These days, when you hear the phrase "I'm going on an African safari," roughing it doesn't necessarily come to mind. Those with the wherewithal to get themselves to Africa usually also have the means to make their trip a pretty comfortable one, even in the bush.
If you're like me, you find that almost disappointing. It doesn't seem fair to impose a luxury
hotel on the wilderness of Africa, and it definitely doesn't seem right to destroy natural resources just to make the bush more amenable to wealthy guests. But, consider that some of the money
from those guests goes to support the national parks and the local communities, as well as protect
the natural resources. Consider that they bring not only money, and lots of it, but that they are there to experience, not destroy, the wildlife.
I still had my apprehensions about this balance when I embarked on my recent trip to Zambia, where I visited four Sanctuary Retreats
camps on a tour with Abercrombie & Kent
, a Luxist Awards' Nominee in the Best Adventure Getaway Category
. To my surprise and delight, I found the most exceptional juxtaposition of immersion in the wild and modern convenience and comfort I have ever seen. I had heard that the Sanctuary Retreats camps were designed to be eco-friendly
, but I couldn't have imagined just how seamlessly they fit into the landscape, and how natural and harmless their remarkable luxuries felt.
Here are ten ways A&K and Sanctuary Retreats make the bush luxurious -- and how they protect the environment
and local communities while doing so.
1. Location, location, location.
With the exception of Sanctuary Baines'
and Stanley's Camp
, all Sanctuary Retreats properties
are located within national parks. This make for impossibly pristine surroundings -- and allows the camp managers to be stewards of those surroundings. In most camps, the wildlife is so present that you can hear various animals wandering around your tent or room at night. They definitely don't seem to mind the guests being there.
2. Hot water.
Hot water is definitely a luxury when you're in the bush -- and Sanctuary Zambezi Kulefu Camp
(above) keeps it eco-friendly by using solar power to heat the water.
3. Size matters.
Each camp obeys strict regulations as to how many people and guestrooms it can have. As a result, you are always in an intimate group of travelers (the maximum number of guestrooms I experienced was 14 at Sussi & Chuma
). This not only keeps the camps' footprints small, but ensures that the staff can keep an eye on all the guests. This both protects the safety of the guests and the safety of the surrounding wildlife -- and gives the experience a highly elite feel.