By Amira Hashish
When it comes to bucket list travel, few experiences trump an African safari. Whether you are seeking breathtaking landscapes, that wow factor wildlife moment or the opportunity to immerse yourself in local culture, an adventure is almost certainly on the cards. At the core of the very best safari trips is a commitment to sustainability and deep-rooted conservation efforts. Here are seven destinations that offer ultimate escapism whilst nurturing their surroundings…
Kyaninga Lodge, Uganda
Let’s get acquainted: Perched high above Lake Kyaninga, the lodge is the passion project of a chap called Steve Williams who passed through the area on his way to see the gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. His vision is rather remarkable.
Ethos: Steve and his team spent six years building the lodge entirely from locally-sourced materials, with every piece of timber and stone put in place by hand. The result is an imposing and beautiful lodge with nine cottages, all connected by a raised wooden walkway. Each of the rooms has a terrace with views across the lake. On-site, the Kyaninga Child Development Centre brings support to local children with special needs, and the Kyaninga dairy raises revenue for the centre. Meanwhile, the Kyaninga Forest Foundation helps to restore degraded forest in the local area.
How do I book? visit coraltreetravel.com or call 01242 908 720.
Virunga Lodge, Rwanda
Let’s get acquainted: A magnificently positioned lodge with some of the most jaw-dropping views in Africa. From the stone bandas, there is a vista of the cloud-topped volcanic landscape, decorated in rich shades of green.
Ethos: This is one to explore with Steppes Travel, which prides itself on offering luxury trips with sustainability at the core. Their itinerary offers a twist on the traditional Rwanda safari journey through the varied terrain of Akagera. Once devoid of wildlife, this park has been brought back to life with a vast array of animals.
How do I book? Visit steppestravel.com or call 01285 880 980.
Let’s get acquainted: Inspired by Ethiopian monasteries, this magnificently designed five-bedroom private house is built into the landscape and leaves a very subtle footprint on the view to Mount Kenya. It can only be rented exclusively so it is one for those who value their privacy. On the Borana conservancy in Laikipia, the land is a hub of wildlife, including Africa’s Big Five, wild dog and cheetah.
Ethos: The Borana Lewa conservancy is a 90,000 acre conservation archetype. Borana, Lewa and the neighbouring ranches and communities are pioneering a collaborative conservation approach that gives animals access to more wilderness and integrates free-ranging cattle ranching. The results speak for themselves; over the last 20 years, Laikipia is the only part of Kenya where wildlife numbers are increasing.
How do I book? Visit handpickedafrica.co.uk or call 07779 410 481.
Kaya Mawa, Malawi
Let’s get acquainted: On the dramatic shoreline of Likoma Island, this is a stunning beach paradise which champions its community. Malawi is known as the Warm Heart of Africa for its friendly people and blue skies. It is also home to one of the world’s deepest lakes and its freshwater teems with aquatic life, including 400 species of cichlid fish. An alternative to the above ground safari experiences. Merge the best of both worlds by combining the trip with Shawa Luangwa Camp in the predator playground of South Luangwa or Ila Safari Lodge in the game-rich wilderness of Kafue.
Ethos: Built by locals and as Malawi’s first resort run solely on renewable-energy, Kaya Mawa is firmly grounded in sustainability, community empowerment and ethical trade. It is part of the Green Safaris collection which has a commitment to conserving the environment, protecting wildlife and empowering people.
How do I book? Visit greensafaris.com or speak to the agents at smallworldmarketing.co.uk.
Xigera Safari Lodge, Botswana
Let’s get acquainted: Comprising 12 beautiful suites, each resting effortlessly in this wild landscape, the lodge’s design is dedicated to celebrating African art and creativity. Each piece has been handcrafted and inspired by the natural surroundings in Botswana. Pronounced ‘kee-jera’, Xigera is named after the Pied Kingfisher that makes its home amid the watery channels of Botswana’s Moremi Game Reserve.
Ethos: Conservation and sustainability are at the heart of the experience. The lodge is powered almost entirely through solar energy and single-use plastics are eliminated.
How do I book? Visit xigera.com.
Lepogo Lodges, South Africa
Let’s get acquainted: Deep valleys and spectacular cliffs with tumbling streams are part and parcel of this serene destination. There are two separate lodges, both of which can be booked in their entirety. Noka Camp sleeps 12. Melote House, an exclusive use house sleeping up to 16, opens this year.
Ethos: The Lepogo Lodges Carbon Offset Programme neutralises every guest’s carbon footprint from the moment they leave their homes until their arrival at the lodge and back again. It’s a super impressive initiative and the giving back doesn’t stop there. Lepogo Lodges is a non for profit venture and gives 100% of any financial gains back into the reserve for the benefit of wildlife and local community. Cheetah reintroduction and preservation is a priority.
How do I book? Visit lepogolodges.com or call +27 60 574 7117.
Kwitonda Lodge, Rwanda
Let’s get acquainted: Right on the edge of Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Kwitonda Lodge was created in response to its dramatic setting. Woven ceilings and hand-fired terracotta brickwork has been crafted by local artisans. There is also a dedicated Conservation Room and on-site nursery and vegetable garden which provides fresh produce for Kwitonda’s farm-to-table food. This is where a third of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas find refuge.
Ethos: Volcanoes National Park is committed to preserving and protecting large areas of African wilderness through the development of dedicated programmes that support biodiversity conservation as well as community partnerships that make a meaningful difference in the lives of people living in the area. A set of 10 sustainability principles, making up The One Planet Sustainability framework, continue to guide all decision-making.
How do I book? Visit singita.com or call +27 (0) 21 683 3424.