As we continue through Earth Month, we’re reminded of the importance of taking pictures and leaving only footprints behind.
Explorer Safari is a proud member of the TreadRight Foundation, which means that we support and encourage purposeful, mindful, ecotourism. And what better day to honour this pledge than on World Earth Day.
As travelers become more environmentally conscious, ecotourism has emerged as a popular trend in the travel and tourism industry. Ecotourism in Africa offers visitors an opportunity to experience the continent’s natural beauty and wildlife while supporting conservation efforts.
Let’s take a look at a few of the best ecotourism destinations in Africa and the impact of ecotourism on the environment – and more importantly, how we can travel responsibly.
What is ecotourism?
Ecotourism refers to responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and sustains the well-being of local people. Ecotourism aims to minimise the impact on the environment and maximise the benefits for local communities. It is an opportunity to learn about the culture and history of the region while supporting conservation efforts.
What is the impact of ecotourism?
The good: Ecotourism can have a significant impact on the environment and local communities. It can generate income for conservation efforts, provide employment opportunities for local people, and raise awareness about environmental issues.
The bad: It can also have negative impacts if not managed properly. Overcrowding and irresponsible behaviour can damage fragile ecosystems and disturb wildlife. So, it is crucial to travel responsibly and support destinations that prioritise sustainability and conservation.
What are the best ecotourism destinations in Africa?
Focus: Endangered mountain gorillas
Known as one of the best ecotourism destinations in Africa, Rwanda is home to the endangered mountain gorillas. Gorilla trekking is a popular activity in Rwanda, and visitors can witness these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat while also supporting conservation efforts.
The Virunga Mountains, which straddle Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, are home to over half of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas. By visiting Rwanda and participating in gorilla trekking, you’ll also be supporting efforts to protect these endangered animals and their habitat.
Focus: Eco-friendly safari experiences
Another popular ecotourism destination in Africa is Kenya which offers a range of eco-friendly safari experiences. Many lodges and camps in Kenya are committed to sustainable tourism practices, such as using solar power, composting waste, and supporting local communities.
One example is the Maasai Mara National Reserve, which is home to an incredible variety of wildlife, including lions, elephants, cheetahs, and zebras. Visitors can witness the annual wildebeest migration, which is one of the greatest natural spectacles on earth. By choosing eco-friendly safari experiences in Kenya, you’ll be supporting conservation efforts and protecting the environment while also enjoying a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
Focus: Sustainable safari experiences
Another country that has embraced ecotourism and has a strong focus on sustainable safari experiences. The Okavango Delta, a vast wetland that supports a rich array of wildlife, is one of the country’s most popular ecotourism destinations.
Take part in game drives, boat safaris, and walking safaris, and stay in eco-friendly lodges and camps that prioritise sustainability and conservation. By supporting ecotourism in Botswana, you’ll be contributing to conservation efforts and supporting the livelihoods of local communities.
Focus: Sea Turtles
The country is home to several species of sea turtles, including green turtles and hawksbill turtles. While there, why not take part in turtle monitoring and conservation efforts, as well as traditional safari experiences in national parks such as the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater?
By supporting ecotourism in Tanzania, you’ll not only be preserving the country’s incredible natural heritage, you’ll also be contributing to efforts to protect sea turtles.
Focus: Broad – from conservation to rhino tracking and elephant monitoring
A great destination for ecotourism, with a wide range of experiences available. South Africa is home to diverse ecosystems, including savannas, forests, and coastal areas. You could take part in wildlife conservation efforts, such as rhino tracking and elephant monitoring.
The iSimangaliso Wetland Park in KwaZulu-Natal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that boasts incredible biodiversity, including hippos, crocodiles, and sea turtles. There are also community-based tourism initiatives that support local businesses and provide opportunities for cultural exchange.
Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique
Focus: The marine ecosystem
The Bazaruto Archipelago is a chain of five islands off the coast of Mozambique. The archipelago is home to a diverse range of marine life, including dolphins, whales, and dugongs. The islands are also a nesting site for green and hawksbill turtles, which can be observed by tourists during the breeding season.
The archipelago is a popular destination for eco-friendly safaris, with activities such as snorkelling, scuba diving, and fishing. The area is home to a marine national park, where visitors can learn about the conservation efforts in place to protect the marine ecosystem. To support these initiatives, choose eco-friendly accommodations and activities that have a minimal impact on the environment.
Madagascar is a unique ecotourism destination due to its diverse flora and fauna. The island is home to over 200,000 species of plants and animals, many of which are endemic to Madagascar.
The island is also home to several national parks, including the famous Ranomafana National Park and Andasibe-Mantadia National Park. Expect to see lemurs, chameleons, and a variety of bird species in their natural habitats. Madagascar is a great destination for ecotourism due to its focus on community-based tourism initiatives. Support the local communities by buying handicrafts and choosing homestays as your accommodation.
Focus: Marine life
Seychelles is an archipelago in the Indian Ocean, known for its crystal-clear waters and white sandy beaches. The islands are also home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, with several species of giant tortoises, seabirds, and marine life.
The archipelago has several marine protected areas, including the Aldabra Atoll, which is home to the world’s largest population of giant tortoises! Support sustainable initiatives by choosing eco-friendly accommodations and activities, like hiking and snorkelling.
How we can all travel responsibly?
As travellers, we can make a positive impact on the environment and local communities by adopting responsible travel practices. Here are some tips on how to travel responsibly:
- Support eco-friendly accommodations: Choose accommodations that prioritise sustainability and conservation. Look for hotels and lodges that use renewable energy, minimise waste, and support local communities.
- Respect wildlife: Do not disturb wildlife or their habitats. Do not touch or feed animals and keep a safe distance from them. Follow the instructions of guides and rangers.
- Minimise your environmental footprint: Reduce your use of single-use plastics, conserve water, and minimise waste. Leave no trace behind and dispose of waste properly.
- Support local communities: Purchase locally made products and support local businesses. Learn about the culture and history of the region and respect local customs.
Ecotourism in Africa is a responsible form of travel that aims to minimise the negative impact on the environment and ultimately benefit the local communities. By choosing eco-friendly accommodation and activities that have a minimal impact on the environment you can help preserve these unique destinations for future generations to enjoy.
Book with us today
Book your vacation to Africa with Explorer Safaris. We will be there, every step of the way, from choosing your destinations, eco-friendly safari lodges and activities. Not only will you have a fantastic time, but you’ll also be supporting sustainable travel and the preservation of Africa’s natural wonders.