Travellers have become more conscious, looking for experiences in which they can expand, grow, learn and ‘give back’ while on holiday. Suppliers are responding to this demand by creating opportunities where tourists can take part in conservation and communities.
Peak DMC offers authentic community-based tourism experiences that offer real benefits to the host community in the form of sustainable livelihoods and two-way cultural exchanges, whether it is supporting the San Bushmen in Botswana or Maasai women’s villages in Kenya, says Mehalah Beckett, Regional General Manager of Peak DMC. Its Wildlife Rangers Expedition in Kenya with Intrepid Travel was launched earlier this year. Travellers have the opportunity to learn about the ins and outs of the job at the Ranger Training Academy, working closely with the rangers who patrol and protect the area between Amboseli, Chyulu Hills and Kilimanjaro national parks, getting to spend a week on the frontline of wildlife conservation in Kenya.
Gondwana’s Eco-Camp on South Africa’s Garden Route not only offers guests the opportunity to temporarily trade in their day jobs to learn about game ranging, but also offers ‘Family Weeks’ in which the game-ranging experience is geared to families (kids need to be six or older).
The Eco-Camp is generally offered as a six-night getaway but families can choose to do three nights. Activities include research and tracking of animals, monitoring birdlife as well as learning how to interpret the bush and spending time with the local community. All the findings from the Eco-Camp programme are filtered back to Gondwana’s conservation department.
Founder of Gondwana Game Reserve, Mark Rutherford, says: “We have created many exciting amenities at each of the three tented camps that will delight our guests at the end of the day on the trail. We have had a lot of fun navigating the journey of the trail as it moves to three different camp locations on the reserve.”
Christiaan Steyn, General Manager of Drifters Adventours, says the company offers experiential tours in Southern Africa that allow travellers to immerse themselves in the tour experience. It’s not about half measures for Steyn and his team. He says in all the countries where Drifters Adventours operates, local guides are employed and that it’s essential for guests to interact with and get to know more about local communities and learn about the environment.
“The nature of our tours means that we visit several eco-sensitive areas like national parks. Our guides educate thousands of clients each year on the importance of sustainable practices when entering these areas, and the importance of proper waste management and water use.”