Four decades of conservation tourism in Africa



Cultures & Communities

Lauren Dold


Transformational travel

Hoanib Desert Lion Wilderness Impact Protect

Back in 1983, we were among the first to pioneer the concept of conservation hospitality. It’s been 40 years since we made a promise to safeguard Africa’s wild places, to ensure the pulsing rhythm of its wilderness would never cease. We were focused on the Okavango Delta, where we opened our first camp, and since then we’ve expanded our reach significantly. Eight countries and 60 award-winning camps later, we’ve kept our promise.


Today, our dedicated team of over 3,000 people creates unforgettable journeys to Africa’s ultimate, untamed places. We help protect over 6 million acres (almost 2.5 million hectares) of wild conservation areas, and we’ve got our sights set on 6 million more by 2030. It’s an ambitious goal, and one that drives everything we do; from the experiences we curate for our guests, to the conservation projects we support, the partners we choose and the decisions we make in the boardroom.

Our model is fairly simple; through high-value, low volume sustainable tourism, we generate the resources needed to expand conservation and community efforts.


Precious wildlife, protected


Across our regions, we adapt to best serve the wildlife and conservation projects in need; whether increasing rhino numbers in Namibia, expanding gorilla habitat in Rwanda or elephant monitoring in Botswana. In total, 59 vulnerable and endangered IUCN Red List species, across seven biomes fall under our protection.


reduction in the use of bottled water in 10 years

USD19.7 million

paid to local communities in Botswana

19 camps

have increased solar generation

Over 100,000

trees planted in Rwanda

USD 659,000

invested in gorilla and chimpanzee habitat expansion

Partners in purpose


Successful conservation can’t happen in isolation. We partner with real, committed, on-the-ground conservation teams in all the regions we operate in. Our approach to building partnerships means that we can create a network of positive force, a collaborative ecosystem that applies collective resources to maximise our impact together. Partners include communities, governments, businesses and NGOs.


Wilderness Trust


In 2000, we established the Wilderness Trust, an independent non-profit that supports existing projects across Africa. From endangered species to education and training, the Trust supports these projects in three areas. Firstly, by funding species studies, monitoring of populations and understanding human-animal conflicts, the trust supports research and conservation. Through community upliftment programmes and Children in the Wilderness, the Trust focuses on education, and by funding and conducting aerial surveys and increasing the capacity for researchers, the Trust supports anti-poaching and wildlife management.


In Botswana, current wildlife-focused projects include vulture conservation, and wild dog conservation in the Kavango-Zambezi area; in Namibia, desert-adapted lion and elephant conservation; and in Zimbabwe, elephant movement studies as well as the support of tracker and anti-poaching projects.



Also in Botswana, in partnership with Communities Living Among Wildlife Sustainably (CLAWS), Wilderness has been helping to reduce human-wildlife conflict in the Okavango Community Trust areas. The partnership offers a logistical and physical presence, monitoring and collaring to track lions’ movements and to foster a better co-existence between humans and lions. It’s about fostering a pride in our prides, building a strong, inclusive program for exchanging ideas, developing incentives for protecting wildlife, and using technology to our advantage.


Across Africa, lion numbers are dwindling. Wilderness is also a founding member of the Lionscape Coalition, a collaborative effort between key players in the conservation tourism industry and the Lion Recovery Fund (LRF), dedicated to securing a future for Africa's wild lions. The LRF's vision? To double wild lion numbers by 2050. To support this ambitious goal, Wilderness has committed to making annual investments into the LRF, not only supporting lion conservation in their regions but also fostering collaboration among industry partners. Lionscape Coalition members actively engage their guests before, during, and after safaris to raise awareness about these critical predators and generate additional funding, with 100% of donations going directly to on-the-ground projects.

Wilderness & Save the Rhino Trust Namibia

Desert Rhino Camp Namibia Wildlife Black Rhino

In another crucial conservation partnership, Wilderness and Save the Rhino Trust Namibia have maintained a 'no-poaching' statistic in Namibia's Kunene region for three consecutive years. To support rhino monitoring and protection in Kunene, Wilderness Trust funded a new project vehicle and supports patrol operations. This vehicle has been essential in assisting on-the-ground patrol teams, the result of which is a reduction in poaching, by nearly 80% over the past five years.

A legacy of education and empowerment


The impact we make in the conservation space is matched by the impact we have in the communities that surround the wild places we operate in. Through programmes like our non-profit Children in the Wilderness (CITW), we’ve created a legacy of education and empowerment.


Our guests play an intrinsic role in the success of these programmes. CITW partnered with Pack for a Purpose over 20 years ago, an initiative which encourages travellers to pack school supplies and other essentials for children in need around the world. These supplies are now delivered to children in more than 60 countries.

10,000 children

introduced to the natural world through our education programmes

9 Eco-Clubs

already host 600 children in Rwanda, CITW’s newest region

USD 262,000

covers 177 scholarships for children in Rwanda

2,700 children

have been reached through Eco-Clubs across all regions over the last 20 years

9 libraries

established by CITW in Zimbabwe and Zambia

In almost all of Zimbabwe’s wildlife areas, poaching is a challenge. In 2019, Wilderness established a project in Victoria Falls that repurposes snares collected on patrols into jewellery. In partnership with a local artisan jewellery-maker, not only is the wire from the snares repurposed into something beautiful, but awareness is raised around the plight of poaching.



Through our empowerment programmes, we aim to foster self-sustaining communities; whether that’s teaching community members the skills to weave baskets from discarded plastic, making beads and bricks from glass bottles or empowering people to grow and plant trees for reforestation. When the benefits of conservation tourism reach these communities, a more balanced co-existence between humans and animals emerges. Where once people may have relied on poaching, bushmeat snaring, firewood harvesting or agriculture that damages natural ecosystems, conservation tourism becomes an economic driver. As new generations are raised, the mentality changes. But our work is never finished.

Our efforts are ongoing

Striving always to expand the world’s wilderness, together. 

Learn more about our Impact

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.