It's summertime - when people's thoughts turn to travel and vacation planning. And a dream vacation for many people is an African safari. How can you plan a trip that benefits communities and conservation? We went to Africa to witness the unveiling of such a destination but learned how challenging it is to successfully combine tourism and conservation.
Join us over the course of a seven-day visit to Botswana's Okavango Delta region. Our correspondents will abandon their desk jobs overseeing CI's Web sites for a trip to the field in search of the connections are between tourism and conservation.
Why tourism? It's one of the world's leading industries so its impact on the natural world is significant. More pressing however, is the fact that nature and adventure tourism is the fastest growing sectors of this industry. It's as hard for us as conservationists to know what "good tourism" is as it is for anyone else considering a safari trip or tour of Africa. On our trip, we'll get a first hand look at what it takes to create an eco-travel destination by attending the opening of Gudigwa Camp, a new CI ecotourism enterprise. We'll dig deeper into the potential ties and benefits between tourism and conservation and see if there are ways to do it that benefit communities.
Home to some of the world's most amazing and even endangered wildlife, the Okavango Delta is the world's largest inland waterway which provides a critical supply of fresh water
to people and wildlife in southern Africa. Some call the Okavango "pristine" because it is still fairly undeveloped but it is also one of the least protected natural areas in terms of its legal status. Learn more about the biodiversity of the Okavango in an earlier IB Expedition
Springtime in the northern hemisphere is when preparations for the busiest months of tourism are underway in Botswana. The rainy season is over and the drier, cooler months of winter are on their way. It's the time of year when seasonal flooding is about to bring water from Angola which will fill the Delta channels and attract wildlife in droves to this desert oasis.
We'll travel across this vast wetland region by open car safari vehicles and on single-prop bush planes that seat just 4-6 people. It's a challenge to plan - the researchers we're going to visit aren't sure when and if we'll arrive. There are few ways to communicate in the bush - there aren't phones, radio transmissions don't travel very far, airstrips are remote and the roads are undeveloped. We'll carry lots of water and sunscreen to block the hot African sun.