World Conservation Day: Discover eco-friendly havens in South Africa

Three Tree Hill Lodge stands as a shining example of eco-friendly hospitality. Picture: INSTAGRAM

Three Tree Hill Lodge stands as a shining example of eco-friendly hospitality. Picture: INSTAGRAM

Published Jul 28, 2023


As World Conservation Day approaches on July 28, there’s no better time to explore South Africa’s mesmerising eco-tourism destinations that not only offer breathtaking beauty but also a chance to support conservation efforts.

Embracing sustainable travel practices, these destinations allow you to engage in nature’s wonders while contributing to the preservation of the country’s rich biodiversity.

From abundant forests to legion marine life, here are some must-visit eco-tourism hotspots in South Africa.

Tsitsikamma National Park, Garden Route

Otter Trail, Picture: INSTAGRAM

Nestled along the famed Garden Route, Tsitsikamma National Park is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts seeking eco-adventures. This coastal paradise boasts lush forests, dramatic cliffs and the world's oldest and most extensive marine protected area.

Embark on exhilarating hikes along the Otter Trail, or explore the Storms River Mouth, where you can go snorkelling, kayaking or take a boat trip up the river to admire the breathtaking landscapes.

The park's focus on responsible tourism ensures that future generations can experience its natural wonders in all their glory.

For example, majority of the accommodations within or near Tsitsikamma National Park are eco-friendly lodges or camps. These establishments are designed to have minimal impact on the surrounding environment and often employ practices such as solar power, water-saving measures, and recycling programs.

Additionally Tsitsikamma National Park offers a range of adventure activities that are carefully managed to ensure they are eco-friendly.

Activities such as hiking, kayaking, and snorkelling are designed to provide exciting experiences for visitors without compromising the park's fragile ecosystems.

Local guides and tour operators also play a crucial role in educating visitors about the importance of conservation during these activities.

Richtersveld Transfrontier Park, Northern Cape

Richtersveld Transfrontier Park in the night sky. Picture: INSTAGRAM

Richtersveld Transfrontier Park is an extraordinary wilderness that captivates visitors with its stark landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and unique biodiversity.

Straddling the border between South Africa and Namibia, this Transfrontier park is a testament to cross-border collaboration for conservation and community involvement.

Richtersveld is not only a sanctuary for natural wonders but also a repository of rich cultural heritage. The park is home to the Nama people, a community with a deep connection to the land and a rich cultural history.

Visitors have the opportunity to engage with the Nama people and learn about their traditional lifestyle, customs, and age-old knowledge of the desert's resources.

Furthermore, visitors to Richtersveld Transfrontier Park are encouraged to practice responsible tourism to minimize their impact on the delicate desert ecosystem.

Eco-friendly accommodations and low-impact activities, such as guided hikes and cultural tours, enable guests to experience the wilderness while preserving the natural environment and respecting the local culture.

World Conservation Day serves as a reminder of our collective responsibility to protect and preserve the natural wonders of South Africa.

By choosing eco-friendly destinations, travellers contribute to conservation efforts, support local communities, and inspire positive change in the pursuit of sustainable tourism.

Angala Boutique Hotel, Western Cape

View of the Francshhoek mountains at Angala Hotel. Picture: INSTAGRAM

Nestled in the picturesque wine region of Franschhoek, the Angala Boutique Hotel provides an enchanting and luxurious retreat for travellers seeking tranquillity and eco-conscious hospitality.

Embracing a holistic sensibility, this hotel places a strong emphasis on sustainability, using local and seasonal produce in its kitchen.

Boasting a incredible eco pool that replicates the natural filtering process of mountain streams and rivers, creating a chemical-free swimming experience that's gentle on both the environment and the skin of the guests.

From the soothing spa treatments to the curated menu at the Angala kitchen, which features locally sourced and seasonal produce, guests are treated to an authentic farm-to-table dining experience.

For those yearning to experience a thoughtful and beautiful living ecosystem while escaping the warmth of summer days in the winelands, Angala Boutique Hotel is an idyllic choice.

With luxurious amenities and carefully designed spaces, the hotel offers an intimate and exclusive experience that combines elegance with sustainability.

Three Tree Hill Lodge, KwaZulu-Natal

Three Tree Hill Lodge offers an experience that blends superb guided nature activities, breathtaking scenery, and appetizing home-grown country food. Picture: INSTAGRAM

Tucked away in the enchanting Spioenkop Valley of KwaZulu-Natal, Three Tree Hill Lodge stands as a shining example of eco-friendly hospitality.

With its accreditation from FTTSA (Fair Trade Tourism South Africa), the lodge's commitment to sustainable tourism is evident through its various initiatives.

From empowering the local community to conserving energy and managing waste, Three Tree Hill Lodge offers an experience that blends superb guided nature activities, breathtaking scenery, and appetizing home-grown country food.

Guests are treated to a feast of home-grown country food, prepared using locally sourced, seasonal ingredients.

This farm-to-table approach not only ensures fresh and delicious meals but also supports local farmers and reduces the carbon footprint associated with food transportation.

The lodge organizes superb guided nature activities, allowing guests to explore the surrounding landscapes responsibly and gain a deeper appreciation for the region's ecological treasures.

They also have monitored energy-saving programs, by utilizing energy-efficient technologies and implementing responsible practices, Three Tree Hill Lodge reduces its carbon emissions while still providing a comfortable and enjoyable stay for its guests.

Additionally, the lodge has robust waste management programs in place to minimize waste generation and promote recycling, further contributing to its eco-friendly initiatives.

Phinda Private Game Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal

Phinda Private Game Reserve stands as a beacon of conservation success and a prime example of sustainable wildlife tourism. Picture: INSTAGRAM

Phinda Private Game Reserve stands as a beacon of conservation success and a prime example of sustainable wildlife tourism. Spanning an impressive 23,000 hectares, this private reserve showcases a transformation from degraded farmland to a thriving haven for African wildlife.

With a strong commitment to wildlife conservation, community empowerment, and responsible tourism, Phinda has become a symbol of hope for endangered species and a sought-after destination for nature enthusiasts.

A core pillar of Phinda's success lies in its commitment to uplift and empower the local communities.

Through the establishment of partnerships with neighbouring villages, the reserve has created job opportunities, invested in education and healthcare, and supported various community projects.

By involving local communities in conservation efforts and responsible tourism, Phinda has fostered a sense of stewardship for the natural resources and wildlife that call the reserve home.

Furthermore, with limited guest numbers and low-impact eco-lodges, the reserve ensures that wildlife encounters are intimate and respectful of the animals' natural behaviours. Guided by expert rangers and trackers, guests have the opportunity to witness the wonders of the African wilderness while minimizing their environmental footprint.

Phinda is actively involved in various conservation initiatives aimed at protecting endangered species and preserving biodiversity.

The reserve plays a significant role in the conservation of black rhinos and cheetahs, with successful breeding and reintroduction programs.

iSimangaliso Wetland Park, KwaZulu-Natal

The park is a prime destination for wildlife enthusiasts. Picture: INSTAGRAM

iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a breathtaking Unesco World Heritage site located on South Africa's north-eastern coastline.

Consist of an array of ecosystems, from wetlands to unique beaches and dense coastal forests, this ecological gem is a paradise for nature enthusiasts and eco-conscious travellers alike.

Spanning an astonishing 280km of coastline, iSimangaliso Wetland Park boasts a rich biodiversity that supports a wide variety of flora and fauna.

The park is a sanctuary for numerous species, including the leatherback and loggerhead turtles, which nest along its beaches.

The wetlands provide a vital habitat for a plethora of bird species, making it a birdwatcher’s paradise. From the iconic African fish eagle to the rare pink-backed pelican, the skies and waters of iSimangaliso are a spectacle of avian diversity.

Additionally the park has a unique blend of five distinct ecosystems, each contributing to the park’s ecological significance. The Eastern and Western Shores offer contrasting landscapes, with wetlands on one side and grasslands and woodlands on the other.

The Kosi Bay area features estuarine lakes and channels, creating an oasis for marine life. The Mkhuze Game Reserve boasts a thriving population of black rhinos and African wild dogs, making it a prime destination for wildlife enthusiasts.