Eco-tourism is all about travelling lightly and leaving a positive impact on the places we travel to. It’s also about choosing accommodation that is serious about the environment, community and animals.
Being “eco-friendly” is a passing trend for some brands – just like veganism or planting succulents in your garden – but for others, it represents an integral part of their company ethos.
We weigh up on 5 pioneering lodges changing the standard of eco-tourism in Africa.
Aquila Private Game Reserve and Spa
Aquila is a 10,000-hectare conservancy in the southern Karoo, just 2 hours from the Cape Town. Extremely popular with tourists visiting the Mother City, the reserve in recent years has taken their eco-practices to the next level.
Among the numerous projects currently taking place, include rhino conservation, compost recycling, veld regeneration and the establishment of the Aquila Eagle Crest Conservation Fund. They’re not only focused on wildlife, but also focuses on the upliftment of the surrounding communities. The reserve provides over 300 jobs to the previously disadvantaged community of Touws River and sponsors the local cricket, soccer and rugby teams as well as a full-time school teacher.
Kalahari, South Africa
Tswalu Kalahari is the largest private reserve in South Africa covering a whopping 110 000 hectares. The original reserve was established by British-born business man Stephan Boler who bought up the land of 35 farms. After his death, his will specified that the Twaslu was to be offered to billionaire and philanthropist Nicky Oppenheimer.
The reserves entire ethos is focused on conservation and no more than 30 guests can visit the lodge at a time to reduce human impact. Tswalu is also heavily focused on research and conservational education for its guests and runs breeding programmed for rare and endangered species.
Elephant’s Eye, Hwange
Elephant’s Eye, Hwange was opened just three years ago, but is already paving the way for eco-tourism in Zimbabwe. Located on a fenceless concession next to Hwange National Park, the lodge is deeply committed to being eco-friendly. The pool is ozone so that it is safe for the hundreds of Elephants who frequent the concession to drink. On arrival, guests are given a water flask to reduce the use of plastic. The lodge is also a founding member of the CWF, the largest conservation project in Hwange National Park.
Elephant’s Eye also support local communities in the area – all the fruit and veggies are grown in the nearby organic community garden, and the lodge also supports the local Dingani School and a local homestead which they fund through non-invasive guided tours.
Chobe Game Lodge
Chobe Game Lodge originally shot to international fame in the 70’s when it became the location where Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton decided to tie the knot (for the second time). But, now, more than 40 years later, it is the eco-tourism initiatives that has got people talking.
The lodge was the first to be awarded ecotourism recognition by the Botswanan Tourism Board, the highest accolade of its kind in the country. They are the first in Africa to adopt the use of CO2 emission free silent electric game viewing vehicles and boats. They also make use of a Biogas, employ the only all-female guiding team and operate several youth trainee-development programmes.
Serra Cafema Camp
Namib Desert, Namibia
Situated in the extreme north-west of Namibia, is Serra Cafema Camp on the banks of the Kunene River. Consisting of 8 delightful chalets, the camp lies on the 300 000-hectare Marienfluss
Conservancy which is primarily owned by the Himba people, some of the last semi-nomadic peoples on the planet. Due to the commitment to assisting the Himba and keeping with their way of life, is the reason the stunning Serra Caféma made our list. Not only do the Himba people migrate through the conservancy, but they actually assisted in the construction of the lodge. Other projects include the Namibia Sea Turtle Project, which aims protect nesting turtles from local fisherman and crocodile research, which, among other things, is committed to ensuring a strong population in the Kunene River by the camp. Furthermore, the camp is predominantly run off solar energy.