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Review By: South Coast Herald - March 19, 2010

Let's take a look at South African ecotourism 

ECOTOURISM is one of those buzz terms that is thrown around willy-nilly, with not everyone who uses it actually knowing what is means. 
Is it skiing in the Alps and/or going on a game drive in the Kruger? I suppose it could be both, but there are official definitions to help us. 

The International Ecotourism Society describes it as, 'Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and sustain the well-being of local people'. 

The IUCN (the International Union of the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) is somewhat more long-winded with, 'Ecotourism is environmentally responsible travel and visitation to relatively undisturbed natural areas, in order to enjoy and appreciate nature (and any accompanying cultural features - both past and present) that promotes conservation, has a low negative visitor impact and provides for beneficially active socio-economic involvement of local populations'. (Whew!) 

Well, I suppose that eliminates the ski slope, but not necessarily the game drive in the Kruger. 

It's important, though, to understand what ecotourism is all about. 
What role will it play with the World Cup just around the corner? Can we expect the anticipated 450 - 500 000 overseas visitors to flock to our natural areas, or just the pubs and clubs? 

Hopefully they'll do both, as I can't see half a million soccer fans engaged in 'responsible travel to natural areas...' etc, not all at the same time anyway. 

So. with the World Cup in mind perhaps, a new book has just been published which spells out many of South Africa's ecotourism destinations and possibilities. * Ecoguide South African Destinations by August Sycholt, covers destinations in all nine provinces, giving tips on where to go and what there is to see once you get there. 

I obviously flicked first to the South Coast, which is not covered in detail (but then nowhere is) but does warrant a full page of great pics (plus text). In fact, the photography is on of the book's best features. 

There are a couple of useful maps, a good section on South Africa's biomes (for example, did you know that the indigenous forest cover in this country is down to less than 0,5 percent, we've destroyed the rest), and a section with contact details. 

It's a useful little book and the bulk of it, being the ecoguide section, is worthwhile. 

However, I have my reservations about some of the general non-eco information Mr Sycholt provides. As one and the same time he is occasionally ultra politically correct and then also manages to lean on certain sensitivities. Anyway, it should be generally available right now and not only in English, but also in Afrikaans and German. 

121 Soutpansberg Road
South Africa