Transfrontier Parks Destinations (TFPD), which runs 12 community-owned lodges and camps around South Africa, is Fair Trade Tourism’s largest certified group to date and well represents the ethos of fair tourism with its focus on partnering with rural communities to promote previously underutilised rural tourism assets.

With authenticity and cultural immersion emerging as key travel trends, TFPD is well positioned to meet the interests of the adventurous traveller who is keen for off-the-beaten track experiences. The group’s lodges and camps are found in some of South Africa’s most spectacular natural locations, from the Kgalagadi desert to the Drakensberg mountains and two-million-hectare Kruger Park – offering the opportunity to combine nature with genuine cultural interaction.

The group’s four-star !Xaus Lodge in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is owned by the Mier and ǂKhomani San communities and offers an insight into traditional San lifestyles. Demonstrating its positive impact is the lodge’s silver award for Poverty Reduction in the 2015 World Responsible Tourism Awards. Equally spectacularly located is Witsieshoek Mountain Lodge, at 2 220m it is the highest lodge in the Northern Drakensberg. It is owned by the Batlokoa community of QwaQwa and offers walking access to Sentinel Peak and the Amphitheatre summit, some of the most sought-after climbs in the Drakensberg.  In far northern Limpopo, Awelani Lodge is outside Kruger National Park’s Pafuri gate in its own 1 700-hectare nature reserve owned by the Mutele community, while the larger Nahakwe Lodge in central Limpopo is owned by the Mamaila Kolobetona community and has become a popular business, wedding and event venue.  

The group recently took on the management of eight rustic camps in Limpopo that form part of the African Ivory Route, aimed at the truly adventurous traveller. All owned by local communities, they include four safari and adventure camps – Mtomeni and Mutale Falls, which are unfenced from Kruger National Park; Nthubu in the Masebe Reserve; and Mafefe above the Lekgalameetse Reserve – as well as four cultural camps that enable visitors to gain insight into the lives and craft-making skills of local communities. The cultural camps are Modjadji near Tzaneen, Baleni at the Sautini Natural Hot Spring near Giyani, Fundudzi near an inland lake and Blouberg north of the Waterberg mountains.