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Bonus trip (but hurry it's happening spring 2009)
South African Bush Tracking
The Eco-Adventure: African lions are all about pride. The most social members of the biological cat family (which also includes the house kitty), they travel in prides -- or tribes -- of up to thirty lions, and usually hunt at night. They share Kruger National Park with 517 species of birds and more species of mammals (147) than any other African Game Reserve. The hot, dryness of the bush is a perfect complement for Victoria Falls; at nearly a mile wide, it?s the largest curtain of water in the world, plummeting more than 350 splendid feet into the Zambezi Gorge.
Do It Gaily: There are no set trails through Kruger, so you?ll definitely appreciate the guidance of Hermes Tours (877-486-4335) in tracking -- on foot -- a pride of lions returning from their night hunt in the bush. You?ll also thrill to afternoon game drives, a full day of tasting among the 106 Stellenbosch region wineries, and a tour of the Cape Peninsula and Robben Island. Luxurious accommodations are four- and five-star, and your trip could culminate in the gay hub of Cape Town, but you wouldn?t want to miss the optional extension to Victoria Falls.
Tips to green up your trip
Both travelers and tour operators tend to get confused on what exactly is meant by ?ecotourism,? so here are some questions to ask to find out how green your trip actually is.
Check to see if your hotel or tour company is green certified. A number of regional certification programs exist on a voluntary basis, some more stringent than others, but all have defined guidelines. The best internationally recognized organization is Green Globe (GreenGlobeInt.com).
Is your lodge an ecolodge merely because it?s near trees? To find out how environmentally aware your accommodations are, you can ask questions about their recycling programs, water and waste management, solar power, use of local building materials, and ongoing eco-education of the staff and guests. Any true ecolodge worth its weight will have a written environmental policy available to guests.
Does the company give back to the local community? Although this falls more under the banner of sustainable or responsible tourism, many eco-aware travel businesses have programs that support indigenous populations with local community projects, employment, and education, and involve them in the management of local resources. Good companies support local food industries and farmers, use nearby and recycled materials in their buildings, protect their native environment and cultures, and are generally sensitive of the impact tourism has on the surrounding population.
Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four