If you're thinking of venturing to Africa, I strongly encourage you to design your trip in a sustainable manner. Contrary to popular belief the terms sustainable and eco-travel do not translate to lesser hotel accommodations, recycled bedding, and infrequent showers to save the water. In fact, the reality is quite the opposite. African eco-travel lodges tend to be the most luxurious accommodations around.

While there is no clear set definition for ecotourism, speaking broadly, it means that the economic boost tourism brings to an area is directly and deliberately passed down to the local people who benefit from job creation, education, and wildlife initiatives, and nature preservation. The positive effect trickles down through the community to elevate the overall standard of living.

Villagers are not just handed a fish to eat, they are taught how to fish for themselves. When local peoples are given work skills and value living symbiotically with the wildlife, tensions between people and animals decrease and the quality of life improves all around.

While South Africa, Kenya, and Botswana are widely known for their ecotourism, sustainable travel, and fair trade practices, other African nations, such as Zimbabwe and Zambia are ramping up their efforts.

Known for its wonderful game-viewing, captivating scenery, and mesmerizing soul, Zimbabwe is one of Africa's greatest unspoiled terrains. Here are a few eco companies leading the way. . .

Little Makaololo in Hwange National Park and Ruckomechi Camp in Mana Pools Natinoal Park are two Zimbabwean camps run by Wilderness Safari, a company passionately committed to the African environment. Wilderness Safari is making a big impact in the community with a series of outreach projects focused on the people and nature. In their camps, they strive to minimize environmental impact and use solar power for electricity and hot water .

Little Makalolo is known as one of the best game viewing areas for its large waterhole that attracts a menagerie of wild animals. Ruckomechi Camp is located amidst a grove of acacia and mahogany trees in the middle of the Zambezi Rivers with a spectacular view of the Great Rift Valley's mountains. Its ten lavish suites are connected to the rest of the camp by a low-level walkway that minimizes environmental impact.
Zambia is famous for its stunning backdrops and rich cultural heritage and has positioned itself as a prime destination for travelers looking for a unique experience. Making Zambia even more attractive to travelers is its extensive list of spectacular accommodations.

One such accommodation is Kalamu Lagoon Camp run by the Bush Company in South Luangwa National Park. This camp is famous for its incredible walking tours and experienced guides. Kalamu Lagoon is rich with wildlife and offers day and nighttime game drives. Recently, the Bush Company added to its esteemed reputation by funneling its tourism success into community outreach projects including preservation of precious indigenous resources, local job creation, and wildlife relations.

Ecotourism and sustainable travel in Zimbabwe is more than your money reformatted into a handout or a "green" but dumpy lodge. It's the assurance that your patronage will make a positive impact on the communities you visit long after you're gone.

sandy-salle-220Sandy Salle is a native of Zimbabwe and was born and raised in Southern Africa. She is the Chief Executive Officer of Hills of Africa travel and is passionate about using her first-hand knowledge of Africa to create the trip of a lifetime for her clients. Currently based state-side in North Carolina, she resides with her husband and two small children. Sandy travels home to Africa several times a year and believes that the next best thing to living in Africa is sharing it with others. For more information about Sandy visit Hills of Africa