Becoming a Royal African Partner for most, if not all of us, started with a desire to lead safaris into our favorite places – places that can best be explored through a mobile camp where we can choose the time and location best suited to the time of year and where we can visit the people who live in these areas and see the world through their eyes. But as with most things, these places change; lodges get built, areas get crowded and people move on.

Over the last two years, we have been busy searching for new wild places to explore in the northern region of Botswana’s Okavango Delta, Kenya’s Northern Frontier District and Sand River Corridor, as well as Tanzania’s Tarangire ecosystem.

For me, what started out as a reconnaissance to scout for a few new mobile campsites has turned into an amazing journey with the local community and, into what we hope will become one of the best safari experiences in Botswana.

This leads to the question of, when it comes to communities and wild landscapes, what do we really mean when we talk about conservation and for that matter, what is the true essence of safari? Is it a journey of exploration and understanding, time with family and friends creating lasting memories and change, or a luxury holiday?

The term “conservation” is thrown around a lot, but what is real conservation? In a world where wild places are shrinking at an alarming rate, it is concerning how often we see this term used incorrectly.

We know that some of the best-known national parks and conservancies can support themselves from their tourism revenue at a much higher rate than their surrounding agriculture, but in many areas, this is not the case. In the same way that we look at some of the most successful companies for their success and profitability, we can look at the Okavango or Maasai Mara as successful entities. But to actually create something unique and new and to have lasting and real change, you need to take the struggling start-up and help it grow. One needs to find the “disruptor” in the market that will change the way that we think, something that may at first not seem as simple and straightforward to the greater market, and then help it shine.

Being on the African continent, we have the benefit of working and living in the communities where we guide our safaris and are therefore able to see through the trees to take our guests to these hidden gems and hopefully, leave them with a clear and true understanding of the environment and unique cultures. It is this same privilege that we hope allows us to create truly impactful change.

In the realm of conservation, the opportunities lie with the people and in the communities that co-exist with the wildlife and the ecosystem. A safari is not just about viewing pristine landscapes that have seen little change over the millennia, but also understanding the dynamics at play and the challenges and conflicts that both the people and wildlife encounter. And with a bit of luck, through this travel, we can help create lasting change.

We have chosen to focus on these communities that our Royal African Safaris staff call “home,” to create sustainable platforms for them to fully engage in the safari industry and through this, enable them to protect the ecosystems and migratory corridors that are essential for these ecosystems to survive. And in doing so, not only do we make some great friends, but we are also able to lead some pretty epic safaris and have a hell of a lot of fun in the process.

Over the last few years, we have been conducting safaris in Kenya through the Sand River Elephant Corridor into the Sacred Forest. In Tanzania, we are now taking guests intoManyara Ranch, bringing back an area previously neglected, but which is vital in connecting the Tarangire, Manyara and West Kilimanjaro ecosystems which support the Amboseli National Park and Chyulu Hills ecosystems to the north in Kenya.

The importance of these corridors lies not just in the elephants that sustain them, but in the biodiversity that they support and equally, if not more importantly, in the local communities that call them home. Left alone, without this connectivity, these areas that we know and love become islands of extinction, stagnant ponds without the lifelines that feed them.

So, we at Royal African Safaris continue working to push for new areas to explore and in doing so, hope to continue to lead the style of safari that we know and love for years to come. We hope to welcome you on one of these journeys soon.