Tourists have visited Zimbabwe's rural areas for many years, although the local communities were rarely involved (or benefited from) tourism until a few pilot projects were set up by CAMPFIRE in the early 1990's. Most revenues from tourism in Zimbabwe's communal lands are generated through the leasing of sites for nature tourism, although in some cases local residents run basic tourist facilities and act as guides. Many more tourism plans are in the pipeline, including cultural tourism, bird-watching and access to natural hot springs.

Through the Zimbabwe Sun Hotels, a high-end tourism initiative was developed in the 1990s. The initiative saw the establishment of “high-cost, low-volume” game lodges located in communal lands, and mostly adjacent to National Parks in the Zambezi Valley and Southeast Lowveld. 12 such lodges were in operation by 1999. Today there are five such facilities in operation (see Table below). Private interests operate these ventures under lease agreements with RDCs on behalf of communities who are the major beneficiaries. These facilities share some of the following features: High level of comfort, Range of wildlife experiences, Targeted international the high-end market.

In 1999-2003, CAMPFIRE Association established the CAMPFIRE Development Fund (CDF) with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). One of the components of the CDF was the eco-tourism initiative. It consists of “low-cost, high volume” basic overnight accommodation, rudimentary camping, day visitor cultural centres and craft shops in communal lands, which were funded through infrastructure development grants, with communities providing locally available materials and labour. 14 out of the 18 large and small tourism enterprises funded have been completed to date and are operated mostly by community trusts and/or lease agreements with the private sector. These facilities provide a diverse product offering and target market based on wilderness experience, and specialist activities such as sport fishing and bird watching.

Most of these projects cater for day visiting (hiking, cultural centres, cave paintings), basic overnight accommodation (camp sites, bashers, chalets), and crafts sales.

The projects are designed to generate a return on investment to the communities to enhance their interest in managing and maintaining the natural environment. The projects create employment and generate income for locals through the sale of various goods and services. This has led to the improvement of standards of living by stimulating the local economy, sharing revenues and contributing to community needs, and provision of infrastructure. Community based tourism also provides incentives for conservation.

However, according to historical records, t he economic impact of tourism in CAMPFIRE is low (5%) when compared to trophy hunting and wildlife products. There are a number of possible reasons for this, and the current project is aimed at incorporating direct and indirect tourism revenue in the CAMPFIRE financial database.

We maintain a list of all private or community-owned tourism facilities in CAMPFIRE areas. Next time you plan a trip make sure to give something back to the community and help conservation by chosing a CAMPFIRE resort or campsite.

CAMPFIRE Ecotourism Facilities in 2006





Gairezi Eco-Tourism

Community Trust/Private Partner


Mtshabezi Cultural Village

Community Trust/RDC


Ntunjambili Day Centre

Community Trust/Private Partner


Karunga, Masoka Camps

Community Trust/Safari Operator


Mavuradona Wilderness

Community Trust/Safari Operator


Binga Cultural Village



Sanyati Lodge

Chapungu Safaris


Chezya Fishing Camps

Community Trust


C J Rhodes Cultural Village

Community Trust


Pfura Mountains Lodge

Community Trust/RDC


Banje Mountain Camping

Community Trust


Ngomokurira Hills

Community Trust/National Museums


Paradise Pools Day Centre

Community Trust/RDC


Private Lodges on Communal Land


Chilo/Mahenye Safari Lodges

River Lodges of Africa


Masumu River Lodge

Mr Allen Wheatley


Gorges River Lodge

Matupula Safaris


Embizeni Lodges

Mr Piet de Velt


Gache Gache Lodge

Chapungu Safaris


Gairezi Ecotourism Project

A beautifully situated, self-catering set of four-bedroom lodges and a campsite on the crystal clear Gairezi River in the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe.


  • Fly fishing for trout, hiking, birdwatching, shopping for local crafts.

Who Benefits?

  • Dazi and Nyamutsapa Communities, Nyanga


Rose Peacock
Tel: +263 4 861182,
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


(google map here)

Download the full Gairezi ecotourism project profile here