Deep in the pristine oasis of the Serengeti are some of the most beautiful, off-the-grid luxury African lodges striving to create eco-friendly experiences.

Lemala Authentic Camps and Lodges is run by a strong female-focused management team that supports local women as well as providing sustainable opportunities – a rarity in East Africa.

“We’re quite diligent of using the power of women in tourism – there are limited opportunities for women in the tourism sector in Tanzania, so we have some good projects for them,” Lemala Authentic Camps and Lodges CEO Leanne Haigh explained at YNOT Africa Big 5 Showcase breakfast. “The other funny thing is that we’re all ladies.

“That doesn’t happen very often in the lodge environment, certainly not in East Africa.”

“The other funny thing is that we’re all ladies. That doesn’t happen very often in the lodge environment, certainly not in East Africa,” – Leanne Haigh

Feminine attributes flow through the business, from sponsoring a social enterprise company that employs 32 stay-at-home mums to make 100% biodegradable lunch boxes, stationery boxes and gift shop boxes to helping the same enterprise provide free tour-guide training to young women from a disadvantaged background.

The luxury retreat supports a local businesswoman who makes place mats for the resort to be used and sold during an annual leadership academy – for women and men – to share insightful opportunities with teenagers.

Even the lodge’s name was inspired by Maasai women’s bathing rituals.

Emala is the gourd that the Maasai ladies place near the river when bathing,” Haigh says. “This signifies to the men that they should give the ladies some privacy.

Lemala Authentic Camps and Lodges CEO Leanne Haigh
Lemala Authentic Camps and Lodges CEO Leanne Haigh

“Based on that, the word Lemala signifies women, water, privacy and respect – all of which remain important to us as we grow the brand.”

While a substantial focus is on empowering women, the indulgent experience offered at Lemala is like no other.

“Last year alone using our RO plant and reusable water bottles, we saved over 20,000 plastic bottles from ending up in landfill,” – Haigh

Deep in the sub-Saharan retreat, guests can enjoy a truly immersive affair at the East African designed, built and run tented camps and lodges.

Suites are equipped with plunge pools and freestanding baths, the Melengali Spa provides massages and manicures with the savannah just outside the door, and sunset cocktails can be savoured looking out onto the Isuria escarpment.

But Lemala is more than a luxury getaway with corporate social responsibility remaining at its core.

The lodge boasts zero emission and fuel usage, except in emergency, and incorporates ethical and sustainable measures throughout.

Reverse osmosis (RO) desalination plants were installed in all the Lemala tented lodges to eliminate the use of plastic water bottles.

“Last year alone using our RO plant and reusable water bottles, we saved over 20,000 plastic bottles from ending up in landfill,” Haigh says. “We are completely plastic free in all the properties; we don’t produce any plastic and we don’t have any plastic.

“The only plastic we do have is what comes in with other vehicles. We have a big bucket; we name and shame them. Then we turn the bottles into desks for our school projects.”

From ensuring main area and bedroom floors are made from composite decking to using recycled scrap metal steel to build 30% of the retreat’s steel structures, Lemala’s dedication to sustainability will enable a better future for the locals.

“It is our responsibility to ensure that future generations can enjoy what we have today,” – Haigh

“It is our responsibility to ensure that future generations can enjoy what we have today,” Haigh told The CEO Magazine. “We need to protect the wildlife, the cultures, the people and environment.

“We must not give up. It is never too late.

“Change is inevitable, but it is the nature of the change that is important.”

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