‘’Our planet is one in a billion, a world teeming with life. But now, a new dominant force is changing the face of the Earth: humans. To preserve our perfect planet we must ensure we become a force for good.’’
– Sir David Attenborough

When allowed to break the confines of lockdown, what will you seek? For us, this past year has galvanised our efforts in ensuring that when we do travel, it works to better our planet. All of our actions, especially when we leave home, have a consequence – and we must decide what that means.

Travel needs to become more measured, conscionable and have purpose. It needs to be an activity that is of mutual benefit to traveller and host. It needs to be a champion of conservation. It needs to know when it is not welcome and is doing more harm than good. It needs to be mindful of environmental impact and make commitments to significantly reduce its carbon footprint.

Over the coming months, we hope to be able to show you the value in travelling sustainably and we will work with our partners on the ground to find sustainable travel experiences that we know you will find inspiring. We will share ideas and advice on how to travel more sustainably with one simple goal in mind; to help reduce our carbon footprint now, so we can continue to travel in the future. We look forward to sharing this journey with you.

To get you started, and thinking about how you can enjoy our world while creating positive change, here are some ideas on our minds right now, as we look ahead to the return of travel very soon.

Route 1 road in Iceland

Taking it Slow

Slow travel – whether by road, tracks, hiking trail or bike path – allows us to appreciate and enjoy the environment in which we are travelling all the more. To breathe deep and really enjoy our freedom – something we all have most likely taken for granted until this last year.

From Iceland to Romania, from Namibia to Canada, the opportunity to adopt a different pace to explore stretches right across the planet.

Mountain gorilla, Bwindi, Uganda
Bwindi, Uganda

Making it Count

This year, many of us are looking to answer the call of the wild. But not simply to look, but to actively get involved with conservation projects and sustainability initiatives on the ground. In doing so, we see the animals as much more than their media portrayals, and can fully grasp their importance in our world.

Uganda offers gorilla trekking, the Pantanal lets you work with jaguars, and the Galapagos Islands opens up incredible marine adventures. The expert guidance of Steppes Travel can bring inquisitive minds wildlife experiences, in all shapes which contribute to each species’ livelihoods.

Young girl in Papua New Guinea
Young girl in Papua New Guinea

Kindness Between Strangers

Travel is ultimately about people. In travelling, we learn that underneath the cultural differences of dress, location and religion, we want the same things: stability and education for our children, we care about the same things and we laugh about the same things.

Experience the smiles of Papua New Guinea, the hospitality of Peru and the laughter of the Samburu.

Sea Lion, Galapagos Islands
Sea Lion, Galapagos Islands

Focusing on Quality

For so long, tourism success has been defined by growing the numbers — numbers of visitors, numbers of cruise passengers. Millions of tourists, not dollars. We need to start thinking in terms of quality, not quantity.

We need to be thinking of value. Travel has become a business and focused on efficiencies of scale, focused on the bottom line.

We need to shift the thinking from having the travel industry’s primary objective being about growing the numbers, to creating flourishing destinations, prosperous communities, and a voice for those living there that can tell us exactly the kind of tourism they want.

Leopard on a Tree with a Kill, Lower Zambezi, Zambia
Lower Zambezi, Zambia

Peel Away the Veneer

Safari used to be about exploration, discovery and above all, about the possibility. Whilst we may enjoy the luxury of hand towels and welcome drinks on arrival, an amazing room replete with infinity pool overlooking a watering hole with a herd of habituated elephants and clean, crisp linen, the real experience is that much like life – unstaged and not always something you can prepare for.

There is no guarantee on safari. There is no guarantee in wildlife. The joy is in the thrill of the chase, and the experience, the understanding.

Bug, Ecuadorian Amazon
Bug, Ecuadorian Amazon

Improve not sustain

Travel needs to address its impacts holistically, from destination and community perspectives, as well as its toll on the natural world.

Sustainability has long been the mantra until now but sustaining is just preventing decay and degradation. Whereas positive impact travel looks to actively repair and rejuvenate the natural and social world around us. Ultimately, that should be our collective goal.

Later this year we’ll be coming back to you with more updates after our carbon calculation assessments and our next steps. In the meantime, if you have thoughts, ideas, questions please do get in touch with us at [email protected]. We look forward to working with you in creating a positive impact through travel.

Thanks for reading

Justin Wateridge

Author: Justin Wateridge