Botswana is a country rich in both economy and culture. Its landscapes, people and tourism operations have much to offer, welcoming visitors with open arms, generally resulting in those who do visit leaving a piece of their heart behind to perhaps collect on a return journey.
The wealth of the country draws people to its terrain – to experience the wildlife, the culture as well as the high standard of tourism. Botswana understands, curates and encourages luxury travel opportunities – providing unforgettable journeys in the heart of Africa. Such experiences are created with the perspective that community and tourism are inextricably linked, ensuring the two exist in harmony.
Mogotlho, Khwai River, is a perfect example of a lodge built on the foundations of ethical tourism. Recently refurbished, in physical structure as well as in community involvement and projects, Mogotlho is nourishing and growing its community based initiatives. Its passionate team is made up of residents from nearby villages, proud to host guests and represent their land and people. The lodge is built on the Mababe concession, a community concession made up of around 200 households, the residents primarily from the Basarwa tribe – descendants of the Khoi San.
The Mababe Concession falls within the Okavango World Heritage Site – and is part of the Kavango Zambezi trans-frontier conservation area (KAZA). This provides opportunity for everyone involved to create and benefit from tourist revenue – the Okavango a bucket list African experience. Through education, employment and empowerment, local residents play an integral role in the management of the area, instilling pride and conservation foresight. No livestock or farming is permitted in the area, therefore the village and its community rely on the benefits of non-consumptive (photographic) tourism, an incentive to maintain the area for future generations.
With the vision to continue to grow its community programmes, Mogotlho invited Francy Johnson from Global Ambassadors to spend some time at the lodge in order to assess what community projects can be implemented. Francey spends her time connecting with students from around the world to fundraise for various projects in Africa, creating sustainable programmes which benefit local communities. Francey met with the Village Development Community of Mababe (VDC) to discuss and explore future opportunities for the settlement, brainstorming ways to increase long-term income and development.
Up until now, the Mababe residents have had no electricity. Through the assistance of local government, an electrical line is being installed, power an imminent reality for the villagers – an exciting time for all. In light of this development, the following projects were identified in their importance:
- Establishing a ‘day care‘ for the young in the village.
- Building a computer learning centre.
- Establishing and stocking a library.
- Building a ‘play park’ for the children, in the primary school.
- Establishing a youth group with a focus on conservation, tourism, and its potential for their futures.
- Providing Idea, an ambitious elder of the village, with materials to allow him to create a business making crafts, which he could sell to guests. He indicated a willingness to train others to do the same, sharing skills and empowerment with members of the community.
- Purchasing 2 sewing machines to assist Idea and others.
The arrival of electricity empowers the community in endless ways – from everyday life, to fostering future opportunities through education, to creating entrepreneurial opportunities through learning and sharing skills. The lodge staff as well as Francey were humbled and inspired by their time in the village, hearing their stories and forming relationships of respect and change.
By working with the community, Mogotlho ensures life-changing experiences for all involved – tourists and locals alike benefiting from the wealth of Botswana; its landscapes and its people.