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Ecotourism & nature

© SA Tourism© SA TourismThe animal and plant life (and even the rocks and fossils) of Southern Africa are among the most spectacular in the world, and we’ve listed a range of wonderful places and ways you can get closer to nature. While we accept that some listed attractions may not fit the more rigorous definition of the term “ecotourism”, many do, and, for the sake of clarity, we have consigned some genuine ecotourism products to the adventure or culture categories. For the record, though, the officially accepted definition of ecotourism is purpose-based travel to places of natural beauty (or value) that generates income for conservation and local communities and educates visitors about conservation and the environment. But we've included under this heading anything that offers a view of the natural environment - be it animal, mineral or vegetable. Or even cosmic.

As well as game viewing & safari destinations, marine animals and bird watching, we’ve included flowers & trees and geological features and fossils. And ranger courses & volunteer programmes offer the ultimate bush experience for people who are not afraid of a bit of hard work. Animal interaction parks offer the opportunity of getting up close and personal with animals ranging from snakes to elephants in a relatively controlled environment. Although these are, almost invariably, far from pristine and may even involve exotic animals, we have included them for their educational and entertainment value. Take great care when planning a visit as there’s nothing worse than rocking up at a fabulous flower destination two weeks before everything blooms, or going whale watching a month after the whales have left.

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