Green Traveller - Aug-Sept23 - Issue1

Page 1

Green Traveller

IMMERSEDin nature

Our pick of the top hotels with natural swimming pools

Pelion’s seasonal food scene

Postcard from Catalonia

The latest news for greener travel

+ August/September 2023 Issue 1

All aboard for a greener tomorrow

Taking the train is not only the most scenic way to discover destinations but also one of the most environmentally friendly ways of travelling. When compared to cars and airplanes, trains emit between 66 and 75 percent less carbon and are far more sustainable in terms of energy consumption, use of space, and noise levels.

Rail Experts We know the best routes, schedules, sightseeing, where to sit on the train and so much more. Simply said, we speak fluent train!

Hotel Choice Select a 3, 4 and a 5 Star all on the same trip -The choice is yours!

Book up to two years in advance Now that everyone is travelling again, space is limited and prices are higher – with us you can book now for next summer to secure space and lock in the rate!

Trending holidays booking now:

No Piecing it all together We package everything together, making your holiday planning that much easier!

Independent Travel Explore Europe independently in comfort and convenience by high-speed rail and avoid the high cost of self-driving.

Choice is yours From our suggested Best Sellers to customising your perfect trip from scratch we do it all. Sightseeing, hotels, train, transfers and more, we take the complexity our of train travel.
Zurich > Salzburg > Vienna 7 DAY ITINERARY

Green Traveller

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While every effort is made to ensure accuracy, GREENTRAVELLER and CHARITABLE TRAVEL cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions.

FRONT COVER: Giacomo Foti, Pete Helm, Jaques Bopp, Cottar’s Safaris/Valerie Darling.


GRAPHICS: unless stated otherwise.


CEO: Melissa Tilling; SALES: Alison Nicholls; MAGAZINE EDITOR: Richard Hammond; DEPUTY

EDITOR: Rebecca Miles (editor@; MAGAZINE

DESIGNER: Claire Gates


Where you see these symbols throughout the magazine you can be assured that the destinations featured can be reached without flying or that the activities featured will have a positive impact for the community, environment or wildlife in the region.


Welcome to Green Traveller

Welcome to the first issue of Green Traveller magazine. For me, sustainable travel is about travelling in a way that’s sensitive to the climate and nature emergencies while ensuring that the

the UK, in Europe or further afield. Keep an eye out for the flight-free and positive impact icons throughout the magazine that distinguish between those trips that can be reached overland with those that bring genuine benefits to destinations through nature conservation, local community empowerment and humanitarian aid.

wellbeing of the places we visit gain long-term benefit from us travelling there. It’s a balancing act between reducing or eliminating the negatives and maximising the positives of travel.

The aim of this magazine is to help you find those holidays that do just that, whether that’s closer to home in


You’ll hopefully find lots of inspiration in this first issue, from a collection of hotels that have gorgeous natural swimming pools (p22) and places to see rewilding in action (p16) to a thought-provoking feature on African safaris that give something back by the experienced travel writer Paul Bloomfield (p30).

I look forward to shining a light on the many ways to go green in future issues of this ground-breaking magazine.

Happy green travelling!

August/September 2023 | AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2023 3 WELCOME
4 Get the picture in Sweden 6 Global green news 8 How to be a green traveller 10 Armchair travel 12 WIN Lonely Planet’s EV Road Trips Europe 13 A postcard from... Catalonia 15 The menu from... Pelion
It’s a balancing act between reducing or eliminating the negatives and maximising the positives of travel
16 Rewilding in action in the UK 22 7 of the best places to stay with natural swimming pools 25 Sustainability with Explore’s MD 26 Low carbon travelling 28 A green spotlight on: Leeds 29 Little green traveller 30 Safaris that give back

The West Sweden Tourist Board (vastsverige. com) has launched a series of low carbon holidays known as ‘Climate Smart Holidays’, which aim to show how visitors can travel in a low impact way without compromising on comfort and experiences. The tourist board has compiled five travel packages based at environmentally friendly accommodation, such as glass cabins and ‘tiny houses’, from where visitors take part in a range of eco-friendly outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, and kayaking. Visitors are encouraged to travel by train and can be picked up at the railway station in electric cars to travel the last stretch of the journey.




Framed by the Bay of Biscay on the coast and the famous vineyards of the Loire Valley, this region is slow travel heaven

Words by Richard Hammond

Jardin Extraordinaire is a beautiful public garden on the site of a former industrial wasteland in the western area of Nantes. Steep cliffs provide the backdrop to a 25-metrehigh waterfall sheltering a luxuriant garden with its own microclimate that’s home to a range of exotic plants.


Discover the wildlife and heritage of the picturesque River Sarthe from the comfort of the electric boats that cruise along its 86km of navigable waterways. Departing from La Suze-sur-Sarthe, local operators Aventure Nautique provide a range of boats for seven to 10 people, while Anjou Navigation provides boats for groups of four to five people.

Long-distance cycle route Loire à Vélo follows the Loire from its mouth at Saint-Brevin-les-Pins on the Atlantic coast to Cuffy near Nevers, along flat cycleways with very little traffic, via medieval cathedral cities, riverside villages and lots of châteaux. Train Loire à Vélo is a dedicated bike train that transports cyclists between railway stations along the route. | AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2023 5 GET THE

Global good news



A living ‘coral ark’ is being created to conserve the Great Barrier Reef’s coral biodiversity. The Forever Reef Project at the Cairns Aquarium will safeguard 400 species of hard coral to ensure there are specimens available for reef research and restoration efforts should they be required to restore coral biodiversity on the reef. Dr Dean Miller, managing director of Great Barrier Reef Legacy, and project director commented: “We’ve had four mass coral bleaching events in the last six years on the Great Barrier Reef, and over 50% of corals gone in the past few decades. The most vulnerable corals and coral reefs are in danger, and we don’t have a moment to lose to protect and preserve this precious collection.”

Visitors can go on a 30-minute behind-thescenes tour to learn about the importance of healthy coral in the ecosystem, climate change and experience the growing collection of corals first hand.

Daniel Leipnik, CEO and founder of Cairns Aquarium said: “This collaboration will allow visitors to see just how diverse corals are in shape, size and colour like never before, in a world-first tourism experience, while playing a role in conservation. This unique collection provides visitors an unmatched resource to learn about the corals of the Great Barrier Reef and become more familiar with corals they may experience while visiting the largest living natural icon.”

© Martin Stringer


The charity Together We Learn (twlethiopia. org), which runs ethical tourism trips in Ethiopia for travellers “looking for adventure and an authentic experience that benefits local communities”, has launched a new 11-day tour that takes in the sights, sounds, tastes of the country, including cooking, local wine and coffee tastings, visiting jazz bars and art galleries, the rift valley lakes and national parks. The first tour departs in November, a second is planned for the end of January 2024 and will cost £2,250 per person.


Dutch-Belgian rail company European Sleeper ( has launched a new overnight sleeper service from Brussels to Berlin, which means it will be possible to depart by Eurostar from London in the afternoon, change to the sleeper train within the same station in Brussels Midi and arrive in Berlin early the following morning.


Short break specialist Forest Holidays ( has been awarded B Corp certification in recognition of the contribution it makes to protecting and preserving the UK’s forests and wildlife through its Land and Wildlife Conservation Impact Business Model. Bruce McKendrick, CEO of Forest Holidays, said: “Each of our 12 locations with thoughtfully placed cabins have long term biodiversity enhancement strategies meaning our work is not only centred around nature, but it is also deeply woven into the fabric of the local communities we support”.

North America’s first hydrogen powered passenger train has launched this summer in Québec’s eastern region of Charlevoix. Train de Charlevoix ( is powered by green hydrogen and takes an hour and a half to travel between Parc de la Chute-Montmorency and the town of Baie-Saint-Paul along the St. Lawrence river.


THE PIG hotels (thepig have been awarded a 3-star Food Made Good Rating (the highest) from the Sustainable Restaurant Association, which works to support positive change across the global food service industry. | AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2023 7 NEWS
SHERWOOD FOREST © Forest Holidays © Green Traveller Productions

Buy less, repair more

As the anticipation of a trip builds, consider what’s the best kit or clothing to take that has the least impact on the environment. It’s easy to be seduced into buying the latest great deal, but before you click on ‘go to checkout’, ask yourself whether you actually need new gear, or could your old belongings be repaired or refreshed? The most sustainable products are often those you already own. Prolonging the lifespan of what you have, keeping it out of landfill and doing what it was designed to do for as long as possible until it’s finally worn out, will preserve resources, reduce chemical pollution, and save unnecessary carbon emissions.

Sometimes there are simple patches and fixes you can make yourself to rips and tears (see for tips on how to repair everyday items), but if you’re unable to, several well-known outdoor brands now offer to repair and reproof damaged outdoor clothing and equipment you’ve brought from them, such as Alpkit, Berghaus, Cotswold Outdoor and Patagonia (just make sure you keep your proof of purchase).

There are also specialist repairers that can make good any outdoor clothing and equipment, from footwear to waterproof jackets, trousers and

fleeces to sleeping bags, backpacks and even tents. Lancashire Sports Repairs ( fixes boots, outdoor clothing, sleeping bags and tents; Feet First ( mends outdoor footwear; Scottish Mountain Gear ( repairs clothing, tents and rucksacks; and Mountaineering Designs ( specialises in repairing down-filled clothing and sleeping bags.


For cruelty-free gear and clothing, there are many ‘PETA-approved vegan’ labels that highlight clothing, accessories, furniture, and home décor items made of vegan alternatives to animal-derived materials, such as leather,

fur, silk, feathers or bone. PFC-free means products that are free from man-made per- or poly-fluorinated chemicals. These accumulate in soil, rivers, drinking water, and in the bodies of humans and wildlife, and can lead to adverse human health effects.

Responsible Down Standard (RDS) is a standard created by North Face in partnership

There’s more to the whole idea of green travel than simply choosing a lower-carbon way to travel. Start with the kit and gear you’ll need, says Richard Hammond, and you’ll save money too
The most sustainable products are often those you already own

new, such as safety equipment, or nearly new, such as waterproof outer garments, but there are lots of items of clothing and equipment that you can buy second-hand that will prolong the life of those items and save you money. Places to find second-hand outdoor gear include the Outdoor Gear Exchange Group on Facebook Marketplace and from brands that sell refurbished kit, such as Vango’s Camping Recycled, North Face Renewed, and Arc’teryx Used Gear, as well as Freecycle, eBay and Amazon. Once you’ve decided you no longer have need for particular items of clothing or equipment, it’s great to recycle your own kit via Freecycle. Alternatively, donate it directly to a homeless charity (especially warm jackets and sleeping bags); give it to Gift Your Gear (, which supports community organisations, youth groups and charities working with young people in the outdoors; or to the Continuum Project, which accepts outdoor clothing and wet suits that it gives to people who need them, from homeless people to outdoor education establishments. | AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2023 9 HOW TO BE A GREEN TRAVELLER
standret at freepik macrovector at freepik
This is an edited extract from The Green Traveller (£18.99 Pavilion Books) by Richard Hammond

Armchair TRAVEL

This issue, we’ve got two documentaries – a hard-hitting look at how travel can be transformational, and an upbeat story of rewilding, plus a handy new online tool for planning adventures by electric car, and an informative app to help you develop habits that are good for you and the planet


If you’re concerned about range anxiety (the very real fear of running out of charge when driving an electric car), this app will allow you to put your mind at rest. It’ll help you plan how far you can travel as well as giving you the optimal route to your destination, and provide details of charging stations along the way.


A sustainability engagement app that makes it fun to develop habits that are good for you and the planet, including tips on green travel.


A hard-hitting look at how a large part of travel has lost its way. Executive produced by travel company G Adventures’ founder, Bruce Poon Tip, The Last Tourist visionaries include Dr Jane Goodall, Lek Chailert (Save Elephant Foundation) and Gary Knell (National Geographic), and aims to empower audiences with the knowledge and inspiration to make a positive impact when they travel.


A documentary film from the Oscarwinning filmmakers Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, it follows the story of conservationist Kristine Tompkins (former president of Patagonia) and her late husband Doug, founder of The North Face, on their vision to create and expand protected areas throughout Argentina and Chile.

A comprehensive, jargon-free guide to sustainable travel and how to navigate it

Jimmy Chin
Pavilion Books (£18.99)
kjpargeter at Freepik


14 DAYS FROM £1,299PP







Let Lonely Planet guide you on a road trip through Europe with a modern twist – driving an electric vehicle

Taking a road trip across Europe in an electric car is no longer a pipe dream. With a rapidly growing charging infrastructure and the ever-improving battery range of new EVs, an electric road trip adventure is more accessible than ever, and Lonely Planet’s latest book celebrates exactly this.

With the aim of giving travellers the confidence to explore beyond the cities, Electric Vehicle Road Trips of Europe details which countries have the best rental and charging infrastructure, as well as detailing 60 of the most scenic drives across the continent.

While Norway, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria and Slovenia are leading the way in providing nationwide EV networks, there are plenty of sublime touring routes to be found, including in the UK and Ireland.

The new guide is designed to help expand the horizons of electric vehicle owners and try-before-you-buy experimenters, who can do so by hiring an EV to enjoy a road trip on a wide variety of routes. Carefully mapped out with detailed itineraries, illustrated

maps and charging station locations, the routes range in duration from a few hours to a week or more, are graded by difficulty, and accompanied by awe-inspiring photography and practical information.

“I hoped that Electric Vehicle Road Trips of Europe would serve two purposes: reassuring those who own or lease EVs that interesting travel options are available to them, and inspiring those who might consider owning or leasing an EV. Electric vehicles take the complexity out of multi-city European road trips, where emissions regulations are more complicated than ever. Our routes, used in conjunction with apps that make finding chargers easier, also prove how relatively adventurous destinations are now easily reachable by EV,” said Peter Grunert, author of the Lonely Planet EV Road Trips of Europe book.

Lonely Planet’s Electric Vehicle Road Trips of Europe is out now in hardback for £25, available where all good books are sold.


We’ve got 10 copies of Electric Vehicle Road Trips of Europe to give away – to be in with a chance of winning one, visit to enter our competition


Postcard from CATALONIA

Over 10 days, we travel from Barcelona along the spectacular coastline up to the mountainous Pyrenees through dramatic gorges and vine-striped highlands. Our first night out of Barcelona is east along the coast at 1935 Hotel & Apartments, which is a great introduction to Catalan cuisine: salt cod fritters with red sweet peppers marmalade and lemon purée; sautéed artichokes in garlic sauce with Paletilla

ibérica de cebo; and lamb’s lettuce salad with apple, parmesan, walnuts and raisins. Yum!

We walk down the steep and narrow cobbled streets of Cadaqués, admiring the white and blue buildings and the wonderful sweeping waterfront. It was proclaimed by Dali to be ‘the most beautiful town in the world’, and while nowadays it is a popular


seaside bolthole for wealthy Barcelonians, the town still retains its age-old charm.

Later on, we stay at the beautifully restored 12th-century former rectory in volcanic La Garrotxa Natural Park, where there are wonderful views across the oak-wooded valleys and hills.

Nearby is Castellfollit de la Roca – perched atop a 50m-high crag, originally formed by lava flows

thousands of years ago, this small village is a spectacular sight from a distance, even more so against a backdrop of the brilliant morning light. We amble around the town in the sunshine, stopping to climb the bell tower of the 13th-century Sant Salvador church with its wonderful views of the town’s jumble of terracotta roofs snaking down the outcrop and into the distant hills.

While here, our favourite activities are kayaking and birdwatching on the Ebro River with local guide Eloi Balsells, who works for local company En Blau, and cycling along the car-free greenway around Horta de Sant Joan.

West of Santa Pau, we stay at the 14thcentury Mas Garganta, a simple, comfortable casa rural with a wonderful farmhouse kitchen and huge fireplace. Despite the evening chill and the roaring fire indoors, we can’t tear ourselves away from the valley views and instead sit out on the terrace feasting late into the night, vowing we will return to this special place.

For more information, see Green Traveller’s Guide to Catalonia | AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2023 13 POSTCARD FROM...
In 2015, Catalonia became the world’s first whole-region Unesco Biosphere
Words by Richard Hammond and Holly Rooke Chris Willan Chris Willan Chris Willan




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The menu from PELION, GREECE

You can learn a lot about a place from its food. Settle into the ebb and flow of this Greek peninsula and let Pelion’s flavours guide you through the seasons

Greece’s Pelion Peninsula is the mountainous boot that sweeps its heel into the Aegean Sea midway between Athens and Thessaloniki. It’s where bare rocky landscapes give way to lush, sweet chestnut woods that jostle for space with fruit orchards and olive groves, gurgling streams and fountains, and stone and slate villages that tumble down the flanks of mighty Mount Pelion. Recipes reflect the peninsula’s many foreign influences too, but whatever the dishes, they use local, fresh, seasonal ingredients. It’s creative, honest and delicious. Visit in spring and you’ll feast on omelettes made with wild asparagus, and spot locals perched on rocks like goats to harvest rock samphire, succulent and aniseedy, or tsitsiravla, the tender shoots of the wild pistachio tree. Both are pickled in brine, to be enjoyed throughout the year as a meze with tsipouro (a grape-distilled spirit) or a classy salad garnish. Other wild greens are gathered to be stuffed into pies, sometimes bulked out with trahana

– cracked wheat that’s been boiled with soured milk. Or they’re gently sautéed and topped with eggs, to make one of Pelion’s simplest yet most delicious dishes.

In early summer, expect cherries as large as golf balls that are celebrated at a festival in the mountain village of Agios Lavrentios. Summer is the season for juicy chin-slathering melons and figs, tomatoes,

me hilopites (casseroled rooster with homemade pasta).

In autumn, Pelion’s big thing is apples. Cooks pop them into pies or simply bake them in the oven with cinnamon and honey. Meanwhile, mushrooms and chestnuts litter the floor of the chestnut forests covering the peninsula’s eastern flanks. While mushrooms are generally

Visit Pelion in October and you can dance your way through the Chestnut Festival at tiny Xourichti

and green peppers – spetza. They give the name to spetzofai, Pelion’s most celebrated dish, which combines fried green peppers and grated tomatoes with chunks of local sausage. For meat, goat and chicken rule the roost, often enjoyed as gidha lemonati (goat stewed in a lemon sauce) or kokoras

pan-fried, chestnuts are prepared every which way – from bottled in a sugar syrup to gently boiled to create a sauce to accompany meat.

For more information, see Green Traveller’s Guide to Pelion | AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2023 15 MENU FROM...
LOCALLY FORAGED MUSHROOMS STUFFED VEGETABLES Clare Hargreaves Clare Hargreaves Clare Hargreaves Illustrations by Freepik

Rewilding IN ACTION

Pete Helm Photography

Rewilding ACTION

On the short walk down to the off-grid boathouse, I count over a dozen marbled white butterflies crisscrossing the path, fluttering in the gentle summer breeze. There are other butterflies too: Essex skippers, meadow browns, and ringlets. At one point, by the settling pond of an enormous reed water purification system, I spot a clump of ragwort with orange and black striped cinnabar moth caterpillars clinging to their stems. There are bees buzzing all around in the warm summer sun and birds chirping – the place has the feel of a nature reserve.

As I walk round the corner of an ancient oak and ash forest, I reach the exquisite hexagonal boathouse. It’s set in splendid isolation in front of a pontoon leading down to a long lake that stretches as far as the eye can see. It’s a wild swimmer’s dream.

I’ve come to Sheepdrove Farm, a 2,000acre (810-ha) organic farm in the North Wessex Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The boathouse has been converted into a basic hideaway for two, with a double | AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2023 17 REWILDING
One of the big ideas in the battle against climate change, rewilding lets nature take care of itself. As well as increasing biodiversity and restoring natural processes, it creates some utterly intoxicating places to visit and explore.
Richard Hammond explains


One of the filming locations for BBC’s Springwatch programme, this estate’s rewilding project is as much about regenerative agriculture as it is about nature recovery, demonstrating that land can be used to tackle climate change as well as improve air and water quality. Join guided tours of the farm and the extensive rewilding area and learn about vital grazing of the Exmoor ponies, Tamworth pigs and Red Poll cattle, as well as the variety of wildlife, including beavers.


Based at its own 10,000acre (4,000-ha) estate at Dundreggan in the Scottish Highlands, Trees for Life is working to restore ancient Caledonia forest from the last remains of this original wild forest, especially around Glen Affric and Glenmoriston. Visit the centre for the day or stay overnight in one of its 20 new ensuite rooms.


Stay in a range of self-catering holiday homes on this 3,000acre (1,200-ha) estate, home to the Broughton Sanctuary Nature Recovery Programme.

bedroom, a small kitchen, shower, plenty of natural light and large bifold doors through which you can gaze out over the lake.

It is heated by an air source heat pump; all the energy it draws on is generated onsite through two wind turbines and solar panels (there are 900 across the farm), and all waste water is treated through the reedbed water filtration system. The boathouse’s eco credentials alone are impressive, but it’s the scale and diversity of environmentally sustainable projects throughout the farm that creates the feeling you’re staying somewhere special. There’s an eco conference centre, a natural burial wood, a wedding venue, and a former farm building that sleeps up to 18. While I was there, the staff were getting busy for a photo shoot to launch a new electric car.

For over 25 years, Sheepdrove has been at the forefront of sustainable, regenerative and organic farming across its green pastures, wildflower meadows, ancient woodland and fields of heritage grains on chalk downland. It is now one of an increasing number of farms and rural estates that are using the income and profile of nature-based tourism to help fund and publicise rewilding projects, restoring large-scale ecosystems to help repair damaged habitats, regenerate

Here are nine examples of places, like Sheepdrove, where you can experience rewilding in action while contributing to much needed regeneration of the land


Check into the Cottage in this 1,500-acre (600-ha) upland farm near the village of Ingleton, just below Whernside, the highest peak in the Yorkshire Dales, for the best view of nature in action. The owners are working to restore the natural hydrology of the wet heathland and grassland habitats, enabling it to hold more water and store more carbon by using a small herd of cattle to change the impact of grazing, while reintroducing more native shrubs and trees. Set next to the main farmhouse, from its door you can explore the farm’s sheltered woodland and waterfalls, and venture further to the Forest of Bowland.


A family-run outdoor members club among a 1,000-acre (405ha) rewilding project near the Broads, Fritton Lake is part of the Somerleyton Estate. Members and non members can stay in the smart clubhouse rooms, in designer woodland cabins or in traditional estate farm cottages. There’s a wonderful 2-mile (3.2-km) long lake where you can swim, paddleboard, kayak or just soak up the sounds of nature from the floating sauna. The rewilding project here is part of the Wild East initiative, which is aiming to return over 600,000 acres (250,000ha) of East Anglia to nature. At Fritton, they are restoring one-fifth of the land, reintroducing deer, water buffalo and ponies, as well as lots of bird and plant life.


Join a week-long, organised holiday for small groups in some of the wilder areas of Scotland, including the Highlands and the Knoydart Peninsula. | AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2023 19 REWILDING
For over 25 years, Sheepdrove has been at the forefront of sustainable, organic farming


Owner Paul Lister has for many years been one of the most vocal advocates of rewilding. His 23,000- acre (9,300-ha) reserve includes extensive native tree planting, peatland restoration, outdoor learning for teenagers and multiple wildlife conservation projects. Stay in fully catered lodges (for groups of up to 30) or go self-catering 7 miles (11.3km) away at the off-grid Deanich Lodge, which sleeps 10.


Camp in a meadow or stay in one of the glampsites (treehouses, tents, yurts and shepherd’s huts), and go on safari around one of the largest and best-known rewilding estates in lowland Britain. You’ll see herds of wild ponies, cattle, deer and pigs as they roam across 3,500 acres (1,400ha) of Sussex, driving the forces of habitat regeneration. The co-owner, Isabella Tree, is the author of the seminal book Wilding: The Return of Nature to a British Farm, which charts how she and her husband transformed their lossmaking farm in lowland Britain into a ground-breaking rewilding project. Keep up to date with this evolving project by watching Kneppflix on its website – snapshot videos of the latest happenings.


Camp in a small meadow or stay in one of several shepherd’s huts at the edge of a 150-acre (61-ha) rewilding project close to Dartmoor.

At the same time they’re providing holidaymakers with beautiful places to stay

degraded landscapes, and promote more biodiversity. It is otherwise known as ‘renaturing’ – they are re-engineering the land as nature intended, and at the same time providing holidaymakers with beautiful places to stay.

It’s not just private enterprises that are returning the land to nature, governments, too, are making progress. Around the world, measures are being put in place as a means to combat climate change, on land and at sea, through the storing of carbon in soil, bogs, scrub and trees, and the restoration of seagrass meadows and kelp forests. Examples include rewetting of peat bogs, restoration of watercourses, creation of wetlands, removal of intensive grazing, reintroduction of key flora and fauna, allowance of natural regeneration and planting forests. Choose to support these rewilding initiatives and you’ll contribute to important time-senstive work.


Rewilding Britain was founded in 2015 to restore ecosystems across the country. Its manifesto is to see ‘a mosaic of species-rich habitats restored and connected across at least 30 per cent of Britain’s land and sea by 2030’. It hopes to achieve this by creating core rewilding areas across at least 5 per cent of Britain, and the establishment of nature-enhancing land and marine uses across at least 25 per cent of Britain.

This is an edited extract from The Green Traveller (£18.99 Pavilion Books) by Richard Hammond

This could be you!

Boating holidays in UK, Europe and Canada

No experience required

Who’s on board?


7of the best PLACES

There’s nothing quite like plunging into the crystalclear waters of an outdoor natural swimming pool. But the key word here is ‘natural’ – the basic premise of these chemical-free pools is that they remain clear and clean to swim in, thanks to the swimming area being separated from a regeneration zone where aquatic plants and sand act as a natural filter for cleaning the water. Here are seven places to stay where the owners have installed these wonderful pools in beautiful locations. Jump in – the water’s lovely!

Lewis Ennas


It’s the setting of this natural pool that sets it apart – it’s on the clifftops overlooking the golden sands of Mawgan Porth on the north Cornish coast, and next to some wood-fired hot tubs. After a rejuvenating swim, be pampered in the Ayurvedic spa and feast on delicious fresh shellfish and sea herbs washed down with a glass of Camel Valley Cornwall fizz at this stylish, trend-setting, small luxury hotel.

DETAILS Double rooms from £255 a night B&B, adults only.


One of the pioneering natural pools in France, it’s set among a collection of four smart tree houses opposite the stunning medieval fortified village of St Paul de Vence, a few kilometres inland from the French Riviera. On offer is early morning outdoor yoga followed by breakfast served on the terrace by the pool, as well as a barrel sauna and massage therapy.

DETAILS From €1,400 a week for two adults and two children.


A beautiful, authentic and organic farmhouse in a quiet and idyllic spot on the unspoilt north of the island, Agroturismo Can Martí has long been a favourite of mine. As well as being in a wonderfully peaceful part of the island, far from the crowds of Ibiza Town but near some great beaches, it has recently installed a hammam (Turkish-style bath) and a wonderful natural swimming pool for the exclusive use of the guests in its four suites and casitas

DETAILS Double rooms from €231 a night B&B.


Stay in splendid isolation within the moat of an old medieval hall on the Haveringland Estate, ten miles north of Norwich. Choose between the Castle’ (a mobile hut with wood-burner and kitchen), a cabin that sleeps five people, or several large and stylish Lotus Belle tents (that sleep up to six people) adjacent to a wonderful naturally filtered swimming pond.

DETAILS Unfurnished Lotus Belle from £95 (furnished from £145) per night, castle or cabin from £179 per night. | AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2023 23 7 OF THE BEST...


Il Paluffo’s natural pool sits at the heart of a collection of luxurious small villas and B&B bedrooms in a restored 15-century historic building powered by solar energy and other renewable sources. The ecological estate is surrounded by classic rolling Chianti Hills, not far from Florence and Siena.

DETAILS From €238 for two nights B&B for two people.


In this luxury camp of seven safari tents set among oak trees overlooking the green valley of the Aveyron in south-west France, every pitch – on raised wooden platforms – has been carefully chosen for its views, privacy and mood. There are large handmade beds, soft solar lighting, individually crafted tables and chairs, and an outdoor woodland spa shower house, but in pride of place is the glorious 20m-long natural pool. The owners can help plan your journey by train and offer a free transfer to and from the local train stations; they also provide bikes, including trailers and tag-alongs for children.

DETAILS From €1,260 a week for two adults, two children.


The splendid natural pool at this fourbedroom, self-catering ecogîte is just one of the many environmental features amid the rambling gardens of this 400-year-old farmhouse in the Ardèche. Solar panels for electricity, wood from old trees in the orchards for the fuel for heating, and a grass roof and thick walls will keep you snug inside, and there’s also an organic garden for you to plunder for your own veg, fruit, fresh herbs and flowers.

DETAILS From €2,800 a week for up to eight people.

Giacomo Foti This is an edited extract from The Green Traveller (£18.99 Pavilion Books) by Richard Hammond


Explore has had sustainability in its DNA since its conception over 40 years ago. Focused on small group travel that seeks to minimise impact on the planet and benefit local communities, we strive to keep making improvements year-on-year – on trips, in our operations and at our HQ. We recognise that, as a tour operator that organises travel all over the world, we have a responsibility in doing everything we can to reduce our impact on the planet, and ensure that our groups of travellers are always welcomed back to the places and communities they visit.

As such, we were a founding member of Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency and an original signatory of the Glasgow Declaration in 2020, and we’re really proud to have one of the best Climate Action Plans in the business.

This year has been another big year of development and growth. In early 2022, Explore measured the carbon footprint of our entire business. Working with ecollective, our team measured the carbon emissions of every single one of our 400-plus trips, including accommodation, transport, meals and activities, as well as all operations involved in running the business, both in the UK and globally. This is the largest carbon measurement project of its kind in the travel industry globally to date.

It was a huge undertaking. The Product Team at Explore logged more than 400 hours

adding nearly 10,000 lines of data to be processed and fact-checked by ecollective. Between us, we individually calculated almost 2,000 accommodation types and 24 types of transport.

Every single small group trip now has its individual carbon footprint clearly labelled on the website and in our 2023 brochures –coming very soon!

Carbon measurement is one part of our fourpart Climate Action Plan to measure, reduce and mitigate carbon across our trips and operations, and then to communicate this.

to improve sustainability practices by, for example, switching to renewable energy and using rainwater/grey water where possible.

Reducing carbon is just one part of continually making our holidays more sustainable, as part of our Sustainability Strategy. While measuring the carbon of our whole programme of trips, we have been developing our product to include more lowcarbon options. We have introduced more UK itineraries, some new European overland trips that use public transport wherever possible, and a collection of London2 tours

on the planet

Now that we, and our customers, are Clear on Carbon, we are committed to reducing carbon across our trips and operations, with a target of a 50% reduction by 2030. This links to our commitment to the Glasgow Declaration.

This isn’t a case of vilifying those trips with a higher footprint. We will be working with all of our suppliers to begin reducing the higher scores – choosing more sustainable transport methods, or encouraging hotels

that travel from London by train. We believe that slower, overland tours are not only lower-carbon and more sustainable, but also more authentic and enjoyable experiences for our customers.

We know we’re not perfect, and we certainly know we still have a long way to go, but our entire company ethos at Explore is to ‘be better than yesterday’ and that is what we strive to be, in everything that we do. | AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2023 25 OPINION
Michael Edwards is the managing director of Explore,an adventure travel specialist that’s been in operation for more than 40 years. Sustainability is at the heart of everything it does; here’s the how and why
We have a responsibility in doing everything we can to reduce our impact


Travelling by train from London to the Scottish Highlands is a long, slow, meander to the mountainous fresh and wild. Leaving Euston on a Thursday evening, I ate a late dinner of neeps and tatties washed down with a beer in the train’s dining carriage, and then had a decent night’s sleep as the train trundled up through the north of England and across the border.

The next morning, I tucked into a simple breakfast of Scottish Porridge and tea at 8am, before getting off the train just before 9am at Corrour, an isolated station a few stops short of Fort William in the western Scottish Highlands. From the station, it was a 10-minute walk along a track to Loch Ossian, a small, off-grid youth hostel among a small clump of birch and rowan trees at the edge of the narrow 3-mile (5-

km) long Loch Ossian, surrounded by boggy moorland and sparsely covered mountains. There was nothing else in sight: no pylons, no street lights, no roads.

air of this remote area of wilderness, and swam in the loch. That evening, I ate a hearty stew in the small station restaurant at Corrour, then walked back to the hostel

It was a 10-minute walk along a track to Loch Ossian, a small off-grid youth hostel

After jettisoning my sleeping bag and spare clothes in one of the hostel dorms, I spent the day walking on Rannoch Moor, catching sight of several ptarmigan on the low ground and dozens of deer upwind. I climbed a Munro, sucked in the clean

to see the moon lighting up the loch. It’s remarkable – and immensely satisfying – that just 24 hours earlier I had been in London, and reached this special place not via a nose-to-tail, long-distance motorway journey, but by train – all the way.

Open up a whole new world when you travel by public transport, says Richard Hammond. It’s easier than you think



Find hundreds of car-free walks in the UK at and a network of walking routes that connect Britain’s towns and villages at Keep an eye out too for the ‘Walkers are Welcome’ logo given to over 100 towns and villages that are particularly welcoming to walkers. You can also find how to travel car-free to many of the UK’s best visitor attractions with discounts when you arrive by train, bus, bike or on foot at


If you need to take a taxi for the final leg of a journey, the Train Taxi website lists taxi firms that serve railway stations through the UK (


Several rail operators provide information on walking routes from their stations

Northern Railway

Mid Cheshire Rail


Settle Carlisle

North Staffs Rail

Southeastern Railway

East Suffolk Lines

West Somerset Railway

Great Scenic Railways


Look for the PlusBus and PlusBike icons on the website and app for National Rail ( when you search for a particular train journey.

PlusBus is a bus and tram pass that is valid with your train ticket – the icon links to the relevant page on the website of PlusBus ( so you can buy the relevant PlusBus ticket for your location. It can be added to most types of train tickets, including singles, returns and Season tickets, but is not available with train tickets between two stations in the same PlusBus area.

The PlusBike icon tells you the onboard cycle carriage and reservation rules for taking bikes on the trains relevant to your journey and includes details on bike facilities at the railway stations en route, such as the type of storage, its location, and number of cycle parking spaces.


Both Stena Line and Irish Ferries allow you to book both the rail and ferry legs of your journey in one go, known as a Sail & Rail ticket, at a price that is much lower than if you booked the two legs separately (fares come at a fixed price which don’t increase with peak travel periods or depending on how far in advance you book). This combined train and ferry ticket can be for journeys from anywhere in Great Britain to anywhere in Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland via UK ferry ports of Holyhead and Fishguard. Book the Sail & Rail tickets on the website of Transport for Wales ( – there’s a 50% discount for children aged five to 15, while those aged up to four travel free. You can also buy Sail & Rail tickets online at and


Train tickets are often released only a few months ahead of travel. If you want to snap up the cheapest tickets when they become available, and RailEurope. com both offer free email alert services, letting you know as soon as bookings open for your chosen route. Sign up for the ‘ticket alert’ at; while on search for the route and dates that you want on its booking page and, if booking hasn’t opened yet, you will get a message recommending that you set up a ‘booking alert’.

This is an edited extract from The Green Traveller (£18.99 Pavilion Books) by Richard Hammond | AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2023 27 LOW CARBON TRAVEL
Irish Ferries

5 green places to eat IN LEEDS

Sally Bendall is Girl About Ambassador for Leeds and a passionate vegan. Here, she shares her favourite spots in the city for low-waste, largely plant-based sustenance

Leeds is a bustling, vibrant city of about 800,000 people, and like all big cities it has some sustainability challenges. But giving a big tick in the green box is its food, with many restaurants, cafes and bars adopting sustainable practices, such as zero waste and locally sourced produce. Vegan and vegetarian food has long been acknowledged as better for the environment, so if you’re looking for choices that will be good for you as well as for the planet, let me point you in the right direction.


An omni restaurant but with plenty of vegetarian and vegan options, the Cha Lounge has an ethos of ‘cultivating what’s right for the world’. Everything is used up at Cha Lounge, in line with their zero-waste policy: bread ends make up the soup croutons, pulp from their fresh juices goes into cakes and any food close to its expiry date is given to staff. Try the plant-based breakfast with one of the home-made smoothies – sensational!


Bundobust is a vegetarian Gujarati street food venue with plenty of vegan options and a stunning range of craft beers. As well as reducing their impact with their product range, the team spent a long time finding the right waste handler to work with them on their zero-waste policy and recycle their compostable packaging into energy and organic fertiliser. Best of all, the food is out of this world delicious! Try the okra fries.


Based upstairs in The Old Red Bus Station, Cantina serves a menu full of vegan comfort food. It’s an art gallery space and event venue too, showcasing new and local bands and artists, and is doing their bit in spreading the vegan love with a recent stall at the hugely popular Beat-Herder festival too. I wholeheartedly recommend the poutine (IYKYK!).


Döner Summer is a very funky, entirely vegan restaurant, and the food is incredible. It’s top of my list of recommendations for visitors to the city and it’s perfect after a long day of sight-seeing as you’ll be hungry and the portion sizes are enormous. My favourite dish here is the Chick’n PARMKebab with all the toppings. Yum!


Perfect for Stateside food on the go, Fat Annie’s is 100% vegan and 100% mouthwatering. James Stock, the founder of Fat Annie’s, decided to make the venue meatfree in 2020, saying he’d prefer to be part of the solution not the problem, and you can’t say fairer than that. To complement their vegan burgers, dogs and shakes, they’ve recently launched a plant-based Rocky Road. Sweet treat heaven!

of female travel bloggers based across the UK. Visit
find out more.


A family-friendly organic farm campsite where you can camp in a car-free field with basic amenities (compost loos and cold tap water) and enjoy views across the Cotswolds, or stay in a yurt camp (great for groups), a shepherd’s hut or a stone cottage. It’s a five-minute stroll through the woods to the on-site farm shop and café, and there are lots of activities for children. Take the 881 or 855 bus from Kemble railway station to Cirencester, from where it’s a 40-minute walk or 10-minute cycle to the campsite.



It might be common knowledge that you can save a third on rail tickets and 60 per cent off children’s fares with the Friends and Family Railcard, but did you know you can also make savings on some rail/sea journeys too? It’s valid on Wightlink and Red Funnel Ferries to stations on the Isle of Wight (as well as Hoverport services to and from Ryde Hoverport), and Stena Line ferries to Ireland – where it’s part of a train and ferry journey – and can also be used on the Caledonian Sleeper.

Little Green Traveller


Check whether the train you or your friends are on (or hoping to catch) is running to schedule with the handy real-time map of Great Britain’s rail network at

Two decades ago, the red kite – the national bird of Wales – was one of only three globally threatened species in the UK, but its successful reintroduction throughout the country has seen numbers recover dramatically. There are now more than 400 pairs in Wales alone, and more than 10,000 across the UK. Numbers of red kite have increased so dramatically thanks to sites like Bwlch Nant yr Arian Forest Visitor Centre in West Wales; and with walking, cycling and horse-riding trails plus an on-site café, it’s a great day out for all the family ( The centre is one of 14 sites that are part of the new National Forest of Wales, which is aiming to link existing forests with new woodland, creating green corridors for wildlife as well as a carbon sink. Other sites include Coed-y-Brenin, Dyfi Forest and Wye Valley woodlands. These activity centres represent a new kind of regenerative travel experience, where your low impact visit funds biodiversity conservation and tree planting, helping to regulate ecosystems, protect biodiversity and play an integral part in the carbon cycle. | AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2023 29 FAMILY TRAVEL
The latest news, tips and places to stay to help the whole family travel green
David Adams at Unsplash
This is an edited
from The Green Traveller (£18.99 Pavilion Books) by Richard Hammond

Travel writer Paul Bloomfield explores how we can choose African safaris that support both nature preservation and local communities


that give back

Aleopard lounges on a branch, sheltering from the midday heat. A giraffe plucks leaves from a thorny acacia with its long, black, curiously prehensile tongue. An elephant snorts up water in its trunk from a muddy pool before hosing it into its mouth.

Heart-stopping moments like these make an African safari unforgettable – and, for many of us, a once-in-a-lifetime experience. After all, such holidays come at a cost – not just to your bank balance but also to the environment: for most travellers, reaching Africa involves flying, and while airlines continue to use fossil fuels to power their aircraft, there are significant carbon emissions involved in such journeys.

Safaris themselves also place demands on the local environment, natural resources, and people. However, wildlife conservation on the continent is heavily

dependent on tourism, which largely caters to overseas visitors – if tourists stop flying to Africa, the situation for much of its wildlife is likely to deteriorate.

“Most state-run national parks and protected areas receive only about 30% of their total budgets from governments, and rely on tourism to fund the balance,” says Colin Bell, co-founder of Natural Selection Safaris. “Private game reserves, in contrast, rely completely on tourism revenues to cover their management costs.”

Safaris also provide important support for communities. “In many southern Africa lodges, the community that leases their lands to the safari company earns a base annual rental plus a percentage of turnover that can be anywhere from 4% to 10% of gross revenues (not profits) of the lodge,” adds Bell. “Under these revenue-sharing models, communities always earn money | AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2023 31 POSITIVE IMPACT TRAVEL
© Cottar’s Safaris/Nick Dale Photography

for leasing their wildlife lands regardless of occupancies, even in the worst years.”

“Many countries are moving away from mass tourism towards a lower density, higher revenue safari tourism model which results in far less impact on the environment and is ultimately more sustainable,” he continues. “The job ratio in higher-end safari lodges in most parts of Africa now often results in one guest supporting anywhere from two to five jobs in a lodge – and a staff member in a rural area has between 10 and

15 dependents, so the tourism reach into communities can be significant.”

Safari operators are increasingly making claims about their social and environmental credentials, so how can you tell the green from the greenwash? The devil is in the detail. Who owns the safari operator –local communities, an individual or private company in the country you’re visiting, or a large international business? Fortunately, operators offering the most memorable safari experiences and accommodation

also tend to be those with a strong conservation and community ethos.

“Those with the good ethics are typically also the ones clients really like,” observes Chris McIntyre, managing director of specialist tour operator Expert Africa.

It’s worth knowing whether local communities have any equity or revenueshare in the business – if so, that should ensure not just benefits for that community, but may also enhance their investment in conservation of the wildlife in their region, the long-term viability of the safari business, its lasting commitment to conservation, and the visitor experience.

“If it’s a longer agreement, very often the property management has a greater platform to invest in people, to invest in the quality of their product, to invest in marketing, to make a better business, to train local people, and to make it a much more meaningful operation,” says Neil Birnie, from Conservation Capital, which facilitates the financing of natural capital projects throughout Africa.

© Cottar’s Safaris/Nick Dale Photography

If possible, find out how the reserve, park, or conservancy you’re visiting operates – their funding, and how the managing organisation assists communities and conservation. “Private conservation areas with landowners who pay levies, or privately managed areas that are wellfunded through international philanthropy, have a more sustainable funding base than many national parks and other government or community-owned areas that are often largely or even entirely dependent on tourism to fund conservation efforts,” says Andrew Parker, co-founder of Conserve

and former director of Conservation Development at African Parks. Often, rates listed by accommodation providers specify payments to local communities and conservation levies. But what other contributions to communities does the operator make? Just as important as cash income is the provision of jobs backed by skills transfer and mentorship, especially for more senior roles. What proportion of employees come from local communities? This often increases over the length of a concession, as more people are trained up and become skilled.

“It’s unlikely that a senior guide or top chef will come from the local area initially,” comments Birnie, “but most of the wider staff could – and, with training, they could rise through the ranks. So if there’s a longterm agreement, by year 10 or 15 perhaps 90% or more of the staff might be drawn from the local area.”

Where some fall down is on the quality of accommodation provided to staff, many of whom may be recruited from the local community. “An often overlooked issue is how staff are looked after,” says Parker. “Guests should ask to see back-of-house facilities to hold the operator accountable.”

Other questions might be: does the safari operator use local companies for the procurement of goods and services such as food products and cleaning? Are they also involved in conservation or research work – for example, anti-poaching patrols or scientific projects? And are these very local, or larger in scope?

“Scale is an important issue,” says Parker. “There are huge economies of scale in conservation, and conservation works better in terms of contributing to functioning ecosystems at scale. Hence a lodge that supports efforts over a larger area is playing a more important role than a lodge that benefits a smaller area. That said, a lodge that supports a small area of high biodiversity importance is playing a hugely valuable role.”

Even small local projects can have a significant impact. “The direct contribution of camps and lodges might be relatively minimal,” adds Birnie, “but they have the capacity to act as an engine inspiring guests to support conservation or support local community development initiatives, | AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2023 33 POSITIVE IMPACT TRAVEL
“A lodge that supports a small area of high biodiversity importance is playing a hugely valuable role”
© Cottar’s Safaris/Valerie Darling © Cottar’s Safaris/Nick Dale Photography

which in turn foster greater support by local people for conservation.”

You can also make a difference with the choices you make before booking and during your trip. Consider visiting less-wellknown countries to distribute revenue more widely – Angola, Mozambique or Zimbabwe, perhaps. “In countries where conservation as a land use is under pressure, foreign exchange earnings from tourism confer

is an increasingly popular option, for example, with lower rates, lush vegetation and rich birdlife.

Think about visiting community conservancies or private reserves as alternatives to the more popular national parks. The conservancies around Kenya’s Masai Mara offer exclusive experiences and fine wildlife sightings, as well as contributing to

Consider off-season travel, where this can help sustain communities and offer a completely different perspective

significant political collateral,” says Parker. “Booking with one of the bigger operators that has a facility in a less-known area is probably the best approach, as the financial flows will be guarded by the prevailing concession agreement.”

Consider off-season travel, where this can help sustain communities and offer a completely different perspective on an area that even experienced safari enthusiasts may find rewarding – the rainy ‘emerald season’ (November to May) in Zambia

6of the BEST

These safaris are making a positive impact on nature conservation and local communities


communities and conservation. Finally, consider the impact you want your holiday to have on you and the destination. “A key idea is for people to approach travel as an opportunity to effect meaningful change rather than to simply indulge,” says Parker.

“Transformational travel is the new buzzword – people want to be changed by their experience, and also to leave the world a better place because of their interaction with it.”

“The tourism options at Ol Pejeta are very diverse, and it’s very affordable and accessible,” says Neil Birnie. “Perhaps the majority of the visitors are local Kenyans, and it generates a lot of revenue and a lot of jobs, winning prizes for tax contributions at the county level. So it’s making a real social, economic and, consequently, political contribution to Kenya.” It also combines cutting-edge wildlife conservation work, notably helping endangered rhinos, with sustainable cattle ranching.


“This lovely little lodge has a great community aspect,” says Chris McIntyre. The eco-friendly lodge is the only luxury accommodation in the Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve, with some fabulous walking and birdlife. Through the Tongole Foundation, it has strong links with the local community, helping build schools and share knowledge about conservation to help change attitudes to poaching.


“This community-owned lodge has been immensely successful in gorilla tourism, and has generated a huge amount of money for the community,” says Birnie. “And it’s made a valuable contribution in terms of the wider gorilla tourism model.” Income from the luxurious lodge funds conservation initiatives in the Kinigi area and surrounding Volcanoes National Park. It’s also a major driver of socio-economic development in the area, with projects ranging from constructing villages for genocide survivors to creating vegetable gardens for community farming projects.

© Cottar’s Safaris/Valerie Darling


“Is it a business? Yes. Is it a community project? Yes – it’s both,” says McIntyre. Like the nearby Damaraland Camp, it’s a joint venture between Wilderness and the local community – and is a good example of the growing cooperation in Namibia between the tourism industry and individual communities. Most of the staff at the eco-friendly lodge come from the surrounding villages, having been trained to fill various positions here, and the conservancy and its people benefit from the revenue generated.


“Clive Stockil, who set up this lodge in Gonarezhou National Park, has won more environmental sustainability awards than I’ve had hot dinners,” says McIntyre. The lodge has an intimate working relationship with the local Shangaan community. At its core is the concept of ‘Community Led Conservation’ in Zimbabwe’s secondlargest national park, renowned for its elephant population and a great place for walking safaris.


“This centuries-old Masai Mara camp in the Olderkesi Conservancy is a shining example of sustainable luxury travel,” says Juliet Kinsman, author of The Green Edit: Travel (Ebury Publishing, September 2020). “Its commitment to a holistic balance of the Long Run’s 4C framework, and consideration of conservation, community, culture and commerce as a means to contribute meaningfully to the biodiversity and the people of the local region, sets a benchmark.” | AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2023 35 POSITIVE IMPACT TRAVEL
COTTAR’S 1920s CAMP TONGOLE WILDERNESS LODGE OL PEJETA © Cottar’s Safaris © Rio The Photographer © Expert Africa/Tongole

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