Stephen Cunliffe
South Africa ZA

Stephen is a travel writer and avid conservationist whose work appears in prestigious magazines such as Africa Geographic and Travel Africa.

Category: Sustainable Lodge of the week

Azura Benguerra Island – just a short dhow-trip off the coast of southern Mozambique – is one of the continent’s most stunning island retreats and home to an eco-lodge of note.

With the exception of its generators that provide power to refrigerators and air conditioning units, Azura Benguerra scores impressively in the areas of social and conservation responsibility.

Abundant seaside sunshine is converted to solar power and used to heat water, recycle grey-water and run an eco-friendly sewage treatment facility. Innovative recycling of building material, extensive landscaping with indigenous vegetation, and widespread use of local crafts and crafters add to the lodge’s impressive sustainability mix.

On the social side, the establishment of the Rainbow Fund directs guest donations and other funds to worthy community upliftment project, such as the reconstruction of the local school after it was destroyed by a cyclone. If the lodge was to look at off-setting its carbon footprint or incorporating more renewable energy sources, it would surely climb the final rungs of the sustainability ladder to sit amongst the finest on the continent.

Azura is seen by the local authorities where it operates as a model for ethical sustainable community based tourism. It has a firm policy of upliftment, which means most of the hosts, housekeeping staff, gardeners and so on are Mozambican. Typically they have grown up in disadvantaged communities with poor education, and are being trained by Azura.

Idyllic Azura Benguerra is a proud member of the top 50 sustainable safari operations, as selected by David Bristow and Colin Bell for inclusion in their magnificent coffee table book: Africa’s Finest. This ecologically responsible book identifies a handful of truly sustainable safari operations from amidst the sea of eco-pirates that pervade the African safari lodge industry. If you’d like to get your hands on a copy of the book, then you can order it here.

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