Before attempting to identify any particular eco-tourism destination, it is perhaps first necessary to examine precisely what this descriptive term actually implies. People travel for all manner of reasons. They may, for instance, simply wish to relax and enjoy some sunshine, sand and sea, to spend a little time with distant family members or friends, to experience other cultures, or to view some of the natural and man-made wonders of the world. In such cases, they are unlikely to be overly conscious of any potential impact that their travels and choice of recreation may have on the environment.
Understanding the Nature of an Eco-tourism Destination
There is, however, a growing number of people who have become more aware of the importance of conservation. They are worried about the consequences of continuing to ignore the effects of our activities, including travel, on an environment already battling the consequences of widespread, unfettered man-made developments. Industrial-scale deforestation and subsequent species’ extinction is not, however, the only threat, given the vast numbers who now visit nature reserves and game lodges, the potential for environmental damage posed by travellers is becoming far more significant.
By contrast, eco-tourism is an attempt to promote travel to destinations where there is an active drive to conserve the environment, to protect the lifestyles and wellbeing of the local population, and to educate both staff and visitors in the basic principles of sound environmental husbandry. To further these goals, a number of businesses, including The Times and Geographical Magazine, have partnered to develop incentives in the form of Responsible Tourism Awards. All too frequently, the areas that are most threatened are those in which the general population lives below the poverty line and therefore lacks the money to embark on costly conservation projects.
Today, rather than relying on international funding or on charitable donations, some of the more responsible owners are utilising the proceeds of game lodges and other forms of bushveld accommodation as a means to create jobs for local people, as well as to provide a valuable source of funding for local conservation efforts. Any venue that adopts most or all of these principles can be said to comply with the broad definition of an eco-tourism destination. In Limpopo, our Makgabeng Farm Lodge is a classic example of a facility that ticks all of these important boxes and, in addition, is equipped to provide the traveller with a warm welcome and a very comfortable stay.
Named after our location on the Makgabeng Plateau and watched over by the neighbouring Blouberg Mountain Range, our lodge provides our guests with a convenient springboard from which to enjoy a wealth of flora and fauna, as well as a unique cultural experience. To begin with, guests at our lodge have a choice of luxury accommodation and a base equipped with the comforts of home from which to begin their adventure, or a luxury tented accommodation in the bushveld’s heart at the Rock Art Camp.
Our guests can enjoy guided tours of the plateau and the Blouberg Mountains, as well as the chance to visit the nearby town of Senwabarwana, formerly Bochum, established by German missionaries in the late 1800s. The entire experience serves as a testimony to the success of the lodge in helping to sustain this eco-tourism destination.