A Closer Look at 13 South African Safari Lodges That Are Redefining Sustainable Travel in the Wild

A Closer Look at 13 South African Safari Lodges That Are Redefining Sustainable Travel in the Wild

South Africa is a beautiful country and is home to stunning coastlines, pristine beaches, and wonderful scenery. However, the country is most famous for its wildlife, safari drives, and the many game reserves that can be found in this area of Africa. So, as you can imagine, there are plenty of safari eco-lodges in South Africa. This ranges from luxurious tented camps to safari bungalows, so there is something for everyone!

Garonga Safari Camp

A wooden house with straw bale roof, huge balcony and a pool right in front of it.
Photo credit: Garonga Safari Camp.

Located in the Greater Makalali Private Game Reserve, Garonga Safari Camp offers guests the opportunity to see Africa’s big 5 in a natural environment. There are three different accommodation options on-site, including the Garonga Safari Camp, the Little Garonga Safari Lodge, and MCH Private Tented Camp. This safari lodge also has great facilities, including a sleep-out deck and a safari bush bath.

Rhino Ridge Safari Lodge

Photo credit: Rhino Ridge Safari Lodge.

Rhino Ridge Safari Lodge, located within Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park, is part of Isibindi Africa Lodges and their primary focus is to preserve the environment. Not only does the lodge have joint community ownership, but there are several sustainable measures put in place. This includes removing single-use plastics where possible, investing in solar farms, and serving ethically harvested food.

Grootbos Private Nature Reserve

Photo credit: Grootbos Private Nature Reserve.

Grootbos Private Nature Reserve is one of the top luxury safari lodges in South Africa. It’s also a world leader in sustainable tourism and has been certified as carbon-negative. The Reserve has several ongoing projects, including reforestation, renewable electricity generation, poverty alleviation, and community management. This reserve also offers plenty of experiences, including a coastal safari, whale watching, and shark cage diving.

Kagga Kamma Nature Reserve

Small suites inside rock formations. Only the windows are visible.
Photo credit: Kagga Kamma Nature Reserve.

Kagga Kamma Nature Reserve, in Western Cape, is fully invested in its ‘green initiative’. A Solar Photovoltaic hybrid energy system has been installed at the nature reserve, which provides eco-friendly power to the whole resort. The reserve also has plenty of water initiatives in place and works closely with the community, as around 60% of its staff are local.

Leshiba Mountain Retreats

Red stone and wood terrace with two small wooden huts on each side with huge windows. View is to a large grassland and huge mountians at the back
Photo credit: Leshiba Mountain Retreats.

Leshiba Mountain Retreats is located in one of the most bio-diverse areas on Earth, and there are a couple of places you can stay. The accommodation options include the Venda Art Lodge, Hamasha Bush Camp, the Farmhouse, and Luvhondo Bush Camp. Not only does this eco-lodge offer game drives, but you can also go on guided hikes, and day excursions, and visit the Spacegate rock formation.

Sibuya Game Reserve

A large community room with armchairs and lounges with a palm leaves roof and open, no windows
Photo credit: Sibuya Game Reserve.

Sibuya is one of the unique safari lodges in South Africa and prides itself on ecotourism. There are two eco-camps on-site, and both are primarily run on solar power, with no allowance for WiFi or air conditioning. Sibuya also runs the wilderness experience, which is an eco-volunteering program. This gives volunteers the chance to get involved with conservation work and community engagement projects.

Umlani Bushcamp

A wooden balcony with chairs and umbrella. There is a wooden round hut at the back completely open, no door.
Photo credit: Umlani Bushcamp.

Umlani Bushcamp is committed to responsible tourism and has had the Fair Trade Tourism certification for over nine years. They are constantly involved with helping the community and charities and also have a variety of environmental measures in place. This includes using 100% alternative energy sources, using biodegradable products, and investing in water conservation. You’ve got plenty of chances to spot the big 5 here!

Mhondoro Safari Lodge & Villa

An elephant is in from of a one storey large hotel with huge windows. Some people watch the elephant from an underground hut.
Photo credit: Mhondoro Safari Lodge & Villa.

Mhondoro Safari Lodge & Villa is one of the most eco-friendly safari lodges in South Africa. They are completely off-grid, with over 600 solar panels used to power the property. They’ve also reduced single-use plastics by nearly 100% and only use eco-friendly chemicals. Not only that, but the lodge also has a water purification system.

Thonga Beach Lodge

Wooden tree house with two stories with a large terrace in between branches.
Photo credit: Thonga Beach Lodge.

Thonga Beach Lodge is part of Isibindi Africa Lodges, whose primary aim is to preserve the planet for future generations. They do this by focusing on helping neighbor communities, removing single-use plastics, investing in solar energy, and using seafood that’s been ethically harvested. Isibindi Africa Lodges also have several conservation programs in place.

Mashovhela Bush Lodge

3 photo collage of a lodge with colorful red orange walls and a pool in the front
Photo credit: Morning Sun Nature Reserve.

Mashovhela Bush Lodge is located within the Morning Sun Nature Reserve and prioritizes eco-tourism. Investing in renewable energy, developing partnerships with local communities, and using chemical-free products are just a couple of examples of this. It offers a variety of bungalows and chalets, so you have a couple of options to choose from.

Kosi Forest Lodge

Photo credit: Kosi Forest Lodge.

Kosi Forest Lodge is part of Isibindi Africa Lodges, which partners with neighboring communities and aims to preserve the planet. The Isbindi Foundation uses local businesses for supplies, recycles unused food into local feeding schemes, and has invested in solar energy.  Located within Isimangaliso Wetland Park, Kosi Forest offers guests the chance to get up close and personal with South Africa’s wilderness.

Tswalu Kalahari Reserve

A small fire pit with armchairs on a stone terrace. Straw bale roof building is in the back.
Photo credit: Tsuwalu Kalahari Reserve.

Tswalu Kalahari Reserve is actually a project that focuses on sustainable conservation. This is funded through eco-tourism. The reserve also has several environmental measures in place, including solar pumps, LED lighting, and rainwater collection tanks. The lodge is even 100% single-use plastic-free, and they’re currently working on a carbon-neutrality project.

Kuzuko Lodge

A balcony with chairs and a view to the mountains.
Photo credit: Kuzuko Lodge.

Kuzuko Lodge is part of the Kuzuko Foundation, which aims to impact the region positively. Not only do they work to save water, and manage erosion, but they get involved with the local community regularly.

Kuzuko Lodge is located on a private game reserve within the Greater Addo Elephant National Park Area. There are lots of activities available to guests here, including game drives, nature walks, photography safaris, and horse riding.

Map of these 13 safari eco-lodges

Map of South Africa with blue pins showing the eco-lodges listed in this article

As you can see, there are plenty of fantastic safari eco-lodges in South Africa. Whether you’re looking to tick off a bucket list adventure or want to get close to nature – you’ll be spoilt for choice!

List of sustainable safari eco-lodges in South Africa

South African Animals You Can Actually See

Photo shows four south african animals a lion, an elephant, a giraffe, and a zebra on a dry savanna
Visuals: Eco Lodges Anywhere via Canva Pro.

You must remember many animals in South Africa are exclusive to the country, so you won’t find them anywhere else. It’s equally important to remember that many of these animals can be elusive, so you might have to stick around for a few hours if you want to see them all. Let’s move on to the list of 28 South African animals you can actually see when you head out on a safari tour.

Where to See Big 5 Animals?

Photos shows all big five animals, a lion, a rhinoceros, a buffalo, an elephant, and a leopard on a dry savanna
Visuals: Eco Lodges Anywhere via Canva Pro.

This Big 5 Animals article shows you information about the big five animals of Africa with facts and data on where you can actually see them. Many recent studies reported estimated population numbers which can give you a better understanding of what to expect to see on a safari tour in Africa.

Lions in Tanzania

3 female lions are laying on a rocky ground in the shades.
Photo credit: Gary Whyte via Canva Pro.

Tanzania, in particular, stands out when it comes to lions in Africa. This Lion Conservation in Tanzania article delves into the challenges the lions are facing, the importance of their conservation, and the efforts being made by BornWild and other organizations to ensure their survival and harmony with human communities.

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Emese Maczko is a travel blogger behind Eco Lodges Anywhere. Having explored several destinations around Europe, the US, Indonesia, and Australia, and resided in Germany, the United Kingdom, and Luxembourg, Emese possesses a keen understanding of diverse cultures and an appreciation for the beauty of each destination she visits. She advocates for sustainable travel and ecotourism.