How to Travel with Purpose in Africa

A few blog posts ago we spoke about ethical travel, conscious safaris and a new breed of traveller seeking more meaningful travel experiences. We refer to this as “Travel with Purpose”. This recently coined term can mean anything from enjoying an impactful holiday encouraging small changes day-to-day living, booking a holiday with a company that contributes to charity, joining conservation safaris, purchasing locally made artefacts, and ultimately booking holidays with a more philanthropic mindset and going beyond face value digging into each destination’s story, history and community. Meaningful interactions and moments; as opposed to flying through 100s of countries to churn out over edited pictures for brag factors.

We’ve listed a few ways in which you can travel with purpose in Africa, and how these holidays could possibly impact your own lifestyle, and that of the country you’re visiting.

Here’s how to travel with purpose in Africa and how to become more aware when you return home.

Join activity based safari holidays :

Going on safari is already an activity based holiday. Designed to introduce guests the nature, the dynamics of the wild and how to disconnect from modern living; a safari can be a life-changing experience. Fresh air, wide-open spaces and a slow pace of life encourages a back-to-basics awakening within us.

Take this concept of disconnect back into your daily life, and find urban parks, and somewhere in nature that brings back this safari feeling. Teach others about the importance of wildlife roaming free and encourage respect of animals. A safari teaches you the art of disconnecting and the authenticity of the simple life. 

Walking safaris put a whole new spin on the safari experience, and go a level deeper in terms of connecting with nature. Walking safaris in southern Africa offer a unique way of seeing the wilderness. There is nothing better than being ground level with wildlife, and learning about the fauna and flora from knowledgeable field guides. Exploring the wild and learning about the biodiversity of your surrounds carries meaning. While on foot you are more connected to nature, which leads to a productive safari experience. It’s on foot where you’ll learn about the microhabitats of small terrestrial animals, and get to know the incredible uses of vegetation – knowledge that you can take home with you.

Take stock of the tranquility you feel inside when walking in nature, and recreate this journey by joining walking groups when you get back home. Look at the trees in your neighbourhood and understand the important role they play in the environment. Plant trees in your neighbourhood/garden and encourage others to do the same. 

Wilderness Safaris has a series of itineraries offering adventurous and impactful journeys in Africa where funds raised from the itinerary are channelled into various NGOs. One such itinerary is their critically endangered black rhino tracking safari in the Namib desert, where guests are encouraged to join in the conservation initiatives in the remote and untamed Damaraland region; and get to know the various community projects underway.

These conscious safari experiences are designed to make you think about impoverished communities within your own country, and encourage you to find ways to help. Contribute to your local charities or give your time. After all, charity starts at home! 

Hire a porter when you go gorilla trekking

A gorilla trekking safari in Rwanda or Uganda not only introduces you to the world’s only free-roaming population of wild mountain gorillas, but it also offers an opportunity for you to contribute to gorilla conservation. There are actually only 700 mountain gorillas remaining on earth ! The money from the cost of your permit gets poured backed into conservation.

We highly recommend that you contribute to the livelihood of the local community. You can do this by hiring a porter for your trek. Some of these porters have walked in excess of 3 hours to the briefing point, in the hopes of being hired for the duration of your walk. And trust us – you need them! They will carry your backpack and help you navigate the twisty and slippery ground cover of the jungle floor.

Always see where you can create jobs and work opportunities for others. Not only does it support the individual and communities, but it also instills a sense of worth and purpose within the individual. 

Rwanda Gorilla Trekking

Gorilla Trekking Clothes

Conscious safaris

This is a subject we’ve covered before  – the conscious safari. A conscious safari offers an extra dimension to the standard safari experience. It generally incorporates all the activities synonymous with an African safari, but has a conservation element to the experience. It’s the perfect way to balance a holiday with wildlife conservation.

Ugebezi Explorer Camp in conjunction with Nkombe, offer walking safaris, game drives and visits to an APU unit as part of their activity list. Roam Safari Lodge in the Karoo offers a luxury experience combined with an opportunity to get involved in all sorts of conservation projects such as bird ringing, tracking cheetah and even veld monitoring.

Pondoro’s conservation safari was recently nominated as being one of the top 1o conservation experiences, and offers guests the opportunity to go on a tour to their operating headquarters.

We help and raise funds for the Black Mamba anti-poaching unit of Balule Nature Reserve by providing guests the opportunity to go on a tour to their operating headquarters. All funds generated from the tours goes directly to the Mambas and support their anti-poaching effort.

&Beyond Phinda offers elephant conservation activities. This is the perfect way to combine a safari with getting up close and personal with emotive grey giants of the safari world. Depending on what’s needed, guests will participate in either an elephant contraception or collaring.

The next time you book a safari, or any type of holiday, ask if they offer conservation experiences. You will be amazed at what goes into managing a reserve, protecting a biome and helping to conserve wildlife. 

Black Mamba Anti-poaching Unit

Coalition of Cheetah Roam Tented Camp Karoo

Go shopping

Give us a high five, we’re encouraging you to go shopping and indulge in local culinary delights ! Purchase locally made gifts and artefacts – your money goes direct to the source; rather than some product that’s been made in China. Beautifully carved items, colourful printed sarongs, and exquisite handwoven baskets are just a few of the delightful items often on sale in southern Africa.

Shop local ! It can be more expensive than your mass produced items made in the East, but purchasing local means that you’re supporting local businesses, individuals and often the quality is much better. 

Ngala Safari Lodge Curios

Visit sanctuaries instead of petting wild animals

This is a massively contentious issue, and there’s been a massive crackdown on big cat petting institutions. The documentary Blood Lions was instrumental in leading the way to thwart cub petting. We encourage visitors to head into reserves to see animals in the wild, visit sanctuaries and rescue centres; and ask questions. It is NEVER okay to pet a lion cub. Lions cubs that are cuddled by tourists end up being imprinted by humans, and when they get older the surplus lions are sold to trophy hunting operations. A lion that is used to humans is far easier to hunt!

A true sanctuary, like the Drakenstein Lion Park in the Western Cape, rescues big cats and ensures there is no interaction whatsoever.

Educated others about the dangers of petting lion cubs for profit, an industry that South Africa is so desperately trying to crack down on. Be a part of the solution, not the problem. 

Those who travel with purpose have more impactful and productive trips. Find a purpose that drives you, and give back to yourself and your surrounds in the process.