5 Mzansi destinations where sustainability meets luxury

Owned by the Oppenheimer family, Tswalu Kalahari is South Africa's largest private game reserve, covering an area of over 100 000 hectares. Picture: Supplied

Owned by the Oppenheimer family, Tswalu Kalahari is South Africa's largest private game reserve, covering an area of over 100 000 hectares. Picture: Supplied

Published Nov 8, 2022


As travellers continue to seek meaningful experiences, their demand patterns are constantly shifting and evolving, especially in the post-pandemic era.

They have become more conscious about the choices they make while choosing a destination and are now particular about the brands they want to be associated with.

They are no longer just looking for rooms with a view or for those with a luxurious bathtub but are also interested in the core values of destinations and properties.

With sustainability at the core of all travel decisions they make, these discerning consumers are looking for an authentic commitment to responsible travel and not just lip service.

They are also mindful of their choices while actively studying their impact on local communities and environments.

Sustainability and luxury do not have to be mutually exclusive. In fact, travellers looking for sustainable, yet opulent accommodation will be spoilt for choice in South Africa.

They can enjoy a luxurious, experiential and mindful time at eco-friendly lodges and hotels all across the Rainbow Nation.

With sustainability as one of its fundamental values, South Africa is the first country in the world to embrace the principles of Fair Trade in its tourism industry.

This certification scheme guarantees fair wages, working conditions, fair sourcing of produce, respect for culture, environment, and human rights, and a fair distribution of benefits.

For eco-conscious souls and wanderers, below is a curated list of sustainable stays around the Rainbow Nation:

Oyster Box Hotel, KwaZulu-Natal

Famous for its awe-inspiring coastal views and gracious hospitality, Oyster Box is one of South Africa's most celebrated hotels.

The five-star, seaside hotel is located just 15 minutes away from King Shaka International Airport.

Sustainability is the central pillar of all hotel operations at Oyster Box, where they have embraced innovations surrounding water conservation, energy efficiency, and waste management through guest-focused programs that encourage environmental awareness.

Currently, the focus is on altogether eliminating single-use plastics from their property by the end of 2022.

They are also looking at leveraging the latest technology to reduce food wastage. For each key card returned to their reception desk, they donate R1 to Rhinos Without Borders.

Thonga Beach Lodge, KwaZulu-Natal

Located in the heart of the Isimangaliso Wetland Park, a Unesco world heritage site, this lodge is home to eight ecosystems and 256 bird species.

It has 12 thatched eco-sensitive rooms with spectacular views of the ocean and forest around. The rooms are designed to provide maximum privacy and minimal environmental impact.

A team of talented chefs makes sure that the food served is central to their sustainability goals.

From selecting ethical local suppliers to creating world-class modern fusions using local resources, Thonga Beach Lodge works ground up on enhancing sustainability.

Thonga has also been actively involved in efforts to protect the loggerhead and leatherback turtle. In partnership with the local Isibindi Foundation, Thonga plays a major role in community-driven conservation.

Four Rosmead, Western Cape

Four Rosmead is a boutique luxury guest house located on the slope of Table Mountain in Cape Town.

A perfect romantic getaway, it is decorated with chic and contemporary interiors enhanced by original South African artwork.

Situated in the heart of Cape Town, visitors can easily explore local markets and beautiful beaches.

The guest house functions on sustainability principles across multiple avenues through its fair-trade policy.

They practice water recycling and greywater irrigation for their garden. The property is also energy efficient as they encourage the use of LED lighting and gas.

They invest in their staff's skill development and ensure they are paid above industry standards.

Tswalu Kalahari Game Reserve, Northern Cape

As the biggest privately protected wildlife reserve in South Africa, Tswalu is first and foremost an ambitious conservation project.

It is also one of the most beautiful and sustainable hotels in South Africa. Following an eco-tourism model, while maintaining a low carbon footprint, they have the lowest ratio of guests to the wilderness in South Africa, with accommodation for a maximum of 40 guests across three luxury safari camps.

Tswalu offers its guests privileged access to unique safari experiences. Guest stays in their luxury safari camps contribute to the sustainability of the entire reserve and the Tswalu Foundation, which is dedicated to scientific research.

They are guided by the four key benchmarks of conservation, community, culture, and commerce.

Teniqua Treetops, Western Cape

Located along the famous Garden Route, Teniqua Treetops has self-catering suites that offer spectacular views of lush landscapes.

Eco-friendly cabins offer a perfect secluded and peaceful getaway in the arms of Mother Nature. Each suite has been built using sustainably farmed pine and gum and has been designed to blend in with the lush forest.

The property's water supply is drawn from the nearby Karatara River which is filtered through a 10-stage eco-friendly procedure without the use of any harmful chemicals. Teniqua Treetops is a paradise for all nature lovers with more than 100 bird species present around the property.

The property also offers several nature-centred activities to keep guests delighted.

Read the latest issue of IOL Travel digital magazine here.