“Touching the Earth lightly” is an important concept in Africa, where tourism plays a critical role in the conservation of the continent’s breathtaking landscapes and iconic wildlife. Many of the best safari lodges and camps operate with sustainability and environmental sensitivity front-of-mind, actively supporting local conservation and community development projects. Many of the properties are also eco-friendly, whether built from renewable and recycled materials, making use of solar power or minimising the operational footprint on the land. Here are some of our favourites:
Sanctuary Baines’ Camp, Botswana – constructed from commercially-grown wood and over 150,000 recycled aluminium cans which were collected by the local community. Guests can also meet and interact with semi-habituated orphaned elephants and in so doing make a contribution to the Living With Elephants Foundation; a non-profit organisation that seeks to secure the long-term future of the species.
Gondwana Tented Eco Camp, South Africa – this family-friendly, off-the-grid eco camp on the Garden Route encourages guests to participate in meaningful conservation activities during their stay. In between spotting the Big 5, visitors can help carry out game counts, set up camera traps, track the resident radio-collared lions and hack down invasive plant species.
Delta Camp, Botswana – situated on a small island in the Okavango Delta, each of the chalets is built of natural materials, into and around ancient, indigenous trees and elevated off the forest floor in order to be as unobtrusive as possible. The camp’s environmental sensitivity extends to its use of biodegradable products wherever possible, careful separation, treatment and removal of refuse and solar-powered electric lighting.
Eden Lodge, Madagascar – recognised the world over as a model of sustainable tourism, this exclusive property embodies a new concept for luxury accommodation in Madagascar because of its unique location in a protected natural reserve. 100% solar powered, Eden Lodge is a remote paradise that prioritises the reduction of its environmental impact as well as actively conserving the surrounding flora and fauna and supporting local communities.
Zarafa Camp, Botswana – an intimate, four-room tented camp located on the on the private 130,000-hectare Selinda Reserve in northern Botswana that remains the country’s first and only Relais & Chateaux property. Only recycled hardwoods and canvas were used in the construction and all the camp’s electricity comes from its solar farm while ‘bio gas’ plants recycle waste into usable cooking gas.
Wolwedans Collection, Namibia – this group of camps in the NamibRand Nature Reserve is a leader in sustainable development, working on sustainable, mostly tourism-driven enterprises, whilst fostering community development, conservation support and cultural stewardship. All the camps are designed to minimize environmental impact, exploring innovative building techniques and utilizing sustainable technologies.