CAMPFIRE does not only focus on wildlife and hunting, but also tourism through commercial joint ventures and high end concessions, rafting/river use, woodlands, water, fisheries, grazing resources, grasslands, crocodile egg collection, sand extraction, sale of natural products, and crafts in Communal areas. However, according to historical records, the economic impact of tourism in CAMPFIRE is low (5%) when compared to trophy hunting and wildlife products.
Tourists have visited Zimbabwe's rural areas for many years, although local communities were rarely involved/or benefited from tourism until a few pilot projects were set up through CAMPFIRE in the early 1990's. The oldest community owned CAMPFIRE tourism projects are Sunungukai Camp in Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe district, and Sanyati Bridge Camp in Hurungwe District. To date several community-based tourism projects have been initiated in Zimbabwe's communal lands through the leasing of sites for nature tourism by the private sector, and other basic tourist facilities owned and run by local communities. There is significant potential for tourism ventures in communal areas that have natural attractions in the areas of: Fly fishing, Cultural tourism, Rock art, Birding, Hiking, Wildlife tourism, Wilderness experience, Adventure, Mountain climbing, and Hot springs.
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.
16 out of the 18 large and small tourism enterprises funded have been completed to date and are operated mostly by Community Trusts through lease agreements with the private sector. Community Trusts give the communities legal rights over tourism ventures in their areas. The Community Trust is a legal entity with devolved rights over management of non-wildlife resources. The RDC benefits from an annual lease of the land used by the project. This is unlike the case of wildlife, where communities at law have rights over their share of income which accrues directly to them from a safari operator based on contracts signed by the RDC.
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.
CAMPFIRE Ecotourism Facilities
District Facility Management/Status
Nyanga Gairezi Lodge Community Trust/Pvt - Functional
Umzingwane Diana’s Pools Community/Pvt - Functional
Matobo Ntunjambili Day Centre Community Trust/Pvt - Semi-functional
Mbire Karunga, Masoka Camps Community Trust/Pvt – Semi-Functional
Muzarabani Mavuradona Wilderness Community Trust/RDC/Pvt - Functional
Binga Binga Cultural Village Community/RDC/Pvt - Functional
Hurungwe Sanyati Lodge RDC/Pvt- Functional
Hwange Chezya Fishing Camp Community Trust - Non-Functional
Matobo C J Rhodes Cultural Village Community Trust - Functional
Pfura Pfura Mountains Camp Community Trust/RDC – Semi-Functional
UMP Sunungukai Camp Community/Pvt - Functional
Mazowe Banje Mountain Camping Community Trust - Non-functional
Goromonzi Ngomokurira Hills Community Trust – Non-Functional
Bindura Paradise Pools Day Centre Community Trust/RDC - Non-functional
Chimanimani Vhimba Eco-tourism Community Trust/RDC - Functional
Manyame Mayambara Ecotourism Community Trust/Pvt - Non-functional
Private Lodges on Communal Land
High-end tourism initiatives have also been developed under CAMPFIRE from the 1990s. The Chilo/Mahenye lodges initiative in Chipinge district heralded the establishment of “high-cost, low-volume” game lodges in communal lands, which were mostly adjacent to National Parks in the Zambezi Valley and Southeast Lowveld. 12 such lodges were in operation by 1999, and eight such facilities remain in operation. Private sector companies 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 high-end market. Communities benefit from a percentage of turnover, based on the number of visitors and their origin per year or bed night levy. Lodge owners also make in kind donations directly to the communities either from themselves or from their guests for local development projects. An annual lease fee for the land is also charged, and this is usually paid to the Rural District Council.
District Name of Facility Owner Partnership
Chipinge Chilo Lodge River Lodges of Africa Com/RDC/Private Partner
Binga Masumu River Lodge Mr Allen Wheatley RDC/Private Partner
Hwange Gorges River Lodge Matupula Safaris RDC /Private Partner
Umzingwane Embizeni Lodges Mr Piet de Velt Community/Private Partner
Tsholotsho Camelthorn Lodge Imvelo Safaris RDC/Private Partner
Nyaminyami Bumi Hills Lake Lodges RDC/ Private Partner
Gache Gache Lodge Chapungu Safaris RDC/ Private Partner
Tiger Bay Peter Macussen RDC/ Private Partner
Tourism income to communities is mostly unrecorded and never fully captured as part of CAMPFIRE economic data. This is a result of low investment and returns due to the current downturn in tourism receipts for the country.
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 choosing a CAMPFIRE resort or campsite.
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 (catch and release), hiking, birdwatching, shopping for local crafts.
- Dazi and Nyamutsapa communities, Nyanga
Tel: +263 4 861182,
(google map here)
Download the full Gairezi ecotourism project profile here