Travelling has always been one of those activities which brings the unexpected, unforgettable and intimate experiences. Dalai Lama once said that at least once in a year one should go someplace you have never been before. Personally travel is my unconventional massage for the soul. It has always been viewed as one of those undertakings that waters the garden of Eden in our lives, exposes us to new cultures and reveals the truths of the our own origins, rejuvenates a tired soul and so forth. Social media has brought a new wave of young travellers or travel influencers and travel content creators exposing the hidden gems around the World.
Having studied outside of Zimbabwe and being introduced to travel at a tender age by their parents makes the Mutyavaviri twins no strangers to the world of travel. The curiosity of knowing more about Zimbabwe dampened the seed for their love of travel. Starting their content creation journey with only a mobile phone, Afronomads have travelled to countries such as Tanzania, Kenya, Mozambique, Malawi, Botswana, Zambia, Swaziland, South Africa, India and United Arab Emirates (UAE). In Zimbabwe they have been to destinations such as Victoria Falls, Kariba, Chipinge, Chimanimani, Hwange, Honde Valley, Inyanga and Umfurudzi National Park. Tariro and Chiedza Mutyavaviri, the pair who make up Afronomads Zimbabwe are travel influencers, travel content creators and travel agency owners.
“The reason we started Afronomads was to showcase travel in Zimbabwe and basically other countries in Africa. Our aim was to showcase other places that are in Zimbabwe besides Victoria Falls. Another main thing that we wanted to highlight was that you can travel to a lot of places out there that are not only five star rated. There are so many options when travelling in Zimbabwe, so many accommodation options, so many things that one can do that are not really known by a lot of people; hence we really wanted to highlight that through our travel” conversed the duo on the inception of their enterprise.
The Afronomads started off showcasing their travels in Zimbabwe and other African countries through content visuals on Youtube which consist of the content creation side of their entity. Through their content creation an opportunity arose to create a travel agency to service an audience which was influenced by their travels. “So many people were asking us how we travel and asking us to help them; we saw that as a business opportunity and also help people because already on our social media platforms we were giving out information so the agency handles from as little as an itinerary or help you plan your whole trip.” They reiterated that their intention is to inspire young Africans to travel and capture a community of young travellers who want to travel locally which will in turn give a purposeful contribution to the domestic tourism in Zimbabwe.
The duo has concocted exciting initiatives such as the Afronomads Travel Tribe which consists of a community of young African travellers interested in the work the content creators do. As an entity Afronomads Zimbabwe are also working on thought-provoking initiatives to bridge the gap brought about by the lack of travel information in Zimbabwe of other small tourism destinations. “Some of the initiatives that we want to do in the future are mostly travel related for example working with locals in small towns because we noticed that a lot of locals have more information on their hometowns. In Chimanimani we observed that there are more locals who know about the hidden gems like secret waterfalls; that is what we are currently working on, to work with more locals in Binga and Chimanimani, in the small towns mainly” unpacked the Afronomads on community empowerment interventions they intend to do.
The world of travel has evolved and the traditional cumbersome processes of travel have been ironed out making the world more accessible to the general public. Tourism has been revolutionized by entities such as Airbnb and Couchsurfing. Asked about what the duo thought of these sensations they added that, “From our point of view when you think of travel you think of a hotel and when people think hotel they also think expensive in the same line of thought. That doesn’t give room for flexible budgets. People are now looking for experiences rather than just booking at a hotel. So when someone wants to travel like a local; what is the next best thing? why can’t l stay at couch surf where l can get more information from the local? and interact with a local and that person will show me the different places that are in the area.”
The duo’s favourite travel experience so far was in Tanzania where they got an opportunity to sock in the culture with the Maasai women where they were introduced to the traditional bridal wear. Quizzed on their ultimate travel lesson the duo unpacked that, “Expect the unexpected; don’t expect too much because sometimes you get the unexpected. So have an open mind wherever you are going to travel to. It is always good to go somewhere with an open mind and bring your own sunshine. Just have fun with it wherever you go; expect the unexpected.” Domestic travel in Zimbabwe can be a bit costly but the travel influencers have found a way around accommodation options through camping and resorting for budget friendly accommodation. “For example in Inyanga, sometimes we would rather go and stay at Inyanga National Park and do more activities that are in Inyanga. Another thing that we do is camping. For us its more about the experience, there is time where we want to have nicer accommodation and want to relax and but we really feel that we are young and now is not the time for us to be travelling to 5 star hotels, for us it is really about the experience. So when we are calculating our budgets we are always thinking how much is accommodation; the goal is that it really needs to be the least of our expenses.”
They go on to say that the most rewarding and gratifying portion of their travel experiences and business has been the influence it has had on people to travel due to the information that they would have shared through their platforms. Adding on some of the challenges in the tourism in Zimbabwe the pair singled out the challenge of information on smaller tourism destinations. Hence their intention to work with locals in areas such as Chipinge and Chimanimani to cover the information gaps that exist and amplify domestic tourism in Zimbabwe. “Another challenge we face on the travel agency side of things is online paying platforms. Those are like really difficult to come by. We can receive payments from travellers but it difficult to get withdrawals; it is just so much hustle to get a simple transaction done which sometimes can be frustrating. However we have found way to navigate that obstacle. Also travel insurance is also hard to come by in Zimbabwe; some countries have varieties, whereas not many choices exist when it comes to Zimbabwe which is very important for anyone that is going to travel.” To address some of these challenges they think the Ministry of Tourism should give young independent travel influencers and content creators an audience to help them air new and fresh ideas they have to help accelerate and promote domestic tourism and integrate activities which promote Zimbabwean authentic cultural experiences.
With so much done in terms of their travel business and travel content creation, the Afronomads would like to visit more African countries, with Rwanda being on top of their list, they also intend to climb Mt Kilimanjaro, Mt Kenya, visit Egypt, Ethiopia, and in Zimbabwe to visit Gonarezhou National Park and Matopos. Having found their market niche in organizing group experiences for young African travellers the pair encourages potential travel influencers and travel agency owners to go for it and make use of whatever available resources to accomplish their dreams.