Why You Should Plan an African Safari…Now

From its wildebeests and mountain gorillas to its rhinos and elephants, Africa’s iconic animals now face a new and unexpected conservation crisis.

Despite the fact that the Serengeti is farther from the Ebola zone in West Africa than New York is from Fairbanks, Alaska, the fallout of the Ebola outbreak continues to wreak havoc—not just for people but also wildlife; not just in West Africa but also across the continent.

Travelers have canceled their safari plans in droves, dealing a blow to the ecotourism economy, which forms the backbone of wildlife conservation in parts of Africa such as Botswana and Tanzania. A poll of 500 Africa tour operators by the largest safari booking site reported declines as steep as 70 percent.

Poachers are filling the tourism void. “One of the few things standing in the way of the possible extinction of endangered [animals] is tourists who pay to see these majestic creatures in the wild,” says Mark Thornton, founder of a conservation-based outfitter and guide company.

The recent loss of Cecil the lion, who was allegedly lured outside Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park and killed by a trophy hunter, underscores that fact.

According to the Wildlife Conservation Society, almost a hundred elephants a day are killed for their ivory across the continent.

Come on, travelers: Africa needs us. Safari deals abound, with many world-class lodges offering reduced rates. Together we can turn the tide.

Costas Christ is on the sustainable travel beat at National Geographic. Follow him on Twitter @CostasChrist.

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Comments

  1. Steve
    Kenya
    September 12, 2015, 10:33 am

    People need to catch the African bug, where to start: http://www.kenyatraveltips.com/african-safaris Contrary to what some people believe, it’s not that expensive

  2. Tanzania Safari
    Tanzania
    September 7, 2015, 5:35 am

    Hi Nicole ,

    More tips and plan your trip in tanzania
    http://www.kearsleys.com/blog-post/tanzania-tours-tourist-paradise/

  3. Antonio Falivene
    Salerno - Italy
    August 25, 2015, 6:58 pm

    Agree that Africa should be supported in its battle against Ebola, poachers etc. but to make a travel like this a Safari one must be rich!! it costs 10 thousands of euro. I don’t have 10 thousands of euro to invest in travel!!

  4. Victor
    Sierra Leone
    August 25, 2015, 5:59 am

    Very good article!! Too many misconceptions about Africa. Africa is a continent, not one country! And even though I live in one of the Ebola affected countries, it was not as terrible as some experts would have us believe!! Liberia and Sierra Leone are now recording zero cases and will soon be declared Ebola free!!! The rest of the world must support countries in this type of crisis, not turn their backs on them!!!

  5. Jay
    UK
    August 24, 2015, 7:57 am

    I am going on what will be my eighth safari trip to Africa! Can’t wait – its a place I feel at home.

  6. gerrilynn P.H. South Africa
    texas
    August 23, 2015, 1:50 pm

    the same and more is true with the concept of hunting. These animals will continue to exist if they have a monetary value. once poachers will have a respectable job as trackers. The whole community has an interest in protecting the animals from poachers. many good jobs with good pay and community improvements like running water comes from many of the hunting groups. Tourism alone will not save these animals.

  7. Mel
    Australia
    August 23, 2015, 4:19 am

    Heading to Africa in 3 weeks!!! Can’t wait to see all the amazing animals! :)

  8. Teresa Smith
    US
    August 22, 2015, 11:41 pm

    Was planning to travel to Botswana in 2016 but had to re-evaluate due to the treamtnet of the Bushmen tribes. They are being exploited to support tourism while being run off their land. I contacted the Ministry of Tourism but received no reply. In all consciousness, I can’t support tourism in Botswana. This is a dream that will have to be altered.

  9. Quentin
    Australia
    August 22, 2015, 8:02 pm

    I can highly recommend Wilderness Safaris for eco friendly photographic safaris in Botswana, Namibia and other countries in Africa.

  10. Guy Needham
    Auckland, New Zealand
    August 22, 2015, 6:00 pm

    Great article and a timely reminder. I am spending a week in Kenya on safari in January and can’t wait to see what Africa has an offer.

  11. Vikki
    Leicester
    August 22, 2015, 3:53 pm

    The only way to ensure these magnificent beasts can be saved from habitat loss is through tourism. I am off to Tanzania in 10 days and cannot wait to see anything this forerunner of conservation has to show me

  12. Patricia
    Boston
    August 22, 2015, 1:28 pm

    Im glad you sent out this email @CostasChrist. It caught my attention immediately. Short and to the point. I’m heading out to Botswana and South Africa a week from tomorrow. My first photo safari! Can’t wait!

  13. Gary Desmond
    Denver
    August 22, 2015, 12:56 pm

    Four of us are going to South Africa in October for a month: Zulu Nyala Safari, Capetown, Zambizi River Safari, etc. Can’t wait!

  14. Robert Alexander
    Texas
    August 22, 2015, 9:46 am

    I have never been on a safari would love to go I love watching National Geographic Explorer on TV

  15. Steve
    Kenya
    August 22, 2015, 9:42 am

    Yea the tide is turning. Nothing should turn anyone away from visiting any place in the world. Look for facts about Africa and then visit. Give feed back about you experience and together, apart from growing the economy we are saving the wildlife. info@absoluteafricaadventures

  16. scott laddiman
    uk
    August 12, 2015, 12:53 am

    Already done! Heading to Botswana in 2016 for a 19 day self drive safari…. can’t wait! Was there in 2013 and had a fantastic time!

  17. Onesmo Novath
    Kilimanjaro
    August 3, 2015, 4:36 am

    Thanks @Costas Christ, This is a very sweet and simple. A very good information, who are visiting to Africa Tour.. Explore the beauty of Africa with the diligent and expert private tour guides like of Bayango Tours & Safaris and have an amazing time to reminisce for a long time. For your more help you can visit bayangotours.com.

  18. abd
    Iran
    July 14, 2015, 10:56 am

    i want Africa, not for abola, only for live, animals and environment.

  19. Gjermund Hansen
    Oslo, Norway
    June 17, 2015, 7:07 pm

    Dear Costas, this is an important article!
    In Masai Mara and Serengeti there are many outstanding camp operators. National Geographic has earlier voted the Eagle View Camp /Basecamp foundation the best Eco-camp in Kenya and I can highly recommend this. This is were Obama went (Basecamp Masai Mara) and this is were you may meet his personal Masai guide Big Moses and also Derek, who some may recognize from Animal Planet. The founder of Basecamp put his fortune into a non-profit foundation and you will meet the genuine spirit of conservancy for the good of Africa, its people and its animals. I can promise you a life-changing experience! See link below to NatGeo editorial:
    http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/best-ecolodges-photos-traveler/#/12-kenya-eagle-view_66871_600x450.jpg

  20. Nicole
    NY
    June 17, 2015, 2:44 pm

    Any tips on the “safari deals” you are referring to? Would love to take advantage of this downturn with the safari trip I’ve been looking to plan.

  21. Marilia: wanderingislander.com
    June 17, 2015, 3:27 am

    That is an aspect of tourism in Africa that, to be honest, I hadn’t thought of.
    Thank you for sharing.
    Hopefully things will get better soon.

  22. Tanvi
    India
    June 16, 2015, 8:14 am

    As a safari consultant (with Chalo Africa), I can vouch for the fall in tourism in the year 2014, especially due to Ebola. A large chunk of people world-over still think of Africa as a country (not a continent), and when Ebola struck thousands of miles away, we faced cancellations as far down south as South Africa. The tide is turning, but very slowly.