In 1988 the Wilderness, at the instigation of the Muzarabani Rural District Council, was gazetted by an act of parliament into a concession, granting the area the same protection as National Parks, with the idea to develop tourism in the area through the CAMPFIRE (Community Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources) conservation project.
In 1991 Geoffrey and Max Carew successfully tendered to council for the right to operate photographic safaris in the area in a joint venture with council with the ultimate aim for the local community to benefit from tourism in the area.
Against many odds, not least the remoteness and inaccessibility of the area, lack of big game, heavy poaching activity and many leading Zimbabwe tourism authorities believing the area was not viable for tourism, the Carews pressed ahead and created what is now recognised as one of the best safari experiences to be had in Africa.
Now in 2002, James and Janine Varden have taken over operations of the area. Well known already in the Zimbabwe tourism industry through their involvement with Natureways, James and Janine look forward to expanding upon the safari and cultural experiences to be had in the Mavuradonha Wilderness.
Originally from Australia, Janine has been living in ZImbabwe for seven years after meeting James in Melbourne. Prior to moving to Zimbabwe, Janine worked for six years as a Jillaroo on a cattle-station in Victoria. She then worked for another six years as a zoo-keeper at Werribee’s open-range zoo, specialising in African mammals.
Janine’s animal-husbandry background is well-utilised in the wilderness area, and the care and upkeep of the horses is her responsibilty. Janine also has a strong interest in conservation and rural community issues in Zimbabwe.
James Varden is well known as one of Zimbabwe’s top professional guides and safari operators. James started his career as a learner guide in Hwange National Park. In 1991 James moved to Mana Pools National Park, working with Natureways Canoe and Walking Safaris. It was with Natureways that James attained his canoe license and full professional guides license.
Some of our Partners
At the end of 1997, James bought Natureways, and continues to run the operation. The Mavuradonha and the Mana Pools (Natureways) safaris are two of the most diverse adventures one can experience in Africa. James has been a professional guide for over sixteen years, and his experience benefits every safari. James special interests are birding and photography. James is recognised as one of the top five ornithologists in the country.
Varden Safaris, through its involvement with CAMPFIRE, is linked to various conservation projects in the area, one of them being MZEP.
www.elephantpepper.org The Mid Zambezi Elephant Project (MZEP) is an innovative programme that addresses conservation issues where humans and elephants coexist. MZEP aims to develop practical management strategies that advance our understanding of human-wildlife conflict, and will improve the management of elephants within a human-dominated landscape.
Our other partners include:
Zimbabwe Wildlife Fund supports conservation in Zimbabwe – working mainly in Hwange National Park ZWF are based in Perth Australia.
The Tikki Hywood Trust is a non-profit charitable organisation offering a fresh and positive contribution to Zimbabwean conservation. Their primary objective is to breed rare and endangered animals on the verge of extinction, concentrating on “lesser species”, such as the Lichtenstein’s Hartebeest (currently Zimbabwe’s rarest animal), pangolin, aardwolf, serval, civet and the Southern African Hedgehog. The Tikki Hywood Trust’s long-term goal is to assist in the relocation of endangered species into what was once their natural habitat.
The Zambezi Society is a local NGO concerned with enviromental matters that affect the biodiversity of the entire Zambezi River basin.