Wildlife holidays, vital to conservation - The where and how guide
Wildlife tourism is probably the key factor to safeguarding the wildlife of the world. Where wildlife has a monetary value, it is much more likely to be preserved, whether for tourism or, sadly, hunting. It may be called Eco-tourism, green tourism or responsible travel, but it shouldn't just be about using less fuel and recycling your rubbish. Money on the ground and in the hands of the local inhabitants is by far the most important factor in the conservation of the wildife and habitats of the world.
Why is there much more wildlife left in Kenya or Botswana than in Ethiopia or Mozambique? Because there is an established wildlife tourism industry that provides a living for the local population, so there is a sound reason for them to preserve their wildlife. To put it in the revolting modern vernacular, they become stake holders.
Read more about :-
This doesn't just apply to African safaris. Whales have proved that they are worth a lot more alive than dead; the Galloway Kite Trail in Scotland is boosting the local economy by around £750,000 + every year, and the coral reefs of the Caribbean provide some $4 billion of revenue to the region from dive tourism and fishing.
It is only when people can afford to eat and live well that they will start to worry about their environment.
Fast growing, and vital to many communities
Wildlife holidays are one of the fastest growing areas of the holiday market, and UNEP stated "As well as providing enjoyment for millions of people, wildlife watching tourism is a significant source of income and employment for a growing number of communities, particularly in developing countries, and underlines the value of conservation. In 2000, Kenya received 943,000 international arrivals which generated international tourism receipts of USD 304 million. For Tanzania the figures were 459,000 arrivals and tourism receipts of USD $739 million, and for Uganda, 151,000 arrivals and receipts of USD $149 million."
What to look for - Be wary
Be wary of holidays that seem very cheap - this especially applies to wildlife holidays. If something looks very cheap, there is probably good reason for this, perhaps an untrained guide or shoddy transport.
- Check time spent actually wildlife viewing. A 3 day trip might only include a few hours of wildife watchign on the middle day.
- Ask about the guide, their experience and expertise.
- Ask about travel - How much time & distance and what sort of vehicle.
- Check the season. Some seasons are much cheaper than others. This can be because it is outside of school holidays, or it might be that it is a poor time for wildlife viewing in that area.
- Check for bonding, accreditation, longevity and recommendations.
This is a limitless topic. Every country has some wildlife, and many of the less obvious wildlife spectacles can prove to be the most rewarding. Safaris in Africa and India, and the wildlife of the Galapagos and the Antarctic, and the submarine life on the Great Barrier Reef are well documented, but there are so many other places that can provide equally rewarding experiences, and yet more unusual wildlife experiences that will leave their mark for ever.
Top wildlife watching destinations off the beaten track.
Unusual wildlife watching experiences
Small group holidays
You will travel with a group of perhaps 12 - 16 people, sharing transport, guides and experiences. Generally you will be on a set itinerary and on set dates, and in a twin room (very good for single travellers as usually no single supplement). Groups will usually be a wide range of ages and of several nationalities, you can always ask who else is booked before you book.
They tend to spend time on other aspects as well as just wildilfe, such as the culture, wildife, cuisine and people of the place you are visiting. Avoid younger groups as they tend to be less interested in getting up at 5am to see the wildlife!
A selection of holiday companies who run small group holidays
- The Adventure Company - Family and small group wildife, cultural and wilderness holidays. Click here.
- Wildlife Worldwide - Wildife specialists. Click here to go to their website.
- Out of the Blue - Whale and dolphin watching. Click here to go to their website.
- Steppes Discovery - Wildlife trips and conservation focused holidays worldwide. Click here for their website.
Tailor made holidays are designed to your exact specifications, so you get to where and when you want. You get to choose the dates, accommodation, transport, side trips and everything else. Sounds great, but unless you are an expert, make sure you take advice from someone who knows the destination. Even if you are traveling with a group of friends, tailor made holidays will generally cost more due to the work involved in putting them together, even if you do it yourself. But if you have the budget and you know what you want to do, tailor made is the way forward.
A selection of holiday companies who run tailor made holidays
- Real Africa - Africa safari & lodge specialists - Click here for their website
Holidays with a set itinerary
Buy an off the shelf itinerary and you can get some of the benfits of the tailor made while just travelling as a couple (single travellers usually have to pay single supplement). The research and work has already been done, generally by someone who knows what they are talking about. You can generallly make some changes to these itineraries, but that causes extra work, and thus extra costs.
A selection of holiday companies who run holidays with set itineraries