Tag Archive for: eco tourism


It’s my habit, when in foreign restaurants, to close my eyes and point at anything on the menu. It takes care of my illiteracy, and doesn’t take the mystery out of the meal. Of course, it works better for omnivores with tough stomachs, and I no longer qualify in that department. Eating out isn’t easy for plant-based junkies. Salads are swathed in cheese, and veg thai curry is infused, unannounced, with fish sauce. I usually go for fries as a compromise and hope that my arteries will forgive the needs of my gut and conscience. How wonderful, then, to eat at a local restaurant in Cape Town where I can do the same and know that everything is safe.

This animal-friendly eatery in the centre of town is as clean-looking as it is clean-living, replete with its own vertical garden. Earth-loving patrons will also love its green contribution, as the establishment uses no meat or animal products at all.  It’s got a feather-light carbon footprint compared to the other eco sink-holes in the city.

Maybe I should have used the finger trick to choose : with so many options, FOMO kicked in. The menu is packed with an array of dishes for all dining moods. ‘You can just come back again’ I reminded myself.





After a starter round of red latte with almond milk (me) and miso soup for my date, I almost went for what I suspect is the house favourite (and is certainly my dinner mate’s favourite) but it didn’t make sense for us to have the same meal. Mine was a mild mushroom and spinach lasagne with a creamy butternut white sauce that appeared too big to finish, but fitted well in my tummy and even left a little room for dessert. My date raised his eyebrows when his mains arrived and said, ‘Dayyim. Now THIS is meat.’ Mushroom burgers maketh man, it seems; the man opposite me, the men in the street passing by and giving his burger the hungry eye while he made rather suggestive sounds (and I don’t mean chewing with his mouth open).

Tam, the manager, had kindly kept sweet treats aside for us. A chocolate brownie and a raw cake that melts in the mouth with hints of berries proved that there’s no need to feel left out when you don’t eat butter or dairy.

If you prefer good (healthy, delicious, vegan) food, and you love the earth, take a trip to Plant Cafe in the Mother City. Even better if you arrive on a bicycle!

If you think Plant Cafe should be featured on Eco Atlas for their eco ethics then recommend them here!






For every star on their five star rating, the folks at Fynbos Ridge have also made an effort to give you a first class, eco-conscious experience. It’s so seamlessly integrated; you may not notice it against the luxury finishes, fine gardens and delicious fare, so here are 5 reasons for the eco warrior to stay at Fynbos Ridge Country House and Cottages in Plett:


  1. Accessible. Country stays often entail interesting and unusual dirt roads better suited to trucks and SUVs. Fynbos Ridge is a Garden Route wonder just a few minutes from the N2, on a well-maintained level dirt road that your tyres will flow over smoothly. When you’ve been led through the bundus (bush) by Waze and Google Maps against your will and intention, this is a relief.  But more than this, a well-kept country road means less low-gear driving, which means less fuel emissions on your eco mission.
  2. Personable. The personal touch is felt from the moment you arrive through every interaction and long after you’ve left. The proprietors are hands-on folk, gentle, focused and attentive. This may not sound like an eco-aspect, but with eco consciousness still at grassroots level in South Africa, individual effort is key to its growth, and being in the company of those who care is a wonderful way to participate. Ask Liz and Brian about their relationship with the local baboons, their recommendation for good food in the area, and how they have become a certified carbon neutral establishment. They have much love for what they do, and how they do it.Fynbos-Ridge-PLETT-(3)
  3. What footprint? We all have one. Five star establishments especially. This particular guest house, however, has made concerted efforts to neutralise theirs and embrace the green revolution that is sweeping the hospitality industry (link to responsible tourism eco page or a list of relevant listing of hospitality establishments in the Western Cape). They do this with annual tree-planting that you can be part of.
  4. Unusual community. Meet your new best friends, Riley and Ruby. They are the two hairy hogs that you’ll discover foraging and frolicking around the grounds. They are part of the Fynbos Ridge family, respected, respectable, clean and cute. Apparently they’re also a rather small breed, though they easily reach a lady’s knees. It’s great to see intelligent domestic animals included in the eco system here and there’s no doubt that their hooves and snouts do as much for the undergrowth as their droppings and nibblings do.
  5. Excellent eco choices. Discerning travellers will appreciate that they hold a TripAdvisor Certificate Of Excellence for 2014, but Fynbos Ridge is also careful to cater to the future in their five star establishment. Their efforts to reduce their and your impact on the environment include: biodegradable cleaning products, solar heating, recycling, integrating indigenous plant life, bio-friendly sewage treatment, burning schedules and alien plant removal to restore the property to its natural state.

So if you’re on a business trip in Plett or Knysna, attending one of the amazing festivals in the area or taking a well-deserved luxury break, it’s good to know that you can do it with a clearer conscience, and still get your golf on, and play a little polo while you’re at it!

If you’d like to read more about their eco choices, the accommodation or make a booking, visit their Eco Atlas page.


It takes hard work and vision to build a world that works

Getting lost in Cintsa is as easy as pronouncing its name is not – “Tsk”-IN-t-SAH. Along the way, you’ll see marvellous aberrations, I mean adaptations of the word on road signs advertising everything from trees to beer. Very entertaining.  Maybe that’s why I struggled to find it.  Maybe it was Google Maps’ crowd-sourced content or the receptionist’s colourful directions. It definitely doesn’t matter; I’m not the first to get lost in the sticks and I won’t be the last to look upon this piece of the Eastern Cape coastline with wonder.


Pulling in to Buccaneers in time for a delicious dinner, I dined with the co-owner, Sean Price, a marvellously incisive and passionate man who approaches his work responsibly and efficiently.


Going greener is ideal, but easier in some ways than in others and small businesses have a big challenge here. Growing herbs and harvesting rainwater –  which they do – is not quite as complicated (or as expensive) as going off-grid, which they’d like to do. For any existing tourism and hospitality business to serve both the law and the land, this usually means major changes to existing infrastructure and a significant investment in appropriate alternative energy. Speaking of which, Buccaneers is busy changing its garbage disposal process in alignment with new regulations. “We manage ALL our waste ourselves,” Sean pointed out before outlining how they are continuing their existing commitment by upgrading their processes at their own expense. Buccaneers is also Fair Trade Certified since 2010 and believes that business can be an instrument of change as long as it’s economically viable.  The question of whether business can, by itself, afford to invest in the gamut of sustainable solutions still sits in my mind next to the question of whether we can afford not to as a species. I left the dining room deep in thought.


My home for the night was a stylish wooden house on stilts called Biko. I’m glad my host did him justice by giving me a lot to think about and that the finishes were clean and fine to calm me. In that little palace with its wonderful view of the river opening out into the ocean, I pondered the balance of things in the company of complimentary beach towels, polished floors, and a beautiful shower. Would I give aspects of this up for Mother Nature? Would I need to if products and services that serve the earth were cheaper? Can the consumer subsidise this, or must government?  Having failed to solve the problem of this aspect of the human condition in one evening, I went to sleep with the song of the ocean wafting up through the windows.


Tip : get up extra early for spectacular sunrises.

To find out more about the social and environmental priorities focussed on at Buccaneers, visit their page on Eco Atlas.

Dolphin Adventures Sea Kayaking give us insight on the changing weather patterns and what that means for the kind of sightings you will have on a sea kayak trip in the beautiful bay of Plett on the Garden Route….and why going out on a sea kayak is one of the most eco-friendly activities around!

eco tourism plett south africaOver the years on our sea kayak trips we have noticed our climate has been changing and these changes are affecting our marine life, in particular the Southern Right Whales. Over the past two years, sightings of Southern Right whales have dropped in our area (don’t worry, the population as a whole are on the increase, they are just changing patterns and travelling further Westward), but we see more Brydes and Humpbacks than before. Our dolphin sightings are awesome and include the ever playful Bottlenose, super energetic Commons and the highly endangered Humpback dolphins.  We have a variety of sea birds which are often sighted as well as the ever growing Cape Fur seal population on Robberg Peninsula, which has also been home to a huge Elephant Seal for the last year. There are a lot of other animals sighted like turtles, Otters, Sunfish, Penguins, we never know what we will find, and that is why every trip is very different.

Whales and dolphins live in a world of water and sound. They feed, communicate and find their way around their world using sound. If we humans pump oil or chemicals into that world, or high levels of unnatural noise, then the animals will suffer. Chemical spills, seismic noise used to find oil and gas, conducting loud military exercises at sea and increases in boat traffic can all put dolphins and whales in danger by causing them to strand on our coastlines.

It is not too late for humans to learn to live responsibly, allowing the continued survival of all creatures and the continued health of this planet. The task is large, but not impossible if we each consider the influence we have in our lives and how much we can accomplish together. Each one of us can make a difference if we are willing to take an active role.

Written by Kira Primo, if you would like to learn more about their eco choices or book a trip visit their page on Eco Atlas.


eco tourism outdoor activity       robberg peninsula plettenberg bay

eco activities south africa

Most people associate the name Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve with the best of safari luxury that South Africa has to offer. A continuous presence on the Top Hotels of the World lists as well as a steady stream of celebrity guests solidifies this perception. Add to this some of the best game viewing in the land, and a wide range of luxury lodges and you are nearly there. Under the theme “yesterday, today and tomorrow” there are no less than 4 differently themed all-suite lodges within the reserve, ranging from traditional to ultra-modern.

Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve is perhaps best-known for their superb big cat viewing

Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve is perhaps best-known for their superb big cat viewing

At Selati Camp, the romantic colonial (“yesterday”) era has been recreated using thatched roofs, antiques and wooden floors. Little Bush Camp and Bush Lodge represent “today” with their contemporary African design and spacious suites. Earth Lodge provides a delicate and modern space where nature plays the leading role; a new breed of safari lodge that is pointing the way towards “tomorrow”. As different as the lodges are, they all have unrivalled luxury and service worthy of kings and queens in common (in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if one or two royalties have stayed here, but Sabi Sabi are too discreet to ever tell us about that).

However, some of you will have noticed that I said “nearly there” earlier. There is one more, vital ingredient in Sabi Sabi’s recipe for success: their people. Everyone, from maintenance to management is proud to work here and this shows. You will always be greeted with a warm smile, and people are more than willing to go the extra mile to ensure that every guest feels like a VIP. Being a caring, nurturing and encouraging employer has afforded Sabi Sabi total loyalty and commitment from their employees. Many have worked here their whole career and consider themselves family. As a guest, you feel this pride and loyalty not only in the service you receive but also in the depth of knowledge that your hosts share with you.

Parts of the big Sabi Sabi family

Parts of the big Sabi Sabi family

Over and above being one of the largest individual employers in the area, Sabi Sabi supports the local communities through a wide range of projects. These range from sponsoring a crèche, to youth development through sports and environmental education. Guests also have the opportunity to visit the communities and learn more about the Shangaan culture through the Community Tour; created and guided by one of Sabi Sabi’s employees Lodrick Manyathele. The way Lodrick has gone from being an employee at the lodge to successfully running everything related to the Community Tour, including community liaison, budgets, staff, marketing, scheduling, guiding and much more, is but one of the many stories of how Sabi Sabi empowers their employees and create opportunities for them to grow while at the same time providing their guests with an even richer experience!

Sabi Sabi Community Tour

Lodrick’s Community Tour is bound to leave you feeling happy

Sabi Sabi really is for discerning travellers that want it all. Not just luxury, sophistication, excellent game viewing and great service but also a commitment to people and places that ultimately leads to The Complete Experience.

Katarina Mancama



About the author:

Katarina loves to travel and this passion has taken her to many places around the globe. She was born and raised in Sweden then lived, studied and worked in Australia, The UK, Panama and Switzerland before making South Africa her home in 2005.

She has a Master’s degree in Responsible Tourism and has dedicated her career to ensuring that tourism benefits the people, places and communities that make it happen. She is also the founder of Simply South Africa, a platform for travellers that want to Explore hidden gems, Experience up-close and personal encounters with people and places & Embrace South Africa by making sustainable choices: