Africa Travel Week

Lipian Bongani Mtandabari – Director, Ntsako Travel Africa 

I am an energetic, ambitious and goal-oriented youngster with deep rooted passion for tourism and wildlife conservation.

I am one individual who is always up for adventure and challenges in life. One attribute I believe has made me reach this far personally and career wise is I take each day and all new experiences as a learning curve. 

“Pride Month embodies the Spirit of ubuntu. We reflect on the evolution of our society and our world, a world that Madiba envisioned and worked so hard to achieve'” – Lipian 

What kind of traveller are you?   

All my travelling experiences are unique in such a way that I always find myself exploring the unexplored and unearthing the hidden gems of vast destinations. So, I guess there is always an element of spontaneity, adventure and adrenaline and this is what defines my travels and the local scene is always on top of my priority 

Adventurous and eclectic! My tastes run the gamut from cities to remote locales, but finding great local cuisine, whether simple or Michelin star, is a common thread.   

Tell us about one of your most memorable trips/travel moments. Where and why?    

Sometime in my travel career back in Zimbabwe, I introduced the Kariba Houseboat trips, one of the trips was an all queer excursion which was promoted and marketed through queer allies, friends and GOs in Zimbabwe. The trip was spending 3 nights out on Lake Kariba with each night being spent on a different Island. One could not resist and just adore the relaxation, excitement in how the guests felt, being free for that particular weekend, and networking with other queer individuals without fear of being judged, slurred or anything negative. Something they can not experience elsewhere due to the current laws. This trip has been curated to ensure they have an experience of a lifetime. 

There are so many, but my first trip to Africa in 1996 was life-changing. It got into my bones. I spent two months backpacking in South Africa and Zimbabwe, getting a feel for the people, the culture, and the wildlife. The highlight was a canoe trip from Kariba to Mana Pools, sleeping under mosquito netting on sandbars in the Zambezi as elephants trumpeted in the distance.  

What is your all-time favourite destination? In Africa? Internationally? Why?  

Because of the authenticity in the experience one gets, Zimbabwe is my all-time favourite destination in Africa. Internationally, I don’t have one yet, let me say, am still exploring. 

Based on the five senses and thinking about travelling, what do you…   

  • Like to see: I am a happy man when I can see the joy, excitement and how liberal queer people are in spaces that let them be one and free and in touch with their innermost feelings of being liberal and loved. 
  • Like to taste: Each trip is not complete with a taste of the local beer, wine and cuisine  
  • Like to feel: Feeling being home, when I am away from home  
  • Like to hear: The hummingbirds that always go along with the Sunrise in Victoria Falls and distant thundering roars of the Mos-Oua-Tunya (Victoria Falls) 
  • Like to smell: That fresh scent in the countryside air just after rain.  

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? will be a place for resources in Africa, they will be launching this in the next few months and no doubt, platforms and social media accounts of any LGBT+ owned travel company and partners such as IGTA ( and LGBT MPA ( 

 Lastly, what was your favourite thing about Africa Travel Week (WTM Africa) in 2022, and why should everyone attend in 2023?   

The quality of buyers improved and the Equal Africa program was quite an eye opener to trade that is yet to tap into the LGBT+ travel market. I can only imagine how this will be amplified in 2023 and continue on the reconnecting and re-engaging efforts 

What are the main challenges you still encounter as an LGBTQ+ traveller in Africa?  

The biggest challenge is always being about being a young African professional that is advocating for what is mostly considered taboo, uncultured and unAfrican with most cultures and individuals of different ethnic groups across Africa. The biggest challenge then becomes slowed down sectoral transformation and equality. 

If you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would change to enhance LGBTQ+ travel to Africa?  

I would change the hearts and perceptions of everyone who does not advocate for LGBT+ equality and acceptance and allow this to be the same in the tourism sector so that one can travel freely and experience the offering a destination has to offer without fear or hesitation of who they are and not changing just because they want to be accepted. 

What is your message to tourism products to enhance their offering for the LGBTQ+ market?  

My message is simple, the market is there, the market is huge, the market is ready and the market will support you if you support it as well. This is the time for Africa.

Africa Travel Week

Africa Travel Week (ATW) focuses on inbound and outbound markets for general leisure tourism, luxury travel, LGBTQ+ travel and the MICE/business travel sector as well as travel technology. Shows include: ILTM Africa, WTM Africa, EQUAL Africa, ibtm AFRICA, Travel Forward, Sports & Events Tourism Exchange and African Tourism Investment Summit.