Nine Authentic Cultural Experiences in Africa

Cultures & Communities


Wendy Ngcobo


Whilst it may be the wildlife that draws travellers to Africa, the continent’s people provide equally compelling memories to enrich your adventure.


With camps situated in pristine and remote rural areas alongside neighbouring communities, Wilderness Safaris offers unforgettable wilderness experiences, with opportunities to absorb local culture in the villages and enjoy traditional cuisine when visiting places of interest.


Here are just a few of the cultural activities our guests can look forward to:


Locally Inspired Camp Design


Wilderness Safaris camps are designed to draw inspiration from the diverse cultures neighbouring our camps. Magashi’s design pays tribute to Rwandan culture through elements of the striking local Ankole cattle integrated into the interior design of the lodge. Slices of cow horn were used to create the amazing chandelier in the main area, and an Imigongo design (a specific art form typically painted onto a dung surface) was used for the cladding around the bar.


Bisate Lodge’s sophisticated architectural and interior design is rooted in Rwandan building tradition, and was inspired by the design of the Royal Palace of the traditional monarch. The spherical, thatched structures also echo the thousands of hills that dot the Rwandan landscape. 


The interior design of the lodge is drawn from a variety of aspects of the Rwandan lifestyle, particularly the colourful textiles and use of texture. The emerald green colour in the textiles and chandeliers is reminiscent of the verdant greens of the rainforest, as well as the vibrant markets and villages throughout the country.


King’s Pool, located in Botswana’s Linyanti Wildlife Reserve, is another camp that has a strong cultural element in its design. Throughout the camp, the ancient Batswana craft of weaving is expressed in a number of architectural details such as the camp’s screen walls, vertical supports and balustrades. 


In Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, the interior design at Linkwasha pays homage to the culture of the Ndebele people, with vibrant patterns incorporated into handmade embroidered cushions.  In line with our commitment to celebrating local culture, the walls are now painted in a fresh Ndebele pattern, similar to the homes in the nearby communities, which are often decorated in light pinks, yellows and browns.


Local Food Culture


Wilderness menus blend global trends with African-inspired cuisine. When it comes to meals, we strive to be mindful and create seasonal menus based on local fresh and indigenous produce for our ingredients. The cuisine at Bisate fuses local Rwandan flavours with contemporary international flair. The Dusabane dinner (“meeting and sharing”) is a highlight at Bisate. Over dinner, Rwandan culture is the central theme, and the hosts explain how to use traditional baskets, how traditional food is cooked and why food and drink are an important part of the Rwandan lifestyle.

At Mombo, traditional Batswana dishes such as beef seswa (traditional pounded beef), tswii (waterlily root stew), spinach in a creamy coconut and peanut sauce, and baby mgwenyas (otherwise known as fat cakes, similar to a doughnut) with Amarula ice-cream are favoured delights.


Visit a Local School in Zambia


For many years now Toka Leya has had a healthy relationship with the surrounding communities. Toka Leya and its guests, together with Children in the Wilderness, have made a huge impact on the local communities, particularly the Sinde community where Toka Leya guests go for the cultural tours. Toka Leya and its guests have been a part of the Sinde community since 2010, and over these years have erected boreholes and solar pumps in the community; powered the classrooms; built teacher accommodation; and – through CITW – contributed to scholarships for many of the local children through to high school, with some support for those doing tertiary education.


Learn about Namibia’s Local Communities


Engage the local communities at Serra Cafema and Damaraland – both opportunities are the result of successful partnerships between communities and Wilderness.


The Himba people around Serra Cafema pursue a traditional semi-nomadic way of life, and guests coming to the area can visit the village.


Learn about the unique heritage of the local residents at Damaraland Camp, whose tribal provenance includes the Nama-Damara, Herero, Owambo as well as the Riemvasmakers, a displaced community from South Africa.


Cultural Experiences in Zimbabwe


Visit the local villages on the outskirts of Hwange National Park: Ngamo and Ziga. Here you have the opportunity to interact with the community – where you can find out more about their income-generating projects – and school children, and their programmes facilitated by Children in the Wilderness; also enjoy a fascinating meeting with the village’s prominent and respected elders.

Traditional Dancers of Africa


On arrival at all our camps, guests are welcomed with traditional dancing, and singing in the local languages, giving guests an instant connection to the area. At Toka Leya in Zambia, the Livingstone-based Munjile Band perform on hand-made musical instruments. Those guests who don’t settle in around the campfire to enjoy their melodious singing, drumming and dancing, can’t help but join in the joyous festivities. 

Boma Dinner: Discover Flavours of Africa


Dinner in the boma is a cultural activity that takes place on Mondays in every Wilderness camp. Guests are treated to a special experience, with an African buffet dinner served in an outdoor enclosure, around a central fire. To add to the evening, staff members dressed in traditional attire entertain guests with their particular song and dance, and guests are invited to take part in the fun.

African Tradition of Storytelling


With their love of the African bush, Wilderness Safaris guides enlighten guests with captivating stories that will be remembered long after guests leave the camp. Wherever you go, whether it’s to Botswana, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Zambia or Namibia, you will encounter many different people, all with fascinating stories to share – people who are just as eagerly looking forward to meeting you and hearing your story too.

Wilderness Heritage Day


Each year on the last Friday of August, Wilderness Safaris celebrates Heritage Day, recognising more than 50 culture groups, of which 32 of are represented in our staff complement. Across the seven countries, and in the regional offices, staff members dress in traditional clothing and delicious food from all ethnicities is served. Guests visiting the camps during this time join in the festivities.


To demonstrate our ongoing commitment to our sustainability ethos and ethics around cultural tourism, we developed an innovative Cultural Tourism Ethics Charter to ensure best practice for all community engagement, and authentic cultural experiences across the Group.


Our Ethics Charter and Codes of Conduct was developed to set out specific guidelines on the kind of community engagement and cultural interaction that Wilderness would like to promote, while also ensuring that there is no degrading of cultures or exploitation of people. All cultural interactions are handled sensitively, with respect and with the ultimate goal of increasing knowledge, raising awareness and enriching both guest and community.

Let’s plan your next journey


When we say we’re there every step of the way, we mean it, literally. From planning the perfect circuit, to private inter-camp transfers on Wilderness Air, and easing you through Customs. We’re with you on the ground, at your side, 24-7, from start to finish. Ready to take the road less travelled? Contact our Travel Designers to plan an unforgettable journey.