Africa has a way with people—something that can’t be explained unless experienced. The ‘TIA’-feeling—or This Is Africa—as many have described it. The continent’s wild and wonderful places lure people from all over the globe to come and explore during an ecotourism or green tourism safari.
Whether referred to as ecotourism or green tourism, the fact remains that is has become part of today’s travel calendar. Itineraries are built around very specific requirements as a holiday today is much more than just hopping on a plane, taking a handful of pictures, and departing for home once again, unaffected by what has been seen, heard, and experienced.
With the natural world under threat more than ever before, with animal numbers plummeting and species becoming extinct at an alarming rate, a new kind of tourist is venturing to these shores. The need to become responsible custodians and to give future generations the chance of seeing nature’s inhabitants the way they are supposed to be viewed—free—has created a different kind of African experience. The notion that there is no conservation without education has certainly never rung more true than in the present day, with vast acres of land being gobbled up with human encroachment stretching its greedy fingers all over this planet.
Tourists of all ages wanting an understanding of Africa’s web of life and to gain a greater appreciation for conservation, or those looking for a holiday with a difference, will return to the “real world” with an altered outlook on life after experiencing an ecotourism safari. The wilderness areas of this vast continent will come alive and the environment will be discovered in an exciting, in-depth and sensitive way.
Today’s tourist is a thinking traveller with a conscience and it is clear that each one ultimately has the same goal —to have fun while gaining a better understanding about all things wild and wonderful, and also to make their own contributions, however small, to the conservation of the natural world.
The country at the southern tip of Africa is abundantly blessed with numerous national parks, private game reserves and UNESCO world heritage sites that are home to more than 120 mammals and 900 bird species. These can be found in the Kruger National Park, Agulhas National Park, Isimangaliso Wetland Park, and Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.
Through various sustainable tourism ventures, the “Pearl of Africa” is contributing to conservation and preservation of a variety of species. These include excursions to the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Budongo Forest, Kibale National Park, and the Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary.
The acclaimed gorilla expert, Dian Fossey, perhaps unwittingly started the concept of ecotourism in the “Land of a Thousand Hills” when she habituated the gorillas of the Volcanoes National Park through her research on these primates. Today there are several of these groups that can be observed on specialist trekking expeditions.
This prime wildlife destination has found the perfect combination between conservation and the benefit that local communities derive from tourism. Classic examples are the Maasai Mara National Game Reserve, Lake Nakuru National Park, Samburu National Reserve, and Mount Kenya National Park.
With more than a quarter of the country allocated to nature conservation, Tanzania is a prime example of ecotourism in action. Wildlife havens like Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Lake Manyara National Park, and Selous National Park are first-rate examples.