This week Alan examines responsible safari travel. Does your decision-making when choosing a safari, and when you are on safari, have repercussions for conservation? And what can you do about it anyway?

When I first went on safari, in the 1990s, I was struck by the variety and number of tour operators. There were just so many. Admittedly it was in Kruger. And visitors can be swamped with options. But do all safari operators take a responsible attitude into the bush? The answer – as if there was any doubt – is no. There are dodgy operators plying their trade to unsuspecting tourists. So, please...number one rule is: always think about the welfare of the animals. Are they being treated with respect?

A Responsible Safari Travel Checklist

Look upon the following as more of a guide than a definitive list. At least it should hopefully get you thinking:


  • Consider contributing to a local wildlife or conservation organisation. Particularly those that focus on rare and endangered animals.

Good Tour Operators

  • Ask around about tour operators before you book. Read any reviews on the web. Read what the various operators say about themselves and their practices. Question anything that would have a detrimental effect on wildlife and the local environment.
  • Look for proactive policies from tour operators ensuring the benefits of tourism reach local communities.

Maasai herders

Community and Environment

  • Consider giving back to local communities yourself via purchasing from a local seller (eg food, art) or by sniffing out a local not-for-profit organisation.
  • Be mindful of too many lodges and camps cramped into a small area. This can be very disruptive for local wildlife populations.
  • Always buy local goods where you can. Defy modern-day globalisation, and try to keep your money inside of the country.
  • Treat the term ‘ecofriendly’ with suspicion. Question a tour operator or lodge owner about what they actually do to protect and preserve the environment.
  • Always stick to marked trails and tracks (except where there aren’t any in protected areas (ie national parks).
  • Want to get ripped off?? No way! So, be prepared to bargain. But remember that an extra dollar or two can be the difference for these people. It means they may eat that day.

The Wildlife

  • Consider an elephant walk rather than an elephant ride.
    Read up on local issues concerning wildlife – such as elephant culling in places like Kruger and the hunting debate, particularly the practice of ‘canned hunting’.

Lioness with cubs

A Positive Impact

Leave only footprints, take only the old adage goes. But nowadays responsible travel is so much more than this. Low-impact travel is great...but ensuring a positive impact on the environment and within local communities is much better. Please, give it some thought as your dreams take you on safari in Southern Africa. Lets preserve the environment, protect the wildlife, give back to local communities...and have a great time! A safari should leave a lasting and positive impact...

African Wildlife Conservation

At SafariBookings, we profoundly respect the efforts of conservation organizations who tirelessly fight to protect African wildlife and to put an end to cruel and unethical practices. They are an inspiration to us all. Through our blog and donation campaigns, we do our best to promote responsible safari travel and wildlife conservation. So stay informed by subscribing to our blog. And spread the knowledge.

African Safari Tours

By Alan Murphy
Australia AU

Alan is a travel writer and author of over 20 Lonely Planet guidebooks, including the guides to Southern Africa and Zambia & Malawi.

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