For many travelers around the world, an African safari is a must-do experience on their bucket list, and as travel truly returns from its pandemic-era slump, many people will be planning these types of expensive trips after staying in home for two years in a row.
This could be a boon for African destinations, tour operators and wildlife conservation efforts that rely heavily on tourism dollars, which have been hit hard by the COVID-19 shutdowns.
However, this potentially positive impact will largely depend on the due diligence of travelers in terms of researching the companies they book trips and tours with.
“Tourism has been devastated by the pandemic, and it is more essential than ever for travelers to support safari operators who are actually doing the right thing, and not just talking about doing the right thing, for their communities, the environment and wildlife,” Andy Hogg, founder of The Bushcamp Company, based in Zambia, told USA Today’s Lavanya Sunkara. He encourages potential visitors to “make sure they spend their time and money with operators of like-minded safari”.
Planning a safari around the world can be a major undertaking, and sifting through tour operators can seem overwhelming. To help travelers focus on ethical and responsible safari operators, the outlet has compiled a list of 10 things to consider in your search.
It is of the utmost importance to protect the very wildlife that attracts visitors in the first place, and many protected areas depend on income from tourism to survive. During COVID-19, lack of funding forced them to reduce their ranger forces, inevitably leading to increased poaching. So, going on a safari in itself can be a force for good. And tour operators like The Bushcamp Company and Tanzania-based Asilia Africa are taking their commitment to wildlife conservation even more seriously, funding research, NGOs and anti-poaching and anti-trapping patrols.
Sunkara recommends selecting a safari company with longstanding roots in the local community. “Some tourism ventures are more beneficial to indigenous Africans than others,” said Sunit Sanghrajka, founder of Alluring Africa, which works with safari lodges that are transparent about how their revenue benefits the surrounding region. Asilia Africa, for example, gives priority to employing people from neighboring communities, buying local products and supporting regional projects.
Try to select eco-friendly safari camps to minimize the environmental impact of your trip. Most mobile and semi-permanent safari camps sit in the middle of fragile ecosystems, so camp operations should leave the smallest footprint possible. Look for places that rely on solar power as much as possible, avoid single-use plastics and implement a carbon offset program.
Eco-responsible tour operators
If you’re wondering how to sift through all the available options to find responsible safari providers, you can enlist the help of an impact-conscious tour operator. US-based tour operators generally do not own the lodges, campsites or vehicles that travelers will encounter on their trip, but instead focus on connecting potential visitors with carefully vetted and unbiased options for safari operators. in their favorite destination. They can help travelers plan a personalized safari experience that matches their goals and ethics, and coordinate their trip logistics. A great resource is Safari Pros, an organization encompassing 30 North American-based, environmentally and socially responsible safari outfitters with extensive connections in Africa.