SAFARIS IN AFRICA, for most of the 20th century, often supposed stalking big game with a rifle. Then a new production of camera-toting adventurers showed up. It was the 1970s; also, Kenya was one of the few states that travelers could easily see on a continent still reeling in the era of colonialism. Zebra-striped small trucks were the favorite” bush” vehicle, and the sole guides were guys. Not anymore. “Community conservancies such as Naboisho in Kenya were a significant turning point,” states Judy Kepher-Gona, one of Africa’s top ecotourism experts. “Local villagers went from mostly being porters and cooks to becoming leaders and partners in protecting wildlife.” The results are impressive–conservancies in Kenya now encompass more than 15 million acres and protect a number of the planet’s rarest species, including the black rhino. As authorities have struggled to handle their federal parks efficiently, private associations also have stepped in to help, such as African American Parks, a non-profit group founded with the sole intent of saving Africa’s parks and their wildlife by focusing on economic development and poverty alleviation. Success stories comprise Zakouma National Park in Chad, which moved from the edge of a meltdown into becoming a gem in the crown of wildlife encounters today. “We’re in a game-changing minute of innovation in which local people and travelers alike are benefiting from new safari eyesight,” states Keith Vincent, CEO of Wilderness Safaris, one of the continent’s most renowned outfitters.
Going on safari could once have been around hunting. The safaris of now are about conservation–a fantastic thing for local communities and the planet.
TREND 1 — WE TOO: By Liberia’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first female president to Kenyan conservation crusader Wangari Maathai, Africa has had no shortage of dynamic women leaders. And now, a new generation of African women are making it known that they have what it takes to challenge gender criteria in the safari industry. “It was common of people to insist that we did not possess the abilities to be good manuals,” says Tshepiso Vivian Diphupu, the mind of Africa’s first all-female guide team at Botswana’s Chobe Game Lodge. “But in my experience, women are ideal for this job. We have a tendency to be better communicators, are more sensitive to guests’ interests, and are confident and always ready to find out more.” Dubbed” Chobe’s Angels” with a few, Diphupu and her coworkers, today 19 strong, are one of the very first –but not the sole –women to break into what was once solely a fraternity. “My goal as a manual is to make each safari unique, enlightening, and fun,” says Maggie Duncan Simbeye, founder of Maggie’s Tour Company, one of the few safari companies possessed by an African lady. “I have always loved the character, and my understanding of plants and animals runs deep.” Working as a safari guide in Tanzania motivated Simbeye to set the Dare Women’s Foundation, a local NGO working to empower women and girls to pursue their professional aspirations.
TREND 2 — POWER TO THE PEOPLE: One of the most critical conservation lessons to come from Africa in the past 30 years is that: Unless local men and women are the allies, rescue endangered species will probably eternally be an uphill battle. Many wild animals in Africa live out of national parks around neighborhood conservancies. Today, that is where a few of the best safari experiences are available, such as tracking elephants in the world and sleeping out under the stars. From the Maasai of Kenya to the Himba in Namibia, indigenous individuals have long lived in balanced coexistence with nature. “We established the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust on our ancestral territory, near Mount Kilimanjaro, to protect nature and discuss our conventional way of life with people in a more direct and meaningful manner,” says chairman Samson Parashina, a Maasai elder recognized by the United Nations in 2012 as among six Champions of the Earth.
Sanghrajka specializes in itineraries that support indigenous communities. “It’s about being at the forefront of conservation now and additionally offering a fantastic wildlife experience. Conservancies are in which the two meet.”
TREND 3 — ANTI-POACHING INNOVATIONS: From 2030, tourism to Africa is estimated to generate more than $260 billion annually; photographic safaris are driving much of that economic expansion –a significant source of jobs for locals. Given that sort of financial clout, many travelers were startled when Botswana–long an ecotourism and conservation pioneer — reversed course this season to permit sport hunting of dinosaurs again. With this much at stake, safari providers are now financing some of Africa’s most advanced anti-poaching attempts to safeguard wildlife. Take the Anatolian shepherd dog project at Bushmans Kloof, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the Earth, in South Africa’s Cederberg Mountains. “The Cape leopard is one of the world’s most endangered big cats because livestock farmers kill them, attempting to defend their flocks. We learned that Anatolian shepherd puppies instinctually protect sheep and goats from predators,” says Brett Tollman, CEO of The Travel Corporation, of which Bushmans Kloof is a part. “So we donated these gorgeous canines to nearby villagers to protect their livestock. And where we’ve introduced the Anatolian puppies, the end result has been a remarkable reduction in poaching of Cape leopards.” In neighboring Botswana, one of the most ambitious animal welfare jobs is underway to conserve a species hanging on the edge of extinction. “Our goal is to relocate no more than 100 African rhinos into safe havens, where we maintain a strong anti-poaching presence. So far, 87 rhinos are successfully sailed,” state National Geographic explorers Dereck and Beverly Joubert, who co-own Duba Plains Camp.
TREND 4 — EMERGING DESTINATIONS: Ever since President Theodore Roosevelt set off from Mombasa, Kenya, in 1909 with over 250 porters carrying supplies, including a library of several dozen books and a tub, going on safari was mostly synonymous with East Africa’s parks and reserves. However, as infrastructure enhances and political stability sweeps across new frontiers of the continent, lesser-known wildlife hot spots have emerged, which are equally as impressive, if not more so. “I’ve spent 30 years as a private guide throughout Africa; also, Zakouma is one of the most remarkable wildlife spectacles I’ve witnessed. Nothing prepares you for the sight of millions of red-billed queleas shooting flight at sunrise and elephant herds nearly too numerous to count,” says Michael Lorentz, owner of Passage into Africa. More intrepid wildlife fans are also heading to Madagascar, home to tens of thousands of fauna and flora species. Seventy percent of these, for example, practically all of the world’s lemurs, are found no place else. Then there is the west coast of Africa, never actually considered a workable safari destination, before the likes of National Geographic explorer Michael Fay headed a trip to Gabon and witnessed hippos swimming in the sea, dinosaurs drifting white sand beaches, and large gatherings of gorillas in jungle clearings.
Zakouma National Park is starting to draw more adventuresome safari-goers to Chad. Launched in 1963., the park covers over 1,100 square miles and hosts nearly 400 bird KYLE DE NOBREGA species, including black-crowned cranes.
TREND 5 — SUSTAINABLE SIGHTINGS: Not so long before, the roar of a wild lion in the night came accompanied by the steady thumping of a safari lodge’s diesel generator. Plastic water bottles were routinely handed out to guests. The contradiction between observing nature and adding more pollution to the planet hasn’t been lost on the rising number of today’s more sustainably-minded travelers. The safari world was listening. A Tesla lithium-ion battery will sport charging points for electric safari vehicles. It will also be free of single-use plastic. “Our aim is to create the eco-luxury safari lodge of the long run,” says managing director Mike Myers. In Rwanda, one of the last strongholds of the endangered mountain gorilla, Singita Kwitonda Lodge, is additionally taking sustainability to another level. Natural materials were used to construct the walls, and an innovative ventilation system draws in air to cool the rooms, eliminating the need to get energy-intensive air conditioning. In Namibia, and Beyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge is situated in the continent’s just dark skies reserve. “Deserts are especially fragile ecologically. We haven’t taken care to create an as little impact as possible during construction, but we also have a full recovery program after the build is complete,” says Joss Kent, CEO of and Past. Experiencing nature can and should be all about protecting it.

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