Responsible tourism: South Africa, Zimbabwe & Botswana camping vacation
For hundreds of years, the local communities in and around Botswana's Okavango Delta have used the wood of the sausage tree to craft their traditional mokoro (dugout canoes). The knowledge and skill have been passed down from generation to generation and, up until recently, has been a sustainable practice. With increasing numbers of people visiting the Delta each year, more mokoro are needed and as a direct result, more and more sausage trees are being felled and the sausage tree is sadly disappearing from the region. A traditional wooden mokoro will have to be replaced every five years, thereby placing increased pressure on the dwindling sausage tree supply.
Our partner in Botswana has established a project to encourage polers in the local communities to buy replica fiberglass mokoro’s, which have a lifespan of approximately ten years, are more stable and are produced without any negative affect to the environment. As such, sponsorship for each fiberglass mokoro is needed, and a portion of the tour cost will be donated to the project, but we also will offer our clients the opportunity to contribute to this worthwhile cause.
While on the tour, we cook on gas, to avoid depleting the limited resources of firewood in the area. In the wilderness, rubbish is always taken away with us to be disposed of correctly at the end of the tour. Entrance fees paid for the Okavango Delta and National Parks go directly to the parks, towards further conservation for future generations. Our guides advise how best to appreciate the area without causing any stress or disturbance to the wildlife.
We visit a community based project established in 1992 to assist in the protection of the endangered rhino whilst providing economic benefits to the community through tourism after the natural population had been virtually hunted to extinction. Proceeds from the visit go towards the rhino breeding programme as well as the local community.
Our representative in Southern Africa operates a number of tours into the national parks of South Africa for under-privileged children from schools based in Johannesburg. This opportunity allows them to see for themselves wildlife (perhaps for the first time), nature conservation at work, and also show them employment opportunities that are available in the conservation or tourism industry, and possibly encourage them to follow a career in tourism.
Local guides are employed as the people who live and work in the area have exceptional knowledge of the local wildlife, culture and areas of scenic beauty and give visitors the chance to meet local and interact with local people. Polers in the area take us into the Okavango Delta by canoe. They have an intimate knowledge of the waterways and local flora and fauna giving visitors a chance to relax and enjoy the scenery.
By employing the polers and other local guides, we are helping to ensure that the environment, through tourism, is generating value for the community in terms of employment and trade and therefore appreciated and protected from development and exploitation.