Sustainability and being responsible global citizens are at the heart of everything we do at Kapama Private Game Reserve. Our world’s natural resources are at risk, and finding and maintaining ecological balance is one of our core values. Our goal is to not only ensure our business practices are sustainable. We want to ensure that our business helps nature thrive beyond mere sustainability and become leaders in responsible, low-carbon ecotourism. To keep fulfilling the current generation’s needs without compromising the needs of a future generation. To do this we are getting a lot more practical in our solutions.
The hotel industry is responsible for around 1% of global carbon emissions. That’s the equivalent of over 80 million average households and this excludes other carbon emissions related to travel to destinations. It’s a major challenge for the tourism industry. Research shows that the hotel industry needs to reduce its carbon emissions by 66 per cent per room by 2030 to ensure that the growth forecast does not lead to a corresponding increase in carbon emissions. As a result, the tourism industry worldwide will have to adopt a range of strategies to minimise their environmental impact and ensure they meet the growing demand from tourists for low-carbon travel.
According to Skift Research, 83% of global travellers say sustainable travel is vital. In addition, industry sustainability reports show that 73% of travellers are likelier to choose accommodation that has implemented sustainability practices, helping them to improve their own environmental and social footprint.
The recent growth in the “flygskam” or flight shaming trend which has spread across Europe is a clear indication of just how important this issue of responsible, low-carbon tourism is to travellers.
At Kapama, we have taken the next step in our sustainability journey to reduce our impact on the environment, lower our carbon footprint and increase our conservation efforts, protecting valuable savannah ecosystems which in themselves are critically important carbon sinks.
We are very proud to announce that our newly completed solar plant was successfully commissioned and is the first of its size for Safari Lodges in South Africa. Engineered and installed by AME Power Solutions, the optimum size of the plant was calculated to ensure sufficient power to run the biggest of our four lodges, Kapama River Lodge. The solar plant produces close to 700 000 kW per day. This is enough to power River Lodge during the day and push additional power into the grid that is taken out again after sunset. This has resulted in Kapama being able to reduce their carbon footprint by over 32% from 2021 levels, in practical terms, this reduction in carbon emissions is roughly the equivalent of planting thirty to forty thousand trees each year!
Identifying the correct area to build the solar plant was crucial. Our environmental partners, Nu Leaf, were responsible for ecological studies of the site and obtaining compliance for the solar plant. Ecologists identified protected tree species that need protection. The submission was made to the Limpopo Provincial Government and Limpopo Economic Development, Environment and Tourism to ensure Environmental Authorisation Compliance. As a result, the correct area was approved, and a total of 9,425 square meters were prepared for the solar plant, ensuring minimum harm to protected tree species.
A total of 23 solar tables were installed, each holding 54 solar panels, totalling 1242. Panels were placed at an optimum angle of 20 degrees to ensure maximum solar efficiency. The panels were manufactured by JA Solar, a company widely recognised as one of the world’s best.
This sizeable investment has reduced our dependence on coal power energy to almost zero for River Lodge.
“Our guests are very aware of their carbon footprint. With Kapama being a long-haul destination, implying a high use of carbon, it is important that their destination is an environmentally responsible establishment,” says Bernard Roode, Managing Director of Kapama.
Following the implementation of this solar plant and a recent Carbon Footprint Audit undertaken by ETC-Africa, it was decided to switch both Kapama Karula and Southern Camp lodges to solar power in December 2022, potentially reducing our carbon footprint by an additional 15% on 2021 levels. These internal reductions from converting to solar combined with plans for converting barren farmlands to productive savannah ecosystems as a carbon offset project could see Kapama becoming carbon neutral in the very near future.
Our drive for sustainable tourism includes numerous policies. We source food locally and carefully plan all menus. Our food waste feeds the pigs of the local farmers. We purify our water from a sustainable source and recycle used water in our gardens. We have a system to recycle cans, glass and paper, and the minimum waste goes to the municipal dumping ground. Our commitment to lowering our emissions resulted in installing low energy-consuming inverted air-conditioners and a water heating system powered by low-pressure solar water panels.
Our guests contribute towards sustainability as a result of our efforts. And our efforts include a positive impact across a broad range of global sustainable development goals. We employ more than 590 people, and our sustainability projects have opened up new work opportunities. With an unemployment rate of 34% in South Africa, every job created is essential and can feed up to eight people per household.
You are part of our story when you stay at Kapama Private Game Reserve. You are contributing to a greener future and improving your environmental and social footprint. We can’t wait to welcome you in luxury and clean air, with the knowledge that your carbon footprint when staying with us is benchmarked against global best practices in the tourism industry. Pack your bags!
Her name is Earth
Somewhere a new high-rise is being built by a developer, hungry for more power, and greedy for fame. Somewhere coal burns to create electricity, polluting the air. Somewhere chemical poisons seep into waterways and harm wildlife. And she sighs.
Somewhere another forest is destroyed. Somewhere oil is spilling. Somewhere another load of plastic is dumped in a landfill. And she sighs.
She warns about global warming. Glaciers melt, and the sea levels rise, but her people turn a blind eye and live without care for a future generation.
But somewhere, the sun rises, and the air is clean. She sees 15,000 hectares protected against development. A baby elephant learns to eat bark, a leopard crouches low, drinking pure water, and a dazzle of zebras eat fresh grass, still wet with morning dew. And she smiles.
Somewhere a traveller makes an informed, sustainable choice. Somewhere solar panels are generating power. Somewhere glass is being recycled. Somewhere the sky is blue. And she smiles.
Written by Liezel van der Merwe