Rachel Taylor, an avid traveller joined our 46-Day Ultimate African Adventure and the 19-Day Kruger to Cape Town Overland Tours. Read about her experiences on route and tips for travelling in this amazing continent.
From the savannahs of Kenya to the beaches of Zanzibar, Africa has it all. Whether this is your first time visiting or your twentieth, Africa will find a place in your heart. Sadly, humans are leaving a devastating mark on the landscape, so we have put together a few ideas about how you can reduce your impact during your overland trip. Don’t worry if you can’t do them all; making even just a small change will have a big difference! As the famous saying goes: leave only footprints, take away memories.
Recycling is limited in Africa, so think about how you can reduce your toiletry waste. An easy way is to use solid shampoo and conditioner, and soap instead of body wash (as an extra bonus, soap is a lot cheaper than liquid body wash in Africa). Bring big bottles of toiletries such as sun cream and decant them into smaller bottles for everyday use. If you want to take it a step further, bring a bamboo toothbrush and some bamboo earbuds.
Water purification tablets
The water in Africa is often unsafe to drink. Some trucks have a tap for purified water but not all (and there may be times when there is nowhere to fill up the truck). Reduce your plastic bottle waste by bringing water purification tablets or a purifying bottle. Alternatively, buy big water bottles (five litres or more) and decant into a smaller reusable water bottle.
Bring your own reusable straws
By 2050 there will likely be more straws in the sea than fish! Consider bringing a reusable straw with you, and do your bit to preserve this natural habitat long into the future.
Bring Tupperware for lunch
Some days will require a packed lunch. Although plastic bags are provided for your sandwiches, bringing a small sandwich box will reduce the amount of plastic being thrown away – and when you aren’t using the box for your lunch, it will come in handy as a useful storage aid.
Take your own canvas bags
A lot of places in Africa use paper bags, but you’ll find there are limited opportunities to recycle them. So be sure to pack a canvas bag instead – again, you may find it comes in useful for more than just your shopping.
Souvenirs allow you to take a slice of Africa back home with you. There will be loads of opportunities to buy souvenirs, but try and focus your spending on goods that are made locally. In Malawi, you can find amazing carvings for a great price, and the money makes a huge difference to the community. While in Zimbabwe, where unemployment is high, tourism provides the only income.
Hire local guides
For some activities, during your tour, you will be offered the service of a guide. Although you might be tempted to save a few dollars and skip the guide, remember guiding is often the only work available to the local community, and money made from guided tours is put back into community projects. For instance, when gorilla trekking you can hire a porter – this is the only work on offer for the community, who can no longer cultivate the land due to the gorillas.
Don’t leave toilet paper
On some trips, you may need to stop for ‘bushy bush’, aka the natural toilet, but toilet paper isn’t natural. Please don’t leave toilet paper in nature. Dispose of it as your guide recommends. Bring hand sanitizer so you can clean your hands afterwards!