An ethical travel experience in Zambia can contribute to growing the country socially and economically, protecting its environment, and facilitating the conservation of its wildlife. At the same time, it makes your luxury Zambian safari a transformative and unforgettable experience for you.

Solar-powered safari vehicles mean less disturbance to nature, wildlife and guests’ game-viewing experience | Photo by Gerben van der Waals for Green Safaris

So, what exactly does ‘ethical travel’ mean, in a practical sense? It allows you, the traveller, to become immersed in the real Zambia, meeting the people who do everything from empowering communities to safeguarding wildlife and ecosystems. And always doing so with respect and reverence, without harming the place or its residents.

That doesn’t mean throwing out all your travel plans. You might need to do some adjusting, but this can be in line with the aspects of ethical travel you find most relatable and meaningful. And as you grow in your ethical travel journey, the ultimate goal will be to incorporate as many of these into your trips to come.

The tents at Ila Safari Lodge have all the creature comforts and are kind to the environment | Photo by Green Safaris

We understand that it might feel daunting trying to figure out exactly how to incorporate this when planning your holiday. So, to help you start the process with comfort and confidence, Green Safaris suggests using these three ethical travel tips as a guide when planning your next Zambian safari:

1. Stay at a safari camp that prioritises sustainability

Green Safaris is a leader in ethical tourism in Zambia and as of 2021, one of the first safari operators to be completely carbon neutral. This has been achieved by offsetting 100% of carbon emissions by reducing the carbon footprint of building and operating a property.

The ethical: Measures include building with sandbags instead of cement, sourcing local materials, and updating carbon coefficients trees annually; and operationally, using innovative agriculture technologies and sustainable farming methods, harnessing solar power for electricity for the properties and safari transport (vehicles, boats and bikes), and banning single-use plastics.

Walls built with the sandbag method before being plastered | Photo by By Life Connected

Green Safaris’ flagship property, Ila Safari Lodge in Kafue National Park, was built using the environmentally-friendly sandbag method. The only cement used at the camp was in the lime render for plastering over the sandbags, and the earth excavated during levelling was reused in the actual construction. It also runs completely off-grid, using sunshine energy to fulfil the camp’s electricity needs.

These quiet solar-powered game vehicles allow sleeping lions to stay that way| Photo by Gerben van der Waals for Green Safaris

The unforgettable: Without the noise and pollution of generators for electricity at camp, you are able to become completely immersed in the sounds and sights around you. When out in the bush, solar-powered vehicles give you the chance to glide quietly and respectfully alongside wildlife, and tune into the calls of the wild. There is no diesel engine roaring back to life each time you move from a sighting.

2. Contribute to the social and economic upliftment of local communities

Supporting projects on the ground is part of a responsible choice and commitment to ethical travel. It helps maintain sustainable livelihoods, the local economy and community development, while also providing you with the opportunity to meaningfully engage with and learn from Zambian people.

Students happily hold up their Foundation Course certificates of completion | Photo by Project Luangwa

The ethical: Green Safaris partners with several organisations that work with members of under-resourced villages to uplift their lives and the broader community. Project Luangwa is one such organisation, which is supported by Shawa Luangwa Camp in South Luangwa National Park. It uses ethical tourism to empower communities through improved health, education and employment opportunities.

They have recently launched a new Foundation Course to prepare young people for the rigours of adult life. From English to ICT, careers advice, to financial planning, the new course is there to lessen the challenges that disadvantaged rural children face.

Some of the gorgeous locally-made and -inspired items that guests can buy | Photo by Project Luangwa

The unforgettable: When you stay at Shawa Luangwa Camp, you can visit education programmes like this, and meet the people that run and benefit from these initiatives. You can also buy gifts from a beautiful array of locally handmade arts and crafts that are sold in Shawa’s souvenir shop, with 100% of the proceeds going back into community projects.

3. Choose wildlife conservation over exploitation

Part of being an ethical traveller means asking hard questions about the treatment of animals before you go, and once you are there, choosing to only engage in projects that protect them. Interacting with rescued animals increases the demand for animal tourism and encourages smugglers to poach more wildlife.

Lions and other large carnivores are collared so that they can be monitored to ensure their health and protection | Photo by Zambian Carnivore Program

The ethical: If you love animals and want to see them thrive in the wild, consider contributing to conservation efforts to ensure that the ones you encounter on your safari in Zambia are treated well. The Zambian Carnivore Program works with Green Safaris and other partners to help ensure that threats to the country’s large carnivores – lions, leopards, cheetahs and African wild dogs – are addressed through various initiatives like wire-snare poaching and wildlife crime prevention, species reintroduction, and human-carnivore conflict mitigation.

Funds from Green Safaris – including from guest stays – provide a stipend and field kit for trainees in the Conservation Biologist Training Programme, part of the Zambian Carnivore Program’s Greater Kafue Ecosystem project. For aspiring local Zambian conservation leaders, there are few opportunities for gaining the field-based training and experience so critical to their careers. So this unique opportunity provides participants with practical field and leadership experience in all aspects of conservation biology.

Thandi Mweetwa tracking carnivores in the Luangwa Valley | Photo by Zambian Carnivore Program

The unforgettable: You can spend an evening around the campfire at one of Green Safaris camps, like Chisa Busanga Camp in Busanga Plains, with some of the world’s leading conservationists and learn about how they address the immediate threats to species and ecosystems, their tracking and measuring processes, and their local leadership initiatives to ensure positive human-wildlife interactions.

By creating luxury safari experiences in Zambia that are founded on ethical travel practices, Green Safaris hopes to set the standard for many operators in the future and increase environmental awareness amongst tourists and the communities that work with their properties.

Enquire with Green Safaris when you are ready to have an unforgettable and ethical travel experience in one of Zambia’s wilderness areas.