Luxury with care: 6 sustainable hotels in Mzansi

A male and female antelope in the African bush. Picture: Unsplash

A male and female antelope in the African bush. Picture: Unsplash

Published Oct 26, 2023


Travellers are becoming more self-aware of the impact of travel on our planet. As a result, more people are interested in sustainable tourism and eco-travel.

According to the UN Environment Programme and UN World Tourism Organization, sustainable tourism is tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities.

As the popularity of eco pursuits continues to increase, travellers are seeking out rainforest and jungle lodges, safari destinations and beach resorts with a care for the environment.

The amazing fauna, flora, natural landscapes and rich cultures of these places provides travellers with the opportunity of creating lasting memories and the more sustainable practices these places have, the better the experience for the traveller.

Here are some of Mzansi’s leading hotels that have eco-friendly practices and an interest in sustainable tourism.

Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve and Wellness Retreat, Western Cape

Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve and Wellness Retreat in the Cederberg Mountains. Picture: Instagram

Cradled by the rugged Cederberg Mountains, Bushmans Kloof offers an utterly unique wilderness escape in South Africa. The family-owned lodge and ecological oasis is set within a 7500-hectare private reserve and offers 5-star luxury accommodation.

Guests can discover the wide-open plains, awe-inspiring wildlife and pristine mountain landscapes, and a world with unique access to more than 130 ancient rock art sites, some dating back as far as 10,000 years, and the opportunity to discover the region’s ancient San culture.

Bushmans Kloof has been declared a South African National Heritage Site showcasing San paintings. Picture: Instagram

In recognition of the cultural value of these artworks and the ongoing preservation efforts, the rock art of Bushmans Kloof has been declared a South African National Heritage Site.

The reserve has also partnered with The TreadRight Foundation, Cheetah Outreach, and the Cape Leopard Trust in supporting essential work in predator conservation, and they work closely with CapeNature to extend the range of the endangered Clanwilliam Cedar.

A stay at Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve and Wellness Retreat starts from R15 318 a night for two.

Oceana Beach and Wildlife Reserve, Eastern Cape

Oceana Beach & Wildlife Reserve on the sunshine coast. Picture: Website

Oceana Beach & Wildlife Reserve on the sunshine coast in the Eastern Cape is a place where guests can enjoy daylight hours than any other South African holiday destination.

When it comes to this reserve, guest don’t have to choose between a beach destination or safari destination: they can get the best of both worlds.

Guests enjoy a beach picnic at Oceana Beach and Wildlife. Picture: Website

Guests can go on safari drives, bird watching, scuba diving and whale watching. Oceana Beach and Wildlife supports conservation efforts and is partnered with Wilderness Foundation Africa, which champions for both the protection and creation of wilderness areas.

A stay at the 5-star lodge in Port Alfred starts from R9 809.

Thaba Eco Hotel, Gauteng

Enjoy a game drive at Thaba Eco Park. Picture: Instagram

Thaba Eco Hotel is a perfect retreat for those seeking an unforgettable experience in the beautiful landscapes of Johannesburg’s green heart.

The 4-star luxury hotel is nestled in the majestic Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve area, providing stunning views of the nature and surrounds.

A suite at Thaba Eco Hotel. Picture: Instagram

Guests can enjoy the unique beauty of the South African highveld with hotels outdoor eco-activities, which include eco drives and guide walks, where you’ll have the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the most amazing wildlife and learn about the fauna and flora of the area.

A stay at Thaba Eco Hotel starts from R4 147 a night for two.

Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge, Mpumalanga

A suite at Sabi-Sabi Earth Lodge. Picture: Instagram

From its organic design, architecture and dramatic minimalism, Earth Lodge is a masterpiece that seamlessly integrates with nature.

Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve, situated in the Sabie Game Reserve in the South-Western section of the Greater Kruger National Park, is a wildlife oasis where you can observe at close quarters the age-old natural relationship between predator and prey.

A luxury suite at Earth Lodge. Picture: Instagram

Earth Lodge has 12 luxury suites, and guests can enjoy game drives and bush walks and learn how tourism, conservation and local communities are interlinked. The lodge focuses on two areas of sustainability: protection of animals and habitat management.

They have a dedicated anti-poaching unit, and they partner with other conservation teams in the area to extend their cover of protection. They also have a dedicated Habitat Management Team whose year-round operations are shaped by qualified ecological consultants.

These efforts are continually reassessed, reviewed and revised to make sure that we the best possible care is taken for the environment.

A stay at the luxury suite costs R29 500 per person, per night. The Amber Villa costs R105 000 per villa per night. It sleeps 4 guests.

Leshiba Wilderness, Limpopo

Leshiba Wilderness in Limpopo. Picture: Instagram

Leshiba Wilderness is a luxury private wildlife and eco-tourism destination located on top of the Soutpansberg Mountains, 36km west of Louis Trichardt, Limpopo.

Guests get the opportunity to walk without a guide amongst wildlife, cycle untamed terrain, track game, learn about medicinal plants and discover ancient Rock Art.

A suite at Leshiba Wildlife with mountain views. Picture: Instagram

The lodge has a passion for wilderness and conservation and provides a remote and secluded destination where learning about art and culture, wellbeing and mindfulness, transformative travel, and the upliftment of local communities is at the core.

Leshiba Wildlife Mountain Sanctuary also offers four accommodation options, and both full-board and self catering is available.

A stay at the 4-star lodging starts from R6 800 a night for two.

Zulu Rock Lodge - Babanango Game Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal

An aerial view of Babanango Game Reserve. Picture: Instagram

Babanango Game Reserve, is in the heart of Zululand, and showcases one of the most ambitious rewilding projects in Southern Africa in recent years.

The lodge is set among the breathtaking topography of the upper White Umfolozi River Valley, and the reserve occupies a vast wilderness area of over 20,000 hectares that is steeped in Zulu history and layered upon geological features that date back to the beginning of time.

A suite at Babanango Zulu Rock Lodge. Picture: Instagram

The rugged mountains and valleys provide refuge for an extraordinary diversity of birds, plants, insects, reptiles, and mammals, including the elusive aardvark and aardwolf. Babanango Game Reserve is also a Big 5 game reserve following the recent return of the African elephant.

With highly knowledgeable guides and a range of activities to choose from, visitors to Babanango Game Reserve can be assured of an unrivalled safari game drive experience, exploring the Anglo-Zulu battlefields and explore the ruins and shafts of an old copper mine.

A stay at Babanango Zulu Rock Lodge starts from R5 023 a night for two.