AFI Goes Greener in Botswana: Sustainable Clothing and Nature Positive Living

Safe, stable, and uncrowded, the biodiversity-rich nation of Botswana is a conservation leader.

By Emma Gregg

Silvery freshwater channels, where jewel-bright malachite kingfishers perch on the reeds. Grassy riverbanks, patrolled by magnificent herds of elephants. Shimmering salt flats, stretching to the far horizon. Rich in beautiful, protected landscapes such as these, Botswana is heavenly to explore.

Against this natural backdrop, the AFI Forbes Fashion Experience is showcasing the mutual interests of the African creative economy and global sustainability. The often-wasteful Fashion Industry must find balance between cultural and commercial activity. On 27 April 2022 African Fashion International will stage a celebration of Africa’s biodiversity in partnership with Forbes Under 30 in Kasane, Botswana.  

Plan a sustainable, nature-positive trip

Plan a sustainable safari to the Okavango Delta, Chobe National Park or lesser-known spots such as the Makgadikgadi Pans and the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, and you’ll have the rare luxury of knowing that you’re contributing to wildlife preservation, habitat protection and rural community development – conserving Botswana’s precious wilderness for generations to come.

Stay at a low-carbon lodge

Gliding through the wetlands of the Okavango Delta in a mokoro – a small, shallow boat, punted with a pole – is a quintessential African safari experience. You’ve probably already heard that the Delta’s safari operators don’t use mokoros made from traditional materials such as ebony or sausage tree wood anymore; to save these iconic trees, they use fibreglass instead. But what else are they doing to help keep the Delta pristine?

Some are investing in smart water, waste, and renewable energy systems. Xigera (xigera.com), a spectacular new luxury lodge in the Moremi Reserve, at the heart of the Delta, was built with the utmost care, with minimal impact on native plants and animals. Its state-of-the-art Tesla photovoltaic farm is designed to save around 73,000 litres of diesel per year, its drinking water is purified on-site by reverse osmosis, and it treats, composts or recycles practically all its waste. And its mokoros? Cleverly, they’re glass-bottomed, for magical glimpses of the plants and fish beneath.

Explore the bush in electric safari vehicles and boats

Botswana’s original national park, Chobe, is one of Africa’s greatest. Providing a safe haven for thousands of elephants, it has a key role to play in KAZA, an ambitious five-country conservation initiative that’s aiming to restore and protect ancient wildlife migration corridors while enabling local communities to earn a sustainable livelihood through ecotourism.

Graced by the river from which it takes its name, Chobe is always an exciting place to be. To offer world-class wildlife-watching that’s low-carbon and keeps wildlife disturbance to a minimum, Chobe Game Lodge (chobegamelodge.com) has been pioneering the use of electric safari vehicles and boats. As well as being environmentally friendly, they’re also relaxing for the people on board. The absence of engine noise means you can pick up little sounds you might otherwise miss, such as bird calls or animal movements. You can also chat comfortably to your guide, who, by the way, will be a woman – since, in another pioneering achievement, Chobe Game Lodge has successfully trained an entire team of female safari guides.

Choose a community-owned conservancy

Gone are the days when community-owned tourism operations were typically friendly but basic. Botswana’s Khwai Concession, for example, is home to luxurious, eco-friendly camps created by seasoned safari professionals. They provide the local community with an income via the Khwai Development Trust, which represents the interests of Khwai Village – offering housing or grants to the elderly or disadvantaged and running development and education projects.

Khwai Leadwood, a superb new camp from African Bush Camps (africanbushcamps.com), has made a point of creating worthwhile jobs for members of the local community. Its location is sublime: gazing across the Khwai River towards Moremi Game Reserve, with elephants, hippos and even lions crossing freely from one side to the other.

Attend AFI Showroom – A platform for emerging African designers.

Drawing inspiration from this rich ecosystem, the AFI Forbes Fashion Experience aims to tell a distinct story about organic ways of being. The showcase, leveraging the splendour of Africa’s treasures, is opting for an unconventional runway – replacing artificial lights with the natural light of the wild.

The AFI Showroom, while working with local models and artisans in the small town of Kasane, will exchange cultural assets and skills to promote social and cultural longevity. The message: Reimagine Fashion.

Where the Big Five roam free, AFI aims to emphasise the possibility of balance between nature and creative expression, to promote a lifestyle of sustainable harmony.

REGISTER to watch the shows.

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