Embracing Sustainability in 2023 and Beyond
Updated: Feb 1
More now than ever before, true sustainability, supporting local communities and the impact travel has on our delicate planet has become top of mind for both travelers and shareholders. Understanding how to truly operate sustainably, while measuring the positive impact on a destination, the people and environment are a vital part for African Agents and Lodges. Leading brands – Tswalu Kalahari, Singita, Natural Selection and Niarra Travel – have introduced unbelievable opportunities for travelers to not only see, but personally experience the significant difference and impact each stay can have on the conservation of wildlife and the lives of people living in and near the natural world.
Data-Based Safaris at Tswalu Kalahari
Tswalu’s commitment and management tool was developed in collaboration with The Long Run to provide travelers with annual data on operating sustainably while measuring the positive impact on local communities and the environment. Working alongside the internationally recognized conservation organization, The Long Run, has encouraged Tswalu on a journey of continuous improvement as it is only awarded to organizations that demonstrate a holistic balance of the 4Cs: Conservation, Community, Culture, and Commerce. Adhering to the 4Cs, guests visiting Tswalu assist in various conservation and community initiatives, from conserving 500 species in 114,000 hectares to investing over $5 million in nature and people. Guests’ money is being put to work through various research projects and initiatives through the Tswalu Foundation.
Being transparent about Tswalu’s financial choices is a large movement in providing Tswalu guests a clear understanding of the cost of conservation and how much it takes to operate sustainably, especially during a time when the urgency of the climate crisis and sustainability efforts makes accountability and transparency so important.
Singita Carbon-Neutral Guest Stays:
As part of their ongoing commitment to sustainability and playing an active part in helping to fight climate change, leading conservation and ecotourism brand Singita is weaving carbon neutral stays into their offering with a system that allows guests to seamlessly offset their carbon footprint. A carbon neutral levy has automatically been included in every new booking, with these funds generated being used to purchase verified carbon credits from accredited service providers in each region.
In line with its commitment to One Planet Living’s Zero Carbon Energy principle, Singita has already made great strides towards using renewable energy and energy-efficient equipment and buildings to optimize energy management. While steadfastly continuing with these in future, carbon neutrality – and ultimately, carbon negativity – is an extension of their commitment.
Low Carbon Emission at Natural Selection’s Hoanib Valley Camp and Shipwreck Lodge:
Natural Selection’s Hoanib Valley Camp in Namibia is an intimate lodge immersing guests into the wilds of the desert. The entire camp leaves virtually no footprint on a fragile eco-system, completely solar powered to ensure carbon emissions are kept to a minimum. Tents are positioned on decks made of wood, bamboo and 70% recycled-material composite, all produced locally in Swakopmund. Water is sourced entirely from a river bore-hole and strict water-efficiency measures are in place. This entire camp can be dismantled and moved at any given time, leaving no trace on the environment.
Mimicking the unnerving shipwrecks that mark the Namibia’s Skeleton Coast, Natural Selection’s Shipwreck Lodge was designed to be sustainable and ‘clean and green’ by incorporating local and sustainable products. All timber used in the building of the lodge originates from managed forests, and apart from the structural timber, is shipped from the closest source for certified timber, South Africa. The doors and window-frames are also timber material, produced by a local Namibian company. Using innovative technology, structures were nailed together using timber nails, and furthermore, the entire site can be dismantled and moved at any given time. A solar system and wind generator supplies electricity, backed up with a bio-diesel generator for use in emergencies only.
Nairra Travel’s Insights into Carbon Positive Safaris:
Niarra Travel is a premium travel company born out of the passion to do things differently, operating according to two guiding principles of transparency and purpose to ensure that each trip has a positive impact on the ground. Responsible business is a journey, and Niarra Travel continuously strive to improve on their clients’ trips by contributing to a positive impact on people and destinations.
MD for Niarra Travel, Byron Thomas, shared insightful information and their approach to the controversial topic, “does carbon positive safari exist?”
Safaris into Africa entail long and, most of the times, numerous flights where the biggest impact originates from the international and regional legs, travelers are adding carbon and there is unfortunately no real way of creatively accounting a way out of this impact. With most lodges and camps located in remote destinations, food and supplies are often flown in, and Byron mentions that one way to offset this, is to support locally: “Flying food into a destination is not ideal, and therefore lodges are striving to grow produce, especially greeneries and vegetables in available and open spaces around the lodge. With still a long way to go, the biggest contribution travelers can make is to eat locally grown produce from a specific region.”
Byron and Travel Researchers at Niarra deem that looking at carbon alone is a mistake. In line with their commitment and unremitting contribution to the daily impact on earth, “all stakeholders must have a more holistic approach in thinking about true sustainability and that needs to encompass more than just carbon. Examine the positives from communities, culture and conservation to see if the carbon is worth spending.”