Q – As you know, we want to return to Africa. As we ponder other travel possibilities – East Africa specifically – we are wondering what your thoughts are about the current drought conditions. Multiple news stories portray conditions that are dire in Kenya & Tanzania – people and animals dying from lack of food and water, etc. We know that you always filter through the hype – is it hype? Or is this not the ideal time to go to East Africa? Would we experience less-than-ideal conditions that would provide a very different experience for us?
Thank you for your valued opinions. And, thank you for all of your assistance to ensure the best travel experiences. We value our relationship.
A – Thanks so much for your thoughtful and considerate question regarding East Africa. Please allow us to respond with just a few observations:
01 – You can see as many animals and experience higher-end camp accommodations in South Africa and Botswana. If that is an option you might want to consider it.
02 – Yes, the drought is real. And its effects in East Africa are demonstrable. It is not exaggerated. But we have had similar conditions in some of the western areas of the United States. It is interesting that if you draw a line down the middle of the United States landing in, say, Austin, Texas, you would find that 80% of the US population lives to the east of that dividing line. That is partially due to dry conditions out west.
03 – When you go on safari you are rarely, if ever, in view of local villages suffering malnutrition. Yes, they are out there, and often not a very long distance from the camps where the tourists are staying, but a safari is one of life’s most fulfilling and upscale experiences. These are not poverty tours.
04 – If one is sensitive to the suffering in, for example, certain drier portions of Kenya, you could decide not to go. But we think there is another important side to that question. If all the safari tourism dried up in East Africa would the children and the adults in the country suffer even more? I believe the answer is a clear yes.
If, for example, we book you on a highly recommended tour with Micato Safaris, your support of Micato would result in a local child being able to attend a good school for an entire year. Many of the other African travel suppliers operate similar programs and, in some cases, they sponsor schools and local development projects. We can state for sure that your presence in Africa will make a major impact on a child’s life. That is why we support these companies and that is how we can justify tourism in an area where many are suffering the immediate results of climate change.
There are all sorts of ethical issues involved in your question and each guest has to decide where they come out on this issue. Our experience tells us that tourism in both East and Southern Africa achieves far more good for the local economy than the alternative of avoiding travel to the area.