Sustainable travel is about preserving the environment, engaging in meaningful community upliftment projects, and contributing to vital conservation initiatives. Understanding this helps us to be more intuitive about the impact our travels have on the places we visit. It’s estimated that tourism accounts for 1 in 10 jobs globally and employs hundreds of millions of people. Choosing the right place in Africa to visit is a powerful way of making your travel spend matter.
At Go2Africa, we are committed wholeheartedly to making a positive impact in both Southern Africa and East Africa. Each sustainable safari is tailored not only to showing you Africa better than anyone else, but that you aid in a prosperous future for Africa’s natural ecosystems, and the people whose livelihoods are directly linked to it. If you’re considering a positive impact safari, we’ve rounded up some of our favourite eco-friendly lodges in Southern Africa…
Top Eco-Lodges in South Africa
Singita Lebombo is one of the top eco lodges in South Africa. It is located in a private reserve within the Kruger National Park, an area close to the Lebombo Mountains. The design of this luxury safari lodge was inspired by the many eagles’ nests built into the cliff face of the riverbank and it creates beautiful light-filled structures, seemingly floating between river and sky. Singita is dedicated to environmentally conscious hospitality, sustainable conservation, and the empowerment of local communities.
- Eco-friendly design and materials – ‘touch the earth lightly’ was the guiding principle of the construction of this safari lodge and sustainable materials were used throughout.
- Renewable energy – 90% of the power demand at Singita Lebombo is met by clean solar energy. Less diesel consumption and a much quieter environment for staff are just two of the benefits of this system.
- Conservation – each of Singita’s lodges has a dedicated team whose sole focus is to preserve the land and help to increase wildlife populations. This includes environmental care and anti-poaching units.
- Community empowerment – the Singita School of Cooking is located on site at the staff village that serves Lebombo and Sweni. It was established with the aim of encouraging the development of culinary skills amongst local youth.
Thornybush Game Lodge
Thornybush Game Lodge is in a private reserve, the Thornybush Game Reserve, that shares a fenceless border with the Kruger National Park. Often referred to as the ‘Grand Dame’, it is a luxury safari experience that awes with big cat sightings and incredible diversity of wildlife. The lodge’s design is sophisticated, and a main area overlooks a waterhole, for the perfect armchair experience.
- Eco-friendly – the lodge is solar-powered during the day and is a plastic-free zone.
- Organic produce – one of the most rewarding community projects at Thornybush is the Thousand Herbs and Vegetable Garden. It is an agricultural business that oversees the growth, supply and distribution of fresh vegetables and herbs to surrounding communities and luxury safari lodges in the Greater Kruger area.
- Community projects – Thornybush has an initiative called ‘Kids in Conservation’, where local children can achieve their Scouts conservation badges. To do this they must complete a three-day camp with the lodge – this is an inspiring project that will create future custodians of wildlife.
Pafuri Luxury Tented Camp
Pafuri Luxury Tented Camp is situated in the Makuleke Contract Park in the north of the Kruger National Park. It is stretched alongside the Luvuvhu River on raised wooden walkways. The camp has designer tents with en-suite bathrooms including indoor and outdoor showers. This is the place of extraordinary wildlife encounters. Large herds of elephant wander the area together with healthy populations of buffalo, antelope, leopard, hyena and more. Pafuri Luxury Tented Camp wanted to reduce energy consumption and has taken a phased approach to installing solar panels, getting itself off-the-grid and earning itself a place on the list of the best eco lodges in South Africa.
Cheetah Plains is pioneering the sustainable safari in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve. Cheetah Plains was designed by an international award-winning architectural firm and is nothing short of opulence in the African wilds. Cheetah Plains shares an unfenced border with the Kruger National Park and consistently provides spectacular wildlife viewing.
It is one of the best eco-lodges in South Africa and is focused on key areas that support it’s sustainability principles:
- Renewable energy - they have partnered with some of the world’s best in the renewable energy field to provide clean energy solutions and to ensure that they are entirely off-the-grid.
- Electric game vehicles – Cheetah Plains uses innovative Land Cruiser electric safari vehicles to provide zero-emission game viewing.
- Community projects – they are actively involved in community upliftment projects including the construction of the Lezagwa Utah Creche, to provide a place of safety and education for local children.
Top Eco-Lodges in Botswana
Chobe Game Lodge
Chobe Game Lodge is a fully Ecotourism-certified safari lodge and is the only safari lodge that is within the Chobe National Park, set on the banks of the Chobe River. This lodge has a long history: Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton re-married here in the 1970’s. But, looking past its famous guests, its jaw-dropping proximity to wildlife and its Persian carpets and Moroccan-style lanterns, it is a leader in sustainable tourism. It’s been awarded the highest Ecotourism level in the country by the Botswana Tourism Organisation, in recognition of the lodge’s ongoing commitment to social and environmental responsibility.
It is undoubtedly one of the best eco lodges in Botswana for a number of reasons:
- Going electric – Chobe Game Lodge pioneered the first electric-powered safaris in Botswana. They utilise advanced technology for electric-powered boats and vehicles, providing a carbon-emission free safari.
- Eco tours – for those interested in a behind-the-scenes look at the lodge, there is a midday eco tour which takes a deeper look into the sustainable tourism initiatives implemented by passionate staff.
- Cultural excursions – guests can join on visits to the local community and give back to social projects.
- Female empowerment – Chobe Game Lodge has Africa’s first and only all-women guiding team. Empowering women in the guiding industry began in the early 2000s. It has increased from only 8 qualified female guides in the country to over 50 today. 20 of these inspiring women work at Chobe Game Lodge.
Xigera Safari Lodge
Xigera Safari Lodge, a member of Beyond Green, sits in a beautiful location on a private concession in the Okavango Delta. This delicate eco-system requires constant protection to safeguard it for future generations.
Xigera (pronounced ‘kee-jera’) is a luxury safari experience where you won’t be shoe-horned into the standard safari timetable. Instead, you will enjoy total flexibility and a completely bespoke approach to activities with no set times. Morning, afternoon and evening game drives are offered, as are private walking safaris, photographic workshops, private yoga classes, and perusing winding waterways in glass-bottomed mokoros and motorboats.
Xigera is committed to the perfect sustainable safari. It has been built to minimise its impact on the surrounding environment, as well as assist the local community and vital wildlife conservation efforts:
- Renewable energy - a state-of-the-art energy centre runs on the latest Tesla solar-hybrid system, suppling 95% of required power.
- Community entrepreneurial support - Xigera showcases African art and handicrafts for purchase. Almost 90% of its design collection comes from small studios and individual makers.
- Conservation efforts - Xigera partners with Botswana’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks to aid in monitoring and protecting the astonishing wildlife of the region, including the endangered African wild dog.
The Okavango Delta has some of the best game viewing on Earth. Mombo Camp is in a prime position, set right where the Okavango River splits into its primary channels. This luxury safari camp is where you will have front-row seats to some thrilling predator action dominated by big cats. The Mombo Wildlife Area has an incredible diversity of wildlife, including the possibility of seeing rarer and sought-after species like honey badgers, pangolin and even black and white rhino.
Set in a thicket of giant mangosteen and fig trees, Mombo Camp is dedicated to defending, preserving and expanding impactful tourism. It is undoubtedly one of the best eco lodges in Botswana. These are a few of their eco-friendly initiatives that keep their footprint light:
- Renewable energy – Mombo is completely solar-powered. Solar energy is the cleanest and most abundant renewable energy source.
- Green operating systems & plastic-free – wastewater is treated above ground to ensure that the ecosystem is not polluted, and all detergents sourced are eco-friendly. A reverse osmosis system cuts out the need for water bottled in plastic.
Xugana Island Lodge
Xugana Island Lodge stands as an exceptional eco-friendly lodge in Botswana, epitomizing a commitment to sustainable tourism and conservation within the pristine Okavango Delta. With an unwavering dedication to preserving the unique ecosystem, Xugana seamlessly blends luxury with environmental stewardship, offering you an immersive experience that harmonizes with nature.
- Renewable energy: Xugana harnesses the abundant solar energy in the region to power its operations, reducing reliance on fossil fuels and minimizing its carbon footprint.
- Water conservation and management: Recognizing the importance of water preservation in the fragile Okavango Delta, Xugana implements comprehensive water conservation measures. The lodge employs water-saving technologies and practices, such as rainwater harvesting, greywater recycling and efficient irrigation systems.
- Wildlife conservation and education: Xugana actively contributes to wildlife conservation efforts, partnering with local conservation organizations and engaging in research and monitoring initiatives.
Top Eco-Lodges in Zimbabwe
Nyamatusi Camp forms part of the African Bush Camps collection and is their flagship in terms of its environmentally conscious style. It is in one of the wildest and remote areas of Africa, on the banks of the Zambezi – one of the oldest rivers in the world. Mana Pools National Park is famous for its wildlife, where large populations of elephants, hippos and Nile crocodiles congregate and big cats prowl around waterholes.
This property offers comfort and embodies all-round sustainable design: fully solar-powered and built from purely natural materials - a truly magnificent example of being one of the best eco lodges in Zimbabwe. It seamlessly blends into the natural environment and it’s here that your Mana Pools safari takes places in front of an expansive landscape, where epic encounters with gentle giants who roam this land awaits you.
Somalisa Camp is situated on a floodplain in the middle of Hwange National Park. It features furnished canvas tents with en-suite bathrooms, flush toilets and romantic al-fresco bush showers. The swimming pool and guest area overlooks the endless, sprawling vista that lies ahead. The resident wildlife includes the Big Five, white rhino, zebra, giraffe, and the rare roan antelope. Somalisa Camp is a leader in eco-friendly safari accommodation:
- The camp has a full solar power farm and is completely off-the-grid.
- A water purity system allows the camp to recycle 80% of the water it uses.
- It has been awarded the GOLD Green Tourism Certification in Zimbabwe.
Top Eco-Lodges in Zambia
Thorntree River Lodge
Thorntree Lodge blends beautifully into a river setting and its interiors have taken design inspiration from the local culture and customs of Zambia. An intimate selection of tented rooms and family units stretch out along the river’s banks, complete with indoor and outdoor bathrooms as well as private plunge pools. Thorntree River Lodge was built with an environmentally-conscious design, understanding the importance of disturbing the natural setting as little as possible.
- Empowering the youth of Africa – we have entered a pledge partnership with Thorntree River Lodge (part of African Bush Camps) with the sole purpose of uplifting and empowering the Maunga Village Primary School. Go2Africa has pledged to donate $30 to Maunga Village Primary School through the African Bush Camps Foundation for every trip booked with us that includes a night at one of our selected Zambian camps and lodges.
Sindabezi Island Lodge
If you’re looking for a romantic but extremely nature-orientated adventure, a stay at Sindabezi Island Lodge is a must! There are a selection of chalets perched on stilted wooden decks hugging the banks of a private island in the middle of the Zambezi. Winning accolades as one of the best remote places to stay in the world, it is an idyllic escape as well as a luxurious base from which to explore Victoria Falls.
Sindabezi Island Lodge follows green principles and makes a strong effort towards keeping this part of the world in pristine natural condition. They have numerous recycling programmes, organic gardens, and solar energy supplements. The lodge uses recycled wood chips and solar power for heating. The chalets have also been built from materials used from sustainable forests, and there is absolutely no electricity on the island.
Shawa Luangwa, set on the eastern bank of the Luangwa River, is an exemplary eco-friendly lodge in Zambia. It is committed to preserving and harmonizing with the pristine natural environment. With a deep respect for the rich biodiversity of the South Luangwa National Park, Shawa Luangwa actively implements sustainable practices and conservation efforts, ensuring minimal ecological impact.
- Conservation-focused design: Shawa Luangwa has been built using locally sourced, eco-friendly materials, blending seamlessly with the surrounding landscape. The lodge's architecture and infrastructure prioritize energy efficiency and water conservation, reducing its carbon footprint.
- Responsible waste management: The lodge has implemented a comprehensive waste management system that emphasizes recycling, composting, and responsible disposal practices.
- Community engagement and education: Shawa Luangwa actively engages with the local community, providing employment opportunities and supporting local businesses. The lodge also conducts educational programs and workshops to raise awareness about sustainable practices, wildlife conservation, and the importance of preserving the natural environment for future generations.
Top Eco-Lodges in Namibia
Sossusvlei Desert Lodge
Sossusvlei Desert Lodge is situated within the Sossusvlei Private Desert Reserve, a vast expanse deep in the Namib, the world’s oldest living desert. The lodge is set amidst an ocean of dunes, rocky outcrops and gravel plains, making it one of Africa’s most compelling landscapes. Sustainability and uncompromised luxury go hand in hand at this exceptional lodge. Sophisticated, environmentally-friendly design solutions support luxury surroundings in a climate of extremes, making it one of the best eco lodges in Namibia.
Some of the sustainability features of each guest suite include:
- An ingenious roof design providing optimal shade combined with maximum space for unobtrusive solar panels.
- A fully independent solar hot water system.
- A highly effective grey water recycling system for each guest suite (powered by solar).
- A rainwater harvesting tank.
- When the guest suites are not in use, pool covers are used as an evaporation control measure.
Etendeka Mountain Camp
Etendeka Mountain Camp was built on the premise of ‘treading lightly’ and exemplifies eco-tourism. Located at the foot of the Grootberg Mountains in the north of Namibia, the camp is a place of desert wildlife education. This is where a safari is guaranteed to be eco-friendly, from the type of vehicles that are driven and the areas entered into, to the strict recycling efforts throughout the camp. It is vitally important to the camp to keep the landscape as untouched as possible, and you will notice that there are no fences or farm buildings anywhere in the area. It’s the perfect choice for solitude and to photograph some impressive landscapes and wild inhabitants.
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Get in touch with one of our Africa Safari Experts to help tailor-make your stay at the best eco-friendly lodges in Southern Africa: