Enrich clients’ safari experience with visits that help them to look after wildlife and the environment, says Bryony Gooch
1. Marataba conservation camps, South Africa
Marataba Contractual National Park is one of South Africa’s most innovative conservation spaces.
In its conservation camp, clients can enjoy a private safari experience with a twist, taking part in activities that encompass everything from tracking cheetahs and monitoring the growth rate of elephants to participating in veld condition surveys and meandering down the Matlabas River.
It strikes a perfect balance between giving back to the world and relaxing on holiday.
Book it: Audley Travel offers an 11-day trip to South Africa including four days at Marataba Conservation Camps, as well as time in Cape Town and Franschhoek.
The trip costs from £4,550, including all flights, transfers, accommodation on an all-inclusive basis at Marataba and B&B basis elsewhere, all safari experiences and park fees.
2. Wildlife and conservation in Uganda
Travellers wanting to get close to Uganda’s mountain gorillas will love this Rainbow Tours trip, which offers small groups of up to six people the opportunity to learn about conservation projects in the company of conservationists and vets.
Along with lots of tracking, participants will learn about initiatives such as chimpanzee projects and Operation Twiga (giraffe relocation), and also visit the Ik people, one of Uganda’s smallest and most remote communities.
It all combines to provide a unique insight into the relationship between the wildlife, the park authorities and the resident communities of this extraordinary country.
Book it: Rainbow Tours offers an 18-day tour from £8,575 for a departure on October 5, 2022. This includes flights from Heathrow, accommodation, all meals, transfers and excursions, one Uganda Gorilla permit plus national park and wildlife reserve entry permits.
3. Madagascar conservation holiday
This ecotourism expedition, run in partnership with a local NGO specialising in reforestation, offers access to some of the country’s most beautiful off-the-beaten-track places – and the chance to genuinely make a difference in them.
Alongside local people, participants can plant young trees and tend to new plants in different areas, enabling them to bring some carbon balance to their trip while gaining insights into Madagascan culture.
The trip ends with three nights at the beach and coral reef of Ifaty, where humpback whales can sometimes be seen with their calves.
Book it: Responsible Travel offers a 14-day trip from £2,495. The price includes accommodation, transfers, excursions and breakfasts but not flights.
4. Gorilla trekking and safari experiences in Rwanda and Kenya
Verdant hills and soaring mountainsides set the scene for this conservation trip starting in Rwanda, which, as home to half of the world’s remaining mountain gorilla population, has some of the best primate-tracking opportunities in the world.
From Rwanda, participants move into more classic safari territory in Kenya, staying at the luxury tented &Beyond Bateleur Camp on the edge of the Masai Mara National Park.
Book it: Operator &Beyond has teamed up with US-based Beyond Green and offers an eight-day trip from $18,705 per person sharing. This includes accommodation, meals, drinks, laundry, flights, sightseeing and excursions.
It also includes trips to national parks, emergency medical evacuation insurance, and gorilla and golden monkey permits.
5. Usangu expedition camp, Tanzania
The largely unexplored 2,340 square miles of the Usangu Wetlands region in Tanzania’s Ruaha National Park is home to an abundance of animals, including lions, cheetahs, leopards, elephants and buffalo.
Through activities such as game drives, boating on the waterways, walking on the wide-open grasslands and visits to the Douglas Bell Eco Research Station, guests can encounter ostriches congregating in their hundreds by the waters, wild dogs hunting along the riverbanks and unidentified amphibians still waiting to be categorised by scientists.
Book it: The four-tent Usangu Expedition Camp (pictured) is open from June to November and costs from $700 per person per night, with a three-night minimum stay. The price includes meals, drinks and conservation and safari activities, but not a conservation donation of $250 per person per night.
6. Botswana conservation safari
Staying in a choice of three luxury camps, guests on this eco-friendly safari learn about five conservation projects while discovering the unique ecosystem of the Okavango Delta, rich with wildlife including elephants, wild dogs and lions.
Activities span game viewing by makoro (dugout canoe) and boat, off-road driving, night drives and walking trails.
Book it: African Pride offers a seven-night stay in Botswana from £8,829 per person, based on travel in November 2022 on the basis of six people sharing. The price includes accommodation, all meals and local drinks and return flights from Heathrow to Maun via Johannesburg, as well as road transfers and charter flights.
Visits and time spent with researchers at the conservation projects are included.
PICTURES: Marataba Conservation Camps; Volcanoes Safari; Bisate Lodge.
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