The installation of over 500 solar PV panels at Singita Serengeti will significantly reduce its diesel use. But as its Sustainability Technical Adviser Katherine Cunliffe reveals, there are some other surprising benefits too…
If you close your eyes and listen carefully, you just might hear it: the sound of absolute peace. That is what guests at Sabora Tented Camp are experiencing with the recent switch to renewable energy. On April 20th, Singita commissioned a 130 kWpeak output solar electricity system complete with 504 panels at Sabora. These can generate as much as power as about 60 UK homes with typical rooftop arrays. Equipped with a 900 kWh, state-of-the-art battery bank and inverters, the system meets 100% of the camp’s needs during the dry season. During cloudy days, two diesel generators provide back-up power when the batteries require additional energy.
In 2013, Singita Serengeti began a new journey toward sustainable operation with One Planet Living, a framework by Bioregional. One Planet Living is based on ten easy-to-grasp principles which enables organisations to plan, deliver and communicate sustainable development. Singita’s One Planet Action Plan paints a picture of world-class sustainable tourism and conservation, which supports the local economy and inspires both visitors and local people alike. The plan sets targets across the ten One Planet Principles, from zero carbon to sustainable food, to create a One Planet Community in the heart of Africa.
The Sabora Tented Camp’s switch from diesel generators to solar power is just one of the many upgrades Singita is making to reduce its carbon footprint. Previously, Sabora ran two generators that consumed an average of 8,000 liters of diesel per month. Now, with the solar system in place, that consumption is expected to reduce by over 85%.
While the solar system at Sabora has significantly reduced the camp’s carbon footprint, the world-class experience at Sabora Tented Camp remains unchanged. Hermann Naude, Sabora Lodge Manager, says “guests do not have to sacrifice comfort to be environmentally friendly. The experience is just as incredible as ever”. Michael Matero, the Head Chef of Sabora, says that because of the new solar system the camp is very quiet – “you can sleep like a baby”.
Not only is the solar installation having a positive impact on the environment, it is also generating awareness among Singita staff about the personal benefits of ‘green’ living. Moshi Basso, the Head Housekeeper at Sabora, proudly shares how “the solar PV system has improved the quality of life at Sabora. Now I can hear animals at night like lions, zebra and hyenas. I have been working here for 14 years and now Sabora is the nicest home I have ever had”.
Last month, as the wildebeest migration passed through the Sabora Plains on its way from the Serengeti to the Masai Mara, the deep rumble of thousands of hooves crossing the plains could be heard clearly, uninterrupted by the angry roar of a generator.
As we continue on our journey towards One Planet Living, we are excited to see how sustainable change contributes to the unforgettable experience at Singita Serengeti.
You can read more about Singita Serengeti’s work towards One Planet Living in its latest One Planet Annual Summary 2015/16.
Photo credit: Martin Dodwell
Sustainability Technical Adviser at Singita Serengeti