Taking part in a safari experience in Africa is often placed high on the proverbial bucket list; the stunning landscapes, interesting array of wildlife and rich and varied cultures are just some of the reasons why.
However, long-haul travel has a significant impact on our carbon footprint, and this is becoming an increasing concern for many travellers. Fortunately, it is still possible to minimise this by choosing to travel with an eco-friendly holiday company.
Jumbari Family Safaris, a Cape Town-based tour operator are committed to responsible tourism practices and are hot on sustainable development, community involvement and wildlife conservation.
TOP TRAVEL TIP: Book before the end of August and save $100 off each of the tours featured in this article.
Here is a selection of their much applauded eco-friendly tours:
1. Discover the Okavango Delta & Chobe Safari in Botswana (5 days)
Okavango Delta & Chobe Safari is ideally suited for animal and photography lovers. This tour starts in Kasane and ends in Maun where there will plenty of opportunities to capture superb wildlife activity.
There are daily game drives and an exhilarating boat safari along the Chobe River in Chobe National Park. Later you can take refreshing a dip in the Elephant Valley Lodge’s new rim-flow pool.
For the second half of the tour, spot elephants, lions and wildebeest in the Okavango Delta and take part in a walking safari. There is also the option to go hot air ballooning over the Delta.
Staying at: Elephant Valley Lodge (Days 1-3) and Kadizora Camp (Days 4-5)
Family friendly? In Kadizora Camp children under the age of 12 are permitted on safari at the discretion of the manager or guide. Children under 6 are not permitted on safari under any circumstances.
Eco-friendly credentials: Elephant Valley Lodge has many eco friendly accolades. They operate on borehole water which comes from 110m below the ground and is used to operate everything in the lodge, from cooking (it is safe to drink) to gardening. They also operate a 20,000-litre biochemical septic tank which filters and purifies the water so it can be used for irrigation. Power usage is kept to a minimum and electricity is switched off in rooms when they are not in use. All refuse is removed to a new eco-friendly dump in Kasane.
Kadizora Camp is run by solar power and gas only, and they also utilise a water purification and waste management plant.
2. Family focused conservation adventure in South Africa (12 days)
This tour is designed with families in mind. The first four days of this tour is spent exploring Cape Town, the “Mother City” staying in the child-friendly Belmond Mount Nelson overlooking Table Mountain.
Next you will travel to Franschhoek (Cape Winelands) to Babylonstoren, one of the oldest Cape Dutch fruit and vegetable farms. You’ll stay in a luxury two-bedroom cottage with full access to the gardens and the chance to take part in activities including cycling, bread baking and rowing on the farm dam.
The second half of the tour is safari-focused and starts in Port Elizabeth on the east coast of South Africa. For the next five days you will stay at Samara Private Game Reserve in the Karoo Lodge with access to private game vehicles with a guide and trackers.
Staying at: Belmond Mount Nelson, Babylonstoren and Samara Private Game Reserve
Family friendly? Absolutely – this is a family-focused tour. Mount Nelson has a children’s centre and child friendly activities, and can also arrange babysitting. Babylonstoren welcomes families and is situated on a farm, which will be great fun for the kids. Samara also runs a dedicated children’s programme.
Eco friendly credentials: Mount Nelson makes their own organic compost and uses spring water to irrigate the estate. Babylonstoren is a member of the Biodiversity and Wine initiative and Samara has spent the past two decades fine tuning their conservation best practice.
3. Meet the Kings of the Jungle in South Africa (7 days)
You’ll get the chance to spot all of the Big 5 on this tour (lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant and Cape buffalo), which focuses on animal conservation and rehabilitation. As you take part in each safari, you will learn about the different habitats, animal tracks and the history of each game reserve.
On day three of the tour, take a behind-the-scenes tour of the Born Free Foundation animal rescue centre, which rescues big cats and provides them with a permanent home. This includes King, the lion who made the headlines in 2017 after being rescued from an apartment in Paris.
Staying at: Riverdene Family Lodge in Shamwari and Kuzuko Lodge in Addo Elephant National Park
Family friendly? Riverdene Family Lodge offers a “Kids on Safari” programme as well as various other outdoor and indoor activities at the Kids Adventure Centre. Kuzuko is family friendly and children aged 0-12 stay and eat free.
Eco-friendly credentials: Shamwari is associated with Fair Trade Tourism, ensuring responsible tourism practices. They have been awarded the Gold Leaf Environmental Standard Award and received the Greenleaf Certification for reducing their carbon footprint through installing LED lights, grey water recycling plants and using recycled wasted water in their gardens. They are active participants in the Born Free Foundation that rescues big cats and provide them with a permanent home in South Africa.
Kuzuko Lodge is part of the Heritage Environmental Management Company which means it has been certified for its environmental performance and offers educational tours to teach kids to love and protect their living heritage. Kuzuko has Gold level status for exceptional biodiversity benefits.
4. An eco-friendly journey through South Africa and Victoria Falls (10 days)
This tour begins in Cape Town at the foot of Table Mountain, where you can take part in a guided sunset walk, followed by a luxurious first night in the 5-star Belmond Mount Nelson hotel.
The tour includes a visit and wine tasting at Backsberg wine farm, which is committed to environmental practices and is one of only three carbon neutral wineries in the world.
Staying at: Belmond Mount Nelson, Camp Jabulani and Tongabezi Lodge
Family friendly? Belmond Mount Nelson has a children’s centre and offers child friendly activities. Tongabezi has a dedicated children’s menu and staff specifically trained to run child activities including an African treasure hunt, fishing challenges and game drives tailor made for families. Camp Jabulani also runs a children’s programme called Team Tusker for 6 years+ including bush cooking and baking and conservation initiatives.
Eco-friendly credentials: Belmond Mount Nelson run an onsite worm farm which turns organic matter into compost used for the hotel’s garden. They also practice extensive recycling, use environmentally friendly cleaning products, service organic herbs and vegetables and run various social and cultural initiatives with the local community.
Camp Jabulani have designed eco-friendly lodges and staff quarters are constructed from recycled materials. They utilise a water treatment facility, practice recycling and even collect elephant dung which is then placed in erosion trenches.
Tongabezi Lodge have their own organic vegetable garden and the wood they use is from sustainable forests. They also have an in-house bottling system which saves 20,000 plastic water bottles and 2000 tin cans per year.
5. Tanzania and Zanzibar Safari (10 days)
The tour starts at Arusha Coffee Lodge, located in a coffee plantation on the outskirts of the bustling town of Arusha in Tanzania. Over the 10 days you will experience some spectacular game drives in Lake Manyara, Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater, one of the best places in East Africa to see the Big Five.
Once you reach Zanzibar, you will travel to the peaceful village of Kendwa on the Northwest Coast, where you take part in various water sport activities. Alternatively, you can enjoy a day-tour of Stone Town, the old part of Zanzibar City.
Staying at: Arusha Coffee Lodge, The Manor at Ngorongoro, Serengeti Pioneer Camp and Gold Zanzibar
Family friendly? A maximum of two children under 12 can share with two adults on this tour.
Eco-friendly credentials: Both Arusha Coffee Lodge and The Manor are certified by Responsible Tourism Tanzania, which is awarded to properties that support and practice a sustainable approach to tourism. The Manor also supports the local community through organising visits to a local Maasai village.
Pioneer Camp is made from recycled wooden crates and operates eco-friendly flushing toilets. Gold Zanzibar offers organic spa treatments and has partnered with the non-profit Sofia Luna Azzola Foundation, founded by the resort’s owners, to help support the local community in Kendwa.