2023 – A year for conscious travel


Culture & Communities


Janine Avery


As we start to feel the effects of the climate crisis and the downsides of an increasing global population, a need and interest in conscious travel is growing. And here at Wilderness, we couldn't be happier. Join us in making 2023 a year for conscious travel.


It’s a year for considering the impact your trip will have on the environment, the communities, and the culture of where you plan to go. It’s about being aware of where you go, what you do, buy, or even eat. It’s about asking yourself if it’s possible to leave a place better than before you visited…

Wilderness Experiences Culture Rwanda Dancing
Wilderness Experiences Culture Himba Children Namibia

What is conscious travel?

Increased awareness about a problem or a potential solution is rarely sufficient to trigger action. Conscious travellers not only inform themselves on pressing world issues but are compelled to contribute to change. Where you choose to travel and whom you travel with is more than just a holiday choice, it’s a powerful form of consumer advocacy. And just by packing your suitcase you can contribute positively to some of our most urgent biodiversity crises.


However, sustainability is a buzzword and ecotourism a term often thrown around too loosely. In an overcrowded world, it can be difficult to determine which travel experiences actually give back, and which are simply loaded with greenwashing messages.


Here at Wilderness, we’re all about facts. For instance, over 11,000 children have joined our Children in the Wilderness Eco-Clubs – structured conservation-based curriculums in rural schools that give students a chance to meet, learn, discuss and expand their knowledge of environmental issues. Fact.

The Wilderness approach

We’re all about a light footprint. Our architectural philosophy has been derived from the motto “here today, gone tomorrow”. Take our safari camps down and you’ll struggle to find a sign we were ever there. Our camps are all built using materials that complement our natural locations, never using permanent and hard-to-remove structures that could otherwise leave lasting scars on the land.

Nineteen of our camps are already 100% powered by solar, and our aim is to further reduce our reliance on fossil fuels by investing in more solar and other renewable and efficient energy sources. We also adopt water-efficient solutions throughout our camps, playing close attention to daily usage in order to preserve every ounce of water that our ecosystems provide. Our robust water sewage treatment plants work to protect natural ground water from the waste we produce. We also say no to single-use plastics, bottled water, and wasteful food usage by providing our guests with refillable water bottles instead, and procuring menu ingredients and other supplies locally where available.


Through our impact strategy, we provide a platform for travellers to learn about the threats facing vulnerable habitats and species, and our impact initiatives are structured around remedying the causes of specific threats to the sensitive wildlife habitats we operate in.

Wilderness Impact Conservation Animal Tracks
Wilderness Impact Conservation Desert Lion

How you can contribute

Every single person who travels with Wilderness helps us to protect the wild, untamed places in which we operate. When travelling with Wilderness, roughly 12% of your booking value goes to government lease fees in the areas we operate in, thus conserving the land and protecting it from being turned into farmland, or unsustainable practices such as mining. It also funds our impact projects aimed to fight rapid habitat degradation, and support human-wildlife co-existence efforts in pristine habitats – these threats are the most urgent to resolve in our own spheres of influence.  

Wilderness also employs locally, with over 90% of our workforce coming from adjacent communities, many of whom support six to eight people with their salaries. We have close on 90 projects running simultaneously that all work towards improved access to education, empowerment and upliftment of the partner communities surrounding our camps – ensuring we are giving back to their land and providing strong foundations for a greener and more prosperous future.


So, by just travelling with us, you help us achieve our mission of increasing the world’s wilderness, together.  


The Wilderness impact strategy

We channel our conservation and hospitality business as a force for lasting, positive impact. To achieve this, we focus our conservation and community empowerment programmes under three key impact pillars: Educate, Empower and Protect.


At the foundation of all of our impact initiatives is the recognition of indigenous peoples and local communities as conservation leaders. As a result, most of our impact outcomes are aimed at supporting and empowering our community partners.


As mentioned, for years Children in the Wilderness (CITW) has been working with educational institutes and governments to create a curriculum in schools that brings attention to conservation initiatives, creating future eco guardians of our Earth. CITW donations also sponsor student scholarships for learners to attend school, as well as purchase school uniforms and materials. Building more schools in local communities and donating equipment such as school desks, chairs, computers and books is also essential to our way of giving back.

feeding scheme for Otjinungua Mobile School

Visit a school

You can visit these schools, meet the children, and even pack a few essential goodies they need prior to travel. CITW does this in partnership with Pack for a Purpose – a community informed organisation dedicated to making travel meaningful, through advising what you can pack that will take up a small space, require little effort, but actually make a massive impact on the ground.
What should I pack?
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In partnership with Ecoexist in Botswana, we work with local farmers, not only to provide them with seed, but also to formulate efficient ways of farming the land with the few resources they have. We then buy their produce for our camps, creating not only delicious, traditional cuisine but a cycle of empowerment that’s sustainable for the future.

We also empower women in some of the villages surrounding our camps to create small businesses – such as our papermaking projects and a women’s weaving group in Zimbabwe. Their products are purchased by the camps and can be seen in the décor, and for sale in the Trading Stores.


During your stay with us, you can also step into these local communities, pay a visit to the projects, buy some of the spectacular products made locally or choose to further fund the initiatives by directly contributing to the Wilderness Wildlife Trust or Children in the Wilderness.

Wilderness Impact Protect Hwange Scorpions


This work involves restoring habitats, opening up wildlife corridors, and protecting both people and animals from human-wildlife conflict. For example, your trip to Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park helps support the Scorpion Anti-Poaching Unit, whose members patrol the area removing snares and looking for poachers. In Namibia, your holiday will help us provide water and waterhole repairs when elephants damage water pumps. Among a number of other non-profits, we support the Desert Lion Conservation Project’s lion-collaring initiatives, which help protect livestock by warning villages about an approaching predator.

Just by travelling to Wilderness Bisate in Rwanda, your journey directly contributes to our reforestation efforts around Volcanoes National Park, one of the last remaining strongholds of the endangered mountain gorilla. A trip to Wilderness Vumbura in the Okavango Delta contributes to early-warning alerts to neighbouring cattle farmers, giving them a chance to herd their animals into predator-proof enclosures until the resident lions have moved out of the area and no longer pose a threat.


Much work also goes into research around these species to better understand population numbers and to prevent decline. In fact, we’ve supported some 150 projects to date. We also work alongside big NGOs to protect endangered species such as black rhino and desert-adapted lions. Of course, all the time linking back to our educational programmes, working with villages to educate on the importance of wildlife and how they can help protect these animals through conservation tourism.

It wouldn’t be possible without you

Going into a new year, we’re aiming to move the needle even further on removing specific threats while challenging you, the conscious traveller, to hold us accountable. In our heart of hearts at Wilderness, we’re just as much about conservation and upliftment as we are about creating meaningful travel experiences – perhaps even more so. You can learn more about our wildlife programmes through expert-led workshops in certain Wilderness camps, or join one of our guides on foot to discover more about the history and ecology of these vast spaces. As our guests, you are part of our purpose.


Thank you.

Let’s plan your next journey


When we say we’re there every step of the way, we mean it, literally. From planning the perfect circuit, to private inter-camp transfers on Wilderness Air, and easing you through Customs. We’re with you on the ground, at your side, 24-7, from start to finish. Ready to take the road less travelled? Contact our Travel Designers to plan an unforgettable journey.