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10 Tips for Practicing Sustainable Tourism on Safari

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An African safari is an adventure everyone should experience at least once. In order for that to be a possibility for future generations, it’s important for all guests to practice sustainable tourism. Since 1981, AWF partner Thomson Safaris has been a leader in sustainable tourism in Tanzania, with custom-designed camps and eco-friendly amenities that leave little impact on the surrounding land and wildlife.

Sustainable tourism isn’t just about leaving a positive impact on the surrounding environment. It’s also about supporting the local community and economy, and there are many simple ways you can contribute to these efforts while on safari. Here’s how you and your group can travel sustainably, courtesy of Thomson Safaris:

1. Learn about your destination.

The first step toward being a responsible and ethical traveler is learning about your destination. There are many books available to help you learn about the different countries, cultures, and languages, as well as a wealth of information online. You can also consult with your tour operator, who has vast amounts of experience with the safari destination.

2. Respect animals’ space and habitats.

We know you’re going to get excited when spotting a pride of lions for the first time, but try to express such excitement quietly. You especially want to tone it down and remain at a safe distance when a predator is on a hunt or eating a kill, a mother has a young animal beside her, or a lone male lion or buffalo is near.

3. Abide by wildlife and park rules.

The rules in parks, reserves, and conservation areas are in place to protect you, the wildlife, and the environment. Please respect these rules to maintain the beauty and health of the land you’re visiting.

4. Stay within the boundaries of your lodge or camp.

Wildlife populations are dense, so use common sense by not wandering off unguided. “Askaris,” or watchmen, patrol the grounds at night, and your guides will accompany you on walks around or outside your camp.

5. Purchase souvenirs from locals.

When you purchase handmade items from local artists, you directly support them and their families – not to mention, you walk away with unique items that immediately bring you back to Africa every time you look at them. In Tanzania, handcrafted options are limitless, ranging from beautifully crafted wooden carvings to iconic beaded jewelry. By purchasing these items, you support members of the community as they carry out aspects of their culture.

6. Do not purchase souvenirs with coral or endangered animal products.

Although you want to support locals and purchase their products, it’s important to note which items are unethical or illegal to buy. Many species of plants and animals are declining in numbers because of destruction of their habitats, while others are declining due to direct exploitation. Purchasing items like ivory, rhino horns, coral, tortoise shell, reptile skins, and plants harms the community and encourages further illegal activity.

7. Be conscious of what you’re taking and leaving.

Take only photographs and leave only footprints: do not litter, disturb plant life, or take anything from the wild. If you have any trash, no matter how small, please dispose of it in a trash receptacle or gather it in a plastic bag for later disposal.

8. Remove any unneeded packaging from items you are bringing on safari.

Many times, you can recycle cardboard and other types of packaging in your home country, while you can’t do so in Tanzania. It’s best to do this before you leave for your trip so you reduce both the weight of your bag and the footprint you leave behind.  

9. Keep any used batteries until you return home.

Tanzania does not yet have recycling programs that will handle hazardous materials such as rechargeable batteries. There are many resources for properly disposing of old batteries within North America.

10. Bring biodegradable shampoos and conditioners.

Showers often drain into the soil, so it’s important that you follow this simple rule to do your part in preserving the landscape. Check the ingredients list of your favorite brands for the words “biodegradable” or “organic.”

To learn more about Thomson’s African safaris, contact their specialists at 800-235-0289.


Thomson Safari's
About the Author

Founded in 1981, Thomson Safaris sets the standard for exceptional experiences in East Africa, leading Tanzania Safaris and Mount Kilimanjaro treks. Thomson was named to the 2013 Travel + Leisure World’s Best list, as National Geographic Adventure’s Best Adventure Travel Company on Earth (twice), and as the Tanzania Tourism Board’s Tour Operator of the Year, Humanitarian of the Year, and Conservation Award winner. Thomson Safaris partnered with AWF to enable travelers to effect positive change and become ambassadors for conservation in Africa. Members will be able to contribute to programs that combat poaching, promote education, and develop sustainable agricultural practices, to name a few.

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AWF Blogs bring you to the critical landscapes we work in, where conservation benefits both wildlife and people alike. The blogs are written by our staff - men and women who have dedicated their lives to Africa's wildlife, people and wild lands.