The ‘Travelhadores’ – the Northern Mozambique Tourism Workers Exchange has commenced.

The concept of the Travelhadores (a play on the Portuguese term for workers trabalhadores) is to give tourism workers in the north of Mozambique the opportunity to experience other tourism operations, to share ideas and best practices and to experience tourism.

Seven of us set off from Ilha de Moçambique and travelled for 3 days by car, train, several ‘private’ chapas (mini buses of dubious roadworthiness that drive too fast and yet still take an inordinate amount of time to get to the destination), truck, and finally a boat to arrive at Nkwichi Lodge on Lake Niassa. That’s not the usual method employed to arrive at Nkwichi but we were keen for the crew to experience different modes of transport and to meet travellers along the way. Plus we had a very modest travel budget!

The idea has been initiated by Ilha Blue Island Safaris and endorsed by Nkwichi Lodge. Some years ago one of the founders of Manda Wilderness Project -Nkwichi Lodge visited Ilha de Moçambique, with his family, and participated in Ilha Blue activities. We all had a lot of fun together and there was a real sense of ‘kindred spirit’ amongst us. So we approached Nkwichi Lodge to be our partners in the pilot of the ‘Travelhadores’. We also had the good fortune to receive a donation from friends in Australia to get the ball rolling. Samantha and Olaf visited Ilha in October 2016 and immersed themselves in Ilha life. They were keen to keen to show further support for Ilha Blue and the Travelhadores was just the ticket!

The final transport to arrive at Nkwichi Lodge

The final transport to arrive at Nkwichi Lodge

The experience highlighted both commonalities and differences in the 2 businesses and the staff from both benefitted greatly. The Ilha Blue team was looked after and received full attention in keeping with high-end tourists. They were encouraged to ask questions and state their preferences with regard to meals, drinks, activities. We also offered our services to help with the daily operations and to further interact with Nkwichi staff.

Ready for lunch

Ready for lunch

Pre-lunch drinks

Pre-lunch drinks

On the last day we gave a presentation to the Nkwichi staff (approximately 45 of them – it was delivered twice in order to cover everyone), about Ilha de Moçambique and what Ilha Blue Island Safaris does. The Ilha Blue team presented in English, Enahara, and Portuguese which was interspersed with lively translations into Nyanja, the local language. The guys did a fantastic job and the Nkwichi staff were totally intrigued and fascinated. They asked a lot of questions and it all became very interactive. The burning question for many was how do we catch the whales! There was a good deal of bonding and camaraderie all round.

Ilha Blue team presenting to Nkwichi staff

Ilha Blue team presenting to Nkwichi staff

The distances are great in Mozambique and up here in the north a real sense of isolation can prevail. Nkwichi Lodge is situated on the Mozambique shores of Lake Niassa (Lake Malawi) surrounded by beautiful dense bush. Ilha Blue Island Safaris are situated on an island and so both destinations are remote. The overall experience was really worthwhile (despite the arduous travelling) for both Ilha Blue and Nkwichi Lodge and in May 2017 about 20 Nkwichi Lodge staff will come to Ilha for 4 days to complete the exchange.

Post script:

Last year (2016) Nkwichi Lodge won Gold in the Africa Responsible Tourism Awards for ‘Best for Beach Tourism’. http://www.nkwichi.com/ This year (2017) Ilha Blue Island Safaris won Gold in the Africa Responsible Tourism Awards for ‘Best for Engaging people and culture’.