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Responsible Travel

 

This document is still in the process of being updated and will be completed shortly

ADVENTURE'S IN AFRICA – TRAVELLING RESPONSIBLY

In year’s past, Gap Travel, was the domain of the young high school graduate (just prior to university – a 'gap year' bridge if you would like – a transition phase, between senior schooling and tertiary education. But, nowadays, people of all ages are taking some extended time out to enjoy real adventures shared with local communities, whether the emphasis is on wildlife and wilderness or more direct community based projects, and where one's involvement can make a meaningful difference.

However this extended holiday is not only for the benefit of the host country, taking time to travel like a local offers huge benefits to the traveller as well – the intrinsic stuff that makes one more robust as a human being. These extended holidays are an opportunity to discover so much about your own personality – what are your endurance levels, appreciation of modern conveniences and your of the comforts of home.

Allowing oneself to being open to vulnerability in order to grow. By vulnerable I don't mean this in the more literal physical sense, I am talking of opening your heart to a cause which may test your patience, may frustrate or even anger you, and may challenge your ideals. These are the opportunities from which one grows as a human being becoming wiser each time you 'get involved'.

I have read much about 'gap year' travel – different professionals across the spectrum of business, from university professors to employers of large corporations for and against taking an extended period out to travel the world.

Some feel that it's just an excuse to party and the traveller doesn't benefit much from the experience, and so on a CV a gap year is something they would not value highly. Other industry professionals find the gap year idea attractive as the candidate has a story to tell, they have an adventurous spirit and would have gained much in maturity and independence. At the end of the day, the decision to take a year off to discover the world (even if you are not getting involved directly in volunteer projects) should not be taken if you simply want to enhance your CV. An extended period of discovery and adventure with a lengthy working life ahead of you, is I feel a must for every individual.

The exhiliration of a modicum of living a life free of responsabilities of modern pressures (making a buck, getting a job, owning a home etc.), of making decisions off the cuff and on a whim, of choosing to do something different and extending your personality, of living in the moment and simply enjoying the pleasure of being alive, surrounded by the beauty of life. This is a time of your life that you will always look back on. In actual fact, you will draw on these experience for strength in your future endeavours. These experiences make you more interesting to others – they define you and make you stronger.

I by no means, intend for anyone to travel irrisponsible of their own safety, or without planning (you definitely need to understand the destination so that you can keep yourself safe) no just open your heart and travel and the real connections will come to you.

The lines blur between the plethora of terms within the tourism industry for taking a more lengthy’ time out’ to experience and grow as an individual on a ‘working’ holiday, and above I have only spoken of a gap year, but there are many others… Responsible Travel, Volunteer Travel, Eco-Tourism and more (we have even coined our own unique term Ubuntu Travel- but that's a slightly different topic of discussion…) so here are a few terms explained (in our own way) to help you choose ‘how’ you want to travel South Africa and into Africa.

These terms all have slightly different explanations but at its core each one is similar – to connect and have positive experiences for both yourself as well as the host country (or community or environment) – the key always is find projects (if you are wanting to volunteer) that foster sustainable change. We would highly recommend doing your research here (or leaning on us to provide projects that foster sustainability and not reliance).

What is Gap Travel
Gap Year Travel is typically a life
This document is still in the process of being updated and will be completed shortly

What is Volunteer Travel
Travellers who want to get directly involved in projects abroad that benefit the communities or the environments into which they are trravelling. Communities (that exist on the fringe on the wilderness environment) and environments operate hand in hand, in that conserving the natural wilderness of a destination is always a joint effort between local communities, conservationists and private enterprise. A volunteer project must foster skills development and upliftment within communities that is sustainable – when the volunteers leave, the project needs to sustain itself. Projects must not foster dependence. In the same way that the project needs support, the volunteers themselves need adequate support by the host organisation, with personal safety being of the utmost importance. Volunteer projects differ in duration and scope of work, and each volunteer has specific 'needs and skills' to be matched up as well – perhaps you want to work with communities and specifically you are a teacher, or you are a health care worker, or you prefer to only get involved in wildlife rehabilitation. Above all the experience must be fun and engaging so that everyone has a positive experience, both the volunteers as well as the organisation. Great volunteer projects make volunteers friends and contributors for life (even if your contribution is only from afar as you follow your life path).

What is Responsible / Sustainable Travel
…for the benefit of local communities and the natural world, often also referred to as Eco-Tourism
Perhaps it is folly to mention both responsible travel and eco-tourism in the same category, but in essence tourism must benefit local communities as well as nature conservation. Travellers want to travel in a meaningful manner, with less impact on the environment, to support initiatives and tourism enterprises that encourage upliftment of local communities, that give back to local communities in programmes that teach health or farming methods, where local commuinities are involved in skills training or environmental practices that benefit local communities and foster the value of wilderness with these local communities.

The size of this influence can be big or small, but the travellers themselves do not want to have a sanitsed and controlled travel experience, they want to know that they are not creating a negative impact on environments and communities, they want to encourage real and meaningful connections, whether they are travelling for two weeks or five months.

Each destination has its own issues and responsible travellers discover what these important issues are and ensure that they travel lightly whenever they can.

Responsible tourism is about everyone being involved in sustainaable tourism, private enterprise, government, organisations, including the tourist. Responsible travellers want to give something back to the special places and people that they meet on their journey, assesing the impact that one has on environments and local cultures and acting to make that impact as positive as possible.

We at Intriguing Africa Holidays & Safaris are a small personalised tour operator based in South Africa with suppliers within the adventure and gap year spectrum in South Africa.

We lean towards responsible travel as we are like minded individuals – personally we like to travel like a local, keep it simple, always be respectful and warm and open to new experiences.

Responsible Travel is a great term, because it encompasses both local communities as well as the environment – but it could simply mean that a traveller endeavours to reduce their impact on the environment, like choosing to 'clean' your own water whilst travelling and not tp purchase bottled water.

At Intriguing Africa, we tailor make a travel solution for each and every client based on the information and budget frames we are given to work with. Yes, we do still deal with the more main stream travel packages, from three star to five star holiday options, but we do try to promote ‘green and sustainable’ as well as ethically responsible businesses.

We have however chosen to promote, an adventure activity of ‘life-changing’ proportions. The Wilderness Foundations ‘Rhino Ambassador’ adventure walking trails are offered throughout South Africa, and a trail in particular through a densely populated rhino reserve within South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province is definitely a highlight. This wilderness trail is can be termed a 'transformational journey' as one is placed within the wilderness where introspection is a natural extension of being within this pristine environment – exquisite vulnerability.

Intriguing Africa also support a volunteer programme that incorporates this wilderness trail as an extension of a larger programme of 12 to 15 nights which connects people with community and wilderness, and is aptly termed Mad4Life!

Share your thoughts with us on how you want to travel in Africa and how long you have, your budget and we will provide you with options to an intriguing destination of incredible natural beauty, fascinating cultures and a genuine warmth, and we are not just talking about the great weather, Africa has a big heart.

We have spoken a lot about sustainable and responsible travel, but some may just want to have an adventure in Africa that allows one to enjoy the beauty of the destination and the wildlife and experience a multitude of cultures, and be fun and absorbing and exhitlirating at the same time. In this instance, Overland Travel may be just the thing for you…

What is Overland Travel
This document is still in the process of being updated and will be completed shortly


SAFARI DESTINATIONS OF MERIT

South Africa: Madikwe / Addo Elephant / Kalahari Gemsbok / Timbavati / Sabi Sands / Hluhluwe

Botswana: Okavango Delta / Chobe

Zambia: South Luangwa

Namibia: Etosha / Sossusvlei

Tanzania: Serengeti / Ngorongoro Crater

Kenya: Masai Mara