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visit Souther Tanzania, Africa's best travel secrets Solimar International

Less than 1% of travelers to Tanzania venture to the country’s south… find out why skipping a visit to Southern Tanzania is a huge mistake

visit Souther Tanzania, Africa's best travel secrets Solimar International

Despite its bountiful national parks, game reserves, and beautiful beaches, few visit Soutthern Tanzania. It is the least traveled part of Tanzania, but has so many hidden gems just waiting to be discovered. It is home to an astonishing range of wildlife, has incredible parks and offers stunning scenery. The southern part of Tanzania is on the Indian Ocean coastline, offering tourists relaxing beach destinations and an array of marine wildlife. Southern Tanzania is an unforgettable getaway for those who have an adventurous side and want to see a destination unlike no other. Here is a list of five reasons why Southern Tanzania is the best place to get off the beaten path:

1. Massive National Parks home to hundreds of animal species

A resting lion in Nyerere National Park, Southern Tanzania
A resting lion in Nyerere National Park, Southern Tanzania

 

Southern Tanzania is home to a diverse range of wildlife and parks, and is gaining a reputation as one of the best places to safari in Africa. Two of Southern Tanzania’s most popular parks are Nyerere National Park and Ruaha National Park. Nyerere National Park has the reputation as Africa’s best wildlife sanctuary, and is inhabited by over one million animals. Here you can find the world’s biggest elephant and wild dog populations, whilst enjoying views of the expansive scenery. Ruaha National Park is the second largest wildlife sanctuary in the country, holding a massive population of big game and birds. Here you can see the popular sand rivers providing water to the animals that inhabit the area. On safari you are sure to see gazelles taking a sip from the river, and who knows, maybe even four of the big five – African leopards, African lions, Cape buffalo, and African elephants. Both parks are off the beaten track destinations anyone should visit for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. 

Lilac Breasted Roller, a beautiful bird that is a favorite among visitors to Southern Tanzania
Lilac Breasted Roller, a beautiful bird that is a favorite among visitors to Southern Tanzania

2. Pristine hidden beaches and marine life

Pristine beach and water of Mafia Island in Southern Tanzania
Pristine beach and water of Mafia Island. Photo courtesy of Travel Weekly

 

Southern Tanzania is home to many hidden beach getaways along the Indian Ocean coastline. The beaches are perfect for those looking for adventures off the beaten path, preferably in the water. Their astonishing coral reefs make scuba diving and snorkeling a favorite among those who love the ocean. One beautiful beach destination is Mafia Island, a must-see location just off the coast of Southern Tanzania. The island is the premier diving, snorkeling, and fishing destination in the country. The striking reefs that follow along the shore line are made up of 50 species of coral and are inhabited by over 400 species of fish, making for beautiful scenery and an array of colors while snorkeling and diving. The main wildlife attractions found on and around the island are the whale sharks and sea turtles. Mafia Island is also home to Tanzania’s first marine wildlife center. Another wondrous place to go diving is in Mikindani, close to the border with Mozambique.

Swimming with whale sharks Mafia Island, Southern Tanzania
Swimming with whale sharks Mafia Island

 

3. Southern Tanzania’s tourism is focused around sustainability

Photo courtesy of the World Bank Group. Showcases how management of sustainable techniques can get rivers flowing again in Southern Tanzania
Photo courtesy of the World Bank Group. Showcases how management of sustainable techniques preserve resources in Southern Tanzania

Photo courtesy of the World Bank Group. Showcases how management of sustainable techniques can get rivers flowing again. 

The African Wildlife Foundation is dedicated to implementing sustainable techniques in Tanzanian tourism, and has been implementing the Sustainability and Inclusion Strategy for Growth Corridors in Africa (SUSTAIN) since 2015. The program aims to promote agriculture that is better suited for the landscape, whilst preventing the overuse of Tanzania’s land and resources. As a destination that has rarely been touched by tourists, it is extremely important that the health and wellness of both the environment and local communities are thought of first. With a vast array of wildlife preserves, the implementation of sustainable techniques in Tanzania is vital to ensure the future of the tourism economy. Tanzania is also home to a number of large desert environments, and therefore providing the environment with the right resources will help ensure that the rivers continue to flow each season. 

4. Historical destinations that give tourists a glimpse of the past

Photo courtesy of National Geographic. Overview of the Kilwa ruins showcasing the vast ruins of the port city.
Kilwa ruins showcasing the vast ruins of the port city. Photo courtesy of National Geographic

Photo courtesy of National Geographic. Overview of the Kilwa ruins showcasing the vast ruins of the port city. 

 

Along with all of the amazing wildlife Southern Tanzania has to offer, there are also some historical attractions off the beaten path that are must-sees. One of them is the ruined medieval port of Kilwa, which lies on Kilwa Kisiwani. This is a UNESCO World Heritage site, one of only two in all of Tanzania. Kilwa was the main port in a series of port cities that ran along the Swahili Coast. The city was well known for importing cotton, ceramics, Chinese porcelain, and silk, causing the city to grow in wealth. Today, the remaining structures of the Husuni Kubwa palace, Great Mosque, and the Gereza Fort make this ruined city a spectacular place to visit and learn about the history of the gold trade in Africa. The site also offers some impressive views over the Indian Ocean and some dreamy accommodation options. 

 

5. Engage with Unique Traditional Cultures

There are seven regions in Southern Tanzania: the Iringa, Morogoro, Mbeya, Njombe, Rukwa, Ruvuma, and Songwe regions. Each region contains unique cultures and traditions, born from the tribes who have lived there for centuries. At each point of your visit, you can participate in cultural activities to interact with local people. Interact with the Makonde of Southeastern

Tanzania and buy intricate masks and wood carvings from the black bark of the mpingo tree. In the Ruvuma, you can watch the Mganda traditional dance where dancers adorn white outfits to perform. In the rainforest climate of Morogoro, learn from the Waluguru tribe, as they tell you about their matriarchal society and teach you traditional agricultural techniques. These are just three examples of the dozens of cultures in the region. Come and see for yourself!

 

Aerial shot of Iringa Town, the gateway to the South
Aerial shot of Iringa Town, the gateway to the South

 

Tourist destinations in Northern Tanzania like Serengeti, Zanzibar, Ngorongoro, and Mount Kilimanjaro get all of tourist attention while the gems of the South remain unvisited. There are so many amazing tourist opportunities within Southern Tanzania. There is an abundance of wildlife and reserves, and the actions that they are taking to ensure a sustainable future will make it a destination for tourists to visit for years to come. Take a leap of faith and explore this incredible place. You won’t be disappointed! 

If you would like to learn more about Solimar International’s project in Southern Tanzania, check it out here. Keep up with Solimar – don’t forget to like us on Facebook and LinkedIn

 

Tatras Mountains Polad - Sustainable tourism poland

Red, White, and New: Efforts to Boost Sustainable Tourism in Poland

Here at Solimar International, we work to increase and promote sustainable and regenerative tourism around the world. We know that every country has its own unique challenges in implementing effective sustainable tourism. Poland has had difficulties creating and maintaining long-term plans for prioritizing eco-friendly tourism. The Eastern European country ranked number 112 on the World Economic Forum regarding sustainable tourism and development in 2015. Despite this low ranking, Poland’s potential for sustainable tourism is endless. With several UNESCO-listed heritage sites and biospheres available, most limitations to Poland’s potential are created from failure by local governments to communicate and educate citizens about sustainable development. In this blog, we will cover what has changed in terms of new efforts to help shift this lagging sector, and the immese tourism potential Poland has to transform itself into a leading global destination.

Tatras Mountains Polad - Sustainable tourism poland

Why Poland is Lagging in Sustainable Tourism

Before analyzing Poland’s direct control over its sustainability development, we must fully recognize the drawbacks of Poland’s history and tribulations caused by foreign control and influence over the region. One of the massive influences over Poland’s difficulty to regenerate to a healthier environment and tourism industry is the decades of Communist regime over the region that followed it’s Nazi occupation counterpart. Since the Communist regime and Nazi Occupation of Poland gave no breathing room for the country to have its own independence and development, the Communist regime squeezed out what little resources Poland had left. The communist regime heavily focused on shipbuilding and steel production, which ravaged nature within the region and destroyed much of the wildlife present, specifically within regions such as Katowice and Silesia.  Poland’s GDP only started seeing consistent uptakes around 1995, which, given the timeline that several other non-communist-controlled economies and countries had to develop mutual plans for sustainable development, is a minuscule amount of time. Additionally, given the sheer amount of poviats (Polish counties), it is difficult to process communication and collaboration for sustainable development efforts, with several of them holding other respective interests. When retrospectively looking at a countries’ development and what their major concerns are, we must also be considerate towards their drawbacks and their need to rapidly recover and industrialize due to the major temporal sink they’ve experienced. Although Poland has much to improve upon and change within their priorities, constant decade-long occupation shifts the countries’ collective priority and desires until those are met, which is why sustainable tourism was lower on the proverbial ladder. 

Gdańsk, 1988. Strike at the Lenin shipyard, photo: Chris Niedenthal / promotional materials
Gdańsk, 1988. Strike at the Lenin shipyard, photo: Chris Niedenthal / promotional materials

Poland’s New Efforts in Sustainable Tourism

Poland’s previously mentioned drawbacks do not, however, fully define its current attempts for change and a future outlook. As commonly known, Poland is part of the gargantuan EU, which grants its capabilities to focus on sustainable development on a larger and more assisted scale. Local and regional authorities across Europe have been pledging to work together to improve waste management and to make tourism more sustainable within their towns, with the city of Krakow being signed on the official charter. In specificity, this document will require these cities to “commit to reduce waste generation and improve waste management from tourists and tourism providers, including by promoting sustainable consumption”, with serious oversight by related authorities. 

Part of a better path towards sustainable tourism is also a clear recognition of the faults made by that region, and current active changes towards those faults. Poland’s CO2 emissions are notoriously high, with its 2015 emissions equaling almost 9% of the EU’s total emissions. A large aggressor contributing to this statistic is Poland’s large use of coal and lignite still present in its electricity making. But, with new proposed technology and policy solutions entering the frame, such as the Polish National Energy Conservation Agency and the Poland Energy Policy Simulator, these policies will help pull Poland out of its costly energy sinkhole. When progression within the reduction of unhealthy energy consumption is made, the sustainable tourism sector will be exponentially easier to maintain and create. Waste reduced and cleaner tourist attractions will help create a better traveling cycle in the first place!

Poland sustainable tourism destination development meeting

Poland’s Vast Sustainable Tourism Potential

Image Provided by the Polish Tourism Organisation. These are Wooden Tserkvas that could be a hope for growth in Poland's sustainable tourism
Wooden Tserkvas

How is it possible to consider the possibilities of tourism without envisioning what the country has to offer? Poland has a large variety of UNESCO sites that are listed on the Polish Tourism Organization website, including the multiple cultural attractions such as the Wooden Tserkvas (shown above) to the Malbork Castle! Poland also houses arguably the most important piece of history remaining from the second World War, with Auschwitz-Birkenau being built on Polish land by the Nazis. Poland also has a large amount of biosphere reserves to complement, with the famous Tatras, Babia Gora and Tuchola forest as popular tourist choices. Common sense dictates how tourist potential is actualized when people realize and highly anticipate going to that location, and Poland’s locations do just that. For everyone who values nature, history, and significant cultural locations, Poland is exactly the place.

Babia Gora, photo taken by Dawid Bernard showing beautiful mountains and potential for Poland's sustainable tourism
Babia Gora, photo taken by Dawid Bernard

 

Tuchola Forest, taken by Unique Poland-Discover Beauty
Tuchola Forest, taken by Unique Poland-Discover Beauty

 

 

Picture of the Assumption of Maria Church on Lake Bled Slovenia sustainable tourism by author Stephanie Gerson

Learn about sustainable tourism in Slovenia, Europe’s hidden gem

Here at Solimar, we pride ourselves on being experts in sustainable tourism. We’ve consulted with destinations on their tourism strategies all across the world, from distant Nepal to Timor-Leste to local West Virginia.  So, when we say that a country has excelled at integrating sustainable tourism principles, we mean it. To show their commitment, Slovenia developed their national tourism strategy that coincides with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Most people may not know Slovenia apart from the picturesque Lake Bled, surrounded by the Julian Alps. It is already popular with outdoor adventure travelers, looking to hike or white water raft. It recently has turned into a destination that is perfect for anyone who wants to see nature, as well as cities without over-tourism. In 2016, the Slovenian Tourist Board implemented a program where they provide a 5-star experience while ensuring the health and growth of the local economies, communities, and environment. Here are some reasons why Slovenia is one of the leading sustainable tourism destinations:

 

Picture of the Assumption of Maria Church on Lake Bled Slovenia sustainable tourism by author Stephanie Gerson

1. Its capital, Ljubljana, has a car-free area

The city has redesigned its center to allow for pedestrian friendly movement. Only delivery cars are allowed in the area in the early morning hours. The city blocks are covered in green spaces to explore, while the artisanal pavement itself is aesthetically pleasing. The numerous footbridges crossing the river connect from one public space to the next. If you need to get somewhere quickly, they offer electric carts that can shuttle you around. One of their biggest squares is completely free of vehicles and offers a space for concerts and events. Ljubljana truly is a walker’s paradise.

2. Slovenians understand the modern-day traveler

Slow travel is the new travel trend and Slovenia gets it. In fact, they prefer it. They want you to come and stay awhile. Smell the fresh mountain air of the Julian Alps, swim in Lake Bled, explore the miles of underground caves, get to know the locals, eat the food (all the food!). There is no excuse to make Slovenia a quick trip

3. Slovenia has implemented their own certification program, insuring unity within the country

The Green Scheme of Slovenia Tourism is a tool and a certificate program designed by the Slovenia Tourism Board to help even the smallest tourist organization be more sustainable. They offer training and promotions to hotels, tour guides, destinations and interest sites. In order to be verified and obtain a Green Label, the destination or business must meet the Green Destinations Standard criteria. They can also present a similar internationally recognized label, like GoodPlace, another Slovenian company. What is the benefit of all these certifications and labels?  By following certain criteria, set up and recognized by the international community, gives credibility to the applicants. Slovenia, setting up their own certification program creates unity and understanding within their own country. Showing that everyone is in it together. 

4. National Geographic also agrees about sustainable tourism in Slovenia!

National Geographic recognizes that Slovenia is pretty special, declaring them the World’s Most Sustainable Country in 2017. This award is part of National Geographic’s World Legacy Awards, given at ITB, awarding companies and destinations who are driving the most positive change within the tourism sector. If this isn’t enough, the EU also recognized Ljubljana as Europe’s Greenest Capital in 2016. 

Garden Village Bled Slovenia website, an eco-lodge dedicated to sustainable tourism and eco tourism

Image from Garden Village Bled website, an eco-lodge dedicated to sustainability

5. With 59 cities and 83 accommodations certified as green, you can’t go wrong where you end up

If you want to explore cobbled stone streets in old cities or get lost in a tiny mountain town, they’ve made sure each place is welcoming to any type of traveler. The best part is finding the right accommodation, whether that’s a new sustainable hotel or an eco-lodge with tree houses and glamping tents perfect for families. 

picture of the bright turquoise Soca River in the Julian Alps. Showcasing the natural beauty of Slovenia. Photo by Author, Stephanie Gerson

Picture of the bright turquoise Soca River in the Julian Alps. Showcasing the natural beauty of Slovenia. Photo by author, Stephanie Gerson

6. The mountains are open and easy to get to, and the cities aren’t crowded

You don’t have to worry about over tourism or long lines in Slovenia. The mountains are green and gorgeous with bright blue rivers roaring in the valleys. It’s outdoorsy without being too rugged, unless you want it to be. Slovenia offers numerous travel experiences that one wouldn’t expect in this small country. 

Picture of Soteska Vintgar, a wooden walkway along the Radovna River in a breathtaking gorge. Photo by author, Stephanie Gerson

Picture of Soteska Vintgar, a wooden walkway along the Radovna River in a breathtaking gorge. Photo by author, Stephanie Gerson

7. They are the start of regenerative tourism, without knowing it. 

Their tourism strategy is more cyclical rather than linear, using tourism as a means to help and rejuvenate the destinations. The idea is for the traveler to leave the place better than when they came. Because sustainable tourism has been implemented into so many aspects of Slovenia’s way of life, it’s straightforward for the traveler to be another part in the cycle as well. From making sure that buildings are LEED certified, to getting the best certified tour guides, and restaurants using local ingredients, all helps to ensure that the place can be lived in by locals and visited for generations to come. It sounds like a lot but when a tourism board has a partnership with the government as well as the citizens, it makes it much easier for the traveler to be more aware of their impact, both good and bad. 

 

If you would like to know more about how to implement a sustainable tourism strategy where you live or for your business please contact us here. Or if you’re a destination, looking to enhance your DMO, take our course at https://institute.solimarinternational.com.

 

“We rely confidently on Solimar's deep technical experience and professionalism as tourism consultants. You always are exceeding our expectations.”
Leila Calnan, Senior Manager, Tourism Services Cardno Emerging Markets

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