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
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
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
Cape Town is a fantastic city to explore. Steeped in history and full to the brim with natural beauty, you will be forgiven for not knowing where to start. That is why this 3-day Cape Town Explorer is the perfect fit for anyone wanting to visit the Mother City. You will be transported by an experienced guide to both historical…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
AfriCamps at Gowan Valley is nestled in the heart of the KwaZulu-Natal’s Midlands Meander route in the Balgowan are surrounded by captivating rolling green hills, endless fields, and mighty river all forming beautiful and mystical surroundings. The camp has an English countryside aura mixed with authentic South African hospitality and features five air-conditioned luxury tents which can sleep a maximum…Enquire Now
AfriCamps at Hoedspruit located in the Greater Kruger is an epitome of authentic safari, with its great mix of cultural heritage, magnificent landscapes and unparalleled wildlife sightings. The camp features eleven air-conditioned tents each with a wood burning fireplace, fully equipped kitchen with four burner hob,private barbecue area, wood-fired hot tub and a spacious private deck with stunning river and…Enquire Now
AfriCamps at Ingwe is an outdoor adventurer and nature lover’s paradise situated in the Crags, a lush forest and Fynbos area close to the coastal town of Plettenberg Bay in the middle of the Garden Route. The camp features elevated tents with private viewing decks that offer breathtaking views of rolling green hill tops surrounded by indigenous forested valleys and…Enquire Now
AfriCamps at Kam’Bati is located on the confluence of the Sonderend River and Breede River on an Overberg farm in Swellendam. The camp has five luxury boutique camping tents which are nestled in a pristine serene forest close to the river. The air conditioned en-suite tents accommodate a maximum of five people each, and feature a fully appointed kitchen with…Enquire Now
AfriCamps at Mackers is perched on the river bank of the Sabi River a short distance from Hazyview in Mpumalanga. The camp boasts ten air-conditioned luxury boutique glamping tents which sit along the riverbed and accommodate a maximum of five people . The tents are a combination of comfort and an authentic bush style, they feature a fully appointed kitchen…Enquire Now
AfriCamps at Oakhurst is a large working farm perched high up in the mountains along the Garden Route covering a large area of pristine fynbos and indigenous forest. It features eight tents that overlook the beautiful Outeniqua mountain and surrounding rolling green fields graced by grazing cows and horses creating an authentic farm experience. The air conditioned tents can accommodate…Enquire Now
AfriCamps at White Elephant Safaris is located in the world's second oldest private reserve the Pongola Game Reserve which lies at the foot of the majestic Lebombo Mountains. The camp's twelve luxury tents are air conditioned, have two queen size beds and one single bed accommodating a maximum of five people. The well appointed tents boast a fully equipped kitchen…Enquire Now
Africamps Klein Karoo is located on one of the biggest working Ostrich farms in Southern Africa, a ten minutes’ drive from Oudtshoorn just off the Garden route. A large section of the farm is set aside for an array of free roaming game like zebra, springbok, blue wildebeest, kudu, impala, eland, waterbuck and nyala .Twelve luxury boutique camping tents are…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
Antares Bush Camp is a small self-catering camp located in the Grietjie Nature Reserve within the Greater Kruger National Park. It offers a warm, authentic , relaxing and exclusive bush experience for small groups or families. The camp features five en-suite bedrooms with outside showers with one of the bedrooms set up as a family room featuring a queen bed…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