Cultivating sustainable luxury under the African sun

Welcome to Rockfig Safari Lodge, where luxury and sustainability intertwine beneath the African sun! In this article, we share our sustainability journey so far. From an organic vegetable garden rooted in biological products to solar panels, we’ve embraced a holistic approach to sustainability. After all, sustainability is not just a destination; it’s a continuous, ever-evolving adventure, and we’re thrilled to have you alongside us on this meaningful journey.

Andermatt Madumbi and the roots of sustainable agriculture

At Rockfig Safari Lodge, we use innovative biologicals from Andermatt Madumbi to achieve healthy yields and harvests. It is important for us that our vegetable garden is free of chemicals, healthy and sustainable.

In a conversation with Michelle Lesur, CEO of Andermatt Madumbi, Michelle shared the company’s dedication to “healthy food and a healthy environment for all.” Michelle emphasised that the narrative of food security is crucial to share with international guests, given Africa’s vast population’s need for nutritious, healthy food. Africa is home to well over a billion people so focusing on local food production is important. Planting a garden allows us to “think local,” while sharing the story behind it enables us to “think global.” It’s no wonder there are synergies between Rockfig Safari Lodge and Andermatt Madumbi.

Interestingly, when the company first came to be, the founders worked on a pilot project in the Timbavati where Rockfig safari Lodge is based. At the time, fences between the parks were being taken down to allow for the free movement of animals.

While this makes sense from a conservation point of view, local people experienced damage to their crops and their livelihoods.

The project introduced natural methods to protect the food sources and ensure that people could grow food alongside nature. This process was taking place throughout Africa and very soon the business grew to have international partnerships and reach.

The full-circle journey of Andermatt Madumbi’s products returning to a vegetable garden in the Timbavati encapsulates the essence of sustainability. If you would like to find out more about Andermatt Madumbi’s values and products, you can take a look here.

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Beyond biologicals – a solar-powered commitment

Our dedication to sustainability extends further! With recently installed solar panels, we are 70% solar-powered and 30% grid-dependent, with plans for future expansion. Our installation means that our guests can enjoy an uninterrupted power supply. What’s more, our installation keeps us up to date with our energy conservation data – the reduction in carbon dioxide, the reduction in sulphur dioxide and the amount of standard coal saved which certainly makes us feel good about this addition to our lodge. We also have a solar borehole pump that supplies our drinking water, ensuring a self-sufficient and eco-friendly water source.

Plastic reduction and guest engagement

In our pursuit of sustainability, we’ve also taken steps to reduce plastic consumption. Guests at Rockfig Safari Lodge are provided with reusable water bottles which they can take home with them. We love that they carry a small part of their safari adventure home with them while contributing to a reduction in single-use plastics. It’s a small, impactful gesture, reflecting our shared commitment to preserving the natural wonders that surround us.

Initiatives in partnership with the Timbavati Foundation

The Timbavati Foundation first came about some 14 years ago and from very humble beginnings as a bush school, it has become the solid community arm of the Timbavati. In the past, there was awareness around protecting wildlife, but little focus on the people who live on the boundaries of the protected areas.

As time has passed, it has become clear just how important these communities are and how these communities and the protected areas can be mutually beneficial. It is only through developing and furthering these connections that we can hope to build a sustainable future that includes people and place.

The Timbavati Foundation involves the very youngest learners in their environmental programmes. Pre-schoolers start to learn about and understand the various puzzle pieces that make up this beautiful world of ours. At primary school level, the children are invited on game drives and experience the park for themselves. This makes a tangible difference. Giraffes with their long necks are no longer only on the pages of picture books. These beautiful, graceful animals are very much alive and very much a part of the ecosystem. There is a moment when children come to understand that they too are a part of the whole.

At high school, the Timbavati Foundation starts to discuss the wildlife economy with learners and also invests in opportunities for learners, particularly in the conservation field. The Foundation hopes that these young people will attend the various courses available to them, grow and learn and hopefully, one day, return home with the knowledge and skills to work in the Timbavati. Naturally, tourism, conservation, hospitality, guiding and tracking are careers of focus.

That said, there is also a broader opportunity. The Timbavati Foundation has started working in the economic empowerment space and is supporting community businesses with the view to these businesses becoming a core part of the Timbavati supply chain. Candice Pierce of the Foundation regards this element as key: “If we get this right, we’ll have the full sustainability ecosystem in place.”

At the moment, the Foundation is working with seven local businesses. These range from producers of fresh fruit and vegetables as well as eggs to a waste management business. Interestingly, lodge guests are starting to ask more questions. Discerning travellers are curious about where their food comes from and also, about how waste is managed. Eco-conscious tourism is no longer just a buzzword and increasingly, the way the entire ecosystem interacts and works together, matters.

One of the great ways that safari lodges can make a difference is by involving their guests in the Timbavati Foundation community tours. At Rockfig Safari Lodge, we value sharing community projects with our guests as we know that they go a long way to increasing exposure and awareness of the work being done.

We asked Candice about the year ahead: “It’s taken us several years to get to the point of balance between the community and the park. We’re there! We’ve arrived at the point where both sides can see the mutual benefit. The community sees the value in the protected area and is involved and connected. 2024 feels like a moment of great opportunity to ensure that this becomes a sustainable cycle.”

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Sustainability; an ever-evolving adventure

Our journey towards sustainability is an ever-evolving adventure. Through the harmonious blend of biological solutions, solar energy, and environmental and social initiatives, we strive to create a haven where nature and luxury coexist in perfect balance. We are honoured to have the opportunity to contribute in such a tangible way.

Thank you to Michelle Lesur of Andermatt Madumbi and Candice Pierce of the Timbavati Foundation for sharing their time and insights with us.

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