Eco-friendly safaris are becoming increasingly popular — and in-demand — among discerning travelers coming to Africa. These trips allow guests to enjoy all the standard standard safari and lodge amenities, with the added benefit of knowing that natural resources are being conserved, wildlife is being protected, and local communities are benefitting. If a resource-neutral, socially conscious holiday is high on your agenda, use these 15 tips to have a great eco-friendly safari adventure.
1. Look For Operators That Are Truly Eco-Friendly
Some lodges and tour companies may claim to be eco-friendly, but actually have very limited or ineffective eco-credentials. Do your homework and look at the practices and principles of each tour operator and lodge. Do they simply offer every-other-day towel washing and recycled serviettes, or do they have a full solar power system, wastewater recycling, and offer charitable contributions? Look not only on the lodge’s own website, but also take the time to speak with other travelers and read online reviews about specific lodges or tours.
2. Choose Camps Or Lodges That Give Back To The Community
Eco-friendly companies often contribute to the well-being of the communities they exist in. Some offer charitable donations as well as programs that promote agricultural, conservation, and educational initiatives.
3. Consider Alternate Transportation
Electric vehicles are a great choice if the option is offered. Think about walking or hiking instead of driving if the distance between attractions can be comfortably reached. Canoes or similar items can also be used on waterways found along any journey.
4. Be Respectful Of Wildlife
Many eco-friendly tours operate outside a reserve to visit wildlife in their native habitats. Be aware of your proximity to any animals and avoid loud noises that could startle them.
5. Choose Smaller Groups
Smaller groups mean less consumption of resources such as fuel. Guides avoid repeated trips thanks to the managed group size. This consideration also presents better opportunities to view natural attractions without the hassle of crowds.
6. Use Solar Powered Items
Solar powered items are a great choice on eco-friendly safaris. Many lodges feature solar panels, but you can bring along your own option like solar powered flashlights, lanterns and radios.
7. Pack Light
Carry only the essentials needed for the safari. If possible, try to use only one suitcase and smaller backpack. Choose your clothing wisely to reflect expected temperatures for your route.
8. Ask About Connections To Local Charities
Learn what charities are supported by each tour. Some will focus on wildlife protection while others look towards community issues. You may also want to make your own donation based on your experiences after the tour has concluded.
9. Avoid Plastic Bottles
Plastic bottles are a major problem and can lead to excess waste on any safari. Bring a reusable bottle that can be quickly filled. Most water will be filtered by a lodge or camp, but carry purification tablets for any untreated water (just in case).
10. Use Only Biodegradable Cleaning Products
Lodges are using more biodegradable products and you can also take advantage of these eco-friendly solutions. Request these solutions for your own safari group or make arrangement for these materials to be brought onsite.
Waste can become an issue during any safari. Look for recycling options throughout your trip. Guides can help you find recycling locations or waste can be stored until proper facilities are available.
12. Respect Local Customs
Understand the culture and traditions of local residents as you travel through their country. Try to research this information before the safari. You can also talk to your guide for more information.
13. Obey Laws At All Times
Laws may vary in each country, so be aware of how they may affect your travel to the area. Each tour should be aware of current laws and will keep you informed if anything should arise during the trip.
14. Plan Ahead
A plan can save time on daily travel. It’s also a great way to prevent excess fuel consumption by repeated trips that avoid the most direct route to camp.
15. Only Use Your Camera In Approved Areas
Any noise from cameras can become a distraction, so ask your guide before taking pictures. Some portions of the safari may be restricted to no photography, so keep up on any changing restrictions.
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