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16 May 2024

Tips for Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Travel

Here we share some top tips on how to be an eco-conscious traveler in 2024.

What is Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Travel?

At Yellow Zebra sustainable and eco-friendly travel are not just buzzwords for us. When safari parks prosper, so do the communities around them. Our love of travel and our environmental commitment has propelled an interest in eco-friendly lodges, ethical supply chains, and animal welfare focused excursions.

Our approach is to find a balance between traveling the world and respecting our planet simultaneously. So, to help travelers reduce their carbon footprint and plastic waste, we have a collection of suggestions on how to become an eco-conscious traveler: 

1. Use Plastic-Free Travel Toiletries

outdoor shower, walkers plains camp, timbavati reserve, south africa

The average person uses 10ml of shampoo to wash their hair, around three times per week. By switching to plastic-free shampoo and conditioner bottles, you could save 538.2g of carbon every year. This can also be applied to bars of soap over bottles of body wash – you could save 269g of carbon per year. Bring ‘solid’ alternatives to liquids such as bars of shampoo and conditioner and try not to use complimentary hotel shampoo and conditioner bottles.

2. Plant Something

Garden, Babylonstoren, The Winelands, South Africa

Other than just beautifying an area, planting a tree or a full garden has great benefits, including the opportunity for you to give back to a destination that you are visiting. Your volunteering to plant vegetables is highly beneficial to the people in the region. As well as producing oxygen and filtering out pollutants to clean the air, the fruit and vegetable produce is a fantastic food source, reducing imports. An absolute nirvana for those interested in good wine, wholesome food, and gardening, Babylonstoren is a boutique working-farm hotel in South Africa’s Cape Winelands. As well as living it up in the highest levels of luxury, guests happy to get a bit dirty can get their green thumb into action, whether that’s planting, harvesting, pruning, or mulching the afternoon away.

Alternatively, for a stay in a lodge where you literally wake up and smell the coffee, consider Gibb’s Farm in Tanzania. As well as being an ideal base from which to explore the Ngorongoro Crater and Lake Manyara, Gibb’s Farm offers ‘Farm Life Experiences’ including vegetable harvesting and coffee roasting.

3. Choose Reusable Travel Essentials

Water Bottle, King's Pool, Linyanti, Botswana

Most safari properties are also doing a lot more to prioritize minimizing their environmental impact such as using solar energy, natural construction products, and less plastic. Since the introduction of reusable water bottles in all its camps in 2012, Wilderness, for example, has reduced plastic bottle usage by 79 percent – the equivalent of over 3 million 500ml bottles! Switch to a reusable bottle. 

4. Foster an Animal

Baby Elephants, David Sheldrick Trust, Kenya

Adopting, sponsoring, or fostering an animal is fabulous for helping orphaned wildlife get the necessary medication, treatment, and supplies. Several foundations rescue injured or orphaned animals – such as baby elephant, giraffe, rhino, or cheetah – and care for them until they are ready to be released back into the wild. A noble cause for a noble day! If you would like to donate, we recommend the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. Established in 1977 and based in Nairobi, this organisation aims to hand-rear orphaned elephants so that they can be rehabilitated back into their natural environment. Since 2016, we’ve fostered over 50 elephants with the trust, so if you’d like to make a contribution to the YZ Elephant Herd, just let us know and we can arrange this for you. Sadly, founder Dame Daphne Sheldrick passed away in 2018; however, her legacy remains and there is a call, stronger than ever, to help further her cause.

5. Try Eco-Friendly Travel Means

Horseback Safaris, Macatoo Camp, Okavango Delta, Botswana

Sometimes there is nothing better than having a safari vehicle all to yourself! We suggest leaving the car at the camp and exploring on foot or on horseback. With no barrier between you and the wildlife, a vehicle-free safari becomes unquantifiably thrilling. On foot, you become aware of the silence of the bush, only to suddenly stumble across a herd of elephant in your path. On horseback, most of the wildlife is unaware of your presence, so you can get really close to the animals, often even riding alongside big game. One of our favourite horse-riding adventures has to be the experience provided by Borana Lodge in Kenya.

6. Take Part in Outdoor Travel Ideas

Yoga, Mombo Camp, Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana

Not everything to do with being an eco-friendly traveler is about taking action, sometimes it is enough simply to appreciate the beauty and abundance of our planet. What better way to practice a bit of appreciative yoga than surrounded by the African bush as you breathe deep, find your inner yogi, and listen to the elephant stroll by? Outdoor yoga or pilates is the perfect antidote to mornings and afternoons spent in a game-viewing vehicle, as these kinds of classes place emphasis on harmonizing the body with elements of the African bush. We love properties like Londolozi Varty or Londolozi Founders, the North Island Seychelles, and Moremi Game Reserve’s Mombo Camp for a bit of Urdhva Hastasana, thanks to their yoga decks and specifically positioned platforms.

7. Buy and Eat Locally Sourced Food

Waterfront, Cape Town, South Africa

Although ‘food miles’ are difficult to quantify for different regions and cuisines, eating locally will cut your carbon and waste footprints considerably. When dining in Cape Town, seafood is certainly one of the most popular choices, whether in a Michelin-worthy restaurant or in a casual fish shop. Unfortunately, because of overexploited and fully fished areas, there has been a dramatic decline in the numbers of fish and other marine life in the ocean. As a consumer, you have a powerful impact and influence over the products that places like supermarkets and restaurants stock, so we recommend only ordering seafood that has been locally and sustainably fished. 

If you are visiting South Africa’s incredible Mother City, you can help out by choosing seafood that is ‘Green’ according to the South African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI), researching either on their website or via their handy app.

8. Stay in an Eco-Friendly Lodge

External Bisate, Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

At the initial enquiry stage of a safari, we will often hear someone comment on how there is so much choice involved, first in determining which destination to visit and then in trying to figure out which property is best for the holiday. Why not consider looking into eco-friendly accommodation? You could select one that goes above and beyond in its efforts to sustain, preserve, and protect the wildlife and landscape of Africa. From impressive rhino relocation initiatives to properties that employed a tree expert to make sure not one tree was hurt in a build, we list our top eco-lodges here, to help narrow down the search.

9. Re-Use Travel Towels

Shower, Banyan Tree Hotel, Mahe, Seychelles

We’re often reminded to re-use our towels. However, we can take this one step further and opt out of housekeeping altogether. Some hotels now offer incentives to guests who decline housekeeping services. Skipping these services means less energy and water are used, and less waste generated.

In Africa, where water can become extremely scarce, many of the top safari destinations have clever hacks for minimizing water waste.
These range from advising guests to take showers rather than baths to re-using towels. Some lodges even provide buckets in the shower to catch water whilst it is heating, and this water is then used by staff for cleaning and laundry services.

10. Book with a Conservation-Conscious Company

Yellow Zebra, Our Story, Conservation

Conservation has always been integral to co-founders Rory and Julian’s vision in forming Yellow Zebra Safaris. Inspired by the unfathomable efforts by father-and-son duo, Bernhard and Michael Grzimek, to protect the Great Migration in the Serengeti, Rory and Julian decided to create a company that, rather than selling a safari or a pre-formed package, offers the best expertise and knowledge possible and lets the experience sell itself. Most importantly, they also believed YZ should revolve around a strong sense of ‘giving back’. With charity donations to anti-poaching teams, wildlife protection, community development, and children’s education, combined with a workplace that is becoming more and more environmentally friendly by the minute, Yellow Zebra certainly prides itself on being a conservation-conscious company.

Why Trust Yellow Zebra with your African Safari?

"Yellow Zebra are genuine specialists; they know the African bush like the back of their hand."

Brian Jackman, safari expert for The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, Condé Nast, and the BBC

'Europe's Leading Safari Tour Operator' at the World Travel Awards

10 years in a row, since 2015

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