The Safari Index’s most eco-friendly lodges
‘Responsible Tourism’ and ‘Green Accommodation’ have become essential considerations within the travel industry as many environmentally and socially conscious travellers base their accommodation and travel arrangements around responsible and sustainable operations. Many pioneering safari lodges and tour companies have instituted their own policies and procedures to be more green and eco friendly, ushering in a new era of sustainable tourism.
Sustainable tourism simply means tourism operations that replenish or put back what is taken from the local habitat. A lodge that is fully sustainable requires little in the way of natural resources, recycling much of what is used and leaving a relatively small eco-footprint on the local environment. An eco-friendly lodge does not damage the local habitat and provides a source of income for the local community while also providing funding for conservation initiatives. An eco-friendly lodge that is sustainable and environmentally friendly will usually have measurable statics and percentages relating to how much they have reduced waste, water waste and other consumables. When you are next on safari, ask the management team of the lodge what they have done to help protect the environment, grow the skills in the local community or support a local charity. When booking your next safari, look out for these key characteristics when inquiring with lodge management about any green initiatives.
Benefits the local community
An Eco-friendly lodge will usually aim to hire local people as their staff providing not only income to the community but also increasing their skillsets. The use of locals as guides and staff in the lodges instills a sense of pride and reverence for the property within the community. Guests also benefit from having a local who knows the area intimately as their professional guide, tracker or guest liason, providing greater insight into the country or area they are visiting. Lodges often include a local cultural tour as an optional extra in the itinerary – this involves visiting the nearest local village to explore the local customs and culture.
Local Produce and Fair Trade
The use of local produce is another indication of an eco-friendly lodge and many choose to either grow their edible produce themselves or purchase it from nearby local farmers. Fair Trade in Tourism stands for fair wages and working conditions, fair purchasing and operations, equitable distribution of benefits and respect for human rights, culture and the environment. It also ensures that the people who contribute their land, resources, labour and knowledge to tourism are the ones who reap the benefits. This not only supports the local community but also reduces the carbon footprint of the lodge. The use of local produce can extend beyond edible goods as some lodges have chosen to use locally crafted soaps, blankets and handmade products in their rooms and curio shops.
Eco-friendly safari lodges are usually built to be sustainable either by using recycled materials for the building itself, or by incorporating ‘Green’ design elements into the lodge. These can include but are not limited to: solar powered water heaters, grey water recycling systems for garden water, energy saving bulbs in all the light fittings and minimal structure impact on the immediate environment.
There are various organisations that verify the authenticity of a tourism operators claims of eco-friendly status, but here are two of the most recognised.
Green Leaf – http://www.greenleafecostandard.net/
The Green Leaf™ Eco Standard (GLES) is specifically constructed as a sustainability and certification assessment tool for the performance management of any international organisation or property. In its name, “Green Leaf™” stems from the symbol representing the philosophy of people and place in environmental leadership and conservation of the Wilderness Foundation (the organisation, together with Andrew Phillips, which founded the Green Leaf Environmental Trust, the custodians of GLES). “Eco Standard” is an integrated concept which promotes the synergy of environmental, social and economic systems to facilitate behavioural and material adaptations in a business beyond the triple bottom-line. Certification under GLES demonstrates a firm, authentic and effective commitment to sustainability, both towards the environment and socially, under the globally-recognised symbol of the Wilderness Foundation, the Green Leaf™. The GLES is implemented internationally by accredited agencies which ensure impartiality and quality during the certification process.
Fair Trade in Tourism – http://www.fairtrade.travel/
Fair Trade in Tourism (FTT) is a non-profit organisation that is leading the way forward in the development of sustainable and responsible tourism in southern Africa and beyond. It grows awareness about responsible tourism to travellers, assisting tourism businesses to operate more sustainably and facilitating the FTT certification programme across southern Africa. The FTT label stands for fair wages and working conditions, fair purchasing and operations, equitable distribution of benefits and respect for human rights, culture and the environment. It also ensures that the people who contribute their land, resources, labour and knowledge to tourism are the ones who reap the benefits.
The Majete National Park, in the Great Rift Valley in Malawi, is committed to maintaining its biodiversity and restoring tracts of land depleted by heavy poaching in the 80s and 90s. Due to the park’s conservation efforts in the past decade, 2,500 species of animals have successfully been reintroduced to this former wasteland. The Park also employs locals, so they become invested in wildlife preservation. For those seeking a luxurious experience in Majete, Robin Pope Safaris’ Mkumuladzi is right on the Zambezi and offers exciting activities.
Located on the banks of the Kunene River in Namibia, near the sublime Namib Desert, Serra Cafema is one of Africa’s remotest camps. Serra Cafema is owned, operated, and staffed by the indigenous Himba people, one of the last semi-nomadic people on earth. The camp is also involved with the Namibia Sea Turtle Project, which works with the Angolan and Namibian governments to protect the sea turtles that congregate near the mouth of the Kunene River.
Mombo Camp is involved in multi-platform conservation efforts such as the Botswana Rhino Reintroduction Project that reintroduced the white rhino to the Okavango Delta. Mombo Camp employs different ethnic groups to engage with the local community. The camp has minimized its carbon footprint through solar power, thermodynamic geysers, rainwater harvesting, and passive environmental architecture.
Ghona Hills is found in the Savuti region of Botswana and boasts stunning views over the plains, as well as a busy waterhole. Its eleven en-suite canvas tents are built on elevated platforms, providing further breathtaking viewing opportunities. The wildlife viewing in the reserve is superb all year round. The lodge is an off-the-grid eco-friendly establishment that makes use of solar power and limits its impact on the environment.
Little Makalolo is a small, intimate camp in the remote wilderness of Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. It has six en-suite safari tents with indoor and outdoor showers. The lodge has a swimming pool, lounge and dining area and log-pile hide for observing the busy waterhole nearby. Game drives and walks allow guests to get up close to reserve’s wildlife, which includes the big 5. The lodge uses solar power and aims to reduce environmental footprint.
Mashovhela is found in South Africa‘s scenic Northern Cape and is the proud achiever of the prestigious Gold Leaf green rating.The lodge is furnished and styled with traditional African designs. The ten comfortable rooms are en-suite and have facilities for families. In addition to walking safaris, guests have the option of visiting local villages, ancient ruins, a museum, sacred Venda sites, and a tea estate.
Ndutu is a seasonal camp found in the Serengeti. It consists of ten canvas safari tents with en suite facilities, solar lighting and eco-friendly flushing toilet and shower. Game drives allow guests to explore the surrounding wilderness, and guests can also access the Ngorongoro Crater, Olduvai Gorge and interact with the local Maasai people.
Singita Sweni is a small, intimate lodge on a private concession in South Africa‘s renowned Kruger National Park. The camp is cerified “green” and has a minimal impact on the environment. The suites have glass fronts, allowing for fantastic views. A spa, gym, pool and Business centre are just some of the world-class facilities offered at the lodge. Game drives allow guests to experience the famous Kruger wildlife, which includes the Big 5.
!Xaus is situated in the dry and vast Kgalalgadi Transfrontier Park, which is renowned for its abundance of predators and birds of prey. This desert lodge is owned and run by the local Khomani San and Mier communities. !Xaus Lodge (the “!” represents a vocal click in the San language, but can also be pronounced as a K) blends into…Enquire Now
Zimbabwe is one of Africa's key wildlife, nature and safari destinations. The landlocked Southern African country is home to the mighty Zambezi River, one of the largest in Africa; the legendary, world-famous Victoria Falls; and several parks and reserves that are sanctuaries for a plethora of large and small game species. The country also features several ancient and historically-significant sites.…Enquire Now
This exciting safari tour takes guests on a 24-day adventure through five Southern African countries, showcasing the best nature, wildlife and adventure destinations each one has to offer. Besides visiting the region’s essential destinations, such as the iconic Victoria Falls and the world-famous Kruger National Park, you will also have the opportunity for a host of other experiences. Encounter the…Enquire Now
South Africa’s Kruger National Park is renowned worldwide. This massive expanse of bushveld and wilderness is home to an incredible abundance of animal, plant, bird and reptile species. The area is also known for housing Africa’s iconic Big 5. On this 5-day safari tour, guests are taken on a comprehensive tour of the Kruger and surrounding area, for a chance…Enquire Now
This comprehensive safari tour takes you through two of Uganda's most exciting national parks- Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park. In Bwindi, you will have the opportunity to track and interact with endangered mountain gorillas- a thrilling, once-in-a-lifetime experience. In Queen Elizabeth National Park, you will embark on game drives, and have a chance to spot a…Enquire Now
The popular main rest camp of the Addo Elephant National Park offers a wide variety of accommodation units to suit all tastes and plenty of activities to keep visitors busy. A unique feature is the waterhole lookout point, floodlit at night, within the camp, as well as the underground hide, allowing close encounters with wildlife at the waterhole such as…Enquire Now
Africa on Foot is a safari company offering a great combination of walking and game drive safaris in a remote part of the Klaserie Game Reserve - a conservancy of privately owned game farms open to the Kruger Park. The camp is a traditional family-run bush camp where the atmosphere is homely and relaxed and the facilities rustic yet comfortable.…Enquire Now
Agulhas Rest Camp is found in the Agulhas National Park, at the point where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet (in which many ships have been wrecked over the centuries). The renowned Cape Agulhas Lighthouse can be found nearby. The camp offers sea views and provides comfortable, intimate accommodation in the Agulhas National Park. Agulhas boasts attractions such as the…Enquire Now
Ai-Ais Hotsprings Spa is a unique nature retreat in a dramatic setting. It is located on the southern end of the Fish River Canyon, among the mountains of the Ai-Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park in Namibia. The Fish River Canyon is the second largest canyon in the world, the largest in Africa, and is famous for its multi-day hiking trails. The…Enquire Now
Amani Safari Camp is based deep in the Klaserie Game Reserve in the Greater Kruger Park’s vast block of privately-owned wilderness. The conservancy of 3500 odd hectares falls along both sides of the Klaserie River, attracting herds of elephant, buffalo and of course, the big cats that hunt them. The affordable safari accommodation is in 4 en-suite air-conditioned bedrooms. Each…Enquire Now
The intimate and beautiful Angela's Camp is a safari camp located in the Klaserie Game Reserve in South Africa. This private nature reserve is part of the Greater Kruger Park, home to the Big 5 and offers an authentic African safari experience. Angela's Camp is made up of five en-suite chalets, each decorated with the artwork of local artists, The…Enquire Now
Aquila Safari Lodge is a 4 star establishment in the Southern Karoo. The reserve is a 7,500 hectare conservancy in the southern Karoo, and home to the big 5 legends of the wilderness - elephant, lion, buffalo, leopard and rhino. Aquila offers traditional game drives, safaris on horseback, quad biking, 4 x 4 mountain trails and so much more. Aquila…Enquire Now
Deep in the heart of the Kruger National Park, in the most exquisite topography, lies a small satellite camp. Named 'Balule' after the Tsonga word for the Olifants River, this camp is one of the best places for guests to experience nature first hand. Situated more or less in the centre of the Park, just south of Olifants Camp, Balule…Enquire Now
Renowned for its stunning, striking carpets of flowers that bloom after the spring rains, the Namaqua National Park in South Africa is one of nature's greatest spectacles. Butterflies, birds and long-tongued flies dart around among the flowers, seemingly overwhelmed by the abundance and diversity. The Speckled Cape Tortoise, the world's smallest, is found here. A number of rustic campsites can…Enquire Now
Baobab Hill Bush House is situated on a hill overlooking the Luvuvhu River in the northern Pafuri region of the Kruger National Park. This private homestead offers a secluded retreat in the bush, perfect for small groups and families. The house can sleep up to 8 people and consists of 4 bedrooms, as well as facilities that include a kitchen,…Enquire Now
"The Free State landscape gladdens my heart, no matter what my mood. When I am here I feel that nothing can shut me in, that my thoughts can roam as far as the horizons.” - former President Nelson Mandela wrote in his autobiography. It is here where Basotho Cultural Village Rest Camp nestles on the eastern side of the Golden…Enquire Now
This delightful camp is situated on the banks of the Mashokwe Spruit. It is approximately 40km south-west of Shingwedzi in the beautiful northern Mopane/Woodland savannah of the Kruger National Park. Named after the majestic eagle, Bateleur, the oldest and the smallest of the bushveld camps, offers a unique atmosphere and superb game viewing. One of the many features Bateleur offers…Enquire Now
Berg-en-Dal is situated on the bank of the Matjulu Spruit with a view of softly undulating hills to the east. On the northern and southern sides dry riverbeds and a dam border the camp. There are large trees along the streams and dry riverbeds. Special care has been taken to preserve the natural vegetation in the camp. Berg-en-Dal is also…Enquire Now
Looking to see all the natural splendour of Zambia? This safari tour from 'East to West' in Zambia includes the highlights of Zambia's pristine National Parks. We will spend four days in South Luangwa National Park, visit the famous Kafue National Park and carry on to the remote Liuwa Plains National Park, one of Africa's last true wilderness areas. Mosi-oa-Tunya…Enquire Now
Elevated above the red sand dunes of the Kalahari and suspended in time is Bitterpan – an exclusive, stilted camp overlooking a waterhole. Bitterpan is situated in the center of the wilderness opening up a new 4x4 route through the Kalahari dunes from Nossob to Mata-Mata and the Kalahari Tented Camp. The water hole is visited regularly by a variety…Enquire Now