With so many things happening in the world now, it’s tempting to use our vacation to relax and escape to some remote beach. But if you want to make a difference in this world, use your vacation time to do something relevant and create change. If you’re going to Africa, here’s how you can make a difference when travelling there.
- Use Local Businesses
As a tourist, one way you can make a positive impact on the local communities of Africa is by supporting the local economy. By supporting locally owned businesses, you are helping create more employment opportunities and improve the welfare of the local communities.
When booking a tour for your African trip, look for a tour company with good values, follows responsible initiatives, and contributes to the local community. As much as possible, choose a tour company owned by a local. When dining out, always go to restaurants owned by locals. By supporting locally owned businesses, you are contributing to the greater good of the community. The same should apply to the accommodations. Instead of going for luxury hotel chains, consider staying at locally owned lodging houses or boutique hotels.
When shopping, hit up local markets since this is the heart of the local community. Aside from supporting the community, it’s also a great way to get a peek into local life. Here, you’ll hear local languages being spoken and even interact with local vendors and shoppers.
If you’re going to Africa for a much longer trip, volunteering is an ideal way to connect with the community and make a positive impact. Before you leave, research organisations and groups in Africa that are open to volunteers. For instance, you can check out the volunteer programs in Namibia and see if there’s a project you would be interested in. Aside from making a difference, volunteering is a great way to experience Namibia’s magical landscapes.
Even if you cannot volunteer, you can still arrange a meeting or a site visit to learn more about their causes, share some knowledge, and discuss some issues. In doing so, you can learn about the different ways organisations are helping to protect Africa’s wildlife and environment.
If you are into wildlife, you can join one of African Impact’s most popular volunteer projects, the African Big 5 Wildlife Conservation in the Greater Kruger Area. Volunteers of this project will have the wonderful opportunity to assist field guides and research teams with various tasks contributing to wildlife conservation and research. This program is perfect for wildlife lovers and nature enthusiasts. Regardless of your experiences and skillsets, this program immerses you into African wildlife, which makes for a truly incredible experience.
- Cut Back on your Energy Use
Another way to make a difference when travelling to Africa is to be mindful of your energy consumption. The best way to do this is to stay at accommodations known for their energy-saving features. Remember that eco-friendly accommodations have played an essential role in protecting the environment. You can play your part by supporting those companies that have environmentally friendly values. Of course, you also need to be conscious of your energy usage, regardless of which hotel you are staying on your trip to Africa.
Look for hotels that use smart tech for climate control. An HVAC system is the most common method used by most hotels, which consumes a lot of power. With smart climate control, hotel guests can set their rooms’ thermostats while inside the room and when they leave. Therefore, guests will stay comfortable while maximizing energy savings. Many hotels also give guests the option to reuse towels and sheets instead of getting them changed daily, which helps reduce loads of laundry, leading to significant water and energy savings.
When leaving your hotel room, ensure you switch the lights and all electricity, such as the TV. When your devices are not charging, unplug them. Remember that anything plugged and switched on is drawing energy.
- Visit Undiscovered Places
Another way to make a difference while travelling to Africa is to visit undiscovered places. Venture away from touristy areas. Instead, go for less popular destinations, such as taking small tours of Madagascar, which boasts mind-blowing landscapes that can rival many countries on the continent.
When you visit less popular countries, you are helping the economy of this country to recover. After the pandemic, the most popular destinations are the ones that tend to recover faster. If you go to destinations that are not famous to tourists, you are contributing to the economy of such a country, helping them to recover faster.
Another benefit of visiting less touristy places is that it minimises the negative environmental impact. Remember that the greater the number of tourists, the more it negatively affects the destination. If you visit places outside the tourist radar, tourists will be distributed to more countries in the African continent. It can help conserve the environment for as long as these destinations practice responsible tourism.
- Leave the Place Clean and Tidy
Make a positive difference to Africa’s natural environment by making sure you leave the places you will visit clean and tidy. Regardless of where you will go in Africa, always clean up before you leave.
Whether at a beach, park, or other natural attractions, ensure you keep the area clean and tidy. When going on a hike, carry a bag to dispose of your trash. If possible, pick up trash along the way and dispose of them responsibly. Africa has the world’s highest proportion of microplastics in the sea. Thus, every bit of cleaning can be a huge help to the local environment.
Beach cleaning is also a great way to make friends and interact with locals when travelling in Africa. You can also research clean-up drives in the places you plan to visit and see if you can be a volunteer or help with the project. In doing so, you are helping to save the environment while integrating with the local culture and enjoying Africa’s stunning landscapes.