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  • Writer's picturePaul Bloomfield

Six of the best conservation and community safaris

As part of our feature on safaris that give back, Paul Bloomfield spoke to several experts on responsible safaris in Africa and provides a round-up of six safaris that are making a positive impact on nature conservation and local communities

 

Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Kenya

“The tourism options at Ol Pejeta are very diverse, and it’s very affordable and accessible,” says Neil Birnie. “Perhaps the majority of the visitors are local Kenyans, and it generates a lot of revenue and a lot of jobs, winning prizes for tax contributions at the county level. So it’s making a real social, economic and, consequently, political contribution to Kenya.” It also combines cutting-edge wildlife conservation work, notably helping endangered rhinos, with sustainable cattle ranching.


Watch our video about Ol Pejeta:


A Green Traveller production for the World Travel and Tourism Council

 

Tongole Wilderness Lodge, Malawi

“This lovely little lodge has a great community aspect,” says Chris McIntyre. The eco-friendly lodge is the only luxury accommodation in the Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve, with some fabulous walking and birdlife. Through the Tongole Foundation, it has strong links with the local community, helping build schools and share knowledge about conservation to help change attitudes to poaching.

 

safari lodge by a swimming pool
One of the impressive lodges at Tongole. Photo: Tongole Wilderness Lodge

Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, Rwanda

“This community-owned lodge has been immensely successful in gorilla tourism, and has generated a huge amount of money for the community,” says Birnie. “And it’s made a valuable contribution in terms of the wider gorilla tourism model.” Income from the luxurious lodge funds conservation initiatives in the Kinigi area and surrounding Volcanoes National Park. It’s also a major driver of socio-economic development in the area, with projects ranging from constructing villages for genocide survivors to creating vegetable gardens for community farming projects.


gorilla in forest
Income from luxurious lodge such as Silverback funds gorilla conservation. Photo: Mike Arney/Unsplash

Doro Nawas, Namibia

“Is it a business? Yes. Is it a community project? Yes – it’s both,” says McIntyre. Like the nearby Damaraland Camp, it’s a joint venture between Wilderness and the local community – and is a good example of the growing cooperation in Namibia between the tourism industry and individual communities. Most of the staff at the eco-friendly lodge come from the surrounding villages, having been trained to fill various positions here, and the conservancy and its people benefit from the revenue generated.



Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge, Zimbabwe

“Clive Stockil, who set up this lodge in Gonarezhou National Park, has won more environmental sustainability awards than I’ve had hot dinners,” says McIntyre. The lodge has an intimate working relationship with the local Shangaan community. At its core is the concept of ‘Community Led Conservation’ in Zimbabwe’s secondlargest national park, renowned for its elephant population and a great place for walking safaris.

 

Cottar’s 1920s Camp, Kenya

“This centuries-old Masai Mara camp in the Olderkesi Conservancy is a shining example of sustainable luxury travel,” says Juliet Kinsman, author of The Green Edit: Travel (Ebury Publishing, September 2020). “Its commitment to a holistic balance of the Long Run’s 4C framework, and consideration of conservation, community, culture and commerce as a means to contribute meaningfully to the biodiversity and the people of the local region, sets a benchmark.” 


Guests in truck watch elephants walking past
On safari at Cottar's 1920s Camp in Kenya. Photo supplied by Cottar's Camp.

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This article appeared in the August/September 2023 issue of the Green Traveller magazine.

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