Tourism in Africa
Seventy percent of all visitors to Kenya go on safari – and for very good reasons: The variety and abundance of wildlife of the African savannah is world famous and the Great Migration of the wildebeest from Serengeti to Masai Mara is definately a ”must see” and a once-in a-lifetime experience as it is the longest and largest over land migration in the world.
Unfortunately the increasing tourism in some African countries have taken a toll on the environment and though going on a safari is somehow a journey back in time to an era, where our impact on the ecosystem was quite negligible, the sheer number of people wanting to see the wildlife in its natural surroundings has clearly had a damaging effect on the ecosystem in some of the most popular national parks.
Especially in the dry season, when the wildlife in Masai Mara has migrated to the Serengeti, minibuses sometimes almost block the horizon when some of the big cats or the rare black rhino have been spotted
Nevertheless there are a growing number of eco-friendly and almost self sufficient lodges and tented camps in Kenya, and ecotourism seems to have already become a competitive factor in the marketplace. Measures are now being taken in order to reduce the environmental damages due to extensive tourism in Masai Mara and the Kenyan government has put a stop to issuing permits allowing building more lodges inside the Reserve. Newer lodges and some tented camps are using solar power and eco-friendly waste management is being implemented. yet there are still other factors to be counted into the equation when estimating the actual impact on the ecosystem like transportation of people and goods, the stress being put on the wildlife when huge numbers of tourists venture into the national parks, sometimes breaking the law by going off road to get better pictures of the animals.
In the National Parks the animals always have the right of way and a minibus have to wait to pass as a pride of lions have taken place on the road in order to soak up the accumulated heat from the ground before the cool night falls in the Masai Mara
A fine will be issued if vehicles leave the designated roads to get closer to the wildlife and actually the density of roads in Masai Mara are higher than say in Serengeti, which is why there might be even better chances in this northern part of the great Serengeti-Masai Mara ecosystem to get close to the wildlife without disturbing the delicate ecosystem of savannah too much. Thus is the tourism takes the environment into consideration visiting Africa can be a win – win situation; the Africans are profiting from the tourists and the tourists are profiting from experiencing Africa and the Africans.
Despite Masai Mara being regarded as probably the best park in Kenya to spot wildlife, beautiful encounters with animals are possible many other places in Kenya. If you prefer not to be part of the fleet of minibuses sometimes congregating around the big cats in Masai Mara, other parks like Samburu, Shaba, Buffalo Springs, Tsavo and the newly reopened Meru National Park might be a better choice for you and they all present very different landscapes, other (sub)species of animals and wonderful impressions.