About Amanzi Travel
In The Beginning...
A truly life changing experience, working on wildlife and community volunteering projects in Africa over eight years ago, convinced Gemma Whitehouse to give up her job as a Marketing Manager for an international organisation and use her skills and expertise to set up a company that would offer others the same amazing opportunities with a service second to none - thus Amanzi Travel was born.
Amanzi - the Shona word for water - was also the name of the lion cub that Gemma helped to rear during her first experience of volunteering in Africa.
Gemma strongly believes that everyone, at some point in their life, needs to take a break, take stock and do something that can make a real difference to others - and through this, to themselves also.
Amanzi Travel offers unique, worthwhile volunteer projects and incredible adventure travel experiences throughout Africa giving its customers the opportunity to explore and discover this beautiful continent, its people and its wildlife for themselves.
Amanzi Travel was created so that everyone, at some point in their life, could "Do Something Amazing" and is committed to providing an unrivalled standard of service allowing each individual to have their own experience of a lifetime.
Since its beginnings, Amanzi Travel has grown from strength to strength and now sends hundreds of people each year from all over the world to help on worthwhile and sustainable volunteer projects; to join exciting adventure trips and even to learn how to be a game ranger working with wildlife. Amanzi Travel has become renowned for its high level of service and as the UK expert for travel in Africa. The company’s individual, friendly and personalised approach mean that customers come back again and again and we are very proud of what people say about us:
Feedback is very important to Amanzi Travel and everyone who travels with us is invited to tell us what they thought of their trip to Africa and the service offered by Amanzi Travel. Since the launch of Amanzi Travel the following feedback has been received, this is something of which we are very proud. Amanzi Travel is fully committed to building upon and improving the standard of service that we offer as we grow and expand.
"I spoke to Gemma who I can honestly say is the most helpful travel agent I have come across. I had never done anything like this before so was pretty nervous... all I had to do was email her and she helped me get things on track whatever the question... and when I book another trip I will definitely be contacting Gemma again."
Julie, UK, 2010 (Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary)
Overall Standard of Service offered by Amanzi Travel
Amanzi Travel now has a small dedicated team of staff, each of whom has travelled extensively throughout Africa and has a real passion for what they do. The company will not rest until it has done all it can to make the experience of its customers as worthwhile, rewarding and special as possible.
Volunteering with Amanzi Travel
Amanzi Travel welcomes volunteers with drive and enthusiasm and a desire to make a difference. No specific skills are needed to help on a volunteer placement except an open mind. However skills-based placements are available – for example medical or teaching projects - and any volunteers wishing to use their specific training and experience to further enhance their contribution should speak to one of our advisors. The medical and teaching projects are also open to enthusiastic volunteers with a desire to help in these areas.
A volunteer placement in Africa will probably be one of the most worthwhile and rewarding things you ever do!
Amanzi Travel aims to...
- work with and provide a pool of dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers for worthwhile and sustainable projects throughout Africa;
- offer people of all ages and walks of life the opportunity to take a break from their 'normal life', visit Africa and do something worthwhile and meaningful for its people and its wildlife;
- offer people incredible African adventure opportunities and safari courses that are focused on self development, achievement and responsible travel;
- provide uncompromising, personalised service with a tailor-made approach, ensuring that its customers return again and again.
Volunteers embarking on a placement with Amanzi Travel will play an important role in the company's ambitions to:
- support the local economy and such projects that will empower the local workers to create self-sustaining communities that will continue to grow and develop;
- leave a lasting contribution to the long term welfare of Africa and the prosperity of its people;
- increase awareness and support for some of the most worthwhile community and wildlife programmes in Africa;
- establish and expand responsible tourism within Africa;
- contribute to the protection and preservation of Africa's amazing wildlife;
- run with the consensus and support of the local authorities.
WILDLIFE CONSERVATION WITH
There are many different approaches to wildlife conservation and a lot of these different approaches are represented in the projects we offer. We sometimes get asked why we support a particular project as someone may have heard negative reports of the method of conservation work and conservation promotion that a particular project has adopted. This section will hopefully help you understand why we have chosen to support the projects that are represented on our website.
Amanzi Travel and all the members of our team are passionate about wildlife and the conservation and promotion of wildlife. We recognise that there is no single ideal way in which to carry out conservation work, education and promotion - the only ideal way is to remove all environmental pressures and all conflict between man and animals and to allow the African bush to return to its natural state. Whilst this is clearly desirable, it is not going to happen on a scale that would permit all wildlife to live in its natural state. We therefore need to find alternative ways to permit the wildlife to survive and flourish. We do have some firmly held beliefs as individuals and a company that guide us in the projects we will consider for inclusion on our site. For example, we are against canned hunting and sport hunting in general and therefore we choose not to feature projects that rely on this as part of their model. Whilst we recognise that some of the individuals involved in projects that do feature or rely on hunting as part of their model do have a lot to offer, this is something that we do not feel able to support directly.
You will see a large variety of wildlife programmes on the site from wildlife sanctuaries to breeding and release programmes at various stages of development and evolution of the project and conservation programme. We feel that each of these projects has something unique to offer and adds value to wildlife conservation as a whole. Some of the programmes aim to do this by providing a safe home for injured animals and a long term sanctuary, some aim to nurse animals back to health prior to subsequent release back in to their natural environment. The focus of some of the breeding programmes is to maintain the necessary genetic diversity for a species to remain sustainable, some of them aim to increase the numbers of certain animals in the wild by breeding and subsequently performing staged releases back into the wild. Education of people, increased awareness of the value and beauty of the wildlife and decreased conflict between man and wildlife on local, national and international levels is the focus of others.
In short, we appreciate all wildlife and our aim is to support projects which we believe aim to support the conservation and development of the species that are their focus. If you have a particular focus you would like to explore on your project, please contact us and we will do all we can to aid you in choosing the right project for you.
Amanzi Travel was set up initially to support specific local projects such as the Zambia Teaching and Community Development Project and the Lion Rehabilitation Project in Zimbabwe and although it has grown the company has never deviated from its passionate aim to give something back to the communities in which these projects were developed. By engaging in a volunteer placement with Amanzi Travel you are choosing to partake in community tourism.
Amanzi Travel is fully committed to supporting local communities by maintaining a positive contribution to their projects, the people, and the environment and wildlife. It is dedicated to opening up the world of volunteer and adventure travel in Africa in an ethical way and actively minimising the negative effects of conventional tourism. Every programme supported can proudly describe their contribution to the local community or environment. By becoming part of the local team for the duration of your stay, you too will become an integral part of the ongoing infrastructure designed to support and maintain worthy and sustainable projects.
- Projects are run with the consensus and support of local authorities.
- Amanzi Travel supports the local economy by investing in local projects.
- Where possible local guides are employed who willingly share their vast expertise. Although Amanzi Travel office staff are always available to offer advice and help, the best support and information will naturally come from the on-site experts.
- Amanzi Travel focuses on helping whole communities, not just the individual, and encourages cultural sensitivity, ensuring that others are not exploited or their livelihoods diminished by tourism.
- Amanzi Travel aims to support self-sustaining communities by helping implement or maintain existing forms of industry and commerce with projects that are environmentally sensitive and sustainable.
- Amanzi Travel aims to establish and expand responsible tourism within Africa while actively contributing to the protection and preservation of its amazing wildlife.
- Amanzi Travel is a partner in the “Know before you go” (KBYG) campaign and regularly checks the Foreign and Commonwealth
- Office website to ensure it is in line with the latest recommendations.
Here are a few suggestions to facilitate your transition from tourist to responsible traveller:
- Learn a few key courtesy phrases in the local language, such as 'please' and 'thank you' - a little respect goes a long way to promoting goodwill. A number of the volunteer placements include basic language skills as part of the initial orientation.
- Remember the economic realities of the new currency: although most of your trip will be inclusive, there will be times when you will want to spend personal money and you may be charged 'visitor prices' as opposed to local prices. It is most likely that you earn a lot more than your patrons, so don't worry about overspending a few rand here or there.
- Bargain fairly, with respect to the seller. The perfect deal is where neither party feels ripped off; you will have engaged in a social custom with ease and good nature.
- Be aware of what you are buying as souvenirs and avoid the purchase of unethical animal produce such as ivory and tortoise-shell. If unsure of an item's origin, think hard before you buy.
- Be aware of the traditions or taboos of the host country, and follow the examples of the local guides if you are unsure about dress or behaviour.
- Arrive with a sense of the political, social, and economic situation in the host country: this awareness will facilitate your immersion into the culture and allow you to better understand the people you help and interact with.
- Above all, show respect for the different cultures and customs you may come across.
As part of a determined initiative to promote responsible travel, Amanzi Travel is now offering a carbon offsetting facility for flights.
Whether booked through Amanzi Travel or not the carbon emissions generated can be calculated and an informed decision to offset made.
The offset payments are made online using a credit card through WorldPay's secure payment service.
Travellers will then receive a certificate from ClimateCare noting the CO2 emissions offset through this service, www.climatecare.org.
Carbon offsetting enables everyone to take responsibility for their emissions by paying for CO2 in the atmosphere to be reduced on their behalf.
Amanzi Travel has linked up with ClimateCare to invest in several relevant emission reduction projects all over the world.
For example some of the projects funded will include efficient stoves in Cambodia and Uganda, wind power in China and biomass power in India.
The Uganda Stoves Project supplies efficient wood burning stoves to institutions such as schools.
As well as reducing greenhouse gases produced from cooking, these stoves reduce the amount of wood fuel needed, helping to reduce deforestation.
Cooks also experience the benefits of reduced indoor pollution since the stoves are less smoky,
and because the stoves are taller they minimise damage to the cooks’ backs plus the food is easier to cook.