The launch of the Chobe Game Lodge eco-friendly safaris has marked the dawn of a new era for ecotourism in Botswana and Africa
The launch, by Chobe District Commissioner, Dr Temba Mmusi, took place on the banks of the Chobe River at Chobe Game Lodge. Over 150 people gathered to witness the occasion as the first electric game-drive vehicle and electric safari boat moved silently towards the crowd, driven by guides Connie Yazema Mbaeva and Lebo Kgoleng – part of the 14-strong all-female guiding team.
Eight years ago the management team at Chobe Game Lodge embarked on a journey to be the first lodge in Africa to operate an entirely electric safari fleet. Freedom Won SA were approached and soon work began on Freedom3, a converted Land Rover and the first silent electric game-drive vehicle in Botswana, and Freedom4, a new silent electric safari skimmer boat. The electricity that charges the long-life lithium batteries to power the fleet comes from the hydro-electric scheme at Victoria Falls, and is thus fully renewable energy. So, not only are they CO2 emission free, but the experience of a silent safari on Freedom3 and Freedom4 is far superior.
Mr Seroke T Seleke, Kasane’s Principal Airport Operations Officer, was also presented with the sign for what will be the first Electric Vehicle only parking bay in Africa.
CEO of Chobe Holdings Ltd., Jonathan Gibson, called on the industry to consider converting to electric power. The long-term vision is that not only more electric vehicles will be in operation by other safari operators in Botswana, but that it will become the only allowable form of propulsion allowed on the Chobe River.
Speaking at the event, Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) board member Ms Thilo Naicker discussed the internationally certified Ecotourism Accreditation Scheme, which evaluates and awards the sustainable and responsible initiatives taking place within the industry. Chobe Game Lodge was one of the first properties in the country to receive full ecotourism certification. BTO pledged their support and together with the industry, Botswana continues to establish itself as a leading ecotourism destination in the world.
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