World's Best Sustainable Travel Experiences Named For 2017

These escapes prove luxury and a conscience aren't mutually exclusive.

Sustainable Travel

Seven resorts and individuals have been honoured by the PURE Life Experiences awards for their contributions to sustainable and experiential travel.

Founded in 2009, PURE Life Experiences is a hand-selected global community of leading experts in experiential travel with a focus on conservation and transformation. These ‘PUREists’ are united by a mission to catalyse a new kind of adventure for high-end clients, one that fosters personal connections and encourages a conscientious approach to the environment and local communities.

PURE life’s tailored excursions invite travellers to reconnect with themselves and their world, while protecting the planet and giving back.

The PURE Awards celebrate the best of the best in sustainable travel. This year, more than 200 applications were submitted in categories including Transformational Travel, Conservation and Sustainability, Community Engagement, and Mindful Design. The winners were announced in Marrakech on Tuesday, September 12. Meet them below.

Transformational Travel: Cascada Expediciones / Ecocamp Patagonia for The Dientes Trek

The Dientes Trek is a true wilderness experience. With virtually no trail infrastructure, the immersion in nature and disconnect from the world is designed to be absolute. There is only the traveller, silence, and the mighty peaks and waterways of Tierra del Fuego. The trek has been designed to leave travellers with a greater appreciation for and understanding of the power of nature, as well as themselves as humans in the world, where actions have real consequences for the future of the planet.

Conservation & Sustainability: Singita, for solar technology at Singita Kruger National Park

Singita’s solar project aims to reduce reliance on fossil fuels by harnessing energy from this sun-rich part of the world to provide solar power. In 2015, 1,188 photovoltaic solar panels were installed and connected to state-of-the-art batteries and inverters to power lodges. In 2017, the Tesla Powerpack system was introduced. The combination of solar and Powerpack enables sustainable energy generation, consumption, and storage. The system has already reduced diesel generator usage by over 70 percent and is forecast to reduce annual carbon emissions by 1,000 tonnes.

Innovative & Engaging Marketing: Great Plains Conservation, vinyl revival

A campaign of four pre-show emails followed a vinyl theme of new tracks on side one and classic hits on side two, inspired by everything from Bowie’s Berlin trilogy to classic tracks from Great Plains. The result was a sell-out show, increased brand awareness for Great Plains Conservation, and feedback from the non-trade show audience.

Community Engagement: Oceania Expeditions, Karawara culture on Kabakon Island

Oceania Expeditions invites guests to swap their current reality for life on a secluded island, under the guidance of the neighbouring Karawara people in the tropics of Papua New Guinea. Karawara islanders visit guests daily on Kabakon island, sharing their extensive knowledge and rich customs, and teaching how to forage, hunt, weave, connect and play. Guests are then left to their own devices until the next visit. The project offers an additional income stream for the local community and reignites pride in the continuation of local traditions and cultures.

Contribution to Experiential Travel: Mike Reimer, Churchill Wild

Mike Reimer, co-founder of Churchill Wild, is a true entrepreneur and adventurer. The first to offer walking safaris through polar-bear-inhabited regions of northern Manitoba, he’s always one step ahead, planning new experiences for guests. From safe, on-the-ground polar-bear encounters, to an innovative way for people to snorkel with wild beluga whales, to a remote tundra camp set up in the Barren Lands for an Arctic glamping experience, Reimer’s insatiable curiosity for what’s possible keeps guests intrigued and engaged.

Mindful Design: Wilderness Safaris, Bisate Lodge

Bisate Lodge’s sophisticated architecture and interior design is rooted in Rwandan building tradition. The spherical, thatched structures echo the thousands of hills that dot the Rwandan landscape, while the richly detailed interiors feature surfaces and screens made from a variety of woven materials. Bisate offers accommodations that are steeped in local design, culture, and traditional architecture.

Unsung Hero: Lewis Mangaba, African Bush Camps

Lewis Mangaba is more than a guide for African Bush Camps at Somalisa in Zimbabwe. He is a storyteller, a poet — a man who inspires passion for preserving wildlife heritage to all who encounter him. Mangaba’s intuition in the bush ensures a fantastic experience for his guests. He’s affectionately known as the medicine man, and once trekked deep into the wilds of Mana Pools to find a plant to treat mosquito bites after a guest, who had been bitten, was averse to repellents.