Eco-Friendly Safari Lodges in East AfricaSeptember 9, 2020
More than ever these days, safari guests are looking for ways to travel more mindfully, and to minimize their impact on the landscapes, communities, and wild creatures that make Africa so extraordinary. Luckily, many luxury safari lodges, including the four Micato partner camps and lodges listed below, have fully embraced an ethos of environmental sustainability. Guests who stay at lodges like these can feel confident their safari travel leaves a light footprint—and can even boost conservation efforts.
Mara Plains Camp, Kenya
In a private conservancy just north of Maasai Mara National Reserve, this cluster of elevated platform tents at Mara Plains Camp blends almost invisibly into a thick riverside stand of acacia trees. It’s an apt aesthetic for a luxury camp that strives to intrude as little as possible on the surrounding environment. Featuring a main dining lounge and seven luxuriously outfitted tents—with floors of polished native hardwood, deep copper soaking tubs, private verandas, and locally woven textiles—the camp is entirely solar-powered. It also employs such eco-friendly practices as wastewater recycling and composting, and is free of single-use plastics. The property’s founding group also has a foundation that supports initiatives like reforestation, funding for local rangers and anti-poaching teams, and outreach in local indigenous communities.
Namiri Plains, Tanzania
Set on the remote eastern edge of Serengeti National Park, newly rebuilt Namiri Plains is named for the cheetah, lions, and leopards who famously frequent its environs (Namiri is Swahili for “big cat”). The property actually occupies a part of the park that was closed to tourism for 20 years to allow its cherished cheetah population to thrive; and the camp’s partnership with the Serengeti Cheetah Project ensures that safari guests further support, and even provide valuable research data for, ongoing conservation work. The property—which includes an elegant common dining/lounge area, a sleek swimming pool, and 10 spacious luxury tents with canvas-shaded private decks, walls of Ngorongoro-harvested stone, and alfresco soaking tubs—is 100 percent solar-powered. Wildlife biologists from the Serengeti Cheetah Project give regular talks to guests.
Bisate Lodge, Rwanda
As well as offering one of the most luxurious and architecturally dramatic home bases from which to see Rwanda’s wild, critically endangered mountain gorillas, Bisate Lodge is a model of ecological sustainability. Tucked into the forested slope of an extinct volcano just south of the Parc Nacional des Volcans, the camp has high style: Six spherical, basket-like woven villas all come with stone fireplaces, parquet floors, and sumptuous platform beds. But eco-friendly operations are just as important here; the property employs hydroelectric power, thermodynamic water-heating, and rainwater harvesting, along with other green-minded practices. The camp has also spearheaded the planting of more than 100,000 native trees in the region (grown at its onsite tree nursery), and provides copious community service and educational opportunities in local villages.
Loisaba Tented Camp, Kenya
The 56,000-acre Loisaba Conservancy, set in the northern reaches of the Laikipia Plateau and officially managed by The Nature Conservancy (a worldwide conservation organization), is the stunning backdrop for this property. Loisaba Tented Camp, with its dozen elegantly furnished tents, infinity pool, and singular “star beds,” has met some of the highest sustainability criteria in Kenya; along with solar power, wastewater recycling, and biodegradable cleaning products, the property supports multiple wildlife-protection efforts, including those safeguarding endangered elephant, lion, giraffe, and zebra species. The lodge also partners with local herders and villagers to provide services, employment, and infrastructure.