from FUTHI MBHELE in Durban
DURBAN – HIDDEN Gem South Africa was borne out of the realisation that after months of confinement at the height of the COVID-19, people were turning to outdoors activities.
The outdoors is the most COVID-friendly means of responsible tourism due to the clean air, room for social distancing and with no masks required when hiking.
Inanda, north of Durban, is the perfect balance between nature, history and culture.
For this reason, it is Hidden Gem’s flagship Durban package.
Hidden Gem is a hiking-adventure company.
It is a six-in-one adventure, comprising Rastafarian Caves, Mzinyathi Falls, Ohlange, Gandhi’s House, Secret Viewpoint and Transport.
The tours run by Hidden Gem visit Inanda all the way to the Pondo people of the Eastern Cape.
Inanda showcases the democratic struggle of South Africa alongside the indigenous forest and waterfalls.
While the Pondoland is a biodiversity hotspot home to a community driven to protect it and live in a socially and environmentally conscious way.
In this way, Hidden Gem is unique, according to the owner, Hamzah Khan.
“If we are going to make South Africa a better place, it’s all about inter-connectivity, joining the communities and getting people who are privileged to go into these areas and see what’s actually happening to create a sense of empathy and through this awakening the possibilities for social upliftment becomes endless,” he said.
Khan said the tours have paved the way for clients to give back by donations as well as provide job opportunities for local people.
“They in turn teach our tourists to find contentment in their simple way of living- in tune with the natural world,” the executive said.
“These tours have united our rainbow nation through the love of nature, our clients come from both previously disadvantaged societies as well as people of privilege, whilst hiking everybody finds common ground,” Khan said.
Hidden Gem empowers rural local communities while highlighting the socio-economic issues of the areas that can be explored.
It operates mainly in impoverished rural areas where it employs local guides.
It runs a 100-percent community-based operation.
It has built relationships with the locals by using their traditional huts as homestays.
The food provided on tour is locally grown through sustenance farming.
Hidden Gem also makes use of community horses.
Each horse which Hidden Gem uses comes from a different family.
“We also use local horse guides. Everything that we do involves the local community,” Khan said.
“We bring in business for a mutual benefit. At the end of the tour, everybody makes a profit but more importantly, a positive impact,” he concluded.
– CAJ News