The eco-friendly tourist and you: take fond memories and leave no mark
“Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time.” The saying is famous, and nowhere does it apply more than to the tourism industry. If our children and their children are to enjoy the beauties of Africa’s savanna and it’s wildlife the way we can, it’s important to make sure we preserve while we enjoy it too. Here’s Phofu Kalahari Lodge’s top 5 tips for Botswana travellers who want to make sure they treat the land as well as it will treat them.
Listen to your guides
It’s important to remember that Africa’s animals are wild. Your guides are trained and experienced, and will give you the optimal safari experience possible- so listen if they give you an order. It may seem like they’re stopping further away than you think they should, or otherwise suggest things you’re not used to, but let them use their knowledge to keep you and the animals both safe and comfortable. Avoid loud noises, clapping to get animal attention, and other disruptive behaviours that disturb fellow travelers and put you at risk.
Respect the locals
Remember that the people you encounter are going about their daily lives. Botswana has a reputation as one of Africa’s friendliest countries- but it’s people are just like you and I, not a tourist attraction. Ask if you’d like to share a photo, and respect local traditions and culture. Many of the guides and workers you will encounter hail from local tribes and cities, so if you’d like to know more about this lovely land, you’ll have ample opportunity to chat with her people. It’s one of the best ways to broaden your horizons!
Save what you can
Botswana is a dry land, and water is precious. It’s rare for us to leave lights burning, water dripping, using a new towel every time and taking immense baths when we’re at home because we know it’s wasteful. Do the lands you travel to the same courtesy. Whenever you can preserve water and electricity, to respect the new land making you welcome.
Litter and waste left in natural habitats causes great destruction to wildlife, clogging vital water sources and choking animals who mistake it for food or become stuck in it. In this dry land, be sure you act responsible with fire too- even cigarette butts- as one small spark can be enough to devastate a whole biome. Treat the land lightly so everyone can enjoy a positive experience.
Think before you drive.
Not only is it a safer and richer experience to travel with an experienced guide and tour party, but the more of you that share a vehicle the less impact on the natural environment through emissions. If you do take advantage of self-drive options, be sure to stay on marked paths so you don’t destroy small habitats and vital grassland unwittingly.
With a little care, you can take home great memories without leaving a damaging traces behind. You and the land will enjoy the whole experience and have a richer, more exciting time.