Looking for your next sustainable escape? Karkloof Safari Villas, a luxury South African safari lodge surrounded by stunning wildlife, provides a unique and sensational safari experience combining ultimate comfort with incredible sustainable commitment. 

Through their philosophy, ‘Development with a Gentle Hand’, guests will find themselves revitalised and pampered -whilst immersing themselves within the beauty on their doorstep. With a determination to leave the environment undisturbed, wild animals are treated kindly and considerately by their two-legged neighbours – whilst the buildings themselves have been constructed with recycled bricks and locally-quarried stone.  

Situated just 30 minutes from Pietermaritzburg, this eco-friendly hideaway is nestled in a place of spectacular beauty on a 3000-hectare reserve, surrounded by picturesque waterfalls and rivers. From the aroma of naturally hydrated greenery and gentle sounds of wildlife to culinary excellence and blissful spa relaxation, prepare to relax, recline and immerse yourself in one of the world’s most tranquil escapes.

Fascinating History
Those looking to get up close and personal with amazing creatures are certainly in luck. The wider residing area of Karkloof Safari Villas used to be known as Ihlanze Game Reserve, established in the 1850s when colonial settlement took place in the area. The region has always played host to an abundance of wildlife including buffalo, lion, hyena, African birds, hippo and even packs of wild dogs that used to roam the land.

Around this period, larger game animals and predators were hunted to extinction, as was the case in many parts of South Africa. It is only in the last 15 to 20 years that these magnificent creatures have been sighted again and they are now recognised as an asset, not a liability.   

The most significant change occurred in 2002 with the establishment of the present Ihlanze Game Reserve, leading to the consolidation of the Karkloof Valley, the Umgeni Valley and Malden-Saxony properties. Ihlanze is now considered a viable area for the conservation of biodiversity and in it is set to be the core of a large UNESCO-approved biosphere reserve under the Biodiversity Stewardship Programme, the first of its kind in KwaZulu-Natal. The region still plays host to a range of diverse and rare plant and animal species which it is committed to sustaining. 

Today, Karkloof Safari Villas still upholds this same ethos and has a very dedicated approach to eco-friendly co-habitation, whilst maintaining a high standard of luxury for guests. Created using only environmentally-friendly materials, even the spa is comprised of recycled clay bricks – whilst the lodges are made from locally quarried cladding stone and natural ingredients.

Sustainable Stays
Sustainability is at the heart of Karkloof Safari Villas – plant and tree life are encorperated into its structures. Each spacious villa is individually decorated and offers a private viewing deck from which to appreciate the free-roaming wildlife. These include 93 butterfly, 283 bird, 67 amphibian and 43 mammal species, such as Rhinos and Giraffe’s.  

Karkloof Safari Spa offers a range of treatments and therapies, all of which have been carefully crafted from a range of cultures and use organic and natural ingredients. It was integral that the design of the spa reflected this focus on sustainability and as such living roofs were fitted with planted grass in order to steady temperatures and reduce energy consumption; warthogs and antelope are often seen grazing this striking feature too.

The lodge and spa, meanwhile, uses biodegradable soaps and cleaning materials, organic body lotions, non-toxic wall paint and vanities made of wood instead of melamine. Even the sips are sustainable – cleaning and drinking waters are derived from the cool clear air of the valley below. 

Wild Gardens & Paths
The lodge and spa takes care not to manicure their gardens to a sterile and manufactured state that does not emulate their natural surroundings. Vibrant green long-grass patches and shrubby areas house birds and attract butterflies, chameleons and numerous small animals creating a buzzy, warm environment.

Similarly, the boardwalk leading to the Karkloof Falls has been designed with low impact on the natural features. The philosophy behind the architecture was to build around the environment which is already there and therefore disturb it as little as possible. As such the pathway, which is created from natural wood and recycled boards, meanders cheerfully over boulders and around trees.

Karkloof Safari Villas (www.karkloofsafarivillas.com ; +27 33 569 1321) offers the Starling package from R4,050/ £230 per night per person on a B&B basis and includes an optional game drive.