Three SA Eco-lodges in National Geographic Adventure’s Top 50

Eco-lodges have become a vital part of conservation, tourism and support systems for local communities. To be recognized as an eco-lodge, establishments must fulfill a few requirements. Not only must the lodge be able to provide good service and great comfort, but their initiative must be to look for environmentally friendly ways to operate, such as using recyclable materials and causing the least amount of disruption to the environment. They must use the cultural aspects of their location in the lodge and encourage the local community in using their traditions and the conservation of the natural surroundings to derive an income from the tourism industry.

An increasing number of tourists are seeking to travel and visit eco-lodges, as they know that their presence is a contribution to the preservation of the natural environment and the eco-system of the area. More and more eco-lodges have sprung up in recent years, giving visitors the opportunity to visit diverse eco-systems that consist of deserts, islands, mountains, jungles and savannahs, and recently, the National Geographic Adventure magazine has released its Top 50 eco-lodges in the world, of which three are in South Africa.

The Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve was established in 1991 and is now a seven thousand five hundred hectare eco-lodge. Over the years, the land restored itself from overgrazing of livestock and is now home to many endangered species of South Africa. Located near Cape Town, at the Cedarburg Mountains, the lodge offers visitors everything from ancient rock art, breathtaking landscapes to wildlife and is a popular eco-lodge welcoming international and local visitors.

The Tswalu Kalahari Reserve is the biggest private game reserve in South Africa, covering a massive area of approximately a thousand square kilometers. It is a reserve that has been rewarded through international recognition many times for its use of solar energy, recycling methods, conservation efforts and the development of the local community. It is also a reserve that protects and restores the environment and is home to a great number of endangered species.

The third eco-lodge that has made it onto the National Geographic Adventure magazine list is the Phinda Private Game Reserve in Kwa-Zulu Natal. Its diverse landscape, consisting of marshes, mountains, rivers, grassland and forests, is a sight to behold. Community projects such as organic gardens and worm farms have helped the locals to produce the vegetables that are purchased by the lodge. Rangers are eager to share the beauty of the landscape, as well as re-introduction projects of lions and leopard research updates with visitors.

All three of these magnificent eco-lodges in South Africa live up to the standards and goals set by the eco-tourism industry. Visitors will not only find luxury accommodation, fascinating wildlife and breathtaking landscapes here, but establishments that strive to preserve and protect the natural wonder of their regions.