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This Lodge Is Proof That Safaris Can Be Good for the Environment

By Jennifer Flowers

Nov 1, 2016

From the November/December 2016 issue

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Singita's Ebony Lodge opened in 1993 near South Africa's Kruger National Park and was renovated last year. 

Courtesy of Singita

Singita's Ebony Lodge opened in 1993 near South Africa's Kruger National Park and was renovated last year. 

Singita's founder knows that great safaris depend on being a good steward of the land and a good neighbor.

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If you're a guest at Tanzania's luxurious Singita Sabora Tented Camp, you might not realize that the wildlife-filled swath of the Serengeti you're gazing at represents ecotourism at its best.

Grumeti Reserves, the location of the camp, was a barren, 340,000-acre landscape where wildlife had been poached into near oblivion when U.S. philanthropist Paul Tudor Jones acquired access rights to the land in 2002. He entrusted its custodianship to Luke Bailes, CEO of Singita, a lodge company that transformed Grumeti into one of Africa’s finest game-viewing areas. Singita's core purpose, he says, "is to protect large tracts of land for future generations."

According to Bailes, conservation in parts of Africa—where population growth is putting pressure on natural habitats—requires a holistic approach. 

Luke Bailes
“Modern conservation is this interdependent relationship between wildlife, tourism, and communities,” says Bailes. In addition to preserving land, Singita works with local people on educational programs and sustainable businesses to create alternatives to poaching.

Bailes is currently working to protect lands in Mozambique that border South Africa’s Kruger National Park and is planning to open Singita lodges on the coast of Mozambique and in Rwanda. The new properties will join the brand’s current network of 12 lodges and  camps in southern and eastern Africa.

But back to Singita Sabora Tented Camp: Creating high-end experiences for travelers is part of Bailes’s formula, too. Small luxury lodges on protected land keep mass tourism away, and Singita guests are often people with the wealth to make large-scale conservation projects possible.

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“The brand has become so trusted now that people who are worried about the future of the Earth are coming to us to collaborate,” Bailes says. “That’s probably the most important thing that’s happened to us in the business.”

>>Next: These Hotels Tell the Stories of the Cities Around Them

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