There’s a right way – and a wrong way – to explore Africa. Consider these guidelines.
By Lisa Nel
Challenges can arise as a responsible traveler in a foreign country. Often, while on safari in Africa, problems occur simply because travelers lack knowledge of what it means to be a responsible traveler.
Our eco-safari company, Jumbari, has helped families enjoy sustainable vacations in Africa for decades. Based on our clients’ experiences, we’ve created this concise guide to responsible tourism practices to ensure that your African safari has a positive impact on the people and places you visit. It is important to note that responsible travel does not only happen during your trip to Africa, but also before and after your holiday. To make it easier to identify how you can be a responsible traveler, you can break up your trip into three phases – before, during, and after.
Before Your Trip
- The first step is to select a responsible tour operator that can help you to explore Africa as ethically as possible. This means that every element of your trip will have been carefully considered to ensure your trip has a positive impact on the environment, wildlife, and communities in Africa.
- When booking multi-day tours, it is important to consider whether the operator you are booking through practices responsible travel. For example, Jumbari Family Safaris does not support activities which exploit members of the community or wildlife interactions. By doing a quick background-check on what your tour will include, you can prevent supporting a corrupt cause and secure your A-grade responsible traveler status. Examples of activities that have a negative impact on the wildlife of Africa include: elephant back-rides, lion cub interactions, and shark-cage diving.
- Being a responsible traveler can be as simple as bringing your own reusable, eco-friendly water bottle while on safari. This will decrease your plastic consumption during your visit to Africa, and in turn, support the fight against single-use plastic in Africa and reduce plastic pollution.
- Team up with a local initiative in support of a community or wildlife conservation project. Jumbari Family Safaris is a proud partner of Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre, a South African based organization that focuses on the conservation of rare, vulnerable, and endangered species with cheetah conservation as their core focus. To support this worthy cause, Jumbari donates 1% of each booking value to the HESC to ensure that everyone who travels with Jumbari leaves a positive impact on Africa.
- Purchase consciously; pack consciously. Jumbari Family Safaris supports the use of eco-friendly biodegradable self-care products while on safari in Africa. Because of the limited infrastructure in some parts of Africa, water resources are limited and thus some products can be harmful to the water supply.
- Book your stay at eco-friendly lodges that have progressed to using environmentally friendly amenities in their rooms, have implemented energy and water saving systems on the property, and recycle all their waste. Jumbari chooses eco-sensitive properties that have a limited impact on their direct environment and encourages guests to be aware of their consumption of natural resources.
During Your Trip
- Consider your eating habits while traveling to Africa. By limiting your meat consumption during your trip, you will be actively contributing to minimizing pollution through considering fossil fuel, animal methane, and water consumption practices. Should you decide to eat meat, consider opting for free-range meat.
- Spend locally by supporting local artisans, chefs, and businesses whenever possible. By purchasing organic products which have been sourced and made locally, you will contribute to the sustainability of the economy of the destination you are visiting as well as uplifting the local communities.
- Choose the eco-friendliest transport means available. By using public transport during your trip to Africa (as opposed to using Uber or a rental vehicle), you can reduce your carbon footprint by saving fuel and energy. Although more expensive, direct flights to your destination are also a more sustainable option for the environment compared to layover flights.
- Avoid attractions involving animals unless they are verified to be humane by a reputable source. Posing for a photo with a cheetah is not a responsible tourism activity and neither are elephant-back rides.
- Volunteer at a credible organization that is well-recognized in the industry. Ensure that your volunteering efforts have a direct impact on others – whether it involves people, places, or wildlife.
- Pack a reusable, multi-purpose bag for your trip to Africa. You can be a responsible traveler by declining a plastic bag in the local grocery store or by picking up trash where you can.
- Do not buy souvenirs, photos, or tours from companies that you suspect might abuse animals, local people, the environment, or the culture of the area you are visiting.
After Your Trip
- Consider giving back to the organizations that protect the beautiful environment or communities you visited during your trip to Africa. You can decide to contribute to a particular game reserve, a specific community initiative, or a safari lodge that funds a local cause.
- If you experienced something that you didn’t feel comfortable with on your holiday, report it to your tour operator. Reviewing your own experience can help others identify companies which are not living up to their responsible tourism policies.
Lisa Nel – July 2019
General Manager, Jumbari Family Safaris
© ROAM Family Travel 2019 – All rights reserved
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