Matupula Safaris build a tourist lodge in the Ngamo area North of Tsholotsho District in October 2012. The lodge is to be located in a remote part of Tsholotsho communal land close to the boundary of Hwange National Park, which is Zimbabwe’s premier tourist attraction after Victoria Falls.
Matupula Safaris and Tsholotsho Rural District Council entered into a joint venture agreement built and operate the tourist lodge based on sustainable utilisation of wildlife resources in Hwange National Park and the surrounding communal land. The project is an expansion of the Council’s Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE) in which wildlife is used to benefit local people. The Tsholotsho Rural District Council is the appropriate authority for wildlife in the district.
Tsholotsho Rural District Council has been implementing the CAMPFIRE project since 1991 following granting of appropriate status as defined in the Parks and Wildlife Act. Matupula Safaris is the concession holder in Tsholotsho which borders with the Hwange National Park from Ngamo gate going west for 70 kilometers up to Korodziba gate. Matupula conducts both hunting and photographic safaris in the concession area. It has built a 24 bed (12 chalets) Lodge for photographic safaris at a site in Ngamo village of Ward 3. The lodge named Camelthorn Lodge. Tourists staying at camp have, as main activities game drive in adjacent national park and also village tours in the nearby villages and schools.
One of the chalets at Camelthorn lodge
During the decade of the 1990s, a rapid growth of the tourism industry ensued, especially in Matabeleland North around Victoria Falls and areas adjacent to Hwange National Park. Very little of this growth benefited communal land people. The rapid proliferation of tourism related infrastructure was subject of serious concern amongst environmentalists, development planners and tour operators alike. Central to these concerns are issues of long term sustainability of tourism development and the need to maintain a balance between commercialisation of tourist attraction centers to meet tourist demand, and maintaining the natural attractions that draw visitors.
The bar and the dining hall at Camelthorn Lodge
The challenge of carrying out an Environmental Impact Assessment Study for tourism development is summed up in the following quotation from a respected architect:
“Tourist demand is most pressing on the most valuable natural resources because the most valuable natural resources are the most fragile. It is here that environmental capacity must be most carefully calculated and most vigilantly administered” (Mallows, 1972).
The EIA certificate was issued in February 2013. The basic problem of planning for tourism is to balance demand with supply to avoid destroying nature through over development. The stakeholders of Tsholotsho development are sensitive to these environmental issues and concerns. They recognise and value the need for sustainable and environmentally friendly investment in tourism as a means to a sustainable communal land development. To this end, Matupula Safaris commissioned this preliminary study.
The project thus seeks to provide a natural and exclusive environment for tourist to view and have a mutual relationship with wildlife in its natural environment. The project also seeks to provide a mutual environment for the creation of wealth through private and public sector (ZPWMA) relationships. It also seeks to encourage job creation and the sustenance of a diverse tourism environment in the north western section of Zimbabwe.
The interior of the bar at Camelthorn Lodge
The interior of the chalets at Camelthorn Lodge