Responsible tourism: South East Africa holiday, Victoria Falls to Kruger
In order for effective, sustainable conservation to take place, there needs to be an interest from the society of that country, conscious effort from government and local "buy in" from the local communities. Sadly the world is in a place where economic benefit is the overriding driving force of action and as such conservation is directly linked to economic benefit. Sustainable tourism is therefore absolutely essential for conservation to be effective. Not only for local communities to see value in conservation, but for countries as a whole to place value in protecting their natural heritage.
On tour, rubbish is always taken away with us to be disposed of responsibly. We even clean up rubbish that has been left behind by previous visitors! Food is sourced locally from the areas that we visit, ensuring a steady source of income and employment for local businesses. Entrance fees on the trip, for sites such as National Parks go directly towards the maintenance and preservation of the areas for future generations. When camping in the Lower Zambezi, we cook on gas to avoid depleting supplies of firewood.
On all game drives, our trained and qualified guides ensure that our groups interact with wildlife in the appropriate way. Slow movements, no loud noises and respecting the animal’s “personal” boundaries. Our philosophy is that we are visitors in the amazing places that we visit, and we do not want our presence to impact the wildlife and environment in any negative way. We also enforce a policy of not feeding any wildlife (animals habituated to human feeding may turn aggressive in the future which often results in authorities being forced to kill that animal) and to appreciate the natural state of the areas that we visit and to leave the area in exactly the same condition that it was when we arrived.
In the Luangwa Valley we stay at Wildlife Camp who donate 60% of their revenues to the Wildlife and Environmental Society of Zambia. The lodge is dedicated to the protection of the environment in the area, and the sustainable utilisation of this precious resource.
Our representative in Southern Africa operate a number of tours into the national parks of South Africa for underprivileged children from schools based in Johannesburg. This opportunity allows them to see for themselves wildlife (perhaps for the first time), nature conservation at work, and also show them employment opportunities that are available in the conservation or tourism industry, and possibly encourage them to follow a career in tourism.
The people who live and work in the area have exceptional knowledge of the local wildlife, culture and areas of scenic beauty and give visitors the chance to meet local and interact with local people. By supporting and employing these people, we are helping to ensure that the environment, through tourism, is generating value for the community and therefore appreciated and protected from development and exploitation.
As well as employing guides, drivers and staff who live in the area, we also meet many local people and villagers along the way. This is an opportunity not only to enjoy the friendly African way of life, but also to see their traditional handicrafts and markets and try healthy, fresh food at local restaurants. Visiting these communities brings them valuable income as well as helping to support and maintain their traditional way of life.