5 ways to travel responsibly in South Africa when it is safe to do so
When will we be allowed to travel again? That’s a question many are asking around the globe as countries remain in lockdown and travel timelines stay up in the air.
South Africa's coronavirus figures are still relatively low compared to the rest of the world, meaning we’re still at the beginning of our trajectory. It’s too soon to predict when South Africans will be allowed to start travelling again, locally or overseas.
But industry experts generally agree on three things. They believe local travel will come back first, there will be adventurers and die-hard bargain seekers will be the first to dip their toe into international leisure travel and sustainable (and hygienic) travel is going to become increasingly important.
South Africa is fortunate in that it already holds wide appeal for all three"types" of travel.
Sustainable travel, a growing trend in the tourism space, is built on the principle of treading lightly, that is minimising your impact on the environment, reducing your carbon footprint, making a positive contribution in terms of wildlife or environmental conservation and ensuring that local communities benefit from tourism.
If you count yourself among the pioneers who will return to travel first or perhaps, you’re completely over being cooped up within your ‘four walls’, it’s time for some travel inspiration.
Here are some sustainable travel ideas:
Head off on a sustainable safari
Many safari establishments in South Africa offer sustainable travel. These include conservation-focussed safaris, a must for any serious eco-tourist. For example, Buffelsdrift Game Lodge just outside Oudtshoorni is taking part in the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Cheetah Metapopulation Project, which will increase the number of free-roaming cheetah in their natural habitat in Southern Africa.
You’ll be able to track these graceful cats by vehicle or on foot with project rangers – as the cheetahs claim their territory in the shadow of the Swartberg mountains. Younger kids will appreciate Gondwana Game Reserve where they’ll enjoy an unforgettable Junior Ranger Experience. The experience will offer them insight int into conservation and all about the Garden Route’s precious eco systems.
Explore some of South Africa’s most diverse – and pristine – natural landscapes
South Africa is known for its grand natural landscapes, which includes its famed national parks and other world heritage sites. From beaches to hikes, there's always something worth enjoying that involves nature.
Give back to the community
Of course, an important part of sustainable travel is ensuring that your tourism buck (or rand) benefits and empowers the local community. Many tourism establishments have created initiatives that benefit the locals around them. Check your destination to see what places offers these options.
Support local businesses
Overtourism has been significant problem over the last few decades, with popular sites and sensitive eco systems around the world being destroyed by the sheer number of their visitors.
Even before the arrival of Covid-19, the travel industry reported the rise in "undertourism", a term used when travellers opt for lesser-known destinations, off-season travel and off-the-beaten track experiences. When choosing places, ensure that it also supports local business.
Plant a tree
There is a Chinese proverb which says, “The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second-best time is now.” Consider planting a tree to offset the carbon emissions of your trip. Look out for tour operators who will plant a tree on your behalf – or plant your own.