Grant Cumings is the owner of Chiawa Safaris, a multi-award-winning photo safari business operating Chiawa Camp & Old Mondoro in Zambia’s Lower Zambezi National Park, and more recently, Puku Ridge and Chichele Presidential in the South Luangwa National Park.
Grant is one of Zambia’s leading professional safari guides, an Honorary Wildlife Police Officer and active conservationist. He is the Chairman of Zambia’s Eco-Tourism Association and a Trustee and founder member of Conservation Lower Zambezi.
Where did your love for travel start?
As a child I was fortunate to grow up in Zambia and, from a young age, got to camp in its vast, wild wilderness; however, I have also had the opportunity to travel extensively overseas, which included a 4-year stint in the US whilst studying for my Business Degree.
Why do you enjoy working in the industry?
No two days are alike; and what other industry offers the opportunity to travel, to enjoy wild Africa whilst helping to protect its vulnerable wildlife and to meet amazing people (including my wife Lynsey)
What is your favourite destination/place to visit and why?
I love to travel but my favourite destination is always getting back home because home is where the heart is.
Tell us about one of your most memorable travel experiences and why it stands out.
I have too many African experiences so I will recount a North American one; at Nimmo Bay in British Columbia. Imagine flying in a float plane below the fog through fjords and landing in a place as remote as one can get. Orcas, whales, seals, diving in the freezing sea (not to be repeated), seeing tidal rapids, flying in a helicopter over glaciers and down valleys to go fishing for salmon from an otherwise inaccessible sandbar all whilst your pilot/guide watches out for Grizzly bears with one eye, and knocks up a gourmet picnic with his other. Just amazing.
Give us a travel tip you don’t think anyone else gives, or that isn’t given enough?
Do your research thoroughly to find the experience you seek but then travel with an open heart, mind and wallet. Be willing to see the world through someone else’s eyes and be open to new experiences, thoughts and emotions. And be prepared to pay the best people at the best places accordingly because these are unique experiences that will provide a lifetime of memories for you and your loved ones.
Based on the five senses and thinking about travelling what do you…
- Like to see: Beauty, nature or architectural
- Like to taste: Well prepared, local food, paired with a good wine
- Like to feel: Energy, mine and that of the place I am visiting.
- Like to hear: The sounds that belong, but nothing beats the whoop of a hyena or the murmur of African voices as they ready the camp fire.
- Like to smell: The first rains, a camp fire. Good coffee, especially if enjoyed with the first rains or a camp fire.
Suggestions on resources for other travel and tourism stakeholders. Any websites, publications, podcasts, thought leaders you can recommend or newsletters we should sign up to?
Since COVID no one is an expert anymore. The great “reset” has happened. Go with your instincts because for now no one knows what is going on. No one!
Lastly, what do you love about Africa Travel Week (WTM Africa) and what you are sentiments on the evolution of trade shows being part virtual?
It is a sad and increasingly likely reality that trade shows as we used to know them will become a thing of the past. As people become more comfortable and effective with online meetings, the need for trade shows will diminish. Which is a great pity because travel is a people business, it is all about the people, and it is difficult to establish and maintain those crucial bonds of trust and friendship over a computer screen alone.