It is vitally important for Africa that the tourism industry does well. Eco-tourism, which is usually centred around wildlife tourism in and around the great wildernesses of Africa, is vitally important for the employment of local people. The economic viability of tourism operations in Africa’s great wildernesses ensures the survival of these places. So it is important that tourists keep coming to Africa.
However tourism can be a double-edged sword. As particular places become more well-known and popular, so the numbers of tourists increase and we start running the risk of these high numbers of tourists destroying the essence of what brought people there in the first place. One of Yogi Barra’s quotes comes to mind: “Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded”.
Whilst the superficial reason for most people’s visits to Africa is to see the great numbers of wildlife, there is an underlying, deeper, perhaps more subconscious reason that brings people back to Africa. We get taken back to a time when man had very little impact on the planet, when we were much more a part of the natural cycles and we get swept up in observing these natural processes going on in front of us as they have been since time immemorial. We appreciate the silence and the noises of the wild, the darkness of the night and the brightness of the sun, the bird chorus in the early morning and the starry nights. Above all we appreciate the peace and the quiet. There is a kind of peaceful harmony in it all despite nature being “red in tooth and claw”.
So it comes as something of a shock to be confronted by 15 minibusses jostling for position around the amazing sight of a python trying to swallow a Grant’s gazelle in the Mara; with foreign tourists shouting at each other from vehicle to vehicle until the python has enough and uncoils and leaves the gazelle lying dead in front of us.
Or 25 tourist vehicles surrounding a cheetah and her two cubs as she tries to hunt along a road in the Kruger National Park.
This is why it is important to visit places where there is some kind of control of the numbers of vehicles around sightings of animals. The best option is to look for safari camps which are set up in large wilderness areas where they have exclusive rights. These camps would usually accommodate no more than 20 tourists at a time and so there would never be more than 3 or 4 game drive vehicles going out each day. Because the vehicles set out in different directions each morning, you very seldom bump into another vehicle whilst you are out there, giving you a great sense of being the only one in that vast wilderness. If big game sightings are made, the general policy nowadays is to have no more than 3 vehicles at any one sighting, so once again you don’t feel crowded in way at all.
Less tourists gives you a much better sense of the essence of the wildernesses that you visit. It may be a little more pricey, but it is worth it!Back