Taking a journey through the landscapes of Africa is a dream for many. It offers a tapestry of diverse cultures, impressive wildlife and awe-inspiring natural wonders. As advocates for responsible travel, we believe in the transformative power of exploring this incredible continent while leaving a positive impact on the environment and local communities.
At the heart of our travel philosophy lies a deep appreciation for the unparalleled beauty of Africa and a commitment to fostering responsible tourism. Africa’s ecosystems are delicate and deserving of our utmost care, and by adopting sustainable practices, we can collectively make a difference. Whether you are planning an African safari, a cultural immersion, or a nature-inspired escapade, our tips are designed to help you navigate the continent in a way that respects its unique attributes and leaves a lasting legacy of conservation and cultural appreciation.
1. Choose Eco-Friendly Accommodations
When it comes to sustainable travel in Africa, your choice of accommodations plays a pivotal role in minimising environmental impact. In Southern Africa, known for its diverse ecosystems and wildlife, there are numerous lodges and camps committed to eco-friendly practices. From the Okavango Delta to Kruger National Park, travellers can opt for establishments with a strong focus on conservation.
These places often incorporate sustainable building methods, utilise renewable energy, and actively participate in wildlife protection initiatives. Similarly, in East Africa, home to iconic destinations like the Serengeti and Mount Kilimanjaro, eco-conscious lodgings align with the principles of responsible tourism. These accommodations not only provide an opportunity to connect with nature but also ensure that your stay contributes positively to the local environment and communities.
It’s always a good idea to do your research to get a better understanding of how each place prioritises sustainability. Ask questions about energy use and waste disposal or find out if lodges and parks are directly involved in any initiatives that you can contribute to.
2. Slow Down & Stay Longer Lengthen Your Stay
You may be tempted to try and fit as many destinations into your trip as possible, but staying longer at a single location is a great way to travel sustainably. On the one hand, you spend less time travelling between places – be it by air or any other mode of transport – thus lessening your carbon footprint. On the other hand, staying in a particular region for a longer amount of time also allows you to spend more time exploring the area and familiarizing yourself with the environment and its people – one of the best things about travelling.
By booking your stay for a longer period, you can connect with the local culture and even find some hidden gems! It’s a win-win. Another great way to extend your stay is by combining destinations within a particular region or country. Combining Southern African destinations such as Zambia and Zimbabwe allows you to travel over a shorter distance, lessening your carbon emissions. Consider merging your safari in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park with three or four nights in Zambia’s Lower Zambezi or stay within the Zim region and make your way over to Mana Pools.
3. Opt For Private Conservancies and Reserves
Visiting and staying at private conservancies is a far more sustainable way to go on safari because private conservancies are owned and managed by the local communities. On conservancies, the locals work together with tour operators to create a sustainable business model that welcomes travellers to the area to benefit local small-scale farmers and residents who, in turn, pay tour operators. Private reserves on the other hand are also fantastic because they tend to take a high-impact, low-footprint approach towards tourism with a lower number of guests than national parks. Every night that you spend at a private reserve minimizes your ecological footprint and assists in financing the conservation of the area.
4. Minimise Flying and Fuel-Based Transits
Lowering your carbon footprint is one of the easiest ways to travel sustainably, and this starts from the moment you book your flights. Go for long-haul flights instead of ones with multiple stops, and when planning your trips, find out how you can get the most out of your explorations without having to take multiple cross-country flights (longer stays also help in this manner).
When you arrive, depending on where you are, travelling by bicycle or on foot may be the best way to get around. East African countries that use dhows or any other manual boats provide the added benefit of getting you from one port to another by water – just another reason to explore coastal countries and islands!
Depending on which lodges and camps you stay at, you may have the added benefit of going on a safari with an electric safari vehicle. These modified diesel 4×4 vehicles are solar-powered and they don’t just reduce the harm that typical fuel-based safari vehicles cause to the environment. They also reduce noise pollution and thus the disturbance that fuel-based vehicles travelling through parks cause, because they are near-silent.
5. Support Local Businesses
From tour operators to a local coffee shop, one of the best ways you can contribute to sustaining local travel is by buying local. A huge part of ecotravel is making sure that you support the local economy, and in particular, the communities in the regions you may travel in. Visit local villages and communities to see which businesses you can buy from or find out which tours you can take that have a positive impact focus. Find out if the staff and guides at a particular destination are locals and venture out to eat at a recommended local restaurant instead of at your lodge or hotel’s restaurant for a change of scenery.
6. Get on the Ground
One of the best ways you can contribute to the communities you travel through and make a tangible impact is by actively getting involved. Go2Africa’s Ways to Travel Sustainably initiatives include donations to different environments, wildlife, and community initiatives, giving you full peace of mind in knowing that your holiday has been thoughtfully put together to make a meaningful contribution. As part of the dedication to preserving the continent’s diverse wildlife, Go2Africa has several partners whose core mission is to protect the animals we cherish. The partners include the Endangered Wildlife Trust, whose focus is on the protection of threatened species. For each night spent at selected camps, Go2Africa contributes to EWT’s anti-poaching efforts in the Kruger and assists in providing tracking and monitoring equipment.
The environmental preservation efforts are all about working with partners who are committed to sustaining and restoring the environments we service. Greenpop is one of the partners in this realm, who are involved in several urban greening and reforestation projects in Sub-Saharan Africa. As part of the collaboration, Greenpop will plant a tree for each client who stays at one of our select Western Cape lodges. And finally, at the heart of all our destinations lie the communities that enable us to do what we do. To proudly support community development projects across Africa, focusing on education, empowerment, and healthcare. Through long-term partnerships, we equip schools, provide scholarships, and contribute to vital healthcare initiatives.
The dedication extends to sponsoring students at institutions like VETA Hotel & Tourism Training Institute and the Wildlife College of Maasai Mara. They believe in uplifting remote communities, exemplified by initiatives such as supporting Maunga Primary School in Zambia. Partnering with Gift of Hope, we donate 3% of booking amounts to combat HIV’s impact. Engaging in initiatives like the Serengeti Girls Run and holding B Corp certification, they weave sustainability and empowerment into every travel experience, leaving a lasting impact on communities and the environment.
Sustainable travel is all about intention and communicating that this is a priority to your agent can make a huge difference in just how eco-friendly your journey through Africa is. The most important thing to remember is to respect the environment, communities, and wildlife that you come across as you travel.
Go2Africa’s Trips with a Purpose are special safari experiences that go beyond wildlife viewing. They involve visits to Positive Impact projects supporting local communities, environmental initiatives, and wildlife conservation. Every safari booked with Go2Africa contributes to funding these efforts through conservation levies, and Trips with a Purpose includes additional financial support for specific projects.
If you’re keen on engaging with communities, participating in conservation activities or planting trees, find curated itineraries or an African Safari Expert to tailormake one for you.
** Pics Sourced.