12 Eco-Destinations To Visit This Easter

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With the long weekend ahead (and many of you taking extra leave), why not jet off to one of these 12 eco-destinations this Easter…

1. Skeleton Coast Camp, Namibia
Having had their Damaraland Camp highly commended in the 2007 International Responsible Tourism Awards, Wilderness Safaris (again voted second best tour operator in Travel and Leisure’s 2008 World’s Best Awards) clinched a win at the Imvelo Awards for Responsible Tourism with their Skeleton Coast Camp, winning Best Overall Environmental Management System. (Their Kalamu Camp in Zambia was also highly commended: Best Single Resource Management Programme – Energy.) Wilderness Safaris

2. Ol Malo Lodge, Kenya
This eco-lodge and charitable trust is situated in the deserts of Samburuland in northern Kenya, on what was an overgrazed cattle ranch. One of their key achievements is the establishment of the Ol Malo Eye Project, which aims to eradicate trachoma, an infectious and preventable disease that causes painful blindness, affecting over 80 percent of adults in the Ol Malo area. Ol Malo

3. Il N’gwesi Community Lodge, Kenya
Run and managed by the Ilaikipiak Maasai Il N’gwesi community, this is a successful cohabitation system in which both wildlife and humans “share” and own the area. Forty percent of profits go to the 600-plus families that have a share in the lodge. Il N’Gwesi

4. Tswalu Kalahari Reserve, SA
Not content with rehabilitating 38 overgrazed cattle farms and turning them into the largest privately owned reserve in southern Africa, then restocking it with game, including the endangered wild dog, rhino and cheetah, Tswalu is also committed to Fair Trade tourism principles. Hence the continued international applause, from Condé Nast Traveller’s World Savers Award to the Relais & Château Global Environment Trophy. Tswalu

5. Madikwe Game Reserve, SA
Madikwe was once kilometres of overgrazed farmland until it was transformed in 1991 into a 75 000-hectare reserve, SA’s fourth largest. Within a period of six years, some 10 000 animals were again roaming the plains in what was dubbed Operation Phoenix, the largest game translocation in the world. Book at Buffalo Ridge Safari Lodge, the first wholly-owned community safari lodge to be developed in South Africa, or Thakadu River Camp, also owned by the local community. Madikwe

6. Chumbe Island Coral Park, Tanzania
Tanzania’s first privately run marine park, with only one small lodge (seven thatched huts) run on the strictest ecological principals. All profits go to the upkeep of the reserve and a strong education and outreach programme, including free visits to the reserve for local school kids. An idyllic Robinson Crusoe escape, with the most exclusive snorkelling (350 reef fish) on the East Coast of Africa. Chumbe Island

7. Phinda, SA
Besides rehabilitating and introducing game to what is now the 23 000-hectare Phinda Game Reserve, CC Africa has done sterling work with the Africa Foundation, an organisation founded to facilitate the development of people living in or adjacent to protected areas. In 14 years of operation, it has raised and committed over $6-million to consultative community development projects. The company is particularly proud of the work it’s done for the communities adjacent to Phinda, building a primary school and healthcare centre and providing computer courses and other training. Phinda Private Game Reserve

8. Ant’s Hill, SA
From waste disposal to water recycling, sourcing locally produced food and energy management, these Waterberg bush villas are model eco-lodges. Which is why they were awarded four stars in last year’s Eco Hotels of the World, one of only two destinations to be included in southern Africa (the other being Hog Hollow Country Lodge in the Crags near Plettenberg Bay). Waterberg

9. Asilia Lodges, Tanzania
Asilia offers a great combination of “living lightly” with luxury in its Tanzanian bush camps. There are a number of semi-permanent camps in the Serengeti (moving to follow the migration), but our favourite is Oliver’s Camp in the Tarangire National Park. There are chemical toilets and bucket showers, heated with firewood (no permanent plumbing allowed), but attentive staff and opulent furnishings, not to mention plenty of ice for  your gin and tonic. Asilia Lodges

10. Nkwichi Lodge, Mozambique
Nkwichi Lodge, a 2008 Green Spaces Travel Award nominee, and winner of Best Small Hotel in the 2008 World Responsible Tourism Awards, is on the shores of Lake Niassa – an idyllic eco-lodge with just seven spacious chalets set on a sandy white beach. A percentage of every guest fee goes towards conserving the 100 000-hectare Manda Wilderness Reserve, as well as the Manda Wilderness Community Trust, which to date has built five schools, one maternity clinic, one maize mill and two church roofs. Manda Wilderness

11. Singita Grumeti Lodges, Tanzania
Following on the success of their SA lodges, Singita was approached by US billionaire and wildlife philanthropist Paul Tudor Jones to help manage his Grumeti concession (adjoining the Serengeti), until recently devastated by poaching and hunting. Jones formed the Grumeti Community and Wildlife Conservation Fund; thanks to his efforts, game numbers have soared in just four years, as has employment and investment in the local communities. The lodges (a choice of three) offer the finest accommodation in East Africa and 100 percent of the profits are ploughed back into the fund. Singita

12. Grootbos Nature Reserve, SA
SA’s first and only dedicated fynbos reserve, Grootbos is a hugely successful conservation exercise owned by a Section 21 company, and profits are plowed back into the local communities through employment, teaching in the fields of fynbos landscaping, horticulture and eco-tourism, and micro-enterprise opportunities. The Grootbos Foundation has also established vegetable growing and greening projects at the local Siyakula crèche. Grootbos

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