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10 South African Entrepreneurs Pushing Eco-Tourism Boundaries

10 South African Entrepreneurs Pushing Eco-Tourism Boundaries. These entrepreneurs are driving change in the eco-tourism sector, offering unique experiences that highlight South Africa’s natural beauty while ensuring the preservation of its ecosystems and the well-being of its communities. South Africa is home to numerous entrepreneurs who are making significant strides in eco-tourism, promoting sustainable travel while protecting the environment and local communities. Here are ten notable South African entrepreneurs in the eco-tourism industry:

Adrian Gardiner

Adrian Gardiner founded the Mantis Collection, a group of eco-friendly luxury hotels and lodges. Mantis properties emphasize conservation, community involvement, and sustainable tourism practices.

Anton Lategan

He is the co-owner and director of EcoTraining. He built the company up to what it is today with the support of Lex Hes, his partner from 1997 to 2014. EcoTraining, which has been in operation since 1993, is the innovator and top provider of training for safari guides and wildlife experts in Africa. In the safari industry, EcoTraining courses and nature guide training are well-known for having high standards and credibility. In addition to accredited career courses, nature programmes, study abroad opportunities for high school and university students, specialised courses, and on-site professional guide training at safari lodges, the company also provides gap year and sabbatical programmes.

Janneman Conradie

Extreme Marine was founded by Janneman Conradie. A South African raised in the Western Cape, Janneman has been a waterman his entire life- freediving, fishing, SCUBA diving. He got his commercial diving license in 2008 but quickly changed tact deciding rather to dedicate his life to conservation. While Janneman specializes in marine conservation missions, he has also contributed to many terrestrial conservation-based projects in the Klaserie/Timbavati game reserves, Sabi Game Park, Gorongosa National Park, and private farms in the Save River Region.

Sarah Tompkins

Sarah Tompkins is the founder of Samara Private Game Reserve, which focuses on wildlife conservation and eco-tourism. The reserve aims to restore and protect the Karoo ecosystem.

Brett Gehren

Brett Gehren co-founded Isibindi Africa Lodges, a collection of eco-friendly lodges across South Africa. These lodges are committed to sustainability, community upliftment, and wildlife conservation.

Lee Harris

Lee Harris is the co-owner of The Backpack, South Africa’s first backpacker hostel with a focus on sustainability. The hostel supports various social and environmental initiatives.

Poppy Zinyana

She is the founder of Ritsako Game Lodge. Nestled in the heart of the Dinokeng Game Reserve, and situated 45km north of Pretoria on the N1 Highway and only 1.5 hour’s drive from OR Tambo International Airport lies the Ritsako Game Lodge. The venue is ideal for conferencing, catered and self-catering accommodation, weddings, functions and team building activities.

Michael Lutzeyer

Tamara Coen co-manages Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, which offers eco-luxury experiences while focusing on conservation, research, and community development.

Les Carlisle

Les Carlisle, a conservation manager at &Beyond, has been instrumental in the company’s eco-tourism efforts. &Beyond operates luxury lodges with a strong commitment to sustainability and conservation.

Sally Petersen

Sally Petersen (nee de Jager), founded AWOL Tours in 2002 and has managed to grow the company from strength to strength to become Cape Town’s leading cycling and hiking tour company. She has been fortunate to maintain the core team of liked minded individuals who are dedicated and passionate to manage the daily operations of the Cape Town day tours, as she now embarks on furthering the aims of AWOL Tours to create memorable holidays as she expands to create multi day hiking and cycling adventures in Southern Africa.

By Thomas Chiothamisi
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