South Africa has a spoil of eco lodges that are frequented by dedicated eco-warriors. Ditch the desktop, tuck away the tablets, and put your phone on flight mode Here are the hidden gems…
The world is changing. We are all becoming more clued-up about how everything we do has the potential to affect the planet in either positive or negative ways.
Our homes, roads, offices and public spaces have become increasingly more “green”, and that eco-education is beginning to influence the way we travel too.
Contrary to previously held beliefs, globetrotters can enjoy the beauty of nature while actively supporting those working to preserve it.
Tourists are not only appreciating hotels and lodges that make an effort to be more environmentally conscious, but they are deciding on holiday destinations based on the eco lodges offerings in the area.
Chintsa, Eastern Cape
This is the perfect setting for any guest hoping for a digital detox. If it isn’t the mischievous monkeys causing a power outage because they have been swinging from the powerlines, it is the mysterious network disappearance that occurs over the weekend, which prompts a leisurely walk to the beach.
Located in a quaint fishing village in the Amathole coastal region, Purple Haze Eco Lodge is where you can rest your head after spending the day reconnecting with nature.
The first of its kind in the region, the lodge has been built from recycled materials, utilises a grey-water system, and is kitted out with low-energy appliances.
Whether you choose to relax with a glass of wine as you watch the sunset or greet the morning with an invigorating yoga session you’ll be treated to unobstructed panoramic views of the Indian Ocean.
A slice of paradise, the Sungubala Eco Camp is found along the rolling hills of KwaZulu-Natal’s Drakensberg mountain range.
Every day, you will wake up to the flora and fauna flourishing within the steep slopes of Sungubala Valley. Power for the entire camp is wind and solar generated.
Depending on the size of your party and budget, you can book a modest A-frame unit, a cosy rondavel, one of the thatched chalets, or a sizable mountain bungalow.
This picturesque 500-hectare high-lying camp is completed with a pristine pool overlooking an unbeatable view of the Drakensberg that you are free to explore.
Either plan a guided tour of the wilderness or get lost in the historic landscape on horseback. If you are lucky, you might stumble upon the curiously named Cannibal Caves, known to be a place of refuge for those fleeing King Shaka’s capture.
Kogelberg Nature Reserve, Western Cape
Considered the heart of the Cape Floral Kingdom, Oudebosch Eco Cabins magnificent setting boasts breathtaking waterfalls, fantastical mountain ranges, private dams and rivers you can melt away days in, and a nosegay of the region’s finest fynbos.
Each of the five spacious units has been built with planted roofs for effective insulation, solar-powered geysers, and waterless toilets.
The glass-fronted cabins are proof that you can have an awe-inspiring experience in nature without disturbing or depleting the resources of the surroundings, as the units only use two kilowatts of electricity a day.
Ideal for couples, the isolation paired with the surrounding mountain range’s embrace will encourage romantic reconnection.
Magoebaskloof, Limpopo Province
Living up to its name, Graceland Eco Retreat is ideal for anyone looking to unplug for a few days and disappear into the wonderment of the natural environment.
Blink and you might miss the turnoff to Magoebaskloof’s treasure, as owners Douglas Walker and Anders Ragnarsson have tried to make as little change to the luscious neighbourhood as possible.
If the scenery doesn’t win you over, the daily sunsets will render you speechless. Hike to a wonderful waterfall and picnic spot 21 kilometres away, or visit Woodbush Forest Reserve 26 kilometres from the lodge, and you will definitely happen upon the friendly giraffes and impalas along the way.
Here, Mother Nature shows off and you can enjoy the stunning view from every corner of this pet-friendly, solar-powered place. Expect an unforgettable stay at the tastefully decorated contemporary lodge.
St Lucia, KwaZulu-Natal
Visit St Lucia Ecolodge and you will have Zululand’s wetlands and a forest in your back yard and a game reserve only a stone’s throw away.
So undefined are the borders that hippos and leopards often share the lodge’s garden with its guests.
Never worry about entertainment as you will really be spoilt for choice. Either surf down Mapelane dunes and into the estuary, laze along Lake St Lucia on a boat safari, or delve into the depth of Cape Vidal with a wetsuit and snorkelling mask.
During mating season, a school of whales put on a show that can be enjoyed from the comfort of the deck. You won’t want to miss seeing giant leatherback turtles in their element during the months of November, December and January either.
Eco Lodges: Comfortable and Conscious
Being an eco-friendly traveller today is as comfortable as it is conscious thanks to eco lodges.
These eco lodges, camps, and cabins, in particular, prove that you needn’t compromise on hospitality standards when wanting to reduce your carbon footprint.
Words by Inga Sibiya