Green tourism

Gillooly's Farm Johannesburg. Photo courtesy Lbeetge

Home to South Africa’s largest urban forest (Johannesburg), Gauteng offers the responsible tourist a variety of green travel and tourism options that benefit local residents.

More and more Gauteng destinations now promote responsible tourism, with unique experiences that are carbon-friendly and make a positive contribution to the conservation of our natural and cultural heritage. Eco-certified hotels and organic restaurants and markets are making inroads into the green tourism industry, while enjoyable experiences such as walking and cycle tours offer the tourist a more meaningful connection with Gauteng and its residents.

Green accommodation

For a unique boutique hotel experience that’s as green as they come, book a night or two at Sandton’s Surreal Eco Boutique Hotel & Spa. This “off-the-grid” establishment uses solar and other kinds of efficient energy to power six deluxe rooms, an eco-chic spa and an organic restaurant.

Johannesburg’s Peech Hotel is another establishment that operates in an environmentally responsible manner. The business has solar geysers for the entire property, while rain and grey water from baths and showers are processed and recycled for use on the hotel's lush landscaping.

Establishments with a FTTSA rating

Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa (FTTSA) has developed a green rating system that assesses tourist accommodation, attractions and activities, and enables green-thinking tourists to embark on holiday packages with a minimal carbon footprint. The system takes into account environmental management, low energy and water usage, waste avoidance and recycling, and encourages green building design and construction, minimal use of chemicals and a focus on biodiversity.

Photo courtesy Rodric84

Tourists looking for a greener experience can now access an easy-to-use eGuide, available free on the FTTSA website, that provides an overview of all FTTSA-certified tourism businesses in South Africa. It includes backpacker lodges, guesthouses, safari lodges and hotels. FTTSA-certified tour operators and adventure activity operators are also featured.

More than 110 hotels, bed and breakfast establishments and tourism companies in South Africa have already been FTTSA certified, and about seven businesses in Gauteng.

Leading the chase is Soweto Bicycle Tours that offers the green travel tourist a chance to explore the famous township from an efficient, eco-friendly perspective. The tour takes you on uncharted sections of the township, allowing you to experience the true hidden culture of Soweto away from the main tourist hotspots. Lebo’s Soweto Backpackers offers green travellers a superb away-from-home experience.

The Mercure Hotel group also offers FTTSA-certified green accommodation across the province, with hotels in Bedfordview, Midrand and Randburg. The company policy of People, Planet, Profit means practices are in place to minimise the impact on water, energy and waste.

Green activities

The province offers many a green activity for travellers looking for an authentic experience. Walking tours along the heritage routes of the province, and cycle tours through suburban areas, are a must for the green traveller, while Johannesburg’s Neighbourgoods Market and Maboneng Precinct, as well as the Irene Village Market in Pretoria, offer a choice of local organic fruit and vegetable produce, and hand-made fashion and craft goods.

The province’s wide range of parks and green open areas are superb venues for outdoor lunches. Take a trip to the Walter Sisulu Botanical Garden, or picnic in the glorious garden in front of Tshwane’s Union Buildings.