Giving back: Where to stay to make your money count

The beauty of travelling in Africa is that, when you choose truly responsible operators, your money stretches far beyond your own vacation. Safari camps and remote lodges are usually located in areas at risk of poaching and environmental damage, and where communities are often underprivileged. Tourism provides not only employment opportunities and a reason to protect the area and its wildlife, but also profits and donations with which to fund projects that can uplift communities and regions. Here are four lodges committed to giving back – and how you can use your own luggage space for good.

Make your safari experience matter. Image credit: African Bush Camps.

Singita Pamushana – Malilangwe Reserve, Zimbabwe

Singita Pamushana is based in the Malilangwe Reserve in southern Zimbabwe. The luxurious lodge has a role much bigger than simply offering safaris to discerning travellers. It is the eco-tourism arm of the Malilangwe Trust, which strives to conserve and restore the reserve’s ecosystem, working with the local community to further their anti-poaching and conservation initiatives across the borders. Pamushana give back substantially to the people who live around the reserve, notably providing school meals for 19,000 children every school day – a real incentive for kids to attend classes, which often involves walking long distances to and from school.

Singita Pamushana
Staying at Singita Pamushana means more than just a luxurious vacation.

Somalisa Camp – Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

The original African Bush Camps lodge, Somalisa Camp is based in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe. The African Bush Camps Foundation was launched on the same day the camp opened. The foundation supports various initiatives around Hwange, from selling products created in the local villages – such as the beautiful, bright, print robes provided in all African Bush Camps accommodations – to running projects that reduce conflict between wildlife and local villages. Every year, a 10-km fun run brings people from a 30-km radius together for an uplifting community event; male and female winners each win a brand-new bicycle.

Somalisa Camp, Hwange
Somalisa Camp supports projects that help reduce human-wildlife conflict.

Grootbos – Walker Bay, South Africa

Grootbos, a luxury lodge two hours outside Cape Town, is the perfect example of how nature tourism can protect an area. Not only has the lodge and the reserve in which it is based protected and restored this extraordinary area of fynbos, but it has also provided funding to give back to the surrounding communities of Walker Bay. The Grootbos Foundation aims to uplift people by providing training and employment opportunities, environmental education so locals can learn about and protect their own land, and using sport, such as the award-winning Football Foundation, to promote integration and to empower young people.

Fynbos, Grootbos
The protected fynbos of Grootbos Nature Reserve.

Azura Quilalea – Quirimbas Archipelago, Mozambique

On a Mozambican private island, Azura Quilalea is a luxury beach resort that aims to use its position to protect the fragile ecosystem and to uplift local communities. Azura’s Rainbow Fund supports a number of social and environmental projects, from building schools to monitoring turtles in the waters around Azura Quilalea Private Island. The foundation also donates essential supplies to a nearby medical clinic and sponsors the local football team.

Azura Quilalea
Azura Quilalea aims to conserve the marine environment on its doorstep. Image credit: Scott Ramsay.

Pack for a Purpose 

Next time you go on safari, find out if the camp or lodge you are staying at is part of Pack for a Purpose: a fantastic initiative that tells you what you can bring to donate to local schools and medical clinics, be it pens and rulers or sanitary towels. It’s a great way to personally give back and maximise your luggage space – and you can refill the space your donations took with souvenirs and local products, further supporting the destination you’re visiting.

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