Tag Archives: Sustainable Tourism

Eziko Cooking and Culinary School: Looking After the Future of Africa

Taken from the Eziko website

Serving as both a restaurant and a gourmet culinary school, Eziko in the Langa Township outside of Cape Town has been providing superior cuisine and cooking classes to locals and tourists alike for more than 10 years now.

Victor Mguqulwa, former Langa High School teacher, started the Eziko Cooking and Catering school in 1996 with a mission to decrease unemployment rates and increase optimism in the local communities. His vision for the school was born after he saw how much interest the students of Langa High School had in their cooking programs and competitions. Victor’s goal for the school is to educate students on gourmet cooking in hopes that they will start their own business or lend their developed cooking talents to an already established restaurant.

Victor believes that through education and skill teaching, individuals can take responsibility for the future of their communities and help to sustain their economy. Eziko was designed to provide students with the exceptional cooking and catering skills as well as the skills needed to operate in the business-world. This school doesn’t simply teach cooking skills to students, rather, it provides them with motivation to take on larger responsibilities such as providing for themselves, their families, and lending to the community.     

Taken from the Eziko website

Eziko Cooking and Catering School goes beyond ordinary cooking classes. They provide their handpicked students with a job at the Eziko restaurant and then after some basic training and experience in the restaurant they are placed into a sponsoring catering establishment for six months. Helping students to integrate themselves into the hospitality and restaurant industry, the school provides employee placement and teaches students business skills.

Recently, Eziko has been struggling due to the recession. As less people eat out and require catering services, the Eziko restaurant and catering business are receiving fewer customers than before. The restaurant and catering services were the main funding source behind the Eziko Cooking School and with many students coming from poverty stricken backgrounds it’s difficult for them to pay the full tuition. Because the restaurant and catering service are not generating enough money to completely fund the school, they’re looking for outside resources to lend a helping hand.  

Taken from the Eziko website

For 2010, Eziko is proposing a student sponsorship program in order to continue educating these students. For anyone who would like to donate money to this exceptional school, donations are accepted through Uthando. Simply specify that you would like the donation to be given to the Eziko Cooking and Catering School.

An example of what this school means to one student: “I have been here at Grand West Casino for about 3 months training to be a Chef. I can prepare for a function of at least 200 guests breakfast and hot foods and pastry. I really enjoy what I am doing here and feel so passionate about cooking.Thank you and may God be with you for your kindness.”
Yours Sincerely , Melford Mehluko



Great Plains Conservation: Changing the World One Elephant Footprint at a Time

With increasing threats to the elephant population in Africa—including hunting, poaching, and habitat loss from human expansion—it’s no wonder we are beginning to see a major decline in elephant numbers. Determined to extinguish, or at least reduce these threats, Great Plains Conservation has established the Elephant Footprint program. This conservation program is focused primarily on one of the last places on earth where elephants are in large numbers, the Selinda Reserve in Botswana. Nearly 9,000 elephants reside in Selinda after each dry season, thanks to Great Plains Conservation’s exceptional efforts to help sustain the local environment.

Elephants in Africa

According to Great Plains Conservation, before they acquired the land, a whopping 75% of Selinda’s territory was used for trophy hunting. Now, elephants are less timid and more comfortable with their surroundings, and lion and other animal populations have increase dramatically.

Elephant at Zarafa Camp, Selinda Reserve in Northern Botswana

Because Selinda is a sanctuary for several endangered animals, including wild dogs, several bird species, leopards, and elephants, it’s a special treat to be able to see these creatures in abundance in their most natural habitat. In addition to a plethora of various animal species, Selinda Reserve is also known for its thriving eco-systems that sustain the delicate wildlife of the area. With 300,000 acres of land, windy rivers, and swamps, Selinda is one of the liveliest regions in Africa. Without the efforts from Great Plains Conservation, this region’s magnificent species and delicate eco-systems would still be under major threat.

Dedicated to conserving the environment through low impact, exceptional tourism, and community involvement, Great Plains Conservation is doing everything in their power to make the environment, the economy, and the community sustainable. Their belief is simple: “We believe that ownership is less about laying claim to a vast tract of land like this, than it is about taking care of it and making it better than we found it (Great Plains Conservation).”

Elephant outside the guest tent at Zarafa Camp

Great Plains Conservation is so dedicated to conserving the area that they only accommodate a maximum of 32 guests in their tented camps at all times. They believe this is the solution to having a lower impact on the region’s environment and providing each and every guest with the African safari vacation of a lifetime. With thousands of acres for guest to explore, Selinda’s camps are some of the most exceptional, unique, and intimate in all of Africa.
With the goal to expand conservation protection, Great Plains is working hard to build an elephant safe-haven that spans from the Chobe National Park, to the Moremi, to Namibia, and hopefully, to Angola.

If you’re looking to experience the Botswana family safari or honeymoon safari of a lifetime, Selinda Reserve is the place to go. Let Hills of Africa Travel create for you and your loved ones a detailed itinerary that’s customized to fit your every individual preference. Contact us today at 800.940.9344. We’re looking forward to making your dreams come true . . .

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Dyer Island Cruises – Saving Penguins One Chick at a Time


Dyer Island Cruises is a tour operator offering whale watching, Great White shark diving and other exhilarating marine wildlife viewing. They are based in Gansbaai, South Africa, which is approximately 1.5 hours east of Cape Town. Their tours take place in the waters around Dyer Island, a tiny island off the coast, made famous by the whales and sharks. They operate all tours with the highest standard of environmental awareness and much of their aim is to educate.

Dyer Island is home to over 4,000 African penguins, a species struggling with severe endangerment. Typically, the penguins burrow into soft guano (bird manure) to build their nests and protect their chicks. However, during the last 100 years, locals harvested the guano and used it to make fertilizer. While guano harvesting has stopped, the island will need 20 to 30 years of accumulation for there to be sufficient layering. In the meantime, the penguins are struggling to find shelter for their eggs and chicks from predators like seagulls.

Wilfred Chivell, who runs Dyer Island Cruises, is responsible for the launch of a program to install penguin homes, following a lucky visit to the island in the late 1990s. Few people can visit Dyer Island because it is off limits to anyone but researchers and most scientists are barred during sensitive nesting times. On his chance visit, he saw a shocking drop in the penguin population and that the penguins were desperate for shelter. To put it in perspective, the penguin population on Dyer Island has fallen from a peak of 22,655 pairs in 1979 to about 2,000 today.

That was all that was needed to motivate Wilfred. He got to work and in 2005, the first 40 “penguin houses” were transported to the island. The penguin houses are small, fiberglass igloos. Within a few days, adult penguins had inhabited all the penguin houses and were using them for shelter. The penguins just love their new homes. Each year, more houses are added and there are approximately 400 houses now on the island, with hopes to eventually have 2,000. The penguins occupy the new burrows like greased lightning. Anything that provides shelter is better than an open nest.

Wilfred had to jump through major hoops to get his project off the ground as he had to go through various governmental and research bodies to coordinate and to agree to let a private citizen get involved with such an ecologically sensitive place. Persistence pays off. The project has been so successful that researchers are currently taking data so that they can launch similar projects on other islands where there are more penguins desperate for homes.

The project is now run by donations from a trust called Faces of Need. To donate or learn more, please visit http://www.facesofneed.com.

Isn’t this the kind of operator you want to support when you travel?

For more information on Dyer Island Cruises, please visit http://www.whalewatchsa.com.

Hills of Africa Travel believes in the conservation of Africa’s magnificent bio-diversity and works closely with conservation organizations and ecotourism companies to help save Africa’s wildlife and wilderness. Contact us today at (800) 940-9344 to learn more about our conservation efforts and discover how you can take an African family safari or honeymoon safari trip of a lifetime.