In a world where trends shift weekly and the only true constant is change, some solace is to be found in that the shift in the safari industry that is rapidly establishing itself as the new normal is the move towards sustainability.
Going green is the buzz phrase, but is far more complex than many visitors seem to realise. It’s not simply a push towards renewable energy, although if your lodge isn’t running primarily on solar power these days, you’re getting left in the dust. Yes, renewables play a key part in the whole complicated microcosm of lodge building and continued functioning, but it is ultimately the mindset behind the sustainability movement that is most important, and which thankfully is becoming ever more entrenched in the industry.
It is a mindset that is centred upon awareness of your own impact upon not just those places and people you encounter, but the rippling out of your personal experience into the greater industry.
Are the vegetables on your plate being sourced locally, thereby reducing their carbon footprint in the form of transportation and packaging?
Is the lodge you are staying at contributing meaningfully to the communities near which they operate? Are they promoting health and education and employment equity?
Are waste disposal measures focused on recycling and are leftovers being made use of to minimise wastage?
These are questions that conscious travellers are asking more and more these days, and what we are increasingly seeing in safari is that if lodges aren’t fulfilling these criteria, travellers won’t book.
Many times of late we have seen the decision of where to stay being reduced to the simple equation of how much the respective lodges are doing in terms of conservation and community development, and those at the forefront of the movement are getting the bookings.
With many of the top lodges almost inseparable in terms of their wildlife, accommodation and culinary offerings, it is their respective shifts towards sustainability that serves to differentiate them.
Londolozi in the Sabi Sands, one of our favourite destinations, has long been leading the charge in terms of their sustainability efforts and community programs.
The Good Work Foundation, a non-prophet dedicated to digital and english literacy in rural areas surrounding game reserves, is one of their brainchilds. They are almost completely off the grid with their state-of-the-art solar farm, they grow their own vegetables on-site to reduce carbon emissions from the transport of fresh produce, and they are constantly looking for new ways to innovate.
The Wilderness Portfolio operate largely in remote, ecologically sensitive regions like the Okavango Delta of Botswana or the Busanga Plains in Zambia. It is imperative for the longevity of the regions they promote and take guests into that their camps are as low-impact as possible, which is a model they have wholeheartedly endorsed. Solar energy, advanced water treatment and waste disposal systems, you name it… the camps set the standard very high.
At Iconic Africa, we are wholeheartedly behind this movement. More and more we find ourselves leaning towards those lodges and safari destinations that are having increasingly positive impacts in the areas in which they operate, and we encourage our guests to ask those same questions…
Its ultimately the accumulative effect of all the little changes that has the biggest impact…