In a world where it’s never been simpler to travel, a growing trend is an increased desire to look after our planet and a mindset shift towards ‘green’ or ‘sustainable’ travel. More and more travellers (especially those opting to visit Africa) feel a responsibility to ensure that their ‘tourist dollar’ contributes to environmental conservation and the community development. Africa lends itself perfectly to extraordinary travel experiences, as well as the opportunity to be a part of projects and practises that make a real difference to the wildlife and local communities.
With an increase in air travel and technology, accessibility to remote regions is at an all-time peak. And thanks to Google, a long list of details, imagery and 36o videos of far-flung destinations id just a click away. It’s never been easier to travel! Conscious travel is a trend that is predicted to grow (especially amongst 20 to 30 year olds) who are looking for an authentic safari experience that treads lightly on the environment. Fair Trade’s Managing Director of Tourism, Jane Edge, agrees wholeheartedly “There’s definitely a rise in sustainable tourism, especially with millennials who take part in travel that gives back.’’
Africa has many incredible eco-destinations to choose from where the lodges and camps are specifically designed to cause the least amount of damage to the environment and the income generated by tourism flows back into the local communities. These sustainable tourist providers are committed to investing in local community projects and their lodges are often entirely built out of removable structures (which leave ‘no trace’ once broken down) whilst being largely solar power operated and offering guests predominantly low-impact nature activities. The demand for ‘out of vehicle’ activities such as cycling, walking, canoeing and other ‘eco-light’ safari activities is on the rise which greatly lessens the impact on the environment whilst cutting back on CO2 emissions. Sustainable tourism is also a great way of bringing travellers back to destinations so they can see for themselves the positive impact that their stay has had for themselves.
If treading lightly on the environment and conserving the wildlife and local communities that live in your chosen travel destination are close to your heart, then our favorite picks of Fair Trade accredited and green travel destinations below is definitely for you:
In South Africa
Grootbos Nature Reserve is one of South Africa’s shining sustainable tourism examples: located less than two hours drive from Cape Town at the beginning of the Garden Route this luxury eco-reserve offers guests 2500 hectares of pristine Cape fynbos and wilderness with unforgettable sea views and a commitment to conserving the natural heritage and people of this area. On the urban front The Peech Hotel, set in the leafy suburb of Johannesburg, is one of the top eco-boutique hotels in South Africa. Their focus is on impacting the environment as little as possible and giving back to local communities through community initiatives.
Located in one of Tanzania’s most striking and remote areas Sayari Camp is one of the few lodges allowed in this area and prides itself on not only being an outstanding wildlife experience but uplifting its local communities through various education projects and treading lightly in this ecologically sensitive area known for its spectacular wildebeest migration. Another one of Tanzania’s great ethical travel finds is Dunia Camp situated in the Central Serengeti (also on a key migration corridor) which has just eight tented suites all constructed without the use of permanent structures, as well as being carbon neutral by offsetting its emissions through local community forestation programs.
One of only six camps in Kenya with a ‘Gold Level’ eco-rating and constructed entirely out of removable tent structures, Elephant Pepper Camp is the driving force behind the Mara North Conservatory which offers visitors a prime wildlife viewing destination and more than 800 Masai landowners with a stable income. If traveling consciously is important to you then visiting Mara Plains Camp, located in one of the world’s last wild ecosystems, is a must as they lease the land from the local Masai thereby supporting more than 1000 families. They are also a member of the ‘Pack for a Purpose’ initiative which sees travellers making a difference to school children’s lives by bringing school supplies with them on holiday.
The Wolwedans Collection of camps is a critical sustainable travel destination that combines low-impact conscious travel with luxury, achingly beautiful desert scenery, and a commitment to conserving the pristine wilderness, endangered wildlife, and the people that live in the NamibRand Nature Reserve. Another responsible travel destination is Wilderness Safaris Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp situated in one of the world’s most remote, fascinating and fragile ecosystems built with environmentally sound practices that support numerous community projects as well as the unique desert-adapted lions that inhabit this isolated wilderness.
AndBeyond’s Sandibe Okavango Safari Lodge is another top ethical travel destination that combines spectacular wildlife viewing in one of the world’s top private concessions in the Okavango Delta, with luxury accommodation designed to minimally impact the environment whilst supporting the vast biodiverse land that surrounds it. Last but certainly not least, is Zarafa Camp located in the private Selinda Reserve which was the creation of the founders of the Great Plains Conservation and is considered one of the ‘greenest’ luxury safari camps in the world. Constructed entirely out of canvas and recycled hardwoods, its electricity is generated by a revolutionary solar farm, whilst its drinking water is treated through UV filtration and ‘bio gas’ plants recycle waste into usable cooking gas.