our story a journey with purpose
A 26 year legacy of conservation and communities
The founders and owners of Isibindi Africa Lodges, Brett and Paige Gehren, both come from a conservation background; this is our authenticity. This family owned and run luxury safari, island and beach collection of wilderness lodges is positioned in exceptional ecosystems in Southern Africa. Twenty-seven years of pioneering sustainable wildlife lodges, that is built on the bedrock that they include and empower our neighbouring communities.
“We aren’t just offering the safari of a lifetime, we’re offering a future”
The Isibindi Family
A family business, we don’t think of ourselves as a corporate, we don’t operate lodges that we don’t own, every one of our camps we have built and we run. It starts as an Isibindi vision, it evolves and unfolds into somewhere special, an exceptional location with considered spaces, which we would have chosen for our honeymoon or wanted to take our children to holiday. Having happy staff is an integral part of our business, we have a lot of fun at Isibindi doing what we do and we want to share that with you. We live by the motto courage & fun.
“Our natural responsibility,
JOURNEY WITH PURPOSE”
The Isibindi Foundation
The Isibindi Foundation was established in 2019 to consolidate our 26 years of community and conservation projects, and to also create a purpose driven entity to assist these initiatives. The Foundation allows our guests to be philanthropic travellers and to journey with purpose.
“Travel is powerful when it connects us to a purpose and a community.”
- Tom Brown Jr.
Connecting to our eco-conscious community
Our purpose drives us all at Isibindi Africa Lodges, and so we are committed to incorporating eco-conscious systems and initiatives wherever possible, this includes:
Removing single use plastics which includes replacing plastic water bottles with a reusable bottle for each guest
Investing in large solar energy farms
Creating micro-economies in neighbouring communities to supply our lodges
Recycling unused lodge food into feeding schemes for neighbouring creches
Refusing to serve seafood that is not ethically harvested
Some fun facts about Isibindi
We nearly turned down Tsowa Safari Island because we thought it may not have enough trees! We also then found out Brett slept directly opposite the island on a 21st camping trip 32 years ago…
During the rush to finish Rhino Ridge Safari Lodge, with our first guests due in a week, nobody missed a beat when a pack of wild dogs took down a nyala between rooms 1 and 2, painters painted, builders built and stylists styled.
The first sighting of a green turtle laying her eggs was witnessed by us on a turtle drive one night at Thonga Beach Lodge, George Hughes (South Africa’s foremost turtle expert) was in camp giving talks to guests, and we raced back to fetch him, and he was able to verify.
At Kosi Forest Lodge 23 years ago, our Kosi Bay Lakes mouth activity started with a 10km walk and then a 12km canoe self-paddle. And then all over home again. Over a five-year period, before we brought in boats, we didn’t receive a single complaint!
The Legendary Isibindi Bandana Party held annually at the Indaba travel show, where your entry was our bandana and a few shooters, due to high demand we will host again post covid 2023…
Our claims to our insurance company include hyena eating leather couches, hippo’s charging into game viewers, elephant walking over deck to swimming pool, elephant playing with guy ropes and pulling down guest tent and lion chasing kudu into swimming pool.
escape to a place of miracle and wonder
Thonga Beach Lodge is uniquely set on the pristine shores of the Maputaland Coast. Part of the iSimangaliso Wetland Parl - a UNESCO World Heritage Site - Thonga is the place to discover one of Africa's last unspoilt wilderness beaches. The name "iSimangaliso" means "miracle and wonder" - an apt name for an area that is home to such a diverse and spectacular array of unique ecosystems.
About the iSimangaliso Wetland Park
The iSimangaliso Wetland Park was listed as South Africa’s first World Heritage Site in December 1999 in recognition of its status as a site of biological wealth and natural beauty.
No other place in South Africa can compete with the exceptional natural beauty and biodiversity of iSimangaliso. The 332,000-hectare park contains three major lake systems, eight interlinking ecosystems, 700-year-old fishing traditions, most of South Africa’s remaining swamp forests, Africa’s largest estuarine system and 25,000-year-old vegetated coastal dunes which are among the highest in the world.
A sanctuary for species great and small
The World Heritage Committee granted the Park its status after noting its exceptional biodiversity– over 526 birds, 50 amphibia, 128 reptile species, lake systems, swamps, reed and papyrus wetlands, savannah, vegetated coastal dunes and sandy beaches. The marine ecosystem has 1 039 fish species, 100 species of coral, 812 marine molluscs and huge dolphin populations. The area also boasts a large migratory pod of humpback whales that congregate en-route between Mozambique and the Cape, usually taking residence for several months between June and November. A vast numbers of albatross visit in the winter months.
The Maputaland coastline has been shaped over millennia by the strong Agulhas current, which flows down the East Coast of Africa. Seasonal winds blowing across the Mozambique channel from Madagascar rotate this massive body of water, keeping it at a comfortable 26 degrees – the perfect temperature for a fun-filled adventure.
The untouched shoreline of Lake Sibaya stretches for 100km; at 70 square kilometres, it is South Africa’s largest freshwater lake. Lake Sibaya falls within the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, and the Ramsar Convention assures its international conservation status.
The lake’s diverse flora provides a variety of habitats for birds, mammals and aquatic life. Research reveals that hundreds of years ago, the lake was connected to the sea. When the estuary closed naturally, numerous fish and aquatic creatures were trapped in a freshwater environment, creating a biological treasure chest.
Lake Sibaya contains the second largest population of hippopotamus and crocodile in KwaZulu-Natal and is an important breeding, feeding and roosting area for a host of bird species. Surface water in the surrounding coastal plain often disappears completely during dry spells, making the lake the only source of permanent water for birds and mammals.