Can a Safari Camp Be Eco-Friendly?

The Chikwenya Lodge is set in Zimbabwe's Mana Pools National Park and is at the confluence of the Sapi and Zambezi rivers.

The first luxury safari camp in eastern Rwanda opens to guests while another in South Africa that pioneered safari vacations gets a rebuild. The following five properties are among the most noteworthy safari camps scheduled to open in Africa over the next few months. They are all in prime game-viewing locales and each says it is committed to sustainability.

Situated on a 30,000-acre private reserve replete with wildlife on the border of Kruger National Park, MalaMala first opened in 1964 and pioneered the idea of the photographic safari in South Africa. It’s been completely rebuilt over the last 15 months, and the new look includes African slate floors in the 19 guest rooms and artworks from contemporary African artists throughout. When it comes to sustainability, the camp has eliminated single-use plastics and uses reed beds to filter its liquid waste and sewerage before the “clean” water is released back into the surrounding rivers. Nightly rates from $925 a person, inclusive of meals, alcoholic beverages, laundry and game viewing. Opening Dec. 15.

Bordering Kruger National Park, Cheetah Plains is made up of three houses, each with four bedrooms, multiple communal spaces, a wine cellar, a pool and indoor and outdoor dining areas. Each home has its own private chef, and a spa therapist. Guests can go on twice-daily game rides where they can expect to see lions, white rhinos, leopards and more than 300 bird species, including the elusive hawk eagle. The camp uses electric game driving vehicles, energy-efficient appliances and a filtration system that recycles waste water. Nightly rates from $6,600 for four people, inclusive of meals, alcoholic beverages and game viewing. Opening Dec. 15.

From the eco-tourism operator Wilderness Safaris, the six-tent Magashi will be the first high-end property to open in Akagera National Park, spanning nearly 250,000 acres, in eastern Rwanda. Overlooking Lake Rwanyakazinga, the camp is being built with sustainably harvested wood. Akagera has a diverse ecosystem of open plains, woodlands, lakes and grassy low mountains, and guests can view its wildlife — large crocodiles, spotted hyenas and the rare black rhino among the bunch — on game drives, walks and boating trips. Nightly rates from $470 a person, inclusive of meals, alcoholic beverages and all game viewing. Opening April 2019.

Another new camp from Wilderness Safaris, Chikwenya, open only from April to mid-November, is situated in a private concession in Mana Pools National Park and is set at the confluence of the Sapi and Zambezi rivers. It will have seven large tents, each with an outdoor deck and shower. Sustainable initiatives include solar-powered geysers and a water purification system that treats water in the Zambezi River for use in the camp. The park is home to an abundance of wildlife, including hippos, mongoose, buffalos and elephants, and guests have the option to take both walking and game driving safaris. Nightly rates from $1,288 a person, inclusive of meals, alcoholic beverages and game viewing. Opening April 2019.

Asilia Africa’s Namiri Plains led the way for safaris in the Eastern Serengeti, an area that was closed to tourism for 20 years for wildlife research. Now, this simple camp is being rebuilt for its fifth anniversary. It will have 10 canvas tents with organic stone walls and floors made out of a mix of recycled materials including wood and metal. Namiri means “big cat’’ in Swahili, and the area is famous for its lions, cheetahs and leopards. Asilia has partnered with the Serengeti Cheetah Project to be part of the protection of one of the last remaining healthy populations of cheetah in East Africa. Nightly rates from $900 a person, inclusive of meals, alcoholic beverages and game viewing. Opening June 2019.

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