Building a Greener Future at Sanctuary Chief's Camp
Taking care of nature is one of our most important tasks, not only as a company, but also as individual people. We can all do our bit to help conserve wildlife and protect local people and places. At Sanctuary Retreats, we have always been focused on this, working with local people and finding sustainable building techniques that cause as little impact on the environment as possible.
As Sanctuary Chief’s Camp undergoes a complete rebuild, protecting the environment was at the forefront of our minds. With a history of managing award winning eco-friendly camps and lodges, we knew we had to go further than ever before.
Our Vision of the Future
When we look at the future, we see green, and this is something we felt necessary to include in our plans for Sanctuary Chief’s Camp. Charl Badenhorst, Operations Director for Sanctuary Retreats in Botswana, explains, “We wanted the camp to be completely off-grid and to use 100% renewable energy sources and after careful consideration, the decision was made to build our own solar farm for the camp.”
Green Energy Without the Sacrifice
Building on our experience of solar power at Sanctuary Saadani Safari Lodge and Sanctuary Olonana, we undertook very detailed power audits in the planning phases of the solar project, in order to fully identify opportunities for the use of renewable energy and efficiency technologies in the camp, and to be able to accurately project the future electrical loading. “Opportunities to enhance the camp’s overall energy efficiency were identified without sacrificing the comfort levels and certain luxuries our guest have come to expect,” reassures Badenhorst, “For example, we have procured the latest technology in energy efficient appliances to be used in the property, reviewed refrigeration and our heat management systems.”
When completed the solar farm will be one of he biggest in Botswana, combining solar panels with battery banks to provide an effective solar power capacity of 120 kWp. This will allow the camp to use direct energy from the sun during the day and store energy for use at night meaning that guests will have use of electricity at all times. According to Badenhorst, “The energy will be so efficient that guests and staff will even be able to use hairdryers, as well as the latest energy efficient pastry ovens”.
Minimising the impact on the surrounding environment is something we take very seriously at all of our camps and lodges. Some properties, such as Sanctuary Baines’ Camp, can be deconstructed to leave barely any trace they were ever there while others, such as Sanctuary Swala Camp, have been built to highest eco-friendly standards with particularly low carbon footprint. During the planning phase of the Sanctuary Chief’s Camp refurbishment, we worked very closely with local environmental authorities and Department of Environmental Affairs to ensure every measure was taken to reduce the new camp’s impact. “In particular the environmental agencies loved the solar aspect to the rebuild as well as the fact that our sewage system is 100% eco-friendly and self-containing. We use a system called Scarab as well as BioRock which is a revolutionary sewage treatment system using a biological process requiring no electricity at all,” Badenhorst tells us.
“One of the biggest and most positive impacts is that, without a generator, the camp will now give off zero noise pollution, meaning that wildlife won’t be affected by unnatural noises,” explains Badenhorst, “The fact that we do not use a generator also means that we will require far less trucks delivering gas and oil, minimising the risk of oil spills and also better for the environment as the road network will be greatly reduced and mean less soil compaction over time. The camp will also have minimal carbon emissions over the next 10 to 15 years meaning our carbon footprint will be extremely small.”
For guests visiting the newly rebuilt camp, there will be an opportunity to learn about how the solar farm was created, how it works, as well as all of the benefits to the surrounding flora and fauna. We also plan on having a back-of-house tour in which guests can actually visit the solar farm to see it first-hand. We are also working on upgrading our recycling centre so that guests can visit and learn about the recycling process and also how important recycling is to the environment in terms of long term benefits not only for the Okavango Delta but wildlife areas and people in general.