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Ila Safari Lodge: The Sustainable Safari Camp Blueprint

Paul Changuion | November 4, 2021

Our small collection of sustainable safari camps and lodges have been built on the foundation of a deep connection with Africa, which is what guided us from the start of our journey, at Ila Safari Lodge.

From the moment we fell in love with the enchanting wilderness of the Kafue and chose to build the first Green Safaris property there, we knew we needed to have the lowest possible environmental footprint. Ila Safari Lodge is where we started, and we made sure that through research, creativity and important partnerships it would be grounded in green building principles. It was the benchmark for designing and building the new properties that followed, and for those we welcomed to the Green Safaris family.

Interior of sustainable safari tent at Ila Safari Lodge in Kafue National Park

Now we have another five camps and lodges that offer a sustainable safari experience in some of the most pristine ecosystems in Zambia and Malawi. Kaya Mawa Lodge on Likoma Island, Lake Malawi joined us in 2018 and at the beginning of 2020, we welcomed the Zambezi River sisters, Tongabezi Lodge and Sindabezi Island Camp. In another year marked by a travel hiatus, we didn’t need to look far for a silver lining. We opened the doors to our brand new camps, Shawa Luangwa and Chisa Busanga, which have brought sustainable safaris to the South Luangwa and Busanga Plains respectively.

Front view of Ila Safari Lodge in Kafue National Park

Many run completely off solar farms, use water reticulation and biogas systems, and ban single-use plastics. While we are always looking at new ways of improving the way we design, build and operate, we have developed a basic blueprint for our properties. This gives like-minded, eco-conscious travellers (that’s you!) peace of mind knowing you’re connecting with nature without putting strain on her resources or wildlife.

Using solar to power a sustainable safari camp

Not only did we consider Ila Safari Lodge to be a pioneer in environmentally-friendly tourism, but it was also recognised by the Zambian Travel Awards as the ‘Best Zambian Eco-Lodge’ in the year it opened. During your stay at Ila, the team would be delighted to show you the onsite sustainability practices.

Solar panels part of sustainable safari at Ila Safari Lodge in Kafue National Park

This includes how we harness the sun’s energy in our solar farm and solar water heaters. Hot water is a creature comfort we all enjoy, and it’s important to us that us being ‘green’ doesn’t have to mean compromising your luxury safari experience.

Building with a (green) purpose

It is no accident that Ila blends so seamlessly into its place on the Kafue Riverbank. Like all our camps, the where and how of its construction were well-informed and conscious decisions that ensured minimal impact on its surrounds.

Ila Safari Lodge and electric boat on Kafue River

The main boma is made from locally-sourced materials and the walls are built using sandbag technology; a method we have used in community construction projects like Lukanga Secondary School. It results in longevity, natural insulation, and far less cement needed than in traditional brick buildings.

Conserving water, a precious and finite resource

Part of reducing our impact on the environment, wildlife and local communities is by protecting and conserving natural resources like water. One important way we do this at Ila, is by reticulating black water through a central reticulation so that there is no need for soak-away pits.

Baby elephant drinks water in Kafue River surrounded by elephant legs

All cleaning products, chemicals and amenities are bio-degradable, which means water systems in Kafue and beyond are not contaminated by toxins. As we all know, single-use plastics have become a major source of pollution in rivers, lakes and oceans. We have banned the use of cling-film and straws at Ila – and our other camps – and opt for recycled paper and reusable bottles.

Electric game drive in Kafue National Park

Our signature Silent Safari experience was born at Ila. It was the first lodge in Zambia to develop and run an electric game drive vehicle powered by the sun – a real sustainable safari innovation. Find out what exactly is a Silent Safari in this blog.

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People smile and swim in Devil's Pool during the Zambia safari tour near Livingstone Island above Victoria Falls
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