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For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni
For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni 

Things to do in South Africa

Community-driven conservation at The Isibindi Foundation

The local communities are also shareholders of the Isibindi business…

By Luke Martin
Manager of The Isibindi Foundation

Since 1996 when Brett and Paige Gehren founded Isibindi Africa Lodges, the local communities have always been the beating heart of the company. They are also shareholders in the businesses whereby funds are allocated to elected board members and distributed where they see fit. Since day one, aside from employment – that’s a standard – each lodge in our portfolio has run its own community projects. The Isibindi Foundation formed in 2019 to further consolidate these efforts and give them the focus that they need.

Depending on the lodge, each stay finances projects such as our community education programs at local schools and creches. This includes training and providing resources, building jungle gyms, replacing roofs – things that we usually take for granted. Our development centres aim to empower residents with various skills such as IT (which are severely lacking in these rural areas), and discuss the importance of caring for our environment. At Thonga Beach Lodge, beach cleans help maintain the iSimangaliso Wetland Park and its UNESCO World Heritage Status. At Rhino Ridge Safari Lodge, we’re sitting in the very place where the southern white rhino was saved from extinction so anti-poaching teams is a huge focus. It’s always been a scary prospect. This year alone we’ve had 260 rhinos killed in that park from January. Last year was 240. If it continues at this rate, in five years’ time we’ll have serious population problems. We do a lot of work supporting the local authorities and anti-poaching teams, especially in the canine units – funding training and supplying them with equipment.

The moment you step foot in an Isibindi lodge, you’re involved in the whole process. It’s a wonderful feeling and there are plenty of opportunities to experience these community-based projects first hand.

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Alfred & Luke Martin

After studying in Pretoria, Luke joined the Isibindi Africa Lodges in 2018 where he developed experience working across various, diverse parts of the company. Recognising his potential, founders Brett and Paige Gehren appointed Luke as Project Manager of The Isibindi Foundation where he currently oversees a number of vital community and conservation projects. When he’s not working or out in the field with local communities, Luke can be found in the great outdoors fishing or camping.

Plan your holiday withAlfred&

Your journey will start with one of our UK team – someone like Laura, who's travelled extensively in South Africa. They’ll shape your ideas into the trip of a lifetime. But they won't do it alone. They'll draw on the expertise of our contacts on the ground, connecting you to the people who'll make your holiday one you'll always remember - ex banker who can show you the hottest foodie spots in Cape Town, the award-winning young sommelier who can introduce you to Stellenbosch's finest wines and the walking safari ranger who can guide you to the best game.

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