While sustainability often puts a lot of emphasis on the environment and nature, it has a far greater reach than that and as the world becomes more and more focused on sustainability, it should come as no surprise that the travel industry was one of the first to be affected.
Sustainable safaris are one of the results of the industry trying to have less of an impact on the social and environmental well being of a destination as well as on the economies of the places being visited.
Tourist hotspots are generally quite overcrowded and packed full of things to do. Although this can be fantastic for tourists, it can sometimes have a negative impact on the locals and their environment. While this sounds terrible and might even put you off from booking your tour, it doesn’t have to be something that stops you from travelling.
With sustainable travel options, including sustainable safaris, you can hit the road with a guilt free mind. From choosing where to go and who to travel with, there are various ways that you can ensure that your safari is a sustainable one.
Here are a few guidelines to help you have a sustainable safari:
Respect is key
It should go without saying that when you go someplace new, you should always be respectful of both the people you come across and the wildlife and surrounding nature that you are having the exciting honour of visiting. No matter where you go, be kind.
Ditch single-use plastic
It is understandable that you will want to drink bottled water when travelling in Africa, but instead of stocking up on loads of single-use bottles, invest in a quality reusable container and fill it as you go. There are plenty of shops that offer free filtered water in South Africa, and other places on the continent.
Choose a tour operator willing to share information
The tour companies that take the time and make the effort to educate their travellers about what to expect, what to avoid, and just generally what to keep in mind when on holiday shows that the company cares about you having a great trip but also wants to help make sure that you have a holiday that fits in with those sustainable goals, such as being respectful. Tour operators are different to online tour guides in that they generally have more experience and real world useful information.
Don’t be silly with the wildlife
Safari destinations are absolutely going to get you up close to all sorts of wildlife. But unless you are in a setting that allows for interactions, you should keep your distance from the animals and never try to touch them. Wild animals are unpredictable and you could be hurt (or worse) by trying to pet them. Respect the wildlife at all times.
Avoid buying anything that is labelled engendered
While you should stock up on a few souvenirs made by locals, you should always be aware that some might try to sell you something you should avoid buying, like a product made from an endangered animal. This is certainly not a common occurrence, but it does happen. Not only are products like this harmful to the wildlife, but they can also land you in a lot of trouble, should you arrive at the airport and be caught with something of this nature.