Ecotourism Destinations in Africa
When thinking of where to enjoy an ecotourism holiday, then Africa is an obvious option worth putting in mind considering that it has an exceptional landscape, diverse wildlife as well as beautiful scenery. We have highlighted a couple of countries within Africa as well as their ecotourism features.
Uganda has come up with a number of ecotourism sites that you can visit that will enable you enjoy the gifts of Mother Nature. Dissimilar to the neighboring countries in which Mass tourism can easily be seen, Uganda as a country is practicing responsible and sustainable tourism through protecting its natural environment as well as its rich biodiversity. Tours to the different ecotourism sites are best recommended for holidaymakers that are enthusiastic about nature. During the eco-tours you will visit various sites that are considerably not disturbed or are still pristine with an aim of learning about the flora and fauna, enjoying the beautiful scenery as well as engaging with the different local people. Below are some of the best eco-tourism sights in Uganda
- Bwindi gorilla National Park
When we look at the Genesis of ecotourism in Africa, you will learn that it all started with safaris to see the endangered mountain gorillas living within the Bwindi National Park. This gorilla sanctuary is home to the largest population of mountain gorillas in the whole world and its verdant Forests are home to both wild and habituated groups of mountain gorillas. During the gorilla treks, you will get a chance to walk through the natural habitat of these hairy Forest Giants which currently are less than 1000 individuals remaining in the whole world. You will spend time with the Gorillas observing them, feed, playing with each other and take some pictures. All gorilla treks are guided by professional Park guides and rangers.
Just outside the boundaries of the Bwindi National Park you will get an opportunity to visit the Batwa pygmies a local people who once lived inside this Forest. Previously these people solely depended on the forest for survival. You will enjoy a village tour during which you will see them go about their day to day activities and later be entertained my songs and dances by them
- Kibale National Park
This national park has the largest diversity and number of primates across the East African region. With a total of 13 different primate species there are more than 1000 chimpanzees living here. On your visit you will be able to track chimpanzees in their natural habitat led by professional guides and see them go about their day today activities. The park surprisingly has a very large number of bird species which you can see during nature walks, in addition to a great diversity of tree species and butterflies.
- Mabira Central Forest reserve
this is the largest Natural forest found in central Uganda and it has more than 300 different tree species including the indigent Cordia Milanii, the forest has over 300 different bird species that have been recorded here such as the Black bellied Seed eaters, Francolin, the Shining Blue Kingfisher Nahan’s and the Blue headed Crested Monarc, there are over 20 small mammals including monkeys, more than 200 species of butterflies and 96 types of moths
- Ngamba island chimpanzee sanctuary
This beautiful island found on Lake Victoria is home to mainly orphaned chimpanzees that have been saved from poachers. The island which covers over a hundred acres is mostly covered by Forests, and currently has more than 40 chimpanzees. During your visits you will get a chance to see the chimps feed, visit the nearby fishing villages and there is an option of spending a night there
- The Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary
This Bigodi swamp found in Kibale district is a wildlife sanctuary that prides in a rich biodiversity that includes a large number of primates such as the baboons, grey cheeked monkeys, velvet monkey, red colobus monkeys and many others. In addition you will see Bushbucks, Sitatungas and warthogs among many other mammals. The sanctuary was started as a community-based program and proceeds from tours conducted here directly benefit the local residents in this area
- Budongo Forest
This is the largest mahogany Forest across the East African region and it has the largest number of chimpanzees in Uganda which makes it the perfect place to enjoy gorilla trekking. There are more than 291 butterfly species, 130 types of moths, 360 types of birds and about 20 mammal species living in this Forest. During your visit you will be able to engage in various activities such as chimpanzee trekking bird watching and nature walks
- SOUTH AFRICA
South Africa has a number ecotourism area that have been conserved in form of National Parks, UNESCO world heritage site and National Reserves which you can visit during your eco-tour. The country has 10% of the plant species found in the world among which 65% of them are endemic to this country and are found here this is beautiful country. in addition South Africa is also known as a florist Paradise thanks to the numerous types of flowers found here. there are more than 900 types of birds, about 120 types of amphibians, close to 120 different mammals species all living in South Africa. Ecotourism offers you an opportunity to visit the natural areas and also improve the well-being of the local people. Below are some of the best ecotourism sites in South Africa
1.Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
This beautiful Park defines features of both white and red sand dunes which are separated by spectacular valleys which are home to several lions. Towards the end of 2002 about 58,000 hectares of the parkland were handed back to the Mier and Khomani San communities. The revenue generated from activities conducted on this land is giving back to these local people to benefit and improve their well-being
2.Isimangaliso Wetland Park
Since the early 2000s, this park has been engaging tourists in ecotourism activities. Previously it was a good fishing area as well as a perfect Beach destination but today it has evolved to become an adventure zone with several ecotourism activities. Some of the activities conducted here include whale watching game viewing guided nature walks, boating, turtle tours, cycling and birding.
- Addo elephant National Park
This is the third largest National Park in South Africa with a very remarkable ecosystem that includes subtropical vegetation which offers habitant to various animals including lions, leopards, buffaloes, hyenas and rhinos in addition to penguins and whales. The park operates a Mayibuye Ndlovu development trust that presents 8 different local communities which share a percentage of the total turnover revenue received from Matyholweni rest camp, and the local guide fee. Lodges found here are environmentally friendly and work to conserve nature.
- Agulhas National Park
Located on the southernmost tip of the African continent in Cape Agulhas is this National Park where the waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian Ocean meet. It is a very popular destination especially during summer and its rugged coastline is a beautiful botanical garden making it an amazing ecotourism destination. the park greatly benefits the different nearby local communities, offers employment of more than 400 people, runs several local projects and has supported the local farmers who currently are running a farmer’s cooperative.
Revenue generated from wildlife tourism makes up approximately five percent (5%) of the Gross National Product of Kenya, and in addition provides employment opportunities to about a tenth of Kenyans as well as contributes to more than a third of the country’s yearly foreign exchange. in Kenya, Ecotourism promotes conservation of the natural resources and threatened animal species through in one way offering inducements to members within the local communities to engage in the process. It also provides a stable tourism market which successively results into offering the locals a feeling of independence.
There are a number of national parks in Kenya which provide you with a number of options however let us focus on the popular as well as more important ones.
Masai Mara National Game Reserve
Masai Mara National Park is located in the south western part of Kenya and in addition to the neighboring Serengeti National Park in Tanzania is among the best ecosystems in the whole world. It is very popular for the Great Wildebeest Migration which is among the ‘Ten Wonders of the Natural World’ that every year. Masai Mara has more than 95 different species of mammals in addition to more than 570 documented bird species. Combined with Serengeti National Park, it is definitely the perfect place to see wild animals.
The Base camp Masai Mara found in this reserve is particularly popular as well as respected for its determination in promoting ecotourism through nature conservation, local community development and fighting climate change. Every year, that camp is visited over one thousand times by governmental departments, ecotourism operators as well as universities. It is equipped with twelve guest tents with forty eight permanent employees, ninety five percent (95%) of which come from the local community.
Samburu National Reserve
Within Samburu National Park, There is a great diversity of wildlife as well as numerous bird species for you to see. The three big cats that is the leopard, cheetah as well as the Masai lion can be viewed in this park in addition to hippos, elephants and buffaloes. Regrettably, rhinos do not exist in Samburu National Park anymore as a result of the severe poaching that happened within this area several years ago. With a record of more than 350 species of birds Samburu National Park is also an ideal spot for people that love birding.
The communities surrounding the national park include a clan of the Maasai as well as the Samburu tribe. These play a significant part as an element of the tourist attractions in the region as a result of their unique traditional ceremonies, dances, sale of traditional crafts, plus scrumptious food. You will have the chance to engage with these friendly people in addition to enjoying their unique cultural practices.
the parks has quite a number of lodges that engage in a type of tourism which encourages social as well as economic cooperation to enhance the lives of the local people as well as conserve the wildlife. Among the lodges there is one that particularly encourages wildlife conservations through taking students from the nearby primary schools for game drives and teaching them about the importance of protecting wildlife. The native women in the area have also taken initiative by educating people about wildlife conservation through the Women Safari Project.
Lake Nakuru National Park
Lake Nakuru National Park is situated on the Rift Valley Floor and the exceptional national park is a sanctuary to over 2 million flamingos. Lake Nakuru is rich in algae which lures a large number of flamingos that popularly live on the banks of Lake Nakuru. The flamingos depend on the huge amount of algae which flourishes in the warm water of Lake Nakuru. Since Lake Nakuru accommodates a huge number of flamingos in addition to about 400 different bird species, the authorities have identified the necessity to develop new regions inside the park in order to reduce the too much pressure on the present areas. A number of new water sources are being established to create more habitats for the birds. This is among the two prominent national parks in Kenya and it is the only park that is completed encircled with a fence in the whole of Kenya. This was done to protect the wild animals from poachers who were accessing it. Lake Nakuru NP is a UNESCO World Heritage with about 25 eastern black rhinos, one of the biggest numbers in Kenya in addition to more than 70 native white rhinos. The park also has almost 50 tree-climbing lions.
Mount Kenya National Park
Mountain Kenya – the second highest mountain in Africa is located within this national park. The Park is a perfect spot for birding, viewing wildlife in addition to seeing the exceptional Mountain Kenya. Similar to other national parks and reserves in Kenya, a “Man and the Biosphere Programme” was launched here by UNESCO. This inter-governmental scientific initiative focuses on setting up a scientific base in order to enhance the relations between the people with their natural environment. Mount Kenya National Park is essentially a forest reserve that is a home to a variety of animal species. About one hundred and sixty (160) bird species have been recorded in this park and it inhabits numerous types of eagles which often fly really high in the sky.
The mountain which stands at a height of 6000 meters or 19500 feet, has snow covering its peaks, and it is located about 16 km (10 miles) south from the equator. At your first glance of Mountain Kenya, you will be awe-struck by its exceptional scenery as well as its majestic beauty.
Tanzania is excellent at ecotourism. It has set apart more than twenty five percent of its land to preserving wildlife. Tour guides educate visitors to reduce their impact through promoting environmental awareness as well as respect as you are on your Tanzanian safari in addition to showing respect to the numerous cultures of the Tanzanian people.
Respected scientist, Jane Goodall carried out her revolutionary chimpanzee studies here and it still goes on. The Jane Goodall Institute is trying to bring advancement for ecotourism to the region next to Gombe National Park; to make sure that the chimpanzees can survive for generations as well as to protect biodiversity. It also upholds the local economy. We have outlined a few of the most significant national parks in Tanzania.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Ngorongoro Conservation Area, which is listed as one of the UNESCO World Heritages, is unique because while it conserves wildlife, it also allows human settlement which was a distinguishing factor for Tanzania at a certain time. The most well-known feature in the conservation area is the crater which was created when a huge volcano exploded and then caved in almost two or three million years back. This crater has one of the largest concentrations of lions on earth and is an ideal plaace to come face to face with zebras, the endangered black rhinos, elands, Grant’s and Thompson’s gazelles as well as wildebeests. The edge is a home to elephants, buffaloes, plus leopards. The Ngorongoro crater inhabits a total number of approximately 30,000 animals. From the perspective of ecotourism, a few of the activities you can take part in are supporting local food producers, encouraging Maasai women to sell their handicraft products, introducing water harvesters to gather rain water plus tree planting projects.
Serengeti National Park
Serengeti is situated in northern Tanzania and is the most well-known plus most ancient national park. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is popular for its diversity of wildlife such as the Big Five that include leopards, lions, rhinos, Cape Buffalos plus the African elephants in addition to giraffes, cheetahs, zebras as well as gazelles. The Park is very popular for the Great Wildebeest Migration, the yearly migrations includes approximately more than 97,000 topi, 200,000 zebras, 1,300,000 wildebeests, 18,000 elands as well as 500,000 Thomson’s gazelles that move north to Kenya during the month of July. In October, the animals move back south reaching the Serengeti by December. During the months that the migration is taking place, Serengeti National Park offers great game viewing which makes it very important to the tourism sector in Tanzania.
Selous National Park
Selous National Park is among the biggest conserved places world wide in addition to it being a UNESCO World Heritage Site as a result of its high population of wildlife plus its untouched nature. In Selous National Park, permanent human settlement is not allowed and so there is strict supervision of everyone that enters and leaves the park.
Despite the fact that most of Selous is a hunting reserve, there are a number of rules in place to make sure that there is little effect on the number of wild animals in the park. The money generated from hunting is reinvested into the national park.
Lake Manyara National Park
The Lake Manyara is a shallow water body inside the national park and it has a number of habitats such as acacia woodlands, groundwater forests, grassy plain as well as swampy deltas that offer habitat to various animals such as elephants, warthogs, wildebeests, hippos, giraffes, buffalos as well as impalas. Lake Manyara National Park has a huge concentration of leopards however they are rarely seen. It is also a habitat for tree climbing lions as well as a great spot for birding since over 400 species have been documented in the park. A few of the ecotourism features are the traditional practices, encouraging interaction between visitors with the local villages to increase sale of handicraft items, the promotion of cultural dance, music as well as hiring local workers to maintain the lodge.
Rwanda is best known for its resident population of mountain gorillas found in volcanoes National Park where a renowned primatologist called Diane Fossey conducted her research about them. There are about 10 habituated mountain gorillas groups in this country hence offering more than seventy (70) gorilla trekking permits to the tourists that come to see these amazing forest giants. Typically a mountain gorilla family comprises of a silverback – which is the dominant gorilla, adult female gorillas, adult males, youthful females and males as well as the babies. The best time to visit Rwanda and engage in this activity of gorilla trekking is during the dry season that’s begins in the month of June to September as well as from December to February during the shorter dry season.
Although this is the leading eco-tourism activity in the country there are several other activities you can engage in as an eco-tourist when on Safari in Rwanda and these include: a cultural experience at the Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village where more than one hundred former poachers are employed, come on enjoying the breathtaking views of Lake Kivu as well as primate trekking in Nyungwe Forest National Park where you will be able to see different types of monkeys. you can also visit Akagera National Park where you will have spectacular views different large wild mammals including some of Africa’s big five animals.
Rwanda also known as the land of a thousand hills has made very steady progress considering the fact that in 1994 she suffered from a terrible genocide that saw thousands of local Rwandan people die. today the country is doing well not only in the tourism sector but also in the overall infrastructure, financial development, political stability and health development.
What is Ecotourism?
Tourism that is eco-friendly and entails people touring virgin and delicate places that are normally secured is called Ecotourism. This type of tourism is aimed at being on small scale as well as creating low environmental impact.
The accommodations for the tourists are established in a way that they fit-in well with the natural world, with the food being domestically acquired and the garbage normally handled on the site. The visitors pay high costs because the tourist numbers allowed on such facilities is low to reduce on any environmental disturbances.
Sustainability is the core perception of ecotourism in order to allow the next generations to enjoy the unique beautiful sights that have been rather unaffected by human beings.
As a sector/industry, Ecotourism is rapidly growing into a significant sector for various countries that are developing by being a source of foreign income as well as conserving part of the delicate environment simultaneously. This concept could be accomplished if a number of countries conserve their tropical forests considering the fact that eco-tourists spend money to come view the natural attractions of the country and not the ruins made as a result of misusing natural resources.
How ecotourism works in Africa
The natural beauty and wildlife of Africa has attracted tourists for over one hundred years although tourism has recently been more of a curse than a blessing with evident destruction on the environment. The African continent used to spearhead the global drift towards environmental sustainability whilst maintaining the profitable tourism business alive during the eighties. Unlike other parts of the world, the ecotourism industry in Africa works as an educator and a protector thanks to their unique cultural and political attributes.
History of Ecotourism in Africa
One must first understand the history of Africa if they want to better comprehend how ecotourism in Africa works. A number of species in the different ecosystems in Africa were at a risk of extinction by 1980. Misunderstandings by the local people as well as unreliable political systems hindered efforts made to protect such species for example the endangered Mountain Gorillas living in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda.
Since these gorillas can only be seen in these three countries in the whole world, their total numbers dropped to less than 700 as a result of smuggling, illegal trade on the black market as well as active poaching by the locals who enjoyed their meat. Across the East African region, gorilla eco-tours had become the second biggest source of revenue towards the end of the 1990s. The popularity of the ecotourism business expanded to other continental regions once the native and local Africans discovered that it was profitable. Africa from then on created an ecotourism trend which highlighted its beautiful natural features, thanks to Mother Nature.
The Environment and Community-Oriented System – Principle, how it works
Players in the tourism industry discovered that unless they were backed up by the local communities, African ecotourism would have been destined to fail from the start. With the recruitment of the locals within the respective communities, the industry not only retains the necessary earnings but also shows locals the importance of conserving the ecosystem. Today, the Environment and Community -Oriented system (ECO) is what Africa’s ecotourism is founded on and it looks at the local people as an important portion for the industry’s success.
Ecotourism as an industry in Africa is developing. As a predecessor in the industry, the ecotourism businesses in Africa have learned from past mistakes after having undergone many changes.Target oriented activities are what ecotourism is founded on today. Tourists have continually visited Africa with expectations of being involved with the local people and wildlife thus ecotourism remains with that custom with contrasts in operations.Ecotourism in Africa seeks to engage the tourist with the local community by acquainting him/her with the native customs and people plus viewing wildlife from the perspective of conservation and education rather than the basic safari trend.
What to expect as an Eco-tourist
Ecotourism in Africa focuses on restoring the concept of taking a safari to discover new things while maintaining responsible sustainability. The key to have a fun holiday is by understanding how this operates. A tourist should hope to have accommodations that are eco-friendly plus food that is prepared from domestic ingredients. A number of tours provide courses as well as speakers who throw more light on the local surroundings considering the fact that education is a vital aspect in ecotourism. The travelers usually have a diverse number of activities and the tour prices will determine these activities from the level of participation to wildlife tours as well as local crafts.
Ecotourism activities should:
Result into very minimal impact on the local people within that areas as well as on the environment.
Maintain respect for the traditional cultures of the local people for instance in terms of way of dressing and even respect their places of worship.
Offer good experiences for hosts as well as the visitors.
Offer direct economic advantages for the local people as well as empower them since eco-tourism must be managed by them.
Ensuring that the local people are empowered as ecotourism must be directed by them and offering economic benefits.
Enhance the understanding of tourists about the social, environmental and political conditions of the country.
Promote proper conservation of the natural environment as well as better stewardship among the local people
Respect the cultural traditions that is to say proper dressing to avoid creating any problems particularly in the holy structures.
Reasons why ecotourism is becoming popular in Africa today
Nowadays developing nations wish to conserve their individual delicate surroundings and ecotourism is what they see as a means of generating revenue.
Through encouraging sustainable tourism, developed countries wish to lend a hand to developing nations so as to protect their pristine environments.
Tourists wish to adventure in environments that have been untouched.
A number of tourists wish to try out something unique since they are tired of traditional holiday experiences.
Several tourists these days are conscious of the natural environment and wish to assist in the conservation of vulnerable environments so that the future generations can also be able to see it.
Impact of Ecotourism on People and the Environment
One would wonder ‘what are the positive and negative effects of ecotourism on the local people as well as on the natural environment’? Well below we have highlighted the effects on each of these.
Positive impact of ecotourism on people
– Ecotourism offers employment opportunities to the local people such as lodge cleaners, cooks as well as park rangers. This work offers income to sustain their families that is usually more than what the locals would get from marketing their farm produce.
– School teachers and instructors who have engaged in ecotourism tours can educate the youth on understanding the practices and values of ecotourism thus increasing cultural awareness and promoting environmental conservation awareness.
– The overall lifestyles and living standards of the families whose members are employed and educated to be local guides are enhanced.
– Ecotourism has increased conservation awareness as well as promoted respect for the traditional cultures of the locals living within such area.
– Additional income is received by the native communities from making souvenir items such as handicrafts which they vend to the tourists.
Negative impact of ecotourism on people
-Eco-tourism may result into over exploitation of the local people in different ways such as using them as a source of cheap labor.
– When we talk about Infrastructure development, it may mainly benefit the tourists because facilities like airports are very expensive for the local peple to use them.
– With increasing number of foreign visitors, the local tribes may adapt to the Western way of doing things and end up forgetting their traditional norm and practices.
– The local inhabitants receive very small amounts of money from the revenue collected from such tours since the companies that are in charge of organizing these trips profit the most.
– A number of tribes in Africa are being used by tourists as a form of tourist attraction. They use the local people as ‘models’ while taking their cultural or traditional photography works.
Positive impact of ecotourism on the environment
-Revenue that is immediately used in domestic economies helps in providing financial assistance to help in conserving of the rainforests.
– Revenue is gained for rainforest conservation through ecotourism and that way deforestation is prohibited amongst the local communities.
– The significance of making sure that the rainforests are untouched can be better understood by the local communities as well as the government of the respective country.
– Revenue received from the tourists is remitted back into conservation within the area.
– The majority of the visitors are ready to pay for environmental conservation through payments like park entrances fees, gratitude to guides and also donations.
– Ecotourism will greatly eradicate the desire to hunt down wild animals for money.
Negative impact of ecotourism on the environment
-The regulations and controls of operation to manage the currently enlarging ecotourism industry are at the moment inadequate to do so effectively.
– Water pollution in lakes, rivers or other water bodies is likely to erupt especially being caused by tourist hotels releasing waste them.
– There is an issue of destroying local resources to accommodate for ecotourism for example clearing of forested areas (deforestation) and cutting down trees to building tourist lodges.
– There is a possible threat of overusing some areas during ecotourism.
– Destruction of natural resources is on the rise by locals in order to acquire materials for making Souvenirs t sell to tourists.
– Because of over exploitation, there may be destruction of geographical and features for instance worn out trails cause soil erosion in addition to destroying the vegetation.
– A number of unique wildlife species are being hunted down to be used as attractions for tourists.
In other words. Ecotourism in Africa acts as a means to maintain proceeds from tourism within the domestic economy while at the same time conserving the culture as well as the environment. It also provides tourists with an opportunity of discovering more about the local ecosystems, help in protecting vulnerable flora and fauna in addition to attaining respect for the local individuals living in these areas who are usually very primitive.