Sustainable tourism means that you leave as little of a carbon footprint as possible when you are vacationing. A green vacation may seem at first like a difficult task when travelling to remote destinations like some of those in Africa, but it can be easier than you think. Besides things you do yourself, you can choose the right activities so that your vacation is a little more eco-friendly.
Here are five ways to make your African vacation greener.
Make Smart Travel Plans
You’re going to have to travel by air to get to Africa, which is the least eco-friendly mode of transportation, but once you get there, using greener options to get from place to place is definitely an option. If you are travelling from country to country, you can go by train or bus rather than renting and be driving a car.
Also, look into hotels that are using green energy or have other green options. Some chains are even members of various green initiatives like Green Leaf or Green Seal or Fair Trade Tourism. Either way, take it upon yourself to reduce waste, lower or turn off your thermostat before leaving your room and let the front desk know you don’t need new towels every day.
Use Public Transportation
The great thing about many African cities is that they have good public transportation systems. So stay away from the taxis and rental cars, and use the public system whenever possible. Much of the time, travel agents or the hotel you are staying at can educate you about green programs and will have public transportation advice and schedules.
Some will even have shuttles to tourist attractions and other destinations that you can share with your fellow travellers, providing you both a richer experience and one that is better for the environment.
Rather than buying souvenirs made elsewhere and shipped in, buy local items made by local companies and artists. This not only supports the local economy, it means you are reducing your environmental impact. Buy items with minimal packaging that is recyclable.
When looking for food, buy local as well. Eat from local farmers’ markets and get your food from local restaurants who use ingredients from local farmers and vendors as well. This will result in you having a richer cultural experience anyway, and again reduces your carbon footprint.
Remember the best way to experience a country is to live like a local as much as possible. Investigate the out of the way places where the locals shop, eat, and drink, and visit those instead of international chains and box stores.
Blog Instead of Mailing Pictures and Postcards
This may seem like a small thing, but it can be larger than you would imagine. Of course, to use this method effectively, you will first need to set up a domain name, choose hosting, and set up the theme for your blog before your trip. However, sharing through a blog can save you time and trouble, and be a lot better for the environment.
First of all, you can share your photos with family and friends through photo slideshows and blog content without mailing printed pictures or be sending out a boatload of emails. This will save paper and stamps, along with the fuel to deliver postcards and other mail.
The same is true with letters and other updates. Not only can more of your friends and family follow your journey, but you can be saved the hassle and expense of sending letters and more. Sending updates is as easy as finding public Wi-Fi.
Even on free Wi-Fi, your computer will use power though. A single update on a blog will use less power and time than sending out several emails. While this may seem like another small difference, every little bit adds up when it comes to making your vacation greener.
Tour by Bike or on Foot
Also fortunately for the green traveller, many areas in Africa are accessible with relative ease either on foot or by bicycle. You don’t have to cart around your own bike either. Many are available for rent or to borrow from the places where you stay at much lower rates then renting cars.
For anyone who has visited Africa, many places are challenging at best to drive, especially if you are not used to local customs and driving protocols. What is considered rude in the United States may be common practice and vice versa. In most cases, it is simply best to avoid this problem in the first place by never getting behind the wheel.
It is easier to immerse in the culture and the local customs via bike or by walking. You will see places in a way not possible via taxi or when trying to navigate with a rental car.
There are many other ways you can make your trip to Africa greener. Renting a hybrid rather than a typical rental car will not only be better for the planet but will save you enough on fuel costs to mitigate the price of the rental. Recycle when possible, and leave the places you went better than the way you found them.
Travelling green can have its challenges, but if you put some effort into it, it can not only be worth it in the long run but can also make your trip more memorable.