The Do`s, the Don`ts and the Absolute No-no`s when touring to Southern Africa.
Updated: Mar 31
When I think of traveling, I can`t help seeing the famous hobbit, Mr Bilbo Baggins, running through the Shire with his travel pack bouncing merrily on his back while shouting ”I`m going on an adventure!” Most of us have tasted that feeling – anticipation wrapped in epic countdowns sprinkled with a touch of insanity. Still, nothing seems to beat the wonder of experiencing a new destination. The cultures, the religions, the languages, the folklores and, especially, the breathtaking scenes.
But barely legible, in the fine print of every adventure, are the T&Cs. Regardless of the style of traveling (backpacking, road tripping or luxury flying safaris) there is a level of etiquette all tourists must adhere to.
Photo credit: Radek Borovka on Shutterstock
Code of Conduct Southbound Tours
# Value Local Traditions and Customs
Before traveling, research the customs and traditions (festivals, anniversaries, holidays, etc.) of destination so you can share, participate and celebrate with the community.
Learn a few words in the local languages to better connect with its people.
Respect and protect everything that makes this destination unique and different, such as its history, environment, architecture and culture.
See how it is expressed in their religions, music, art, tales, food and cooking.
Ask for consent when taking photographs of local people.
# Support the Local Economy
When collecting souvenirs, purchase crafts and products made locally which contributes to the economic development.
Treat everyone with respect and kindness while promoting fair trade relationships.
Do not buy products that are obviously counterfeit or prohibited by national and international regulations.
Choose established tour providers to avoid scams and deceptions.
Be informed about the products that are legally restricted from leaving or entering the visiting country.
# Respect the Environment
Support products that are not made of endangered plants or animals.
Choose group outings that allow for a better use of resources – reduce costs, fuel and carbon footprint. Look for the most efficient and “cleaner” type of transportation.
Reduce and recycle waste during your trip for example bring your own refillable water bottle.
For a large part of Namibia water is a precious and sometimes scarce resource, especially during periods of drought. Therefore save water and electricity at your lodging (ask to use your towels and sheets for more than one day; turn off the lights, heating and air conditioning when leaving the room).
# Be cautious when Visiting Environment, Heritage, Archaeological or other Sites.
Collect and return with any litter generated during a visit to these areas.
Choose the routes that cause the least impact on the landscape, favoring existing roads and trails.
Prefer guided tours, avoiding accidents and reducing erosion and compacting of the soil in the vulnerable areas. It is also an excellent way of contributing to creating local jobs.
Do not participate in environmental crimes. If visiting a protected area, remember that rules and regulations were created to preserve places and species of great ecological value which, in many cases, are endangered.
Do not feed the wildlife.
Follow the signs and indications of the existing communities in the area. This will allow a safer excursion.
Do not remove natural resources, such as stones, fossils, shells, plants, flowers or others from the environment. Even if it would make an awesome memorabilia!
Contribute to the maintenance of the infrastructure and equipment in the protected area by paying the entrance fee and properly using the facilities and infrastructure.
# Be an Informed and Respectful Traveler
Know the local and national laws and regulations. Respect human rights and protect children from exploitation in any form, especially sexual and labor exploitation.
Determine how you could receive medical attention or contact your embassy in case of emergency. We advise all tourists to obtain travel insurance before you reach your destination.
Be aware of general safety, weather and heat conditions when visiting areas. Stay properly hydrated, do not take risks and be aware of your environment.
Check with the official public or private tourist information offices to obtain objective, actualized information and details on activities and services that comply with the local laws.
In a nutshell a “Code of Conduct” is simply a guideline to upgrade your tour from something memorable to extraordinary. By complying with the local laws, better immersing yourself in their cultures and being vigilant about your surrounding and environment, we are doing more than just visiting. We are educating and creating an opportunity for next generation to have this experience.
The most important thing remains:
“Then something Tookish woke up inside him, and he wished to go and see the great mountains, and hear the pine-trees and the waterfalls, and explore the caves, and wear a sword instead of a walking-stick.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit
May your thirst for freedom, wonder and adventure never be quenched. May you also, like Mr Baggins, follow your feet to distant lands and foreign shores.
The information in this article is based on an "Tips for a Responsible Traveller" developed by the World Committee on Tourism and Ethics and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)