Shopping on safari
Many of the lodges we work with will have small shops on site selling anything from safari clothing to beaded jewellery. If you are driving from lodge to lodge you’re very likely to pass roadside traders selling metallic animals, basket ware and other goods. And there are some hidden gems out there too, selling lovely, locally made goods in off-the-beaten-track locations. Many of these benefit the local community, in particular providing jobs and incomes for women in areas where there’s little other work. We’ve rounded up our favourite handful here, but if all else fails and you’ve forgotten to buy souvenirs to take home there are last minute opportunities at the airport. If you’re leaving from Johannesburg or Cape Town, the shopping is particularly good!
Conveniently situated on the road from Mfuwe airport to the South Luangwa National Park, a stop at Tribal Textiles is a must. You’ll find cushion covers, table and bed linen, and lots more besides all produced using vibrant hand painted African designs. Since the prints are based on Zambian wildlife and landscapes they are wonderful for bringing home splash of African colour. If Zambia isn’t in your holiday plans then you can browse the collection online instead. Tribal textiles
If you’ve an overnight stop in Dar es Salaam it’s well worth finding the time to drop by the Green Room. Selling a hand-picked range of gifts, homeware and accessories made by artists, designers and craftspeople working in East Africa it’s almost impossible to leave without dipping into your wallet. This is very much the flagship store but keep an eye out for Green Room products at a handful of Tanzania safari lodges. The Green Room
With a workshop set on a well-trodden elephant path just outside the South Luangwa National Park, this is jewellery shopping with a difference! Each of the pieces is handmade by local ladies using a whole host of locally sourced products, from vintage coins and snare wire, to guinea fowl feathers and beads carved from reclaimed wood. With a wide range of bracelets, earrings, necklaces and key rings to choose from there’s something for every taste. $5 from each sale is donated to essential anti snare patrols. Mulberry Mongoose have made over $65,000 for conservation through product sales. If you want to buy a little memento of the African bush when you’re back at home, products are available online too. Mulberry Mongoose
If you’re spending any time in the Lamu area ask for directions to Aman. This delightful island boutique sells beautiful Indian and Kenyan kaftans, Masai jewellery and leather goods. There’s no website but you can get an idea of what’s on offer from the Aman Facebook page. In my view, it’s definitely worth a visit.
We’ve been nipping in and out of Kazuri beads in Nairobi since Aardvark Safaris started nearly 18 years ago. The hand-painted, hand-made ceramic jewellery has real soul as well as beauty. Many Kazuri styles are named after areas, tribes and other features of the Kenyan landscape and no two pieces are exactly the same. If you’re short on time then it’s very easy to shop online via the website. Kazuri beads
If you plan to visit, allow more than the 15 minutes I’d allocated to this collection of market stalls in the Old Breweries Building in Windhoek. It’s like an Aladdin’s cave with a remarkably varied collection of wares. I love the ostrich eggshell necklace I picked up and could have done a lot more financial damage had I had a bit longer! You’ll find furniture, art, jewellery, rugs, traditionally made Himba and Herero goods, lots more besides – and a very good coffee bar-cum-restaurant to boot. Namibia Crafts Centre
Just a sort taxi ride from the centre of Cape Town, the Old Biscuit Mill houses an eclectic range of workshops, designer boutiques, farm stalls and restaurants. It’s a great spot for unique pieces, gifts, souvenirs. And lunch. The Old Biscuit Mill
Anyone who’s stayed at Kaya Mawa on the shores of Lake Malawi will have noticed the exquisite textiles used on many of the furnishings. The majority of these will have come from Katundu, founded just over 10 years ago by Suzie Lightfoot whose husband, James, is the brains behind Kaya Mawa. The hand beaded textile collection includes cushion covers, table runners and bed throws. There’s a glorious bespoke lighting range too, with chandeliers, pendants and lampshades made from recycled glass, clay beads, grey seeds, and, perhaps most eye catching of all, copper. You can visit the work shop from Kaya Mawa but it’s also possible to order internationally. Katundu