i love african green spas

I can do no better than describe my deep bond with Africa in the same way an elder of Africa did in 1996:


“I am an African.

I owe my being to the hills and the valleys, the mountains and the glades, the rivers, the deserts, the trees, the flowers, the seas and the ever-changing seasons that define the face of our native land.

I am born of all the peoples of the continent of Africa.”

Thabo Mbeki

past president of South Africa

There is a delightful reward in seeking out the intrinsic beauty and spirit of those spas in Africa which allow themselves to be guided by this African ethos, an ethos also capturing the essence of sustainability. I am immensely proud to introduce some of them to you, as an ongoing project. To celebrate the work of independent businesses, and the individual who rarely have access to extensive corporate resources, I have concentrated less on featuring large corporate hotel and spa groups in this list. The admiration for all, however, remains.


kaya mawa

Situated on the stunning Likoma island in the middle of Lake Malawi is iconic Kaya Mawa Lodge and Spa.

The Lodge and Spa were built using locally sourced materials, such as rocks from the lake, and ethically sourced hardwoods. But the philosophy of sustainability goes beyond the building itself.

Kaya Mawa generates 95% of its own clean energy from a large solar farm installed on site. Use is also made of electric game-drive vehicles for silent safaris (a first in Africa), as well as an eBoat and eQuad-bikes.

All the guest amenities, including the treatments products used in the Spa, are organic and sourced from nearby neighbor Zambia.

Guests are involved in conservation projects on the island and are provided an opportunity to engage with local artisans through a community workshop, which has been set up to produce arts and crafts from recycled materials.

The meals that are served at Kaya Mawa have a strong focus on locally grown fruits and vegetables, mostly from its own gardens, but also from community gardens that it funds and that provide income to some of the surrounding villages. Naturally, the food is seasonal, nutritional and, with respect to the fish harvested from the lake, also sustainable.



Omaanda is much more than a beautiful Lodge and Spa. It lies on an expanse of untamed and timeless savannah land, near the capital city of Windhoek, Namibia. Preserving nature and local culture form the essence of Omaanda, and every effort is made to reduce the impact of the human footprint and to search for renewability in everyday operations.

In 2016, the owners of Omaanda partnered with the Namibian N/a’an ku sê Foundation to create a nature reserve of 7,500 hectares. Today, the reserve actively contributes to the conservation and regulation of the flora and fauna, protecting biodiversity and fighting the extinction of threatened species. A rehabilitation centre has also now been established as a sanctuary for displaced and injured animals.

The Lodge and Spa were built in traditional Namibian style, with rounded corners and hand- finished thatched roof. The design was simple und understated, with deep, warm colours to reflect local culture, the sandy earth and the natural environment. The interior decoration celebrates art from African culture.
The Spa collaborated mostly with local suppliers in creating its range of amenities and treatment products, using mostly local plants, and are free of parabens. In fact, all the treatments offered at Omaanda were inspired by local Namibia custom and most of them incorporate elements of the surrounding environment, such as pure sand for scrubs, stones, or plants (grasses, flowers and herbs). The signature Spa ritual was inspired by an ancient traditional treatment of warmed herbs and spices to increase blood circulation and ease aches and pains.

south africa

vygenhoek organic spa

Vygenhoek Organic Spa was developed in the serene trout village of Dullstroom, South Africa and an organic approach was applied to all stages of the building process.

The Spa complex and treatment areas were designed to incorporate traditional building techniques, integrating locally sourced rock from previously disturbed areas, natural paints and unvarnished woods. Finishing was also done using traditional procedures and products with a minimal environmental footprint.

The Spa is naturally ventilated and cooled. The requirement for extensive mechanical heating in the Spa was also minimised, due to the building’s alignment with the sun, the extensive glazing used and the design features applied, including courtyards that serve as heat traps for surrounding areas and rooms.

A hand-picked product range was selected for spa treatments as well as retail, guaranteeing a total absence of chemical preservatives, petroleum by-products, synthetic fragrances and colourants. The same requirement applied to all the cleaning products.

Seasonal meals and beverages form part of the treatment packages and were selected with the organic content upmost in mind. The agriculture practiced on the Vygenhoek estate is also conducted through firm organic principles and the oils distilled from the harvested plants are used in the treatments offered.

The staff employed by the Spa are mostly local and use is made of a car pool system for them. All Spa staff receive in-house and contracted training on an ongoing basis and partake in many of the day to day decision making processes.

south africa

woodlands spa

Woodlands Spa nestles next to a river on a world heritage site near Muldersdrift, South Africa.

One of its key features is its grass roof, allowing the building to capture the rain and create a specific internal climate. The glass enclosed treatment rooms are designed to allow for natural light and the building is ventilated and cooled naturally. Local design elements were also used extensively throughout the building.

The Spa’s principal skin and body product lines are local and organic as are the meals provided. A recycling system applies throughout the Spa.

The Spa’s core value system is driven by a need to be connected to a diversity of communities and to engage people in their path of development and empowerment. Projects on which the Spa focuses include a teaching program for children as well as educators at schools, an art gallery at the Spa for a group of local artists from the Muldersdrift area and special programs aimed at underprivileged informal settlements.


gibbs farm

Gibbs Farm and Spa is situated in one of the most beautiful and historical parts of Africa, on the rim of the Ngorogoro Crater in Tanzania. The land is rich in animal and plant species, with fertile soils and a mild climate. The local peoples, mostly of the Maasai and Iraqw tribes, play an integral role in the management and protection of the environment.

A working farm and family coffee plantation with a rich history, this multiple award winning lodge and spa focuses on practicing conservation, integrating with local communities and providing experiences that are in harmony with nature and honour its rhythms. These experiences include involving guests in harvesting vegetables from the organic garden, bread making, coffee roasting and milking. Guests are also encouraged to participate in a Thembo fire ritual which starts with fascinating talks by local naturalists and healers.

Sustainable farming practices apply to the coffee plantation, the vegetable and fruit gardens as well as the dairy and pig farm, including the use of natural fertilizers and compost generated on the farm. 95% of all the food requirements of Gibbs Farm are sustained by the gardens and farm yard.

At Gibbs Farm, construction work is conducted with minimal importation and local fabrication. This practice develops community skills and minimizes transportation fuel pollution. More than 50% of old building materials were used as foundations, doors, shutters, and roofing for new buildings and restoration. Cottages are made of stone and sustainable wood that is treated with recycled motor oil to protect it against insects and staff housing is constructed from sun-dried mud bricks and thatched roofs. A carpenter guild was established to teach fine furniture making and joinery.

Solar energy is the main driver of electricity on the farm, and constitutes the largest array of solar panels in northern Tanzania. Low energy lighting and timer switches are installed in many areas. Laundry is sun-dried and in inclement weather, a large open-air shelter allows for drying. Only bio-degradable detergent is used.

Water management practices include recycling all grey water through a reed filtration system, discouraging bottled water purchases and using non potable water where possible. Waste management also receives focus with all waste from the kitchen being worked back into the farm, recycling motor oils and following safe plastic disposal practices.

The treatments provided by the spa are inspired by local practices shared by the tribal community, such as the application of heated medicinal herbs, handpicked by a local expert. The products used in the spa are natural and mostly straight from the farm and surrounding areas and include whole plants, flowers, coffee beans and the popular olkaria red clay.
african green spa counter
  • malawi
  • namibia
  • south africa
  • tanzania


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