It is said that if you want to go fast, you have to go alone, but if you want to go far, you need to go together.
If you have never heard about the Nkambeni Community, we would like to tell you a beautiful story…
The Nkambeni Community is named after the Nkambeni River. The name” Nkambeni” is a Swazi name which means “a slow moving river ” or also known as the Sand River. People from this community live in four villages adjacent to the Kruger National Park (Mpumalanga, South Africa), namely Numbi, Mahushu, Shabalala and Sand River. The Nkambeni River (Sand River) flows through one of the villages (Sand River) and all along through the KNP, close to the western boundary of the KNP and joins into the Sabie River.
You are probably wondering where the Nkambeni Safari Camp comes in…Well, let me tell you about a community project that has changed a lot of lives. It is only in 2008 that Nkambeni Safari Camp was built. This was built as a job creation project for specifically for the Nkambeni community. The Nkambeni Community lodged a land claim over their ancestral land, which falls within the Kruger National Park. However, upon agreement with SANParks they decided to make portion of their land available for conservation and tourism purposes. In return SANParks made use rights available for tourism activities available to the Nkambeni community for approximately 11450ha of their ancestral land, situated in the KNP.
As Nkambeni Safari Camp initially only started off as a community and job creation project, today this project, which started off 9 years ago are affecting and creating a much larger impact on this community than probably initially planned or anticipated.
Nkambeni Safari Camp is operated by Nkambeni Safari Camp PTY/Ltd with support from Echo Africa Safaris, which offers a wide variety of Safari activities. Echo Africa Safaris is the biggest open vehicle safari operator in and around the KNP and is regarded as specialists in Safari Activities. Therefore, this community, Nkambeni Safari Camp and the flagship of National Parks, the Kruger National Park have an extraordinary relationship and are proud of the Nkambeni Safari Camp tourism project. This project is co-owned by the Nkambeni’s and their business partner Echo-Africa Safaris.
This project attracts guests from all over the world and in the recent years that past, up to 60 000 guests per year, are entertained and introduced to the Kruger National Park. On average that is 164 guests per day. By means of employing more than 150 members from the local community and with further involvement in various additional projects, the aim is to alleviate poverty and create jobs in order to uplift this community and make a difference. With a recent analysis of the employment structure, the figures showed that R1 million is contributed to the community every month. The intentions of all these projects are to reach out and improve living conditions and to make a difference in the lives of the poor. The community has more than 50 000 members living in their four villages governed by the Royal family of Mhaule and the Nkambeni Tribal Council. The area is very poor with unemployment as high as 62%.
Taking a deeper look into the various smaller project Nkambeni Nkambeni Safari Camp is currently supporting feeding schemes in three local primary schools, an annual football tournament with all the rounds for the competition for 10 teams with the theme “a healthy body promotes healthy living and healthy minds”. The tournament aim is further to explain how important the protecting of natural resources (fauna and flora) is to conservation and tourism.
To support this and various additional job creation projects are being envisioned with the aim to be implemented in the near future e.g. water bottling, packaging and selling of wood from the commercial industry in the area and brick making, planting of indigenous trees, food gardens, etc. Housing projects for AIDS orphans are also being supported, as well as various other educational support projects for local schools children e.g. boreholes, water tanks, kitchens, chairs and support with general maintenance, etc. We believe Tourism must make a difference in local community’s lives for it to be sustainable and for the adjacent conservation areas to be sustainable and protected.
The Nkambeni Tourism project is something we are very proud of and we are thankful that we are able to make a meaningful difference in the lives of so many people on a daily basis. Not only are we giving international guests a portion of our beautiful country, by allowing them to experience a special African safari, at the same time we are contributing to the Nkambeni community by creating jobs, development of skills and ultimately working together to make South Africa a better place.
Therefore, we would like to entice the tourism industry, all our tour operators and prospective tourists to come and witness what we are doing. By visiting Nkambeni Safari Camp – every visitor and guest contributes to this community in creating and maintaining existing jobs and making a difference in the lives of the Nkambeni community.
We are confident in knowing that we have already achieved a lot and made an immense difference and contribution and we look forward to what is still to come. Therefore, as the name Nkambeni name (a slow moving river) we are not aiming to move too fast and rush anything, because when we move too fast, in effect we are essentially removing the emotion from everything, and when it comes to our most precious asset – our people, when we must move a bit slower in order for us to nurture and grow much deeper roots. Therefore, instead we want to progressively continue to develop and grow, the tourism project, the offerings, the community, the country, but most of all – the people.