Meet the Mavericks from 2017 is a series that reveals the world-changing work and invaluable insights behind the revolutionaries who took away a trophy at last year’s PURE Awards.
Lewis Mangaba – a beloved team member at African Bush Camps and the winner of PURE 2017’s Unsung Hero Award – is more than just a guide: he is a man whose pulse beats in time with the heart of Africa, and who inspires in guests his passion for preserving Africa’s rich wildlife heritage. We spoke to African Bush Camps to find out why they believe that guides like Lewis are fundamental to the ultimate safari experience.
Tell us about your winning project – how does it Change Worlds?
One of our most beloved and knowledgeable guides, Lewis Mangaba, won the Unsung Hero Award at PURE 2017, which celebrates guides in all their glory. Having an excellent guide on your safari can really make your safari journey something special. Combining the ultimate itinerary with an expert guide creates the complete journey where experiences, knowledge and passions are shared, and where a standard safari is transformed into an extraordinary one.
“Combining the ultimate itinerary with an expert guide creates the complete journey where experiences, knowledge and passions are shared, and where a standard safari is transformed into an extraordinary one”
What did winning a PURE Award mean to African Bush Camps?
African Bush Camps was founded by Beks Ndlovu, who began in the industry as a professional guide himself. Beks started African Bush Camps in order to focus on the guest experience and the essence of a great safari: exceptional guides. Ultimately, he created a company that celebrates guides and their extraordinary ability to present Africa to guests in a unique manner, sharing their enthusiasm and expertise and leaving our guests with an unforgettable experience that will last them a lifetime. It was wonderful to have this hard work and dedication acknowledged, as our guides are the backbone and the guiding light of African Bush Camps. The Award has turned us into ambassadors of true transformational experience to our guests – and hearing how our experiences have inspired people from all over the world is equally rewarding.
What does transformation mean to African Bush Camps? How do you know when a guest is transformed?
Transformational travel means that you step off the typical, well-trodden tourist path and go on a trip that changes your outlook, ideas and, ultimately, your life. A safari with African Bush Camps allows our guests to reconnect with themselves, their families and nature in remote destinations with unforgettable experiences. A transformational journey with African Bush Camps serves to affirm shared humanity, challenge perceptions, and enrich curious safari travellers who are open to discovery. We know when our guests are transformed by their huge smiles – even when they have a 5AM wake-up call! It’s their eagerness to go out and explore; meet our teachers and scholars of the plant and animal kingdom; and learn from great conservation pioneers that allows them to get an intimate view of the real Africa.
Does the high-end travel industry have a responsibility to protect our planet? What’s your advice on this – where should brands begin?
We began at the beginning. African Bush Camps started out as a company with a mandate to be an effective and professional tourism company that works in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner, whilst seeking to empower local communities and hopefully to inspire others to do the same. As the modern world has continued to change – and people’s expectations shift towards more mindful travel – African Bush Camps has maintained the concept of a ‘light environmental footprint’ in our camps, which ensures that we are environmentally friendly and have a minimal impact on the ecology and wildlife in the areas in which we operate. We have a strong moral and ethical code regarding our operations to ensure that we are continually engaging in local and community development, as well as ensuring that Africa’s communities benefit from tourism enterprises.
“These areas to which African tourism lays claim – and wildlife that resides in them – are our heritage to protect”
How can high-end travel brands protect and empower local communities? Why is this important?
African tourism generates billions of dollars each year. Local communities should benefit from tourism’s income – as should Africa’s land and wildlife that are bringing money to the communities around tourism areas. These areas to which African tourism lays claim – and wildlife that resides in them – are our heritage to protect. Through our work with the African Bush Camps Foundation, a portion of our tourist revenue goes towards sustainable tourism development through education, conservation, resource management and community empowerment. High-end travel companies have a responsibility to care for the land in which they operate – and equally, the communities surrounding them have a responsibility to educate and contribute to improving their quality of life to help achieve longterm conservation through education programmes.
In today’s information age, it’s harder than ever for brands to grab their audience’s attention. How should brands tell their story in a way that resonates?
There’s a desire for realness and authentic stories. Guests want to be inspired – we do this by communicating our passion, visions and values in a clear manner, telling our own story with the help of great visual elements and our teams on the ground. We try to be real, factual and fun.
To what extent does the design of a hotel or retreat impact guests’ experiences? What are the other important factors to consider in building or renovating a property?
At African Bush Camp, the biggest factor we consider when developing a camp is our environmental responsibility and community focus – and with this focus in mind, we create a people- and wildlife-orientated environment. In today’s world with modern, mindful travellers, a property that considers the environment, yet still capitalises on beautiful views and pristine, untouched wildlife areas has a really positive impact on the guest experience. Designs that are uncluttered, eco-friendly, harmonious with nature and the surrounding landscape help guests to feel as though they are a part of nature.
“We fervently believe that your guides and hosts in Africa are the key to making your safari the most memorable African experience”
Who is your experiential travel hero and why? (This could be someone famous or completely unknown!)
To us, our experiential travel heroes are all of our guides and staff in our camps. They are the team on the ground who, using their own passion and knowledge, give our guests an unforgettable safari experience. We fervently believe that your guides and hosts in Africa are the key to making your safari the most memorable African experience. Our professional guides ensure that, through their wisdom and experience, they unravel a wildlife adventure that exceeds your wildest dreams, ensuring that each of our guests are hosted in a cultured, informed and charming manner. It’s our teams who are proving to be some of the most enterprising and inspiring players in the tourism industry today. With each small interaction, they are continuously promoting and influencing travel to Africa on a global scale.
Want to join the maverickhood? Applications open in June – why not check out the PURE Awards categories so you’re ready to tell us how you’re Changing Worlds in 2018?