal with a local family in their home, making peanut butter, wood working, metallurgy, coffee tours and more. They can bring home their own hand-crafted gift for their loved ones, or choose an artisan-made product with a special story. Ask Maya Trails about incorporating one or more of these special experiences for your clients during their Guatemala visit. They will create barrier breaking connections with locals while creating economic opportunities for the communities.
Albatros East Africa
Shanga was founded in 2007 when Arusha resident Saskia Rechsteiner made a handful of fabric necklaces for a holiday fair. Combining local fabric with some beads and her sons’ marbles, she created a unique necklace that sold out within hours. The days after the fair were busy – orders for the necklaces came in from safari companies, gift shops and even people who wanted to export them to Japan and Australia.
Saskia saw an opportunity to generate extra income for a local deaf lady she knew, and together they started producing the necklaces. Demand for the necklace grew and soon the first Shanga Workshop was established. The range of products was expanded, utilizing recycled and sustainable materials wherever possible, and the project was opened for people to come and meet the inspiring disabled staff and purchase products on site.
From its humble beginnings, Shanga now employs more than 70 people and offers a variety of products including jewelry, textiles, hand-blown glass objects and more. Visitors can shop, but can also try their hand at some of the artisans’ skills including jewelry making, glass blowing and learning sign language. Ask Albatros East Africa about a pre or post-safari visit for your clients.
Imvelo Safari Lodges
The Elephants Are Coming
Imvelo Safari Lodges has a recommendation for the perfect gifts for little readers that also support literacy for Zimbabwean students. The Elephants Are Coming and Aunt Alice and the Lion are wonderful stories written for kids between 4 – 8 (though we’re buying them for younger kids, too!), and are available for purchase at Camelthorn and Bomani Lodges, as well as for Kindle on Amazon. Cape Town-based author Lindsay Norman has been involved in educational publishing for three decades and is passionate about child literacy. Money raised from the sale of these books goes toward Hwange Schools Project (of which author Norman was one of the founders) in collaboration with Imvelo. Hwange Schools Project has a mission to improve the standard of English and education in general in the schools in Zimbabwe’s Tsholotsho District so that the children have a greater chance to participate in the local economy when they are adults.
Todos Santos Eco Adventures
There is no question that visitors can spend days browsing and shopping the incredible art galleries of Todos Santos to find their own unique and special treasure. And now Todos Santos Eco Adventures’ guests can book an art class with renowned local artist Tori Sepulveda from Galeria Victoria. Proceeds from the classes are donated to the Palapa Society, which has spent the last 15 years working on the development and administration of scholarship, educational, environmental programs for the benefit of local children and their families. The class is approximately 3 hours long and takes place at Tori’s studio/gallery, Galeria Victoria, which is at her home in Todos Santos. Tori serves on the board of the Palapa Society and teaches a regular art class on Thursdays. She frequently auctions off her paintings to raise money for The Palapa Society.
Your travelers can come home with something totally unique when traveling through Namibia with Ultimate Safaris. A cultural visit to a Himba village will give guests insight into the daily lives of this semi-nomadic tribe and into the entrepreneurial spirit of the Himba women, who create gorgeous jewelry and crafts. One project sees the intrepid women sustainably harvesting wild myrrh for the fair trade Mbiri Skincare project, and Ultimate provides each safari guest a complimentary lip moisturizer from Mbiri (though after a sample, we did a bit of our own shopping and came home with body lotion and essential oil!). All Mbiri products are 100% natural and contain certified organic ingredients. Mbiri is also accredited by Beauty Without Cruelty and The Vegan Society. Being approved by Phytotrade, who monitors the fair trade and sustainability of the raw ingredients, means that the harvesters are being treated fairly and truly benefit from the plant product being processed. Every product bought filters benefits right down to the harvesters.