Would you like to experience Africa’s wildlife and nature and enjoy some of the continents loveliest beaches, while knowing that your holiday was not damaging the environment? Sarah Peled from Tembo Kijani Ecolodge in Tanzania, shares her thoughts on what it takes to be eco-friendly and create an ecolodge?
Well, different countries – different customs, that’s also true for sustainability. Being eco is not a recipe that can be looked up and copied to all the corners of the world.
Sustainability, eco-conscious, being green – whatever you want to call it – was our leitmotif from the beginning through conception, design, creating and running. We, that is myself, Eyal and our daughter Timna, escaped the high-tech life to fulfill our dream of living in an eco lodge surrounded by nature and wildlife.
So where to start? We wanted to use natural building materials, that are found around the area and to use as little cement (a very uneco-friendly building material) as possible. We studied the local way of building, input lots of creativity, as well as time, to come up with some good and innovative ideas of eco-friendly building, especially designed for this area, using materials such as coconut leaves, burlap, sisal sticks, wood and doum palm leaves.
Placing the buildings on the plot was not an easy task either. When we started the thick bush made it virtually impossible to cross from the back up to the beach without having to crawl on all fours! So with nature and hence wildlife conservation in mind, we cleared up dead trees and branches and this alone made big enough spaces for the buildings – each guest unit is slightly different due to the size of the cleared area we found available. The result is wonderful, a place full of indigenous nature and wildlife – vervet monkeys, sykes monkeys, baboons, nile monitors, dik-diks, squirrels and more are still calling Tembo Kijani their home.
As well as enjoying the local flora and fauna around Tembo Kijani, guests can visit the nearby Saadani National Park or simply explore on foot, the local ecosystems such mangroves, baobab trees, a salt lake with an opportunity to meet the local tribe of the Mangati.
The lodge runs entirely on solar and wind power, through this alone we are able to keep the drinks cold and the lights on. A solar island system to supply electricity and a solar water heating system for each unit, provides our guests with a first-hand experience of the power of the sun, solar being the first choice of renewable energy when being located so close to the equator.
Being so far off in the bush, our food supplies come mostly from nearby villages – coconuts are taken from the trees in the lodge, fish is bought fresh from the fishermen on the beach, available fruits and vegetables change with the season – come in December and you get the best mangos and pineapples. Our German chef creates magical dishes from these fresh, local ingredients – you’ll be delighted to taste what can be created from tomatoes, coconut, pineapple and passion fruit.
Besides being eco in regards to pollution, eco also means supporting the local community, so as well as buying local produce, 90% of our employees are from the next village and we train them in their new profession as well as in sustainability.
Being eco cannot be done in the same way in all the places in the world, but with some creativity, open eyes and a passion for nature, a great eco resort can be established anywhere in the world and will surely be a unique experience for everybody visiting.