Eco-Tourism At Bulungula Lodge, South Africa

headerimage2Dave Martin was just a hippie with big dreams before he founded Africa’s first eco-friendly lodge in the middle of the Transkei, South Africa’s most underdeveloped and ruggedly awe-inspiring coastal region.

Bulungula is not what you might expect from a lodge sitting on the “Top Twenty Places to See in South Africa” list but it is certainly something very different.

It has no bell hops or airport transfer bus but it has a mass of open space, fresh air and the ocean. By not having wrecked the environment or exploited the local people, it has a totally green, guilt-free conscience.


Bulungula Lodge is really something of a great legend in all ethical travel circles. The lodge is an eco-friendly and very interesting destination in a stunning and remote setting on South Africa’s Eastern Cape Wild Coast, which is partly owned by the community that lives in the surrounding area. The local population functions as your hosts, and they are offering a Xhosa village experience that will stay in your memories forever.

Bulungula Lodge has been rated by Rough Guide as one of the world’s best ethical and eco-friendly travel experiences. It was also one of the world’s first destinations to receive Fair Trade certification from Tourism South Africa and has turned into something like a model for other touristic destinations, though that hardly reflects how much fun you can have if you stay there.

The entire place is run off solar power (now that South Africa is experiencing the load shedding crisis, this seems like brilliant foresight), the local Nqileni village has a 40% share of the business and provides many staff for the lodge.

Martin’s aim is to get to the root of the problem of migration into cities by making rural life attractive again for South African people, and that doesn’t translate into huge smoking factories feeding on cheap labor like it did in the past. What it does mean is that guests can get away from their busy lives and relax while knowing that their money is going to a worthy cause. There’s nothing quite like a spot of philanthropy to ease the mind, after all.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been in the city so long that you’ve forgotten what a star even looks like and you get nostalgic when you see the lights of a plane flying overhead at night. Well, Bulungula guarantees that you will see shooting stars during your stay – in fact, they’re so confident that they offer a night’s free accommodation if you don’t catch a glimpse of one within thirty minutes of looking at the night sky.

Now, wouldn’t you trade in chocolates on your pillow and a complimentary shower-cap for all of that?

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