Six Sustainable Safari Lodges in Africa
Over the past few years, we have noticed a clear move towards more sustainable, earth-friendly travel and ecotourism. Travellers are now wanting to know that their experiences while travelling, are responsible and beneficial to the earth and communities surrounding the reserves they visit. Ecotourism is all about ‘travelling lightly’ and ensuring that you have a positive impact on all of the wonderful places that you’re visiting. The safari industry definitely has a good reputation for gaining momentum when it comes to lodges making their practices more sustainable, responsible and eco-friendly.
When planning your next Escape, there are certain indications that you can look out for that will help you determine how sustainable a destination is. Firstly, their operation should directly benefit the local communities surrounding them. This can be in the form of creating jobs and upskilling local people, leasing land from a community or contributing to education and well-being in the neighbouring areas. Secondly, there should be an effort to use local produce and the exchange should be equitable and sustainable. Many eco-tourism lodges will have their own vegetable gardens or buy their fresh produce from a local supplier, therefore reducing the carbon cost of transporting products. Lastly, there should be some form of sustainability effort in and around the lodge, this can be anything from solar energy to refusing to use plastic on site.
Escape Safari Co highlights five lodges in Africa that continue to improve their operational choices in the hopes of creating a more sustainable future.
Tswalu is an important and continuous conservation project. It is a reserve that is focused on restoring the Kalahari ecosystem to its natural state and is always searching for ways to achieve this. Tswalu is also home to the Kalahari Endangered Ecosystems Project (KEEP), a research unit that is focused on assessing the impact of climate change in the region and how this has affected the fauna and flora. some of the research with KEEP looks at the effects of climate change on how species respond and interact with each other in complex food webs. For example, reduced overall rainfall on the reserve results in less grass, which results in a reduced abundance of harvester termites, which has a knock-on effect for aardvarks.
There are always research projects on the go and these include research on pangolin, brown hyena, pygmy falcons, white-browed sparrow weavers, to name a few.
Set of the edge of volcanoes national park in Rwanda you will find a uniquely beautiful lodge that contributes to sustainable operations on all levels. Within the dramatic setting of the forests, guests have the privilege of experiencing gorilla encounters and golden monkey encounters.
The design elements of the lodge include "woven ceilings and hand-fired terracotta brickwork crafted by local artisans". There is also an onsite plant nursery and vegetable garden which provides the freshest produce to the lodge and staff while creating additional access to income, a more sustainable supply chain and enhancing the guest experience.
Phinda has been at the forefront of conservation for nearly 30 years and was a pioneering reserve in eco-tourism. The land has been reclaimed from old livestock and pineapple farms, which have recovered dramatically through successful land management over the past 3 decades. Phinda is home to 6 stunning lodges and some of the most diverse habitats in the country.
Phinda has always been involved with conservation work spanning across most mammals and their team of dedicated researchers and habitat professionals sure this ecosystem is operating at an optimum level. They have been instrumental in large scale mammal relocations, home to projects such as the Black Rhino Range Expansion Project and are a critical source for growing a sustainable, genetically diverse cheetah population which is often used to populate other reserves around Southern Africa.
The land on which Serra Cafema has been built is leased from the 300 000-hectare Marienfluss Conservancy in Namibia which is owned primarily by the Himba people, who are amongst the last semi-nomadic peoples on the planet.
Serra Cafema falls within the Wilderness Safaris portfolio which is affiliated with Wilderness Wildlife Trust, Children of the Wilderness and Lion Recover Fund. Contributions from guests stays at Serra Cafema and other Wilderness Lodges will go towards research and conservation, community empowerment and education and anti-poaching and management.
Londolozi is a family-run lodge in the Sabi Sands that continues to include and improve conservation and sustainable practices in the lodge operations, staff education and community upliftment. Previously a cattle farm and then a hunting reserve, Londolozi became the first Relais & Chateaux safari lodge in Africa and continues to grow and adapt to have a more positive impact on the earth.
Solar panels have recently been installed at the lodge and a substantial portion of the electricity that is used on site is from the solar farm. There are also vegetable gardens around the staff village that grow the highest quality fresh produce, which is used in the camps kitchen, each of the gardens is owned by a staff member, which creates another source of income and supports micro-businesses.
Marataba Conservation Camps are found within the Marataba Contractual Park, a 4-hour journey from Johannesburg. Here, conservation is at the forefront of their daily lives with ongoing conservation work constantly happening on the reserve. It is a true example of how land management and conservation go hand in hand.
Marataba is a model where guides put conservation at the forefront, whilst still including the flexibility and fun of a traditional safari experience. Guests are encouraged to actively participate in some of these pioneering projects which could include elephant and predator management, ecological interventions like veld condition surveys or participate in the Rhino Conservation Safaris.
The Rhino Conservation Safari was developed to get guests actively involved in the protection and monitoring of the key rhino population that exists on Marataba. In order to safeguard them from poaching various tools are used including ear notching, DNA micro-chipping of horns and body and fitment of artificially intelligent ankle bracelets, which monitor their movement and behaviour.
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