Friday, 19 December 2014

Botswana: green vehicles for Chobe Game Lodge

Chobe Game Lodge in Kasane (Botswana) established a new standard in eco-tourism by launching the first ever electric fleet comprising an electric game drive vehicle and an electric boat.

Freedom 3 and Freedom 4, as new vehicles were named, producing no sound, non-polluting and cost effective to run.

The new fleet has been described as the first of its kind in Africa.Johan Bruwer, Chobe Game Lodge's general manager, explained at the launch that for the past eight years, they have pursued alternative environmentally friendly vehicles to operate a more sustainable business on the banks of the Chobe River.

"Over the years we have evolved and today Chobe Game Lodge is proudly ECO tourism certified," he noted. He added that the consequence of their operations not only affects them as a tourism operation but also the natural resource that they depend on heavily to run a successful business and also the local community.

According to Bruwer not only is the fleet cheaper to maintain, but also that the conversion to electric has extended their life span. The conversion however did not come cheap.

"We spent roughly P300 000 on converting one vehicle and around P200 000 for the boat," he explained in an interview at the launch.

To illustrate how big a reward they are going to get from this investment, Bruwer explained that they will now be using 23 Thebe per kilometer for the electric game drive vehicle as opposed to the P4 per kilometer they used to spend before the conversion.

"Some of our vehicles are 16 years old but they still look new, it also helps that they are lady driven because women are more cautious," Bruwer said. The lodge boasts of an all-female tour guides team comprising 16 women.

"This has worked beautifully for us because women learn much faster than men in my view and because they are under pressure of being looked down upon, they excel at what they do," he added.

Speaking at the launch, the man behind this fleet, Antony English noted that the Chobe environment is the most suitable for these kinds of innovations, adding that he was anticipating a lot of interest in Botswana after this launch.

Taking into consideration that this was the first ever electric boat he ever had to build, he noted that he did it and finished it within only four days. The lodge is awaiting the arrival of another electric vehicle, which is still in production.