With a collective consciousness growing around wildlife and heritage conservation across the globe and travellers seeking ways to ‘give back’ beyond their paid dollars, travel sellers need to look at including philanthropic travel options in their packages.

Philanthropic safaris are one way of blending traditional African safaris with helping local communities, local children in need, and protecting wilderness and wildlife into a traditional destination visit. They offer the opportunity to assist with the translocation of animals and anti-poaching activities, to enjoy cultural interactions where travellers will have the opportunity to meet locals, learn about their lifestyle and hardships, and see programmes in action that have been created by the safari industry to assist with sustainable community development. This opens up a new channel of philanthropic experiences to include in itineraries that cater for luxury travellers’ growing demand to ‘travel with a purpose’.

“It is clear that the inbound market wants to be a part of a bigger cause,” says Nik Lloyd-Roberts, Commercial Manager of Federal Airlines.

Encompass Africa, for example, offers a conservation-focused safari or philanthropic safari to Africa, which they say will allow travellers to “meet legendary conservationists, participate in projects, witness outstanding initiatives in action and come home rewarded”.

Sabi Sabi in South Africa is bordered by the local Shangaan villages of Huntington, Lillydale and Justicia, and guests can get a glimpse into local life with tours of Sabi Sabi’s neighbouring communities, where some of the homes, schools and care centres are visited. All proceeds from the tour go directly back into the community initiative.

&Beyond offers ‘travel with purpose’ in Kenya, where a 12-day, 11-night journey that includes adopting an elephant from the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage and observing or hand-feeding the elegant Rothschild giraffes at the Giraffe Centre. The itinerary also includes meeting individuals from the Community Leaders Education Fund bursary programme. This accompanies game drives to view Kilimanjaro, birding on Lake Jipe, spending a day with the Maasai from the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust.

There are many philanthropic programmes that African tour operators, lodges and tourism service providers are involved in, and packaging accommodation or experiences with these players injects dollars into these programmes.

Some examples are:

  • Wilderness Safaris’ Children In The Wilderness programme, an environmental and life skills educational programme that trains local kids to become custodians of key conservation areas. 
  • African Bush Camps Foundation works hand in hand with the communities surrounding Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe to oversee education, empowerment, community infrastructure, and conservation projects.
  • Singita’s partnership with the Grumeti Fund has had a profound impact on the Serengeti ecosystem. The non-profit Grumeti Fund carries out wildlife conservation and community programs in and around the biologically diverse Singita Grumeti Reserve, and its six lodges - including an anti-poaching team - enterprise development, English immersion and conservation education.
  • The Foundation For Tomorrow provides vulnerable Tanzanian children with a decent education and aims to increase the number of both boys and girls in rural schools.