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Nature-Friendly Hospitality – Six Eco-Lodges in South Africa

As responsible travellers, we understand that sustainable travel involves preserving the environment, participating in community upliftment projects, and supporting conservation initiatives. This knowledge enables us to make more informed decisions about the impact our travels have on the destinations we visit. Tourism creates jobs for millions worldwide, and we want the money we spend on travelling to make a positive difference. When selecting a destination in Africa, consider how your visit can contribute to sustainable development and support local communities.

The importance of eco-friendly principles in South African tourism is gaining momentum among travellers and establishments alike. Many businesses are adopting green values, responsible tourism practices, and sustainability initiatives, significantly impacting the country.

Let’s look at six lodges and game reserves making a difference.

Kololo Game Reserve – A Fair Trade certified, eco-friendly, 4-star game reserve. Sustainability and corporate social responsibility are among their main priorities. They offer education and training to their staff and strive to maintain a self-sufficient operation in harmony with nature. Their efforts include using a bio-septic tank, filtering water, recycling waste, and transitioning to solar energy. Kololo requests guests and employees to respect the environment and is committed to preserving the African way of life for future generations. They offer guests an authentic African experience and invest in the local community.

Singita Lebombo – Committed to eco-friendly hospitality, sustainable conservation, and empowering local communities. Their safari lodges are constructed with sustainable materials, guided by the principle of “touching the earth lightly.” Singita Lebombo meets 90% of its energy needs through clean solar power, reducing diesel consumption and creating a quieter environment for staff. Dedicated teams at each lodge focus on preserving the land and increasing wildlife through environmental care and anti-poaching efforts. The Singita School of Cooking provides culinary training for local youth, located on-site at the staff village serving Lebombo and Sweni.

Teniqua Treetops – The opportunity to sleep, eat and shower up in the forest canopy in a handcrafted treehouse. They are committed to eco-friendly practices and minimising their global footprint through staff training, recycling bins and using glass instead of single-use plastics. Compost and landfill bins are made available in the suites. Water is sourced from the Karatara River, and solar energy is used to assist with energy requirements, although the resort is not entirely off the grid. The lodge meets global best practice standards for green tourism.

Grootbos Nature Reserve – Cape Town is leading the way in eco-tourism and offers a variety of environmentally friendly accommodation options to suit any budget. Grootbos Nature Reserve in Hermanus is committed to various conservation projects to preserve the local flora and fauna.

iKhayalamafu (House in the Clouds) – Nestled in the Monk’s Cowl Reserve of the Central Drakensberg, iKhayalamafu eco-estate boasts uninterrupted views of the mountains, as it generates all its energy from solar and hydro sources, eliminating the need for unsightly power lines. iKhayalamafu is committed to preserving the surrounding indigenous forests by eradicating invasive plant species. The estate is self-sufficient in terms of honey and vegetable production and shares its boundary with a World Heritage Site, allowing wildlife to roam freely without fencing.

Thonga Beach Lodge – The main objective of this lodge is to prioritise ethical consideration and environmental sustainability in every decision they make. From providing reusable water bottles and serving sustainably sourced seafood, to implementing significant initiatives such as supporting the neighbouring communities’ micro-economies and conducting turtle tracking and research programs, this lodge believes in eco-friendly living without compromising on luxury.