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We are extremely proud to share that Cheetah Plains has been awarded Africa’s Leading Green Hotel at the prestigious 30th annual World Travel Awards.

Cheetah Plains envelops and embraces sustainability on every level, from our unique and award-winning architecture to our all-electric fleet of solar-powered 4×4 vehicles for a 100% off-grid game drive experience. Pioneering the silent safari and driving a singular approach to renewable energy in hospitality in the wild, Cheetah Plains is committed to delivering an exceptional eco-luxury safari experience of the highest standards, preserving the environment, and leaving a positive, enduring impact. The sustainability initiatives that drive our approach include nature and wildlife conservation, energy efficiency, water stewardship, waste reduction, empowerment, education, and purchasing practices.

“This accolade speaks to the fact that Cheetah Plains operates on a negative emissions basis and shows that sustainable luxury can be achieved through responsible tourism and initiative. We are very proud and humbled by this award and will continue to strive towards leading the way in this field of sustainability.” – NJ van der Merwe, General Manager of Cheetah Plains.

Our focus is on efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while offsetting above and beyond our emission output to exceed carbon neutrality. Credited for our carbon-negative results is our onsite production of alternative clean energy sources via solar power and best practices in sustainable operations and social impact. Breaking away from the safari industry’s reliance on diesel and electric power to operate, the Cheetah Plains ‘off the grid’ experience harnesses the power of solar to provide an efficient renewable energy source made possible by developing a solar plant that includes the installation of 1,205 solar PV panels on the rooftops, as well as three dual-axis PV solar trackers that follow the sun for the optimal input. The total solar installation generates an average of 550 MWh per annum, which is an offset of approximately ZAR 1 million ($62,500 USD) of electricity from Eskom per annum, or 530 tonnes of CO2 emissions per annum. Introducing solar and electric vehicles reduces greenhouse gas emissions compared to a baseline scenario. Zero-emission game viewing drives the sustainable safari experience at Cheetah Plains as our twice-daily game drives that traverse over 20,200+ acres are taken in innovative Toyota Land Cruiser Electric Safari Vehicles powered by Tesla batteries that are recharged through solar energy.

“South Africa continues to face an ever-present energy crisis, and we are focused on creating our own solutions. We’ve partnered with some of the world’s preeminent minds in the renewable energy field to provide clean energy solutions that drive both our hospitality and safari experiences here at Cheetah Plains.” – Japie van Niekerk, owner of Cheetah Plains.

In an effort to conserve water and reduce plastic use, we offer guests the option of refilled and sealed glass bottles of water in villas through our trusted hydration solution partner, Topia. The lodge uses filtrated natural borehole water, which goes through a reverse osmosis system that purifies the water to a tested pH level of 9.5. Biodegradable packaging and paper are used throughout to replace plastic. We strive to make intentional and responsible purchasing decisions, supporting a sustainable and local value chain. Examples of this are our amenity brand, Africology, which holds the same standard of practice and is known for its locally sourced and fully biodegradable natural products. Cheetah Plains is also part of a community waste reduction management initiative where our waste is divided and collected biweekly by local community operatives that make a living reusing, recycling, and upcycling materials.

Beyond renewable energy, we equally focus on responsible tourism efforts that leave a lasting impact locally. With 83 staff members, 53% of whom are women, we make a conscious effort to hire locally, with 82% of employees living just outside the SSNR gate and surrounding areas and up to the White River and Hoedspruit areas. Committed to community upliftment through empowerment, education, and creating local employment, Cheetah Plains constructed the Lezagwa Utah Community Crèche in 2019. This facility supports the employment of teachers and assistants that care for over 60 children between 6 months and 5 years old and is the main centre for local early childhood development.

“For a business of its size, Cheetah Plains has an impressively low carbon footprint of 210 tonnes of COZe (even without offsets.” – Duncan Pritchard of ETC-Africa, an accredited carbon footprint analyst registered with the South Africa Carbon Protocol. 

In Africa specifically, long-haul travel can have positive benefits, as most of it is for wildlife and nature tourism. Africa’s 8,400 protected areas generate $48 billion in tourist spending that aids governments in protecting nature and wildlife habitats while also funding the management of private game reserves such as the Sabi Sand, diversifying and strengthening rural economies, and contributing to food security and poverty alleviation. Investing money through tourism in developing areas is a responsible act, and if several thousand private game lodges and wildlife areas frequented by tourists no longer have a reason for existence, the loss would be devastating for biodiversity and climate change. By staying at Cheetah Plains, travellers can actually offset their travel and give back to communities that need support. A night at Cheetah Plains “costs” -1092 CO2 in emissions. As an example, an Economy Class flight between New York City and Johannesburg (NYC to JNB) produces 1.7t CO2 in emissions but is offset by a 3-night stay at Cheetah Plains. Meanwhile, that same flight in Business Class produces 5t CO2 in emissions but is offset by a 5-night stay at Cheetah Plains.

Going into 2024, we are always improving and innovating our sustainability initiatives and finding opportunities to better conserve, enrich, and empower.


Make cheetah plains your private sanctuary

For a truly exclusive safari experience, the lodge can be booked for sole use.