Community (owned) Lodges in Africa
Our mission: Reach and Visibility for Community Lodges in Africa
Our mission is to promote the reach and visibility of community lodges in Africa. Over the course of one year, we will be traveling through Southern and Eastern Africa with the aim of making our travels meaningful by ensuring that the money we spend on lodging goes back to the local communities. To achieve this, we will be staying at as many community-owned lodges as possible.
On this page, we will provide an in-depth look at what community lodges are and how to identify them. We will also discuss the characteristics of good community lodges in Africa. Additionally, we will share an overview of all the community lodges we visited in a special blog section.
The best community lodges in Southern Africa
Located in the middle of Mozambique you will find Pomene Village Camp. It's a community lodge in progress. It consists of one room and camping spots.
Bulungula on the Wild Coast in South Africa is probably the best example of an eco-lodge that we came across. It's a eco-friendly community lodge run by the Xhosa people in the Transkei region. Completely off the grid 100% owned by the community.
Ndzou Camp is located in the middle of the Chimanimani mountains in Mozambique. It's a small lodge surrounded by lush jungle and elephants. After some though years during Covid-19 the lodge is recovering and expanding. Read more!
The best community lodges in Eastern Africa
Bongo Camp in Southern Tanzania is a small local run campsite. All proceeds go directly to the community. Providing 80 children of daily breakfast and addition education. It's a must visit if you are in the south.
What is a community lodge?
What is a community lodge? Simply put, it's a lodge that is owned and managed by the local community. While there are many lodges that are run by local communities, they are often owned and managed by foreigners. For instance, most lodges in Mozambique are owned by South Africans, many of the lodges on Lake Malawi are Dutch-owned, and in Kenya, you will find beautiful resorts owned by English people. This is not necessarily a bad thing as foreigners often know how to cater to international guests better. Running a lodge as a community can be challenging, especially if the community has not travelled before. It's important to understand what guests want. Additionally, foreign-owned lodges provide good jobs to the community. However, in the end, it's often the lodge owner who gets the majority of the profits as they need to maintain their Western lifestyle.
Why are Community Lodges better?
It's not always about the money when it comes to community lodges. A well-managed lodge with good salaries may sometimes bring more prosperity to a region than a community lodge. What's important is the bigger picture - creating a stronger connection between tourists and local communities. When a larger share of the community is involved with tourism, they can learn from the social interaction. Community lodges often offer a variety of activities within the community, such as fishing with the fishermen, learning traditional medicine with the herbalist, or taking cooking classes with some of the younger people in the village. These cultural exchanges bring direct cash to the often poor community members.
Often, well-executed community lodges organize training sessions for the community members. Since everyone benefits from the lodge, it is crucial that they all take responsibility for its upkeep. The training sessions usually focus on discouraging begging, promoting eco-friendly practices to avoid plastic pollution, and creating a welcoming environment for tourists. It is essential to educate the community members about the impact of their actions on tourism, and how they can contribute to the growth of the industry.