Sustainable Safaris in Africa

Learn about the huge variety of sustainable safaris you can take in Southern Africa!

Sustainable Safaris in Africa

Why (and how) to make sure you have a sustainable safari

In recent years, the concept of sustainable tourism has gained significant traction, with travellers increasingly seeking experiences that not only showcase the natural beauty of Africa but also contribute to its conservation and preservation. Nowhere is this ethos more evident than in the realm of African safaris, where the impact (both positive and negative) of being close to wildlife is most visible. responsible travel practices are paramount in safeguarding the continent's rich biodiversity and cultural heritage. It is now not only possible but much easier than ever before to go on a sustainable safari. We’ll be exploring innovative initiatives and ethical adventures that exemplify the harmonious coexistence between tourism and conservation.

Discover the Best Sustainable Safardis in Africa


Travel to the largest game reserve in South Africa using only fully ethical and responsible safari operators and places to stay.


Heartbeat of Botswana: A Seven-Day Symphony of Wild Luxury.


Dive into Adventure: Zambezi Canoeing, Mana Pools Safari, Victoria Falls Thrills Await!

How can a safari be sustainable?

In the simplest of terms, a sustainable safari has a commitment to minimizing environmental impact while maximizing benefits for local communities and wildlife conservation efforts. South Africa, being the most industrialised and having the best transport links of any country in Africa, can make it much easier than other African countries to get to and enjoy wildlife and wilderness. However, this comes at a cost to the planet in general and also to the very wildlife that you’ve come all this way to experience.

At Where It All Began, we look particularly at those providers who are going above and beyond in terms of their commitment to the people that work in their lodges and camps, their own suppliers in terms of food, linen, vehicles and so forth and also their procurement and use of water and energy and their management of waste. We also look at the most environmentally sensitive ways of getting to and from the location of the sustainable safari.

Kruger National Park is world-famous as the largest trans-frontier national park on the planet and with good reason: it’s a vast area the size of a small country on its own yet offers three airports and tarred roads within the park to get around. It also borders Mpumalanga with its stunning Panorama Route, a wonderful collection of vistas, mountains and canyon. Kruger is a short flight away from Johannesburg but as short-haul flights aren’t the most sustainable of options, we suggest driving and stopping off along the Panorama Route on the way. We’ve designed and built a five-day sustainable safari for the Kruger Park.

Further afield and a lot more remote and wild than the Kruger Park is the Okavango Delta. This amazing region of desert which floods with annual rainfall in Angola becomes a mecca for wildlife between March and July every year.. A particularly sustainable and ethical component of safaris in the Okavango Delta is that here, you’re punted by locally born and bred rangers who punt you through the delta in mokoro (low dug out canoes). It’s very sedate as you glide through the water and of course totally emissions free. We’ve collated a selection of the most ethical and sustainable offerings in the Okavango Delta into a single journey of six nights.

It’s also possible and indeed highly desirable to make your form or transport for your safari something other than a diesel-munching 4x4 (which is the default for most safaris across the continent). Why not consider a horseback safari? A horse is of course emissions-free (well, carbon emissions at least!) and a safari by horse is of course the way that all safaris were conducted before the advent of the internal combustion engine. Couple this with the fact that a horse safari is almost entirely silent and you have an even greater chance of seeing a wide range of wildlife.

The network of rivers to be found particularly in Zimbabwe and Namibia’s Caprivi Strip mean that you can also consider taking most or all of your safari by boat. This is of course part of the experience in the Okavango Delta but on the Zambezi, particularly in the Mana Pools section of Zimbabwe, you can take your own canoe down the river, stopping at four luxurious temporary camps on the way. Because the camps are temporary, they are completely dismantled after every canoe safari so the wilderness is completely unimpacted by your stay. Added to that, a canoe is of course completely emissions free and silent just like a mokoro or a horse, adding to the sense of deep immersion in the wilderness.

In what senses are safaris not sustainable?

Just as it’s possible for safaris to be sustainable, they can also be less sustainable. That can be for a variety of reasons such as using diesel-powered generators for power instead of solar, not reusing grey water, trucking in basic food supplies rather than growing it locally, only offering fly-in and not drive-in options (but of course this does depend on the rurality of the location as it’s often not possible to drive to some safari locations).

In any judgement of how sustainable a safari is, the elephant in the room is of course the emissions from the flight to get to Africa from wherever you call home. Long haul flights are a lot less damaging than short haul flights (as most of the emissions happen during take-off and landing) but still, apart from cruise ships or overland 4x4s, it’s very hard to get to Africa other than by long-haul flight. With this being the immutable reality of visiting the continent, at Where It All Began we suggest looking at the balance of what positive impact your visit here will have in every sense versus the inevitable emissions caused by flying. In that regard, we’ve written a post on seven great reasons to visit southern Africa that can all be done in a sustainable way and that promote local people and the local economy.

Alternatives to the Big Five Safari

One of the problems with the word ‘safari’ is that it’s become synonymous with seeing the ‘Big Five’ (e.g. lion, cheetah, rhino, giraffe, buffalo) and often then ignores the huge wealth of other sorts of safari that you can do in southern Africa. Botanical safaris, for example, are much less resource-intensive than ‘big five’ safaris largely because they take place closer to urban centres (so there’s no short-haul flights involved) and because they are almost exclusively done on foot (so are emissions-free) and are lead by local guides who live and work where the flora are to be found. The Cape Floral Kingdom is the smallest but most botanically diverse of all the floral kingdoms on the planet and during the desert flower season in our spring every year, you can see flowers of thousands of different hues all the way to the horizon. We’d really recommend having a read of our blog post on fynbos, the term used to refer to the flora of the Cape, to get to understand this type of safari better.

Consider also that the oceans around South Africa in themselves offer a huge variety of wildlife: from Great White Sharks to jackass penguins, many species of dolphin and the massive variety of life to be found in the more tropical waters of Kwa-Zulu Natal mean that your safari could either be totally marine or partially marine and terrestrial, much like the turtles that hatch on the KZN coast every year! We have built a journey combining the best of both worlds: an emission-free walking safari in the Kruger Park coupled with an underwater adventure in the Isimangaliso National Park in Kwa-Zulu Natal, all at sustainable and ethically-run accommodations.

Southern Africa is not only blessed with superb marine and terrestrial ways to come close to nature and wildlife but also ways you’ve probably never considered as ‘safaris’ in the broader sense. Our skies are among the most unpolluted in the world, so visiting our deserts, in themselves a fantastic safari destination, offers the chance to go on astral safaris with powerful telescopes and guides to help you see the universe as you’ve never seen it before. Of course, an astral safari is entirely sustainable, except perhaps for the gas cooker you’ll need to brew a cup of coffee to stay awake and warm whilst you marvel at the splendours of other worlds! Have a look at our post on alternatives to the conventional safari for even more sustainable safari ideas.

In conclusion, choosing a sustainable safari offers you a transformative travel experience that goes beyond mere sightseeing, allowing you to forge meaningful connections with the natural world while contributing to its preservation. Through the journeys we have created at Where It All Began, ethical tourism practices are not only encouraged but celebrated, paving the way for a brighter, more sustainable future for Africa's wildlife and communities alike and a more memorable and engaging experience for you, the visitor.

Explore our Sustainable Safaris in Africa

Kruger National Park Safari
Botswana Okavango Delta Safari
Zimbabwe Canoeing Safari

Contact Us

Exceed House
Springfield Office Park
Belleville, Cape Town

Cell / WhatsApp +27 72 136 9096

WhatsApp +27 72 136 9096


Contact Us


We’re an ethical private travel planning company focused on Southern Africa.

We offer ready-made and also customised holidays and journeys across this unique region of the world.

When our clients travel with us, they are assured that their travel spend is directly supporting local African companies that offer sustainable products and services, both in terms of people and planet.


Our logo is an image of a skull found in the Rising Star Cave System in Gauteng, South Africa in 2013. It was named ‘homo naledi’, meaning ‘human of the stars’.

The cave system has so far given rise to the remains of over 15 individuals, making it the largest hominid fossil remains site ever discovered.

Travelling to Southern Africa is truly a return to the source of humankind, to Where It All Began.

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