by Tamlin Wightman
on March 22, 2012
“Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all.” – Nelson Mandela
We hope to keep Africa’s rivers, oceans, wetlands, lakes and deltas as pristine as possible for some time to come and we’re sure you do too – what would an African safari be without them? Mokoro riding through waves of plastic bottles and river rafting without any water doesn’t sounds like fun.
Today is World Water Day – the sixth so far. The World Water forum is to be held this year in the French port city of Marseille. Each year focuses on a different water-related aspect. This year, orchestrated by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the spotlight falls on water-related challenges facing civilians affected by fighting or civil unrest. The forum hopes to create and implement solutions to the world’s water woes.
Read on below for tips on how to preserve and save water while travelling.
Did You Know
Worldwide, it’s estimated that more than 780 million people – 40% of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa – don’t have access to clean water, while around 2,5 billion don’t have a toilet or latrine. At the 6th World Water Forum, the ICRC will lead discussions on the importance of ground-level cooperation and communication in coming up with practical solutions, especially in conflict-affected areas, where fighting, political wrangling and embargoes can leave communities without decent access to water and sanitation for weeks, years or even decades. – www.icrc.org
Tips To Save Water When Travelling
1. You probably know by now that plastic water bottles are a no-no. In 2005, about 2 million tons of water bottles ended up in American landfills. “Plastic bottles take centuries to decompose and if they are incinerated, toxic byproducts, such as chlorine gas and ash containing heavy metals, are released into the atmosphere,” says National Geographic.
When travelling, rather use a glass or stainless steel water bottle and fill it up when possible. Most safari lodges give guests their own water bottle and refill stations are provided in the main area. If the water is hot after a day of travelling, rather than toss it out just anywhere, decant it somewhere of value – by a tree or a vegetable garden, or give it to a thirsty animal. When at a hotel or lodge, use the same glass to drink from, to save on water used when washing. For areas where you suspect the water may be contaminated, take purifying tablets (even bottled water can be contaminated).
2. Showering uses less water than bathing. If you want to be a friend to the environment, opt for a shower, heck, even share a shower. Be sure to turn it off while lathering yourself with soap, shampooing and conditioning, or shaving. Don’t spend a lifetime in there – just as long as you need. Wilderness Safaris encourages guests to have short showers.
3. Remember to turn taps off properly so that no water leaks out. How many times have you come across a tap with drops escaping even when no one is using it? Report any leaking faucets to the hotel or lodge staff.
4. Food carries a water footprint too – certain foodstuffs consume more water than others. For example, beef consumes way more water than chicken and mangos consume more water than nectarines, according to Treehugger.
You can work out your personal water footprint that includes food consumption by using this online calculator. Use this knowledge to make better food choices when dining during your travels.
5. When it comes to washing clothing, your hotel or lodge will no doubt have laundry services and do it for you. If you’re doing it yourself, note that lightweight, quick-drying, dark-colored clothing can be washed in the sink, rather than in a water-hungry washing machines. Also, if possible, re-wear your clothes – unless of course you fell in a lake or ventured out on an extra muddy game drive.
6. Many lodges have adapted to more eco-friendly practices and have developed water-saving devices such as:
- waste-water treatment plants, e.g. Toka Leya – read more here
- rainwater harvesting projects, e.g. Kalahari Plains Camp in Botswana’s Central Kalahari Game Reserve – read more here
7. In case you visit lodges or hotels that aren’t that eco-friendly, be sure to pack low-impact, earth-friendly soaps (found in just about any camping store) – so not to pollute the water going down the drain.
At Greystoke Mahale, for example, you don’t need to worry as they use biodegradable products for cleaning and washing and provide guests with eco-friendly shampoo, conditioner and soap products. They also use solar-power and plenty recycled wood and other materials in the construction of the camp.
8. Choose lodges, hotels and tour operators that practice water saving. There are many that we recommend for their eco-friendly statuses. Wilderness Safaris in particular is known as one of the greenest options as they build and manage their camps in the best way possible to ensure the lowest possible carbon footprint.
Other than the safari lodges already mentioned above, these are great accommodation options for travellers coming to Africa since they all work hard to conserve the environment and communities they operate near and around.
- Phinda Forest Lodge
- North Island Lodge
- Serra Cafema Camp
- Londolozi Tree Camp
- Xigera Camp
- Duba Plains
- Sindabezi Island
- Tongabezi Safari Lodge
- Porini Rhino Safari Camp
- Kaya Mawa Ecolodge
Contact our safari experts for a more comprehensive list and to help you plan a safari trip that will place minimal strain on the environment.
Leave only footprints, take only memories
And when it comes to green tour operators with water-saving practices, Rhino Africa are your guys! And we’re not just biased… Here’s the proof:
Take a look at our brand new Responsible Rhino Tour, tailor-made specifically to ensure only the best eco-friendly lodges and travel practices are used on your African adventure.
At Rhino Africa, we believe that tourism to Africa doesn’t need to leave a dirty carbon footprint, but rather, if done correctly, it can help uplift communities, conserve wildlife and alleviate poverty. Tourism in Africa needs to be sustainable, but sustainable tourism is not just about being green – it’s about ensuring a long term future for African tourism. With that in mind we’ve partnered with the Heritage Environmental Management Company in order to create an ethos of environmental responsibility at Rhino Africa. Read more about our Going Green policy, and more about our sustainable approach to tourism.
For more information
For more on green travel destinations, lodges and hotels, contact one of our expert travel consultants.
We can adjust our Responsible Rhino Tour to suit your needs, budget and interests but still keeping the tour’s footprint at a minimum.