The Top African Eco-Tourism Destinations 2024
White Lion seen on an Africa Tour

Have you ever read the Greek phrase, “A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit”? 

The concept of eco-tourism can be summed up in about the same way.

While there are so many incredible attractions all over Africa, they won’t stay in the pristine, natural condition that we find them in, should we neglect to be good travellers. 

Eco-friendly African holidays are not just another trendy hashtag for Instagram (although to spread the word, there’s no harm in using it).

Sustainable tourism, in Africa and elsewhere, is a commitment to, as far as humanly possible, reducing our footprint, to ensure that our presence enhances rather than diminishes the natural wonders we encounter. 

Why is Sustainable Tourism so Important in Africa?

Africa is one of the best places in the world to have an eco-adventure, what with it being home to so many ruggedly beautiful and just about untouched places. 

There are three key reasons why eco-adventures and sustainable tourism matter and each reason is prevalent in most of the destinations you can travel to in Africa:

  • Protecting Wildlife and Habitats: Responsible tourism helps safeguard Africa’s incredible biodiversity. Generally, a portion of the revenue generated from tours directly supports wildlife conservation efforts, anti-poaching initiatives, and habitat protection programmes.
  • Supporting Responsible Tourism Practices: By choosing eco-adventures, you’re advocating for responsible tourism businesses that prioritise the ethical treatment of animals, minimise your environmental footprint, and make use of renewable energy sources.
  • Benefiting Local Communities: Eco-tourism also plays an important role in helping local communities by creating jobs, promoting cultural exchanges, and creating a sense of ownership in conservation initiatives.

The impact of responsible travel is also quite far-reaching. 

By supporting lodges committed to renewable energy and eco-friendly practices, companies offering such tours can help ensure a lighter touch on the environment. 

Every bit of money spent on locally-owned businesses will usually go back into the communities, giving these companies and the communities they work in, a vested interest in protecting the very resources that sustain their way of life. 

Ultimately, sustainable tourism has become a powerful force for good, safeguarding Africa’s irreplaceable ecosystems and its people.

okavango delta travel packages

The Top Eco-Tourism Destinations in Africa

Africa is a smorgasbord of sights, sounds and experiences. 

Every country has something unique to enjoy and when you plan to go on an eco-tour, here’s a list of places that will benefit both you and your destination of choice.

Okavango Delta, Botswana

For those who want to have a truly memorable eco-friendly African holiday, the best place for such an adventure is Botswana. 

Many of Botswana’s best-known destinations are quite remote, far from the cities, and untouched by human hands, and this is mostly due to the country’s tough stance on conservation. 

It is easy to fall in love with Botswana. It is a truly unique place to see and home to many interesting places worth taking the time to explore. The Okavango Delta is one such destination and for the eco-traveller, there are plenty of tours to the delta that focus specifically on having a “leave no trace” policy. 

What makes the delta so unique is not its location, but its very composition. The river that feeds the delta, while headed towards the Atlantic, never actually leaves the savannah. Instead, it empties itself onto an open flood plain, creating one of the world’s few inland deltas. 

Because of its nature, the habitat that it has created is completely unlike any other and this makes it rather delicate. Along with its aquatic habitat, it is also home to a myriad of plant species as well as a huge wildlife population and around 500 species of birds! 

The Delta is a UNESCO World Heritage site and it has been included in the official Seven Natural Wonders of Africa list. 

The Focal Points

  • There are a range of Botswana tours to the area, and they include traditional canoe excursions (mokoro), water tours, nightly game drives and walking safaris, as well as traditional game drives. 
  • A variety of stunning lodges, some so remote and exclusive that they can only be accessed by boats or flights. 
  • A single tour can take you from the lush delta to the desert sands of the Kalahari. 

Who would love such a trip?

The delta is a paradise for those who love responsible travel, it is a photographer’s dream, and it is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts who want the most exclusive wildlife sightings. And since it is home to numerous luxury lodges, it is ideal for those who want to enjoy a little luxury while on their eco-adventure.

A Photo Safari in Zambia

South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

Zambia is the unsung hero when it comes to African safaris, and South Luangwa National Park, a popular Zambia tour destination, has a long history of protecting its incredible biodiversity. 

The park is rather huge, covering an area of 9,050km² across the Luangwa Valley floor. On the western side of the park, the Muchinga Escarpment not only creates a border by forming its own special ecosystem while in the south the Luangwa River feeds the park’s wildlife and plants with its easily accessible water. 

The park is most famous for its wildlife sightings. The animal populations are huge, which really helps those visiting to tick off all of the animal encounters they hope to have. 

Park authorities and lodges work tirelessly on anti-poaching initiatives and habitat restoration projects and when you decide to visit South Luangwa, you’re directly contributing to these vital efforts.

Eco-friendly lodges are also dotted all throughout South Luangwa Park, with many camps using solar power, reducing their waste through responsible disposal and upcycling initiatives, and sourcing local produce. In doing so these lodges can reduce their carbon footprint. 

Many lodges also actively partner with local communities, creating employment opportunities, supporting education initiatives, and fostering a sense of ownership over conservation efforts.

The Focal Points

  • It’s African Wild Dogs
  • Walking Safaris (Zambia has a bit of a reputation for being one of the first countries in Africa to offer the walking safari). 
  • A remote location makes a Zambia tour one that is rather exclusive while at the same time perfectly capable of meeting the standards of an eco-tour. 

Who would love such a trip?

The diversity of the park makes it a top destination for those who hope to see the elusive and endangered Wild Dog. This is also the best place for those who want an African safari in a place that is a little less crowded. 

Etosha National Park Tours

Etosha National Park, Namibia

Etosha sits at the cornerstone of Namibian conservation. 

This magnificent place is situated in the northeast of the country, in an area that is mostly desert. 

With its limited water sources, animals tend to concentrate around permanent waterholes, which in turn gives visitors an exceptional viewing opportunity, all with minimal environmental impact, as you don’t have to drive around too much to see all sorts of incredible things. The Etosha area is also quite famous for its unique Big 5 sightings, something that certainly adds to the allure of the park.

Stringent anti-poaching measures and ongoing research programmes have done a lot to ensure the protection of Namibia’s precious wildlife, which includes the majestic black rhino and the elusive cheetah. And your Namibia tour directly contributes to these vital efforts.

Etosha’s lodges also prioritise eco-friendly practices. Because of the remote location of most of these lodges, they rely on solar energy, rainwater, and good water management to get by. When you choose an eco-conscious lodge, you’re directly supporting sustainable tourism in Namibia.

The Focal Points

  • The wildlife that congregates around the Etosha Pan. 
  • Luxury accommodation in the remote wilderness. 
  • The opportunity to do a little star gazing. Namibia is famous for its clear night skies and its lack of light pollution. 

Who would love such a trip?

Anyone with the desire to have a real adventure can look forward to having an out-of-this-world holiday in the Etosha National Park. This is a place for wanders and lovers who hope to, if only for a little while, be disconnected from the real world, and fully experience the beauty of Namibia. 

A Leopard during an Eco Friendly Tour of Sabi Sands

Sabi Sands Game Reserve, South Africa

While its neighbour is the Kruger National Park, it is Sabi Sands Game Reserve which is known as the eco-tour destination of choice in South Africa. 

The reserve is exclusively open to overnight guests, greatly reducing the daytime crowds. This, along with its eco-focused lodges, makes Sabi Sands the ideal place for an eco-tour. With fewer people around, the animals can walk freely and undisturbed, making the wildlife sightings all the more memorable, particularly leopard sightings, for which the reserve has become quite famous.

Sabi Sands is greatly considered to be the starting place for sustainable tourism in Southern Africa.

Park officials go to great lengths to conserve the wildlife and the plant life within the park’s boundaries and through doing so Sabi Sands has created a habitat that uniquely showcases the true nature of what the African wild should be. 

And it is not only the officials who play a huge role in the conservation efforts. The lodges within Sabi Sands have their own environmental management programmes, which are designed to control alien plants, soil erosion, and bushfires. Guests who stay at the lodges within the reserve can learn more about the various efforts undertaken and through doing so, gain important knowledge about the unique African landscape. 

Staying at Sabi Sands also means guests can contribute directly to the employment and empowerment of locals. 

The Focal Points

  • Sabi Sands is renowned for its exceptional wildlife sightings, including the Big Five. The reserve also has a high density of leopards.
  • It is a paradise for wildlife photographers, with its stunning landscapes and abundant wildlife providing endless opportunities for capturing breathtaking photos.
  • Sabi Sands is actively involved in conservation efforts, including anti-poaching programmes, community outreach, and wildlife research. The reserve also offers some cultural experiences. 

Who would love such a trip?

Families, those who love wildlife and anyone wanting to have a luxury holiday in South Africa will love Sabi Sands, especially if exclusivity is high up on your list of holiday priorities.

Victoria Falls tours Zimbabwe

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Without a doubt Zimbabwe’s most famous natural attraction, the majestic Victoria Falls is a sight to behold and something that is best appreciated in person. 

There are countless Victoria Falls tours offered by companies specialising in eco-tours, and a trip here will certainly be one that you will never forget!

The Victoria Falls, locally known as “Mosi-oa-Tunya” (the Smoke that Thunders), is renowned for its columns of mist, which can be seen from kilometres away. As one of the largest waterfalls on the planet, the Victoria Falls plunges dramatically into the Zambezi River, creating a thunderous roar and an incredible misty spray that blankets the surrounding rainforest, and soaks those admiring the falls from one of the footpaths. 

The Falls are also a prime destination for eco-tourism, with various initiatives in place to protect the environment, preserve the biodiversity, and promote sustainable practices. 

Many tour operators and lodges in the area are committed to reducing their ecological footprint, supporting local communities, and contributing to conservation efforts.

One of the eco-friendly experiences to be enjoyed at the Victoria Falls is exploring the lush rainforest that surrounds the waterfall. 

Home to an array of plant and animal species, including monkeys, baboons, and colourful birds, the rainforest offers a cool and refreshing respite from the African heat.

Guided Zimbabwe tours through the rainforest also provide insights into the area’s ecology, geology, and cultural significance.

The Focal Points

  • White river rafting and a dip in the Devil’s Pool (if you are on the Zambia side of the falls) are among the more interesting ways to experience the falls. 
  • Sunset cruises below the falls.
  • A wildlife safari in one of the nearby game reserves. 

Who would love such a trip?

Those who love nature and who want to explore one of the African continent’s most famous destinations will enjoy a trip to the Victoria Falls. This destination is also perfect for family getaways, romantic holidays and eco-tours.

Bazaruto Archipelago Tours in Mozambique

Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique

Situated just a little off the coast of Mozambique, the Bazaruto Archipelago is a stunning destination for those who value eco-conscious travels and who want to spend some time admiring the pristine natural beauty of this idyllic destination. 

Made up of a cluster of islands surrounded by turquoise waters and vibrant coral reefs full of marine life, this archipelago offers a paradise-like setting that nurtures the soul.

The Bazaruto Archipelago is renowned for its beaches with powdery white sands and its crystal-clear waters, which are teeming with marine life that can be viewed during the boat ride over. 

The main islands of the Archipelago include Bazaruto, Benguerra, Magaruque, and Santa Carolina (also known as Paradise Island) and all are characterised by their untouched landscapes, a rich biodiversity, and a truly tranquil ambience, making them ideal for eco-tourism adventures.

One of the defining features of eco-tourism in the Bazaruto Archipelago is the commitment to sustainable practices that minimise the environmental impact while at the same time support the local communities. 

Many eco-friendly lodges and resorts in the area are dedicated to conserving natural habitats and marine ecosystems while providing guests with authentic and responsible travel experiences.

The marine environment of the Bazaruto Archipelago is also a protected underwater conservation hotspot, home to an abundance of marine species, including dolphins, whales, turtles, and a kaleidoscope of colourful fish. 

Eco-tourism initiatives in the area focus on conservation efforts, such as coral reef protection, marine research, and sustainable fishing practices, ensuring the long-term health and resilience of the underwater ecosystem.

The Focal Points

  • The coral reefs and the beautiful and abundant marine life can be explored while snorkelling off the coast. 
  • Its remote feel can be a tonic for the tired soul, making the Archipelago the ideal place to travel if you wish to avoid crowds. 
  • Sustainable Mozambique tours and cultural experiences make a trip here one that every eco-tourist will love. 

Who would love such a trip?

Beach lovers, those who are fascinated by marine life, couples seeking solitude, and anyone who wants to participate in various water sports will enjoy a trip here.

A Walking Safari in Africa

What are the most eco-friendly travel tips?

Let’s face it, while there is a whole wide world out there, responsible travel isn’t just about ticking off landmarks. It’s about leaving a positive footprint. 

Here’s your eco-travel cheat sheet for a guilt-free adventure:

  • Pack Light, Travel Smart: Ditch the overstuffed suitcase! A lighter load means less fuel used in transit. You should also make the most of reusable items such as water bottles, shopping bags, and toiletries to minimise your waste.
  • Support the Local Vibe: Skip the big chain stores and instead shop at markets and locally-owned shops. This way you’ll score unique souvenirs and put your tourist dollars in the right hands, i.e. the local community.
  • Respect the Water and Energy: Every drop counts here in Africa so take shorter showers, turn off the lights when you leave a room, and whenever possible air-dry your clothes. Local resources are precious, so conserve wherever you can.
  • Observe with Wonder: We all love wildlife encounters but you must respect their space by observing from a safe distance. You should also avoid disturbing their natural behaviour and you should never feed wild animals.
  • Leave No Trace: This is the golden rule of eco-travel. Pack out all your trash, leaving the wilderness pristine as you found it. Imagine being the first footprint on that perfect beach – let that be your guiding principle.

Are you ready to explore the beauty of Africa while making a difference?

Start planning your sustainable journey, or book your trip, to one of Africa’s top eco-tourism destinations today!