Spread the love

Leading UK travel magazine Wanderlust has recently announced its second annual ‘Travel Green List’ and we are very proud to share that Malawi’s very own Zomba Forest Lodge has been included.

As a small lodge, with sustainability at its heart and running through its veins, this is a great accolade and just reward for all the work the lodge does protecting local environments, and for the benefit of local communities.

Wanderlust’s Travel Green List, “is not an exercise in daydreaming of reducing travel emissions to zero. Instead, it’s about recognising the need for serious changes to dozens of seemingly small practices ….. And it’s about celebrating those who are saying “yes” to the challenge with enthusiasm – even those who are starting from a low level.” Entries to the list “highlight carbon reduction and removal, meaningful employment and education for local people, and innovative ways to support biodiversity”.

For owner/managers, Tom & Petal, running Zomba Forest Lodge based on these values is a deliberate and conscious lifestyle choice.  This is not done as a means to make a profit, but taking an opportunity to make a difference. They baulk at questions on how they support the local community, insisting that they are part of their community, not apart from the community – helping it thrive from within. They reject calls to become self-sufficient for food, because buying produce rather than growing it means fuelling the local economy. Instead they microfinance kitchen gardens for local volunteer conservation groups they sponsor, and bring in experts to teach members permaculture techniques. Keeping natural vegetation around the lodge also maintains the food source for the wildlife.

To best to learn about Zomba Forest Lodge, their approach to tourism and how they operate, have a look at what Tom & Petal have to say:

“We are Zomba Forest Lodge, a unique boutique, environmentally minded, off-grid guest house nestled on the outer slopes of Malawi’s iconic Zomba Plateau. Tucked away in lush gardens and sitting in 20 acres of mixed woodland, Zomba Forest Lodge offers guests the opportunity to unwind, recharge and reflect, a perfect location for a digital detox allowing people the time to truly absorb their travel experience.

We have no electricity at the lodge, so at night the lodge and the bedrooms are lit up with candles, paraffin lamps and solar lights providing discrete and atmospheric illumination. Being off-grid also allows our guests to enjoy a simpler, quieter and more peaceful way of life, an opportunity to connect with others on a deeper level, even if for only a couple of days; a real boost to their well-being and happiness.

With only 5 en-suite comfortable and tastefully decorated bedrooms, the lodge has the intimacy of a home away from home. Guests come together each evening for a candlelit three course dinner to share their stories, experiences, and laughter. As a bonus, the food is known to be some of the best in Malawi and described on our menu board in Tom’s unique lyrical style.

While guest experience is always at the forefront of our business model, conservation and community development is at the forefront of our philosophy. Over the years, we have worked to strengthen lodge and community relationships as we work towards an ever-increasing symbiotic relationship. The lodge cannot not operate without it benefitting the communities, neither can the lodge run without considering the environment it is nestled in.

Sustainability and sensitivity to our surroundings led us to setting up our own conservation project called TREEZ. Our aim is to help protect and naturally regenerate our environment’s biodiversity of Zomba Plateau, while economically empowering the local community. We firmly believe in climate justice and putting our community first to ensure that the conservation efforts last. Guests are welcome to come and visit the project, spend the day exploring our work and maybe trying out some local cuisine at the same time. 

TREEZ sponsors 14 conservation groups with over 200 community members protecting over whose livelihoods are enhanced through payments for ecosystem services, thereby benefitting themselves, the community and the Plateau’s natural resources we all depend on. In 2023, over 90,000 trees were counted and MK18,000,000 ($14,000) paid out to the community members for their efforts.

Community visits, local football matches with our very own sponsored teams, special interest weekends, or the sheer blissful enjoyment of the ultimate in peaceful tranquillity in the most superlative blending of the basic natural beauties of environment with those little luxuries of life that make it all so memorable. 

Those travellers who are mindful of their travel footprint and who want to make a positive impact can be assured that any stay at Zomba Forest Lodge will help improve the environment and the community who depend on it.

A passionate commitment to a holistic harmony between business, conservation and community runs through all aspects of how we run the lodge and host our guests. We aim to see our visitors depart enriched by the experience of staying with us, with warm and wonderful memories of a lifetime.

Well said – and congratulations on the well-deserved accolade! And how fantastic that a small, 5-room lodge, on a plateau in the middle of Malawi is now showing the world how ‘green’ tourism is done!