Discover Malawi

It’s for good reason that Malawi is often described as the warm heart of Africa, and the friendly welcomes and inspiring stories make for an unforgettable Meet the People holiday.

Our tour explores the north of the country where the land rises from the warm shores of Lake Malawi up into hills perfect for cultivating delicious coffee, and levels out at the Nyika plateau where we go in search of zebra, elephants and the elusive leopard!

Beautiful Views The first stop on our journey north gives us a delicious taste of what is to come as we settle down in the local café for a delicious mug of Mzuzu coffee. In the coming days we meet smallholder coffee farmers like Martha who shows with pride her plot of organic coffee bushes and explains how she cares for the plants and ensures that only the best quality cherries are taken for harvest.

As we travel from place to place, the team of local guides make every stop an experience as we shop at village stalls to stock up on essentials of fresh tomatoes and bananas and learn a few greetings along the way. You might even want to try your hand at making nsima using the traditional technique to pound the flour!

Malawi (16)[2]

No trip would be complete without taking time to enjoy Lake Malawi. Formed by a fault in the Great Rift Valley, the ancient lake is always a highlight. On the northern shores we join farmers as they gather their harvest of Kilombero rice. A speciality grain known throughout Malawi for its quality and taste, at this cooperative it holds a special significance as the fair price they receive is making schooling accessible for farming families and funding scholarships for children in the community.

KarongaIf you’ve been captured by the delicious aroma of Mzuzu coffee or want to see the rice harvest for yourself then join us in June as we travel to meet the people!

For more information about our holidays in Malawi and around the world visit: www.meetthepeopletours.co.uk email: info@skedaddle.com or call us on 0191 2651110.

Sunset over Lake Malawi

Carrie meets fair trade Swaziland

In June, Carrie from the Marketing Team at Traidcraft joined the Meet the People tour to Swaziland (now Eswatini). Often described as Africa-in-a-nutshell, Swaziland not only boasts incredible wildlife and spectacular scenery but also a thriving network of fair-trade producers. Carrie observed this phenomenal culture for herself and here she describes her experience meeting the people behind the traditional handicrafts of this tiny African kingdom.

‘Creative Swaziland. One of the smallest countries in the southern hemisphere but what it lacks in size it certainly makes up for in experiences.’ This was the description I read before the trip. “Sure, they all say that. Right?”

Swaziland

The experiences began on day one when we crossed the border from Johannesburg into Swaziland. The flat landscape immediately grew into mountainous valleys with rural charm. Every winding turn revealed more breath-taking views than the last and on our first night we were soothed to sleep by the sound of Phophonyane’s gushing waterfalls. Our accommodation throughout the trip was unique and diverse – we resided in comfortable tents, beehive huts and huts with no walls! Each had their own extraordinary appeal. We stayed inside safari parks amongst animals, watched warthogs warm by the fire, met rhinos, ate authentic food, star gazed and watched traditional dancing. One day-trip lead us to a rural village where we learned some conversational phrases to chat to the locals and were invited to listen to great stories, inside our guide’s homestead, about the culture of Swaziland.

RhinoThe unforgettable experiences were never ending, but the real purpose of my visit to Swaziland was to learn the stories behind the products and get a better understanding about fair trade and its effects in developing countries. It was incredible to see some of the products being made on some of our visits. We encountered great quality and imagination, exceptional skills, ingenuity, courage and determination.

IMG_0988 2On Day 3, the visit to Tintsaba was inspirational. To see the Sisal plant being stripped, washed, spun, dyed and woven into beautiful jewellery and homeware was fascinating. Over 800 women work for Tintsaba, often from their own homes whilst caring for their families. We learned how mohair is brushed, rolled and spun into yarn to make gorgeous fabrics at Coral Stephens; products that will last a lifetime and amazing skills that are being taught to younger generations.

Gone RuralOn Day 5 we visited Ngwenya Glass, who are renowned for their sustainable credentials. They considered every aspect of their business and reused or recycled everything they could. We met Black Mamba’s partner group, Guba, who teach permaculture and sustainable farming in village communities. All of the herbs and spices that are used in the sauces are grown by graduates of the Guba training courses. On Day 9 we met Gone Rural, who provide work to hundreds of women in the surrounding areas. They drive to and from each community collecting and swapping raw grass for dyed grass, for women to then weave into homewares for a fair price.

Guba

“It’s fascinating to see the incredible products made in Swaziland. The producers are so inventive, intuitive and efficient with the resources they have. I feel privileged to have met them. Swaziland, I hope to see you again.”

Carrie, Senior Graphic Designer at Traidcraft

If you’re interested in experiencing Creative Swaziland for yourself click here for more information or please call our office on 0191 265 1110 or email hannah@skedaddle.com

Phophonyane

Why Buy Fairtrade? Christine reports from Ghana

Christine joined our Meet the People Tour to Ghana with Traidcraft in November 2017. Combining her tour with an opportunity to visit her church’s Twinning Partners, Christine shares her experiences of meeting Fairtrade producers.

Picture1I have bought Fairtrade products for some time, and was interested to see how Fairtrade goods are produced, and to learn more about what Fairtrade means for individual producers. My Ghanaian friend Rev Josephine Mate-Kole Ankrah was interested too, and as I was visiting her congregation in Ghana, I thought a Meet the People Tour would be a good opportunity for us to visit some Fairtrade producers.

First of all we visited a group of cocoa farmers whose produce is used to make Divine Chocolate. Not only are these farmers paid a fair price for their cocoa beans (as you probably already know), but they also receive a Fairtrade premium. It was the use they made of this premium that was of real interest to me.

Cocoa farmers live in very rural areas, and we travelled a few hours along bumpy and windy roads to meet with them where they live and work. Working as a cooperative group, the farmers come together to agree what they will do with their Fairtrade premium. Usually they save it until there is sufficient money to do something that will make a real difference to their community. Their first priority is to improve the education of their children, through enhancing the education provided by the government. They have erected a solar light at the entrance to the school and put solar panels on the roof so that education need not stop when daylight ends. Currently they are saving to build a clinic and a house for a nurse, as their nearest clinic is a two hour drive away.

Divine ChocolateWe saw the current crop of cocoa beans drying in the sun ready to be packed into bags and sent on for processing (processing into chocolate that the farmers have never tasted!). They took us to visit one of the farms where we are able to harvest a pod from the tree, and to see how they work with their trees and crops.

One of the other organisations we visited was Global Mamas which concentrates on enhancing the lives of women in the community by providing them with training and opportunities for meaningful and sustainable livelihoods. They also invest money in business development, education, health, and life skills training. During our time with them we spent an afternoon cooking Ghanaian food and a morning making a batik tablecloth.

Ghana BatikThis is only a fraction of what we were able to see and experience during the 10 days of our Fairtrade experience. In returning to the question “why buy Fairtrade goods?”, after my visit I would say: to give individuals and communities the respect and dignity of a fair price for their products, which leads to life changing opportunities.

Many thanks to The Church of Scotland and to Christine Osman for sharing this article with us.

For more information on our trips to Ghana please call us on 0191 2651110, email us at info@skedaddle.com, or visit www.meetthepeopletours.co.uk/ghana

Ghana Top 9

Celebrating 30 years – Ngwenya Glass in Swaziland

It has been 30 years since the Prettejohn family came to Swaziland and brought life back to the Ngwenya Glass Factory. Today Ngwenya Glass is still run by the Prettejohn family, employs over 70 people and supplies customers with its creations worldwide.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

For Ngwenya Glass ‘green’ is a way of life. Environmental considerations are integral to its production values. All products are made from 100% recycled glass, old engine and KFC oil is purchased, purified and used to fuel the furnace, effectively disposing of used oil. Old newspaper is used for packaging and rainwater catchments are used within the production.

Ngwenya also donate a percentage of worldwide sales to wildlife conservation in the Mkhaya Game Reserve, as well as supporting numerous orphanages and charities in Swaziland and South Africa.

Ngwenya

We visit the Ngwenya factory on our Swaziland tour which gives us a great opportunity to watch the art of glassblowing from the overhead balcony above the roaring furnace. We’ll hear of the importance and the benefits of fair trade and in the gift shop we can appreciate the finished works of art that have passed through 11 sets of skilled hands belonging to craftsmen and quality control.

Watch this video of the Ngwenya story…

For more information on our tours in Swaziland click here for our website or contact Hannah in our office on info@skedaddle.com or 0191 2651110. 

Celebrating a fairer future for South Africa

Our journey in South Africa is set against a backdrop of truly stunning scenery, but this trip is far more than just seeing the sights. As we discover the lingering impacts of years of apartheid, we celebrate the role of fair trade as the country works towards a more equal and fairer future.

Table MountainOur 14 day tour begins with a memorable visit to Robben Island, one of the Cape Peninsula’s World Heritage Sites, to visit the prison where Nelson Mandela was kept for 18 years. During the visit we understand why the island is described as the unique symbol of the triumph of the human spirit over adversity, suffering and injustice, as our guide for the afternoon, a former political prisoner, provides a personal insight into what life was like in the prison.

In the Northern Cape we visit Eksteenskuil Agricultural Co-operative (EAC). Traidcraft’s relationship with EAC began in 1995 and with their support they became the world’s first supplier of Fairtrade raisins.  We also meet the growers at Heiveld Co-operative, an organic tea co-operatives. At Heiveld, the Rooibos tea is grown and processed in the traditional way with minimal use of machinery and is harvested carefully by hand.

Raisin FarmersAlong the way we also visit the botanical gardens at Kirstenbosch with its unique flora, the famous wine producing area around Stellenbosch, and of course, Table Mountain itself. A visit with a local guide to a township and a children’s HIV/AIDS project also highlight the realities of some people’s lives in this part of South Africa.

PellaThis holiday is perfect for anyone interested in fair trade looking for an opportunity to meet the people behind the products and see the impact of fair trade. For more information on our holiday click here or contact us in the office on 0191 2651110 or at info@skedaddle.com 

Cocoa, Bananas and Palm Oil…

Meet the People travellers Arton and Christine tell us about their experiences during our wonderful tour in Ghana.

Ten degrees in Lancaster in mid November seems very cold a day after returning from Ghana where the midday maximum was over 30 degrees. We were part of a group of twelve people whose interest in fair trade had caused us all to use our holiday money on a Traidcraft  ‘Meet the People’ tour to Ghana visiting  growers of fair trade cocoa, palm oil and bananas.

Divine Chocolate

Within twenty four hours after landing in Manchester we were in the Parish Hall setting out the Traidcraft stall which sold cleaning products that used palm oil, and Divine chocolate made from the cocoa grown in the areas that we had just visited. The contrast in weather could be felt but the direct link between us and the producers also felt very strong.

The fortnight included visits to cultural centres and Kakum National Park, a cruise on Lake Volta, and an exposure to the barbarities of slavery – inland at Slave River, and on the coast at Elmina Castle where, branded and shackled, slaves were forcibly embarked on ships for their transatlantic voyage. These visits are all part of any tourist holiday in Ghana, but our main purpose was to meet people at work on their farms and processing plants, in towns and in villages to see how fair trade was helping them improve their quality of life.

Ghana Beach

The cocoa farmers we visited in Amankwaatia are all members of the Kuapa Kokoo cooperative which has over 80,000 members and produces some 6% of Ghana’s cocoa. The farmers’ smallholdings are about eight acres (3.24ha) in area with about half growing food crops for subsistence and local markets, and the other half growing cocoa trees. When asked what was the main benefit of belonging to a Fairtrade group the answer was that they had been able to build  a school in the village so the children did not have to walk a long way to school.

Serendipalm bags

In the different areas that we visited we saw other schools built from the Fairtrade Premium which is an additional sum of money on top of the minimum price of the product. It is the people themselves who decide how this premium will be spent. There were also new boreholes providing the clean water which was head-loaded in large metal bowls (wider than the shoulders of the teenager carrying them) from the pump back to their home. Improvements to clinics and health services in the villages were other areas chosen for communal benefit.

The palm oil producers farmed in a similar co-operative structure to Kuapa Kokoo and we saw the processing plant on a dark wet evening with smoke and steam from the wood-fired boilers providing scenes reminiscent of a stage-set for Hades.

VREL

We also saw banana processing, and a secondary school built with Fairtrade premium funds. The Fairtade banana growing is large scale with four sites cultivating 600 acres (approx 250ha) of bananas and producing 5000 to 6000 tons of bananas a year. The growing and processing is meticulous with the workers even having pillows on their shoulders so as not to bruise the stems  of bananas as they carry them to the conveyor system.

Trashy Bags Sewing

Other producers we visited included Trashy Bags, who made all sorts of goods from plastic bags, Cedi beads making bangles and necklaces from local materials, and Global Mamas which sells beautiful printed materials and clothing produced by women in their own homes.

So back to the Autumn Sale where by buying fairly traded products from the Craft Aid or ESME stalls (over £700 was taken on the day) you will have helped people much less well off than we are. By continuing to use fair trade goods in your regular shopping throughout the year you can make a real difference to people’s lives.

For more information on our tour to Ghana click here, call Hannah in the office on 0191 2651110 or email us at info@skedaddle.com

Malawi making waves

Our tour Magical Malawi is a fantastic chance for travellers to discover this beautiful South East African country. Whilst we’ve known about this regions’s amazing Fairtrade organisations for some time, it’s great to see the world also wisening up to this destination too. Cue our latest media mention from the folks at the Independent, who have featured our tour to Malawi in their top ‘Adventure holidays’. Here’s what they had to say…

Tour operators are increasingly offering visitors the chance to meet local people and give something back during their trip […] Saddle Skedaddle is known for cycling holidays but new for 2016 is a bike-free, 13-day tour of Malawi visiting Fairtrade producers. The Malawi Meet the People tour (0191 265 1110;meetthepeople.skedaddle.co.uk) runs from 4-16 June and gives you the chance to meet Fairtrade coffee farmers and rice producers in their homes and see the real impacts of Fairtrade, as well as visiting national parks. The price of £2,445pp includes 12 nights’ half-board accommodation in locally owned guesthouses, guiding, transfers and donations to the producers visited. Flights not included.

Want to read the Independent article in full? Click here.

For more information about our holiday in Malawi, click here.

Mzuzu coffee in Malawi

Malawi is a little known gem in the heart of Africa, a small country of diverse beauty, friendly people and amazing wildlife. We spend our time in Northern Malawi viewing game and relaxing in one of the country’s incredible national parks before visiting smallholder farmers growing coffee, rice and peanuts. 

Mzuzu - Tenson_Mwenechanya_43550

Our first fair trade visit will be to the farmers who produce the delicious coffee from Traidcraft’s single origin Malawi coffee and we’ll enjoy a cup of coffee while learning about coffee production and the benefits Fairtrade has brought to the cooperative. Moving on to Karonga, we visit rice farmers who have been working with Just Trading Scotland and we’ll visit a school involved in the 90kg of rice ‘send a child to school’ project. We then spend a few days on the shores of magical lake Malawi before our tour draws to a close with a visit to Liberation’s peanut producers close to the border with Zambia.

Malawi (60) LiberationWe work with local partners in Malawi who help us develop our itineraries and provide local guides and logistics for all of our tours. Alongside keeping all of our travellers safe and comfortable, our priority is also to support the local tourism initiatives and businesses, and as we travel and we will visit communities engaged and benefiting from these projects. Our holidays run in June each year during the coffee harvest – the perfect season for travelling as temperatures are warm but not too hot and there is little chance of rain. Malawi is often known as ‘the warm heart of Africa’ and on this tour we can expect beaming smiles and welcoming handshakes everywhere we go!

Click here for more information about our Malawi Holiday and click here to request a tour dossier with a day by day itinerary.

Alternatively contact Lizzie for more information:
Email: lizzie@skedaddle.com or Call: 0191 2651110

Guardian Green List 2011

Traidcraft’s Meet the People Tours are one of the UK’s top sustainable travel initiatives.

That’s according to this year’s Green Travel List from The Guardian. The list is an annual roll-call of green, eco-friendly and sustainable travel companies, including tour operators, and accommodation and transport providers.

_Holiday.151.14530_full

Organisations are nominated by the public and then a panel of eco-experts choose the most innovative – Meet the People was chosen as one of the top sustainable holidays.

Here’s what the Guardian had to say about us:

Witness spectacular sunsets over the Himalayas, then explore the ancient city of Kathmandu, take an elephant safari in Chitwan national park then chill out in the lakeside city of Pokhara. This is just one of the whistle-stop itineraries on Traidcraft’s novel sightseeing trips to developing countries. Other destinations include Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Cuba, Peru and Vietnam. While exploring the country, you stay with the small-scale farmers who make fairtrade products.

Click here to read the Guardian’s article in full.

Click here for more details about how you can get involved in our worldwide tours.

GreenList2011