The Drakensberg Sun has become an environmental success story. It neighbours the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site, and is putting responsible tourism into action in this delicate ecosystem. Energy use is minimised, waste is re-used or recycled, and there’s been a switch to greener cleaning.

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The local 'vulture restaurant' attracts many raptors, including endangered bearded vultures.

As soon as you arrive at the Drakensberg Sun, you know you’re at an environmentally aware destination. And it’s not only because you’re breathing in great lungfuls of sparkling mountain air, or because you’re surrounded by craggy forested peaks on the edge of the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site.

It’s because every arriving traveller receives a welcoming newspaper – printed on recycled paper, of course. In it, the Drakensberg Sun’s environmental practices are outlined.

They are so impressive that this mountain resort was given South Africa’s very first hospitality-oriented international Green Globe certification in 2009, and in 2010, it was given a Platinum rating (the highest possible) through the Heritage Environmental Programme. In 2010, the Drakensberg Sun also won the energy category in the Imvelo Awards, which recognise excellence in responsible tourism in South Africa, and in 2011 also won the award for the best overall environmental management system.

You’ll be happy to find out that the laundry and kitchens use eco-friendly chemicals, that organic waste is processed through a wormery, that 75% of all garbage is separated for recycling, and every drop of water is recycled too.

A local vegetable farmer (who supplies the hotel) receives their old cooking oil, which he turns into bio-diesel for his delivery trucks.

The resort has reduced energy usage dramatically, using a number of methods. One was to completely change over to energy-saving lamps. Another was to install a building management system to control energy consumption by fridges, freezers, boilers and air conditioners.

Your welcoming newspaper no doubt will notify you about the ongoing SOS campaign ('Switch Off Something'), an appeal made to staff as well as guests. The 'something' can be a light or a dripping tap.

The Drakensberg Sun also removes alien invasive vegetation and replants these areas with indigenous trees and shrubs.

Apart from staying in a low-carbon hotel, you can increase your contribution by planting a tree of your own, a living heritage for which you’ll receive a certificate of recognition. And your efforts will be entered into a legacy journal.

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