Situated in South Africa, the province of KwaZulu Natal is a popular destination for safari holidays. From the Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg Mountains to the Isimangaliso Wetlands, visitors can find some of the world’s most beautiful scenery and make memories that will truly last a lifetime. But, it’s crucial that KwaZulu Natal inhabitants do not face the burden of a tourist’s choices.
Here are ways that you can help the environment, and benefit local people, when visiting Southern Africa.
1. Pack the right clothing and equipment
When you travel, be careful not to leave your belongings behind. Take care to pack suitable clothes, as TUI advise – including sturdy shoes that will stand up to the rigours of the African Savannah.
If your clothes aren’t suitable and become damaged beyond use, bring them home and recycle them. Do not dispose of them whilst still in Africa, by leaving them around where they shouldn’t be. You can reduce your risk of wearing out your hiking boots by making sure they’re a good quality purchase, rather than cheap walking boots that will need to be replaced more frequently.
2. Be aware of fuel and energy use
Mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, through minimising the use of fuel and energy, is a top priority for the South African Department of Environmental Affairs. When travelling, you can play your part by considering your own use of energy.
Switch off lights in your accommodation as much as possible, always making sure that they’re not left on when you’re out exploring the region. Consider eco-friendly accommodation, like a safari camp, and enjoy a back-to-nature holiday. There are also eco-friendly safari lodges that rely primarily on solar power, preparing meals from sustainable sources. As a tourist, you can choose accommodation that fits with your environmental ethos.
3. Hang on to your hats!
If you’re going on a safari drive, take as little as possible with you – and hold on to everything that you do take. Safari vehicles are often open-sided, giving you a better view of the wild animals that you’ll see during your safari tour. Unfortunately, this makes it very easy to drop your belongings from the car.
Think of the impact that a lost hat, or overboard camera, will have on the region’s residents. As well as adding litter, you’re potentially damaging the health of animals that might see your belongings as food.
4. Buy from the locals
For you, a South African holiday is an indulgent treat. But, you’ll be travelling through some of the world’s poorest places. Many locals have adapted to their homes being tourist attractions. They work hard making souvenirs, like pieces of jewellery, that they can sell to buy food for their families.
As you travel, have money available to buy things that are offered by the locals. Be prepared to play your part and benefit the local economy.
5. Pay to enter game reserves
On holiday in South Africa, you are likely to visit a number of game reserves. Many of these have entry fees that you shouldn’t feel bad about paying. These entry fees provide funds for the protection of wild animals, paying for patrolling rangers.
6. Beware of products from endangered species
Don’t support poachers by purchasing animal products like turtle eggs, ivory or coral. There are many alternative souvenirs that don’t harm animals, or have an impact on already endangered species.
7. Remember to tip any staff
Whenever you’re in your accommodation, out and about, being driven around or purchasing food, have money to hand to pay tips. Remember that you’re amongst people with very limited money at their disposal, and a small tip for their efforts can make an enormous difference to their daily income.
8. Be conscious of the water you use
At home, you can turn on the tap for an endless supply of water. In South Africa, this water will be scarce. Have short showers, or wash from a sink, rather than bathing luxuriously. Use environmentally-friendly toiletries and cleaning products that will not harm the water supply, and do laundry as little as possible.
It’s easy to have a negative impact on a developing country. But, with a little care and attention, you can just as easily make your holiday into something that’s good for South Africa.