In recent years, there’s definitely been a shift towards more sustainable travel, which has resulted in more places adapting both their design and practices to be more eco-friendly. Yip, Going Green has well and truly been embraced by the travel world, giving rise to us seeing more meals being prepared using freshly grown fruit and veg picked right from the establishment’s own garden, more low-cost energy efficiency measures being implemented and more environmentally friendly materials being incorporated into new designs. If you’re looking for a “greener” experience, take a look at these seven eco lodges that fit the bill rather nicely.
By far, this is one of the most magical places you’ll ever visit. Set in an ancient Milkwood forest, complemented by the surrounding fynbos and mountains, Grootbos is where the beauty of natural, wild surroundings collides with unapologetic luxury. When it comes to design, every aspect has been created with the environment in mind, with the aim of incorporating it as much as possible, as well as highlighting its wonders. Choose from the Garden Lodge suites, Forest Lodge suites, or the exclusive and elegant suites of The Villa, and enjoy a variety of eco adventures as well as fine dining.
Must try: A 4x4 flower safari. The Grootbos Private Nature Reserve boasts over 765 flower species and a guided tour in an open-top Land Rover is one of the best ways to get your flower fix.
With incredible views across the Waterberg, five spacious cottages nestled on the edge of a cliff and African touches bringing it all together, Ant’s Hill is your answer to the ultimate bush home. The main lodge’s large deck overlooks the gorge and makes for the perfect early breakfast or evening sundowner spot, while the waterhole is where you’ll catch a glimpse of an array of wildlife that frequently come for a drink. Whether you’re looking for a romantic escape or a family holiday in the bush, Ant’s Hill provides the perfect setting paired with gourmet cuisine that still manages to feel like home cooking, and a range of exciting experiences that include horse-riding safaris, rhino tracking, fishing and more.
For a real treat: The Game Consensus Safari offers a totally different safari experience. Aimed at keeping the reserve and its game thriving, it’s a “safari with a purpose”, and one not to be missed by those passionate about conservation.
Next safari: 3 – 11 June 2017
A stone’s throw from the breath-taking Blyde River Canyon and famous Kruger National Park, Iketla, meaning “be relaxed, be peaceful”, certainly lives up to its name as the tranquil surrounds make it impossible not to feel completely at ease. The lodge calls a private nature conservancy home, one that bursts with various wildlife and bird species, set against a stunning backdrop of valleys, mountains and cliffs. Its position makes it an ideal base from which to explore the amazing Panorama Route of the Kruger Lowveld region, known for its waterfalls, God’s Window viewpoints, Bourke’s Luck Potholes and more. Natural materials have been used in all of the rooms as much as possible, with every aspect of the design having taken the environment into consideration. Private patios ensure unobstructed views of the valley and forests – a real feast for the eyes.
Turn up the romance: The Romance Chalet is spacious and secluded, with the best part being the bath from which you can admire the vast expanse of the bush.
You may want to read A quick guide to Mpumalanga's Panorama Route
With the sweet smell of citrus in the air and the majestic Zuurberg Mountains in the background, Addo Dung Beetle is found on a working citrus farm in the Sundays River Valley. There are three different types of accommodation options, all within walking distance from the main lodge and boasting African touches that are all about incorporating the environment - think tables and headboards made from locally sourced woods, chandeliers that were previously farm fence posts and porcupine quill lampshades handmade by the lodge owner. Being just 4km from the famous Addo Elephant National Park, you can enjoy the tranquillity of the bush as well as its creatures without having to travel very far.
Something a little different: Stay in one of the Dung Beetle Suites (the only true dung beetle-inspired accommodation in South Africa) for a unique experience of the bush.
Named after our gentle, trunked friend, Moditlo means “place of the elephant” and is where "luxury meets rustic splendour”. Situated in the heart of the Blue Canyon Conservatory, Moditlo Private Game Reserve borders the Nbesi River and offers a range of wildlife encounters. The 16-bedroom lodge combines the natural elements of the bush with the style and elegance synonymous with establishments of the highest standards, meaning you get to experience the wild in luxury. In between safari wanderings, follow the meandering walkways from your room to enjoy a drink poolside, or a relaxing treatment at the onsite spa. The layout and décor of the lodge was carefully thought out to ensure minimal impact on the environment, making this place that much more special.
A true bush adventure: There’s nothing quite like a traditional meal served in an al fresco boma under the stars of the African skies.
For a burst of colour, a true taste of cultural heritage and an art-filled exploration, Madi a Thavha Mountain Lodge is a must. The thing that makes it so special is the fact that it is one of only a handful of lodges in the country that specialise in offering an authentic African cultural experience. Set in a valley of the Soutpansberg Mountains, it’s 100% committed to sustainable tourism and proudly displays a range of artworks at its very own Dancing Fish Gallery, a place where the stories of the region come to life. Here, you’ll find pieces by Tsonga and Venda artists, northern Sotho art and craft exhibitions and even sewing workshops. Enjoy one of the many cultural tours available, such as a guided village tour where you’ll get an idea of how the locals live, or connect with the great outdoors through hiking, cycling and birding. A visit to Madi a Thavha promises to be nothing short of fascinating.
Get moving: With one of the cultural performances during which you’ll be treated to song and dance, unlike any other you’ve ever encountered – Africans sure have some seriously impressive rhythm!
Exploring the Garden Route can be that much better if it involves a stop at a private safari reserve. Being malaria-free and blessed with rich wildlife, Kariega is the perfect spot to see the famous Big Five and enjoy the pristine African wilderness. Settler’s Drift is a luxury tented lodge that affords you a unique safari experience. Secluded viewing decks promise stunning views overlooking the Bushman’s River and across the remote landscape, while the outdoor showers help you connect with your beautiful surrounds. Without question, this is luxury living harmoniously with the untouched bush – quite simply: food for the soul.
Giving back: The Kariega Leopard Research Project is dedicated to preserving the Cape Leopard. You can make a difference through spending some time being part of the volunteer programme, adopting a leopard or making a general donation. This is a truly wonderful initiative worth being involved with.
Settler’s Drift can be the perfect addition to a longer itinerary that explores Cape Town, the Garden Route and beyond. Take a look at Portfolio Journey’s Cape, Garden Route & Safari offering, or connect with one of our travel experts to tailor-make a trip especially for you.
So, it has to be said, that green is looking more and more like our favourite colour right now… Happy (greener) travelling!
Main image: Grootbos