The Collins World Dictionary defines culture as the total inherited ideas, beliefs, values and knowledge which constitute the shared bases of social action. This includes activities, artistic and social pursuits, expressions and tastes valued by a group of people with shared traditions which goes as far as manners, dress, attitudes, feelings and behaviours which characterise and inform society or any social group within it.
Wilderness Safaris strives to incorporate all of the above into the culture strategy of its business and accepts and encourages the ethnic diversity that we have within our organisation. This multifaceted element governs respect for the culture of all employees as well as remote rural communities surrounding the conservation areas. This is reflected in: a healthy social environment in camp; area-appropriate camp design, décor, entertainment and meals; respect for traditional rights within and surrounding the conservation area; and communication of the area's traditional culture to guests and staff.
Wilderness has unique cultural and ethnic diversity across our regions, represented by some 27 ethnic groups employed in our camps and offices. The main ethnic groups in the countries include:
Botswana: Bayei, Bambukushu, Basarwa, Bakgalagadi, Xhanakwe, Batswana, European
Namibia: Herero, Himba, Damara, Riemvasmaker, European
Seychelles: Seychellois and European
South Africa: Tsonga, Zulu, European
Zambia: Kaonde, Nyanja, Ngoni, Tonga, Bemba, European
Zimbabwe: Ndebele, Tonga, Shona, European
Celebrating this diversity and incorporating it into our business is part of who we are and what we would like to achieve. Raising the awareness of our guests regarding the cultural and ethnic diversity in our regions is essential to the sustainability of our business. Introducing cultural elements in our camp design, décor, food, awareness materials and guest activities allows us to embrace and celebrate the cultures of the particular areas where we operate.
The Wilderness Ethics Charter
The increasing number of tourists and their concomitant desire to engage with local communities and cultures necessitated the development of a protocol for cultural tourism, as well as codes of conduct and an ethics charter. The Ethics Charter and Codes of Conduct is a document that incorporates the main principles which govern Wilderness' cultural tourism and engagement with communities living in and around the conservation areas where we operate.
Wilderness Ethics Charter
Wilderness offers various cultural activities as part of a guest experience. The specific cultural activity depends on the country as well as the specific cultural group related to the camp. The aim of the cultural tourism experience is to ensure authenticity and learning and to ensure that there is no commodification or exploitation. Almost all the Wilderness camps offer some form of cultural tourism and/or education relating to the local culture and history of local communities.
Some of the main ways that culture is integrated into activities, camp design and meals can be found here: Wilderness tourism activities and culture