Come along on an ultimate African Adventure, through Greater Kruger, South Africa.
There are many breathtaking moments on our journey through Kruger National Park and Karongwe Private Reserve in Limpopo, during which we take safari game drives with guides that are also conservationists, protectors of wildlife while providing us with a glimpse into their world: savage, unscripted, fragile, beautiful.
But in the savage world, one must go deeper. And within the protected borders of the Greater Kruger area, we do.
With our guides Solomon and Thomas, we are on a quest to spot the Big Five: lion, African elephant, rhinoceros, African or Cape buffalo and leopard. The Big Five is a phrase left over from those Great White Hunter days, when it was a bucket list of sorts for big game hunters after the most dangerous of animals to stalk while on safari for purposes other than to observe. Of course, hunting is now frowned upon, and spotting, not shooting, is absolutely the order of the day in 2016.
It is carnivores that are the main attraction why we are here. My travel companions and I are experiencing the National Geographic Journeys with G Adventures collaboration, launched by Bruce Poon Tip, the Canadian founder of the Toronto-based small-group adventure travel company G Adventures, to tap into educating his guests on Nat Geo's wildlife conservation efforts, as well as enlightening them to his brand of sustainable travel.
"We strongly believe that tourism can be a force for good, the greatest form of wealth distribution the world has ever seen," says Poon Tip who, as a world-renowned leader in social entrepreneurship, was one of the speakers at 2016's ideacity (a ZoomerMedia property)."Tourism is one of the largest industries on earth."
His claim is backed by recent figures from the World Travel and Tourism Council: worth US$7.6 trillion, tourism represents 10 per cent of the global GDP and employs 277 million people (one in 11 jobs).
Poon Tip is also an author, with last year's Do Big Small Things topping the Canadian bestseller lists. The book, a combination colouring book, travel journal, scrapbook and inspirational tome, is dedicated to "those who want to explore this life," he says. "Getting to know how other people live, understanding cultures that are so different than our own, is the fastest path to peace," he adds. "When done correctly, [travel] can create employment opportunities and breakdown the barriers of inequality and poverty."
And one way to do it correctly, for Poon Tip, is to partner with like-minded companies. National Geographic's Big Cats Initiative supports the scientists and conservationists at the Endangered Wildlife Trust's Carnivore Conservation Programme, and aligns with the company's animal welfare platform, which prompted this Explore Kruger National Park tour itinerary.
"At G Adventures," he says, "we recognize the importance of animal welfare to the tourism industry, and we believe it is an essential part of our commitment to responsible tourism."
Click through for highlights of our National Geographic Journeys with G Adventures Explore Kruger National Park safari.
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