Imagine being able to witness the legendary wildebeest migration first-hand, or getting to watch dozens of elephants at a watering hole. Going on a safari in Africa is an adventure of a lifetime. Although safaris are not known for being green, it is possible to have an environmentally friendly safari experience. I’ve gone on a dozen safaris and compiled these tips for having a green safari adventure in Africa.
1. Shoot for Environmentally Friendly Transportation
This can be a tough one. Driving a diesel-guzzling Land Rover through the bush and blazing new trails to track animals in their natural habitat hardly seems environmentally friendly. I guarantee it will be impossible to find a safari company willing to drive you around in a Prius through the Serengeti. But there are still ways to go on a green safari.
Instead of going on a private safari, ask to be put in a full vehicle. Not only will this save you money, but it will use less fuel and resources. Also, be sure to book travel with a company that is committed to staying on existing roads and 4×4 trails. Off-roading can damage the natural vegetation so much that it could take years to recover.
2. Waste Not, Want Not
Many luxury safari companies are there to provide for your every whim. This can create a wonderful experience, but is not always the most eco-friendly. Look for companies that are committed to recycling and avoiding waste. This might mean having compost piles and a commitment to conserving water and energy. Additionally, consider lodges that have been built using low-impact construction and that source their food locally.
You can help, too. There are a lot of little things you can do to make your experience more eco-friendly, like requesting that your towels aren’t washed everyday and, if you get a packed lunch, asking for it to be put in a reusable container.
3. Choose a Camping Safari
Most safari companies offer a camping option. Even if you are not a hardcore camper, I urge you to consider it. These camping safaris range from luxury to very primitive — so you can pick which fits your budget and needs. The company will always provide all of your meals and usually even the camping equipment.
Even if camping is typically not your thing, I think you’ll find a camping safari is easier than you expect. The safari company handles all of the meals and setting up camp, so at the end of a long day in the bush you will be able to relax and prepare for the next day of adventure.
4. Go on a Non-Driving Safari
Depending on where you are going, many safari companies will offer walking safaris, horseback safaris, and even take you out on a canoe.
Walking safaris can be a great way to learn about the local flora and fauna; the guide will be able to point out birds and other unique features of the area. For my birthday a couple of years ago, my husband took me on a horseback safari. It was amazing to ride horseback through a tower of giraffes. And riding down a river in Africa in a canoe can be a great way to see animals up-close and personal.
5. Pick a Company Committed to the Community
When thinking about green travel, it is important to pick a company that values and invests in the local community. Tourism is often one of the greatest revenue sources for the area and hiring local staff is a way companies can invest in the community.
I guarantee you will appreciate the local staff. While on safari you will spend hours each day in a vehicle with your driver and tracker, providing you ample opportunity to get to know them and learn more about their culture.
Additionally, be sure to book with a company that gives back. Whether it is funding water projects or building schools, make sure that they are supporting the local community.
Have you been on a safari? What are your tips for a green safari?