Sustainable safaris in Africa
From the open savannahs of South Africa and Botswana to the desert plains and lush cloud forests of Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda, there are no better places to experience wildlife than in southern and east Africa. Still, it has never been more important to choose an ethical operator. Here are five unique safaris with sustainability at their heart
MCH Private Tented Camp by Garonga Safari
Plan a trip to South Africa
Location: South Africa
Neighbouring the tourist-heavy Kruger region, the Garonga Game Reserve is a lesser visited alternative to one of South Africa’s most popular safari regions. Here, the Big Five – lion, leopard, black rhino, elephant and buffalo – go relatively unnoticed as they freely roam across the Makalali grasslands. MCH Private Tented Camp from Garonga Safari Co is completely solar powered, while hot water is generated by a thermodynamic pump and a complex filtration system treats and cleans grey water before redistributing it to on-site wildlife waterholes. It makes it all the more special when bathing out on deck with a backdrop of the Drakensburg Mountains or sleeping under the stars with the Sleep Out Deck experience. Garonga partners with the Black Rhino Range Expansion Project, which works with local anti-poaching units to protect the park’s rhino populations. By visiting, your profits, donation and even rhino sponsorship go towards maintaining a safe habitat for wildlife.
The Safari Series
Take off to Kenya
Away from the tourist hotspots of the Maasai Mara, this intimate safari camp in the northern Kenya’s Lolldaiga Hills is renowned for its iconic, expert-led game drives in search of the Big Five in vintage Land Rovers. Plus, you can book guided hikes, photography tours and even fly-camping experiences. The homey camp is powered by solar energy and built thoughtfully using locally sourced wood. The big draw, however, is that The Safari Series – owned by husband-and-wife team Ed and Moon Hough – donates 100 per cent of its profits to conservation, communities and ecological research in its surrounding region. Current initiatives include the cactus clearing project, which removes invasive Opuntia (prickly pear) from local farmland and wildlife zones. Plus, there’s the Timau River Project, which works to preserve vital local freshwater ecosystems. By booking with Ed and Moon, you can be reassured that your money goes into protecting Lolldaiga’s community and wildlife.
Kwitonda Lodge by Singita
Plan a trip to Rwanda
The trek to witness Rwanda’s endangered mountain gorillas in the wild in the Volcanoes National Park is a safari you will never forget. Thankfully, Kwitonda Lodge – located just ten minutes from the park – is committed to providing an all-round ethical experience. Sustainability starts at the core here. Kwitonda’s very walls are built to reduce energy consumption – rooms are well insulated, while the use of local volcanic rock keeps the place cool and ventilated and without the need for energy-heavy air-conditioning systems. Surrounding the lodge, 178 acres of land has been rewilded with native plant species. In addition, Singita runs a Community Culinary School programme, inviting budding chefs to apply for their Worldchefs certificate. These low-carbon impact, conservation and community goals derive from Singita’s One Planet Living strategy, which includes principles such as a nurturing culture, supporting sustainable farming and the preservation of nature. By booking a room at Kwitonda, guests are helping to continue this strategy for years to come.
Usangu Expedition Camp by Asilia
Take off to Tanzania
In the remote waterways of Ruaha National Park, endemic bird life and big game are in abundance – making this region a great alternative to the over-touristed Serengeti. Asilia’s Usangu Expedition Camp is for those who want to make a difference – providing an interactive safari crossed with conservation experience, where guests are invited to visit the neighbouring Douglas Bell Eco Research Station during their stay. The station showcases the intricate environmental work that goes on in these wetlands. Biodiversity surveys, dung analysis, tree research – they do it all here. You can help biologists by setting up camera traps to help track the movement and wellbeing of animals and identify predators – and even take part in the telemetry tracking of lions. With such immersive experiences and knowing your money will go towards maintaining this crucial habitat, it’s impossible to leave without becoming an ambassador of Usangu.
Linyanti Ebony by African Bush Camps
Plan a trip to Botswana
The Okavango Delta – and its surrounding national parks of Chobe and Moremi – is popular with holidaymakers. However, just one game drive in the region will confirm that many operators here are currently only focused on delivering the most Instagram-worthy photos. That’s why Linyanti Ebony camp does such important work, through its African Bush Camp (ABC) Foundation, in developing education around wildlife and environmental conservation. The ABC Foundation also undertakes vital community activity – the Kachikau Primary School Disability Unit gives young people the opportunity to board, eat and be schooled on site during the week. And, in an industry where more than 90 per cent of safari guides are male, the Female Safari Guide Project offers mentorships, skills training and job shadowing at Linyanti and other ABC lodges. The two-year course involves professional training at the African Guides Academy. Every visitor to the camp contributes towards each project, with US$10 per night from every occupied bed donated.