It’s time to do African tourism better!
As Africa is steadily opening up to the traveling world once more, the tourism industry is hoping beyond hope that the trickle of international tourists taking the plunge with African vacations will lead to a resurgence in interest in all things safari and a return to relative “normality” where international arrivals are concerned.
With this renewed interest in travel and in visiting Africa comes a responsibility to ensure that we make tourism more relevant, more beneficial to all those involved in it and much kinder to the planet. If it’s one thing the COVID19 pandemic has taught us, it’s that we need a new “normal” ‐ a better one.
So it’s absolutely time to make it matter more than it ever has so that it’s sustainable and resilient.
As more and more tourism dollars flow into Africa, we need to make sure we put them to good use, selecting destinations that make a demonstrated difference to people and planet while at the same time delivering extraordinary travel experiences, as well as the opportunity to be a part of projects and practises that make a real difference to wildlife and local communities.
Call it conscious travel, or sustainable tourism, or whatever you like, this better form of tourism is not just a green movement or focused on limiting impact on Planet Earth but rather people‐based, with a firm focus on benefitting people and entire communities in the parts of Africa where tourism can be the difference between putting food on plates or going hungry. And by benefitting people we are adding value to wilderness areas, helping to protect them and the iconic wildlife that call them home.
After all, it’s people in whose hands the future of this planet rests.
Africa is blessed with some incredible eco‐friendly, community orientated destinations to choose from, with lodges and camps specifically designed to cause the least amount of damage to the environment and where the income generated by tourism flows back into local communities, stimulating economies, improving conditions for often critically impoverished people and giving them skills for life.
These lodges and camps are committed to investing in local community projects and are often entirely built out of removable structures (which leave little trace once broken down) using renewable energy solutions in often far‐flung destinations to make their impact as low as possible. So let’s look at how you can do tourism better, by working with us to put together itineraries featuring some of these amazing, pioneering and trailblazing places…
Here are a few of our top recommendations across Africa
Grootbos Nature Reserve is one of South Africa’s shining sustainable tourism examples. Located less than two hours drive from Cape Town close to Hermanus ‐ the whale watching capital of South Africa ‐ this luxury eco‐reserve offers guests 6000 acres of pristine Cape wilderness with unforgettable sea views and a commitment to conserving the natural heritage and people of this area.
When it comes to sustainable safaris, it doesn’t get much better than Tswalu Kalahari in the heart of South Africa’s “green” Kalahari region. Dedicated to restoring former farmland to a state of pristine wilderness ‐ restoring the Kalahari to itself in the process ‐ Tswalu is also deeply committed to its people and works hard in its small community to provide health, education, training and career opportunities.Tswalu also protects endangered desert‐adapted species such as desert black rhino and Kalahari lion and is a home for groundbreaking research on creatures such as the critically threatened pangolin.
Located in one of the most striking and remote areas of Tanzania’s northern Serengeti, 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. New at Sayari Camp is an innovative solar-powered micro-brewery, the first of its kind in the bush.
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. Dunia is certified by Responsible Tourism Tanzania with the highest level of “Tree”. This certifies a fully integrated responsible tourism approach embedded within daily operations.
Singita Grumeti Reserves is a shining example of an outstanding safari brand making an incredible difference in the lives of local communities while helping to protect and conserve fragile eco systems and the fauna and flora that call them home. Through its foundation, the Grumeti Fund, it works with local communities to improve food security through projects like tilapia farms and access to water by installing pumps in each village, while instituting reforestation programs and biogas systems to reduce the need for firewood.
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 is a must as it leases land from the local Masai, supporting more than 1000 families in the process. It’s 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 vacation.
Up in Laikipia, The Sanctuary at Ol Lentille works with local Masai landowners who have donated half of their extensive group ranch on the edge of the Great Rift Valley to rewilding, returning it to a pristine wilderness state filled with wildlife. And in the Chyulu National Park that borders Amboseli, in the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro, Ol Donyo lodge is playing a pivotal role in empowering young women on the Mbirikani Group Ranch, as well as employing local Masai morans to track and protect the area’s wild lion prides.
The Wolwedans collection of camps in the Namibrand reserve close to the Namib Naukluft National Park and Sossusvlei 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 region. The Wolwedans Collection of camps are a shining example of sustainable tourism that is committed to conserving the pristine natural environment of the NamibRand Desert.
In the far north of the country, Serra Cafema Camp and Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp are situated in one of the world’s most remote, fascinating and fragile ecosystems built with environmentally sound practices that support numerous community projects involving the Himba people as well as the unique desert‐adapted lions, rhinos and elephants that inhabit this isolated wilderness.
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.
Lastly, Zarafa Camp located in the private Selinda Reserve in the north of the country, is considered one of the most environmentally friendly 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. Along with its sister properties Selinda Camp and Duba Plains Camp, it is part of Great Plains Conservation, whose foundation is doing incredible things with the communities on the periphery of the wilderness areas in which it operates.
Call it conscious travel, or sustainable tourism, or whatever you like…As Africa is steadily opening up to the traveling world once more, we commit to steer our clinets towards lodges and camps that uphold their commitment to conscious, sustainable tourism practises that benefit the people and protect the environment.