It’s not all ZOOM and GLOOM – We have the camp fires burning…

June - Blog - ZOOM and GLOOM

A night at a safari lodge is not the cost of a room, no matter how spectacular. Choose wisely and this is foremost a meaningful contribution to safeguarding wildlife and the well-being of local communities that support conservation. With travel on hold, wildlife documentaries and virtual game drives have kept us inspired but they can’t be compared to the real thing. The good news is, there has never been a better time or reason to tune in, zoom out and start planning for that magical safari!!! Our lodge partners and their rangers have been on the frontlines of conservation, protecting our precious wilderness areas so that we don’t lose decades of hard work, and they are counting on our continued support when travel opens. With this in mind we have curated a list of some of our favourite partner lodges that are committed to protecting wildlife and supporting their local communities during this time. Please feel free to contact us about post COVID-19 specials and our flexible terms.

Warm regards from Jen, Simon and the Bellingham team

TSWALU KALAHARI - SOUTH AFRICA

Tswalu is a labour of love for the Oppenheimer family who took responsibility for this remarkable reserve in 1998. Their commitment to conservation has seen indigenous species re-introduced and the restoration of the Kalahari, undoing earlier attempts at farming and hunting. The Tswalu Foundation exists primarily to support ecological research at Tswalu. Tswalu’s national and regional importance as a habitat was acknowledged in 2014 when it was designated as a formally protected area. In its new incarnation as a private wildlife reserve and conservation success story, Tswalu’s aim is “to leave the world better than how we found it.” The lodge and reserve also provides upskilling and employment opportunities for the local community and provides them with meaningful careers, as well as enhanced health and education services.

LONDOLOZI - SOUTH AFRICA

The Varty family’s conservation ethos has always resonated with that of Bellingham Safaris, we relish the opportunity to send our guests to Londolozi. Situated in the middle of the Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve, this family owned property is certainly one of the reasons why the Sabi Sand has become one of the most rewarding savanna wildlife properties on earth. One of the conservation success stories that illustrates the impact Londolozi has had on wildlife viewing worldwide, has been the habituation of leopard which began in the 1970’s and forever altered big cat viewing experiences. The Varty family pioneered South Africa’s eco-tourism industry by abandoning unsustainable hunting safaris popular in the early twentieth century in favour of photographic safaris. We believe the Vartys have successfully created not only a wildlife sanctuary, but also a superb luxury safari underpinned by sound eco-tourism principles; making Londolozi one of the premier safari products worldwide.

SEGERA - KENYA

Established by philanthropist, Jochen Zeitz in 2005, the 50,000 acres of wilderness that make up the Segera Ranch and Retreat, proves that luxury can be sustainable. By dropping fences, sharing information and opening migration corridors, Segera has returned a working cattle ranch into a thriving wildlife conservation area. What was previously overgrazed land, struggling to support the surrounding communities and wildlife, is now thriving. Along with the establishment of the Conservation Unit Programme with the Laikipia Wildlife Forum to train rangers in conservation issues, Segera runs a 20-acre agriculture plot at one of the local primary schools. The reciprocal relationship Segera has with surrounding communities is something they are rightfully proud of and an integral part of their success. Citizen Science is utilized at the ranch, with programs to empower local elders to take control of the issues that concern them, rather than relying on external experts.

MASOALA FOREST LODGE - MADAGASCAR

The rich forests with an impressive assemblage of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and insects combined with an idyllic setting of sandy beaches and the tropical decor of swaying palms make this one of our top destinations in Madagascar. The lodge serves as a living cultural museum, where traditional artefacts and utilitarian objects manufactured by the local communities are in daily use and on display, providing a sense of pride and ownership for the local community. Masoala Forest Lodge seeks to complement the efforts of Madagascar National Parks, the Wildlife Conservation Society and Zoo Zurich in the conservation of this rainforest and the Antongil Bay. This is embodied in a philosophy of earth-friendly design and operation, while providing an alternative and sustainable source of income to the local population.

JAMTARA WILDERNESS CAMP - INDIA

Amit Sankhala, is the grandson of Kailash Sankhala who dedicated his life to tiger conservation and was the founder of Project Tiger. Amit grew up spending time in wildlife rich parts of India, and as a young man stepped into the shoes of his forefathers taking forward the family mission of tiger and nature conservation. Further to Jamtara (and his other eco-tourism lodges), Amit is also an active trustee of Tiger Trust, and his commitment to training field guides has had a remarkable impact improving standards and enriching the experience of wildlife travellers. This all shines through at his Jamtara Camp in the jungles of Pench, where he spreads awareness and musters support for the survival of the tiger.

CAIMAN ECOLOGICAL REFUGE - BRAZIL

Caiman, home to some of the best wildlife viewing in South America, is situated in the heart of the Southern Pantanal. Here one has the unique opportunity to explore a staggering 53 000 hectares of privately owned land, a vast safe haven for wildlife, which has been created by implementing a ban on hunting and reserving substantial portions of land solely for ecotourism. The wildlife enthusiast visiting Caiman is welcomed by an astounding array of neo-tropical wildlife. Jaguars tend to be shy and hard to find, but Oncafari, the ground-breaking project to habituate this apex predator, has had much success and there is no doubt that Caiman currently offers the very best jaguar viewing on Earth.

Bellingham Safaris have signed The Long Run charter, a declaration of intent and commitment to promoting more sustainable lifestyle choices and building a more sustainable future. Our aim as an affiliate member is to connect our guests to properties that meet a gold standard of excellence in sustainability.

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Photo credits: Lodge photos by suppliers and opening photo by Singita Explore.

Jen Bellingham