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The Mluwati Concession has given Extraordinary the opportunity to redefine the concept of luxury tourism in the heart of the Kruger National Park. This private concession has not only set the bar high for luxury safari experiences, but it has also become a beacon of hope for wildlife conservation, a pioneer in environmental sustainability, and a champion for local communities.

Two decades ago, SANParks (South African National Parks) embarked on a visionary mission, designating seven pristine land concessions within the Kruger National Park. We were privileged to secure the Mluwati Concession, an untouched 100km2 gem nestled in the heart of the Central Region. The concession is home to Hamiltons Tented Camp and the Imbali and Hoyo Hoyo Safari Lodges.

What sets the Mluwati concession apart is an extraordinary rich and varied landscape and an unwavering commitment to wildlife conservation. Through a strategic partnership with SANParks under the public-private partnership framework, these lodges contribute significantly to numerous conservation and community projects.

According to Cindy Sheedy Walker, who heads up Strategy for Sales, Marketing and Business Development at Extraordinary,

“Since the beginning, we have embraced the concept that our luxury safari lodges would be a force for good for both conservation and communities. This partnership with SANParks has shown that meaningful collaboration creates measurable impact.”

Conservation and Communities at Our Core

From the outset, SANParks implemented stringent measures to ensure that the concessionaires followed best environmental practices. Strict water allowances were enforced, along with regular audits conducted by third-party environmental organisations. Additionally, waste removal and greywater treatments are meticulously controlled, with numerous other initiatives to focus on issues such as plastic usage, and educational and awareness programmes for both staff and guests.

Sheedy Walker says,

“We have always been ‘green’ and we continue to lead the way in our efforts to minimise the lodges’ ecological footprint – and to tread lightly on the earth wherever possible.”

She points out that for conservation to be meaningful, initiatives must have a positive impact on the lives of surrounding communities and points to the fact that Extraordinary’s three lodges recruit 95% of their workforce from neighbouring communities within the Mluwati Concession.

“Our lodges have made a significant contribution to the wellbeing of local families in the immediate 50km radius of the Kruger National Park. If you consider that each employee supports approximately 10 dependents, this means that the lodges’ commitment to job creation has had a direct and substantial impact, positively affecting the lives of over 220,000 individuals within the region over the past 21 years. That’s a significant impact, and one that we are very proud of,” she says.

While there is a lot of work to be done in terms of conservation and empowering under-resourced communities, the Extraordinary lodges in the Mluwati Concession have proved that luxury tourism is indeed a valuable tool in creating a legacy of sustainability and responsibility that will endure for those living in the region today and for generations to come.