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Botswana to Tanzania: four hands-on conservation safaris where travellers get involved

Conservation takes centre stage at these new safari experiences where visitors can get involved in everything from bush skills to data collection.

Two rhinos at a watering hole, Marataba, South Africa.

Photograph by Ben Pipe
By Emma Gregg
Published 21 Jun 2022, 06:04 BST

1. Help behind the scenes at an elephant sanctuary at Jabulani, South Africa

Jabulani is a flamboyantly luxurious lodge in Kapama Private Game Reserve, created by people who care passionately about animal welfare: 50% of its nightly rates go directly to Kapama’s rescue project for orphaned and injured elephants. Guests can visit its immaculate new donor-funded orphanage, South Africa’s first, and get stuck into tasks such as harvesting fodder and mucking out the paddock where the elephants spend the night. 

2. Learn how scientists monitor wildlife at Usangu Expedition Camp, Tanzania

Opened in June, this is the first safari camp in the Usangu Wetlands of Ruaha National Park, a region of critical conservation importance that’s home to roan and sable antelopes, wild dogs, as-yet-unidentified amphibians and ostriches. As well as wildlife-watching in a boat or safari vehicle or on foot, guests can spend time at the neighbouring research station, helping naturalists collect scientific data via camera traps and telemetry. 

An infrared camera used for tracking animal movements.

Photograph by Ben Pipe

4. Play an active role in rhino conservation at Marataba Conservation Camps, South Africa

Launched in 2020, Marataba is aimed at those wishing to ramp up their connection with the natural world. Focused on various rewilding projects, the surrounding Marakele National Park is a centre of excellence for rhino conservation and one of the few places where you can help immobilise a rhino, notch its ear for identification, collect samples for DNA analysis and microchip its horn and body. 

5. Brush up your bush skills at Kwapa Camp, Botswana

Kwapa is the bush headquarters of guide training school African Guide Academy, set in the southern floodplains of the Okavango Delta. As well as preparing guides for their professional exams, it offers short courses for nature-lovers. Options include everything from basic bush skills courses to seven-day survival primers and tracking courses that explain how to deduce the age, gender and behaviour of animals from their prints. Equipped with fresh knowledge, your future safari experiences will be all the richer.

Published in the July/August 2022 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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