The Manda Wilderness Project
The Manda Wilderness nature conservation reserve is in the North West corner of Mozambique. The 200,000 acre (100,000+ Ha) reserve includes six kilometres of the shore of Lake Niassa (Malawi) and extends east towards the boundaries of the Niassa National Park.
Niassa is the poorest and most neglected province in the poorest country in the world.
To establish and protect the reserve
· To create employment opportunities for the isolated communities which have no income other than hunting, subsistence farming and fishing.
· To show the benefits to these communities of eco-tourism.
Niassa Province was once rich in wildlife and still has vast areas of virgin forest and lakes. The Manda Wilderness Project is creating a wildlife reserve which is owned by the local communities and which will attract sufficient tourists to increase employment opportunities and finance a Community Development Fund.
Since the project was started in 1998, the five chiefs and their councils of the communities neighbouring the reserve have all accepted an agreed code for its conservation and management. So far the project employs seventy workers and is the largest single employer in the district.
Wildlife populations, particularly otters, antelope, elephant and some of the predators have already started to return, because of community prohibitions on hunting.
Connected to the scheme is a tourist lodge, built in a concession area within the reserve, it has miles of virgin beaches and inland, the untouched bush stretches through the huge reserve, and beyond.
The aim of Mchenga Nkwichi Lodge is to conserve the pristine wilderness and the wildlife that supports it, by helping to provide the local population with alternative livelihoods to the hunting, fishing and subsistence farming.
The current lodge has been built beside a beautiful beach, the buildings are all made from sustainable local products (except for the odd hinge and tap [faucet]) in such a way that if they were to be removed the environment would return to its natural condition within two years. The chalets are all unique, spacious, secluded and have a private view of the Lake. Each has its own separate toilet and an outdoor shower with sunset views. Maximum capacity is normally 16 guests, but on occasion the lodge has upto 20 with people staying in tents, or out on safari.
Most volunteers would be based here, although satellite projects (mainly agricultural) are run with the surrounding villages – up to 2 days walk from the lodge site.
The area has a wide variety of landscapes ranging from rivers, mountains, savannah, swamps, forest to beaches with crystal clear waters. Birds and smaller game animals are plentiful. However, the prolonged civil war in Mozambique in the 1980s resulted in many of the larger animals being slaughtered for meat, skins and ivory. Since the end of hostilities in the early 1990s populations of large animals have started to return or recover, with regular reports of elephants, lion, leopards, sable and other large antelopes and occasional sightings of the almost extinct Cape hunting dogs.
The community game reserve of Manda Wilderness is the main attraction on offer. Guests can either visit the reserve on foot (1 to 12 days) by joining one of the fully supported walking safaris, or by canoe (2 to 6 days) down one of the numerous rivers. Alternatively guests can take trips along the lake shore (1 to 10 days), or just base themselves at the lodge; spending their days canoeing, mountain biking, snorkeling, walking, bird watching or just relaxing in the beautiful natural surroundings enjoying levels of seclusion and peacefulness that cannot now be found in most other areas of the world. All daily trips are included in the rate and are accompanied by competent guides. The longer expeditions into the wilderness have a separate charge of their own.
safaris are only recommended to those who are active and willing, the wilderness
has no paths or roads so it can be strenuous at times but the wild experience
makes it all worthwhile.
Canoe trips and other activities are more suited to those who are not so energetic, but still wanting to be adventurous. Guests not sure about long trips in the wilderness can make 24-hour treks with overnight stops at 'fly camps' in the bush.
This is a challenging, diplomatic, but highly rewarding job. Nearly everyone involved in the project is highly motivated, hard working, and keen to learn.
Regardless of what the original advertisement said, we are not looking to make money out of any volunteer. Ideally, volunteers will pay their own travel, insurance, and living expenses. They will be part of a team, and welcome to contribute in any other part of the project, after they have fulfilled their agreed targets.
Volunteers will have access to all the lodge’s facilities, and will be welcome on the safaris, but not as a guest – they will be expected to pull their own weight, help with logistics, charm the guests, and do what ever else is necessary.
What we are looking for is some one who will help us better equip the local community to influxes of tourists – in a way that will help sustain the environment, the indigenous culture, and the fulfill the guests expectations.
Note: Mchenga Nkwichi’s character comes from the fact that it is very isolated. The nearest ‘town’ is five hours walk away - but the lodge does have access to email, and radio equipment. (The nearest satellite phone takes at least two hours sailing.)
There are some difficulties – very limited teaching resources, no formal structure, and dealing with people who have had little, or no formal education.
· To help community workers and lodge staff speak a reasonable level of conversational English.
· To help key staff develop their basic writing skills
To help the Community workers and staff understand the expectations of foreign
Ø level of service required.
Ø explaining the philosophy of the project
Ø explaining the culture and values of their tribe
Here are a few links to sites that can tell you more about the Project. These are for informational purposes only, and I don't necessarily endorse any of the sites.
The Manda Wilderness Project, is based on 'eco-tourism' combining ethical tourism with nature conservation and sustainable community development.
The Sustainable Village site offers critical thinking, appropriate technology and strategic action to turn visions of sustainability into reality. They work exclusively with projects that help developing countries. This site offers a detailed overview of the Project, its history, its goals and its future.
ResponsibeTravel.com - All trips and accommodation on the site have met minimum environmental, social and economic criteria to qualify for membership. Travellers gain from more enjoyable experiences, destination hosts gain greater economic benefits to their local communities, and potentially negative impacts on fragile environments and cultures are minimised.
Opportunities to work at Manda Wilderness