It’s human nature to crave adventure – we’re all itching to explore foreign cities, visit beautiful destinations, maybe meet a few strangers who become friends — but how can we do this responsibly, minimising the negative impact that tourism can have on the planet?
By traveling smarter, we can leverage the power of the industry to positively contribute to environmental, community, social and economic gains. Here are our top tips to achieve a more sustainable travel itinerary in 2020:
- Avoid over-tourism: it’s tempting to be lured to Insta-popular destinations (think Venice, Machu Picchu, and Santorini), but these destinations are being overwhelmed by tourists, causing a strain on infrastructure and pricing locals out of the communities. When planning your next trip, venture off the beaten track and explore somewhere new – one of our top picks for 2020 is Mongolia, which is perfect for those seeking remote adventures and eye-opening cultural experiences
- Timing is key: if you still prefer to visit a more popular destination, consider traveling outside of peak season; there will be fewer people around, and the money you spend will help businesses that may struggle during quieter periods
- Support recovering areas: another way to be more mindful when creating your destination bucket list is to explore areas that have been impacted by natural disaster or social unrest, and are relying on the economic benefits of tourism to bounce back. Sri Lanka and New South Wales are a couple of options to consider
Opt for a hotel or accommodation option that holds itself to high environmental standards. A couple of our favourites include:
- Singita: conservation brand Singita follows a 100-year purpose to preserve and protect the African wilderness for future generations through the three pillars of biodiversity, community and sustainability. Through partnerships with non-profit funds and trusts Singita implements strategic conservation projects in each of the six regions in which they are located to ensure the existence of Africa’s magnificent wildlife populations and with programmes that aim to help create economic independence within communities that live alongside their reserves.
- Capella Ubud: a luxury tented camp designed by Bill Bensley, Capella Ubud is nestled amidst the unspoiled beauty of Bali’s luscious rainforest. With the conscious idea of “minimal intervention,” thoughtful care was taken in the design of the hotel, and all trees and local plants were left untouched and protected throughout the construction process – not a single tree was cut during the camp’s creation, and as such, there are several trees intercepting the property’s accommodation, restaurants and the spa tents.
- Air travel is often the only viable way to reach some of the world’s greatest destinations, but try to fly direct as much as possible, select eco-friendly airlines and look for carriers that use sustainable aviation biofuel. To avoid air travel altogether, consider destinations that are closer to home; The Sanchaya is a 50-minute ferry ride from Singapore
- Consider the romance of rail travel and embark on an unforgettable rail journey through the likes of South Africa or Tibet
- Explore by foot – Walk Japan has an unrivalled range of tours spread across the length and breadth of Japan, focusing the development of tours on Japan’s little-known and less-visited regions. The team are keenly aware of the need for the responsible and sustainable development of Japan’s tourism resources and are widely recognised for their endeavours
Whilst you’re there:
- Disconnect from the digital world and immerse yourself into local life; ask locals for recommendations on where to eat and what to see and strike up conversations about the history and traditions of the area
- Carry a reusable water bottle to avoid unnecessary use of single-use plastic bottles. Our favourites are from bkr and byta
What are your top tips for travelling more responsibly?
Due to Cape Town’s proximity to mountains and stunning coastline, there are plenty of opportunities to burn off the calories. Where better to start than with a hike up Table Mountain. The walk up takes roughly four hours, but for those looking for a more challenging ascent, there’s the India Venster Trail which involves a bit of actual climbing. The views from the top, especially on a clear day, are out of this world. You’re able to look far towards the Cape of Good Hope and up north towards Namibia. Keep a look out for wildlife as the trail is full of exotic animals.
For those looking for a less challenging hike, the Lion’s Head trail is another alternative with equally stunning views. The descent from Table Mountain is straightforward as you hop on a cable car that takes a few minutes (V&VPR insider tip: to save time, buy cable car tickets ahead of schedule).
There are two amazing places in Cape Town to catch the sunset: one is Signal Hill, and the other is Clifton Beach. Both offer uninterrupted views of the Atlantic Ocean.
In addition to the stunning vistas of Table Mountain and Lion’s Head, a visit must be paid to the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens which are at the foot of Table Mountain. The park is vast, and it is also a great place to sit back, relax and admire the vivid variety of flora. Do note that some of the resident Egyptian Geese might ask you to leave in a not-so-polite manner. A great way to get a full view of the park is to head to the boomslang – named after a snake, it is a treetop walkway that gives an obstacle-free view of the park and of Table Mountain behind it.
A trip to South Africa or the Southern African continent, in general, is not complete without a safari. Just an hour and a half outside of Cape Town is the Aquila game reserve. The Game Reserve boasts a large variety of wildlife including the Big Five (lion, elephant, rhino, buffalo and leopard) and if you’re lucky, you might be able to spot all five. The guides are incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about the work they do and the conservation efforts they lead.
While South Africa and Cape Town are amazing, it is essential to take into account the history of the country, particularly during the Apartheid regime during visits to different parts of the city. A way to learn more about the past is a visit to Robben Island, the prison where Nelson Mandela was held from 1964 for 18 years of his 27-year sentence. The tour takes roughly three hours including the ferry transfer, and it starts with a tour of the prison where a former political prisoner of the island leads the tour. You learn a lot about how poor conditions were and see Mandela’s cell. The rest of the visit is on a bus around the island where people still live on the island today as it is now a site of animal conservation. The highlight of the island tour is getting the best view of Table Mountain and a family of Cape Penguins that chill by the seaside.
Whether it be for work or leisure, Cape Town is an exciting city. With amazing delicacies, soaring mountains and stunning coastlines, the city have so much to offer. It is waiting to be discovered and savoured.