Our operational carbon footprint is relatively small, and we continue to invest in greater solar capacity. The amount of cloud cover in the Congo Basin, however, means we must supplement it with other energy sources. Low-energy light fixtures, solar-powered devices, and ongoing staff and visitor awareness initiatives are helping us reduce energy usage.
On the positive side, we help preserve 1.3 million hectares of rainforest, savanna, and winding wetlands that act as globally significant carbon sinks. Scientists estimate that every hectare of Congo’s tropical rainforest sequesters 300 tons of CO2e per hectare — making us the custodians of 390 million tons of CO2e!
Sabine Plattner’s interest in Dr. Magdalena Bermejo’s primate research led to the establishment of the Research Station adjacent to Ngaga Lodge, where studies of the critically endangered Western Lowland Gorillas have been done since 2012. Among other subjects, Bermejo’s research focuses on gorilla behavior and socialization. Bermejo has also established an interdisciplinary research network involving various universities contributing to conservation research in Africa. With the goal of building the next generation of Congolese scientists, Dr. Bermejo supervises graduate students from the University of Brazzaville, young primatologists who benefit from the wealth of expertise provided by members of the SPAC Research Network. Ngaga has become one of Africa’s most important primate research destinations, where scientists are able to test new, tourism-focused research products for conservation.
The core of the Kamba brand is enabling life-changing interactions with the Congo Basin — an ecosystem whose survival is threatened by logging, mining, poaching, and other human activities. Because the rainforest absorbs carbon from the atmosphere, it’s crucial for combating global warming. We work closely with the Congolese Ministry of Forestry and Economy; the Wildlife Conservation Society (which manages Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park); and African Parks (which manages Odzala-Kokoua National Park) to support anti-poaching initiatives, research and training, and community awareness and empowerment. Ensuring that local people are invested in sustaining their natural resources protects the rainforest from potentially more destructive forces.
Water is not in short supply in the Congo Basin! That lets us sustainably source water onsite for use in the lodges. Wastewater is captured, treated, and tested to international standards before it reenters the natural environment. We only use eco-benign or biodegradable wood sealants, paints, and cleaning products. Our integrated waste management plans include composting all food and biodegradable waste and stockpiling recyclables (glass, metals, plastics) until they can be safely transported to Pointe-Noire for processing.
We’ve turned the challenge of sourcing locally in a remote area into an opportunity to make a significant impact. We focus on two critical areas: procuring locally produced building materials, furniture, and fittings; and sourcing quality fresh produce from growers and suppliers in the area. Both initiatives also help mitigate our carbon footprint by reducing the amount of cargo we fly in. Our chefs enjoy incorporating local fruits and vegetables into their menus: safou, a fruit rich in fatty acids that tastes a bit like avocado with a hint of lime, as well as coconut, cassava, palm fruits, nuts, okra, and wild ginger, which is delicious in cocktails!
Kamba’s sister charitable organization, Sabine Plattner African Charities (SPAC) has been spearheading local community development initiatives in the areas where we operate since 2013. SPAC’s efforts center on education, early childhood development, and empowering people to act sustainably and independently to create a future for their rainforest home. SPAC has built and operates a number of early childhood development centers in communities in northern Congo: two flagship centers in Mbomo and Bomassa as well as five satellite centers in villages bordering Odzala-Kokoua. For ages three to six, our kindergartens focus on lessons heavily infused with conservation messaging and relevant to growing up in the region. The teachers adopt an active learning methodology that privileges participation by the children and lets them experience their own creative powers.
The after-school youth program includes activities such as sports, theater performance, dance, games, and school coaching, as well as “life skills training” around health, hygiene, and nutrition. The goal is to help the children become active, dedicated, and independent adults. We believe it is important that girls as well as boys participate in these activities. Moreover, by identifying parents and adults as community role models, we can ensure that other families have access to social, emotional, physical, and intellectual development.
The concept of ecotourism is to provide visitors with ethical, sustainable access to natural resources while operating in a manner that’s low-impact, non-consumptive, and locally oriented. For Kamba, in addition to the initiatives described elsewhere on this page, that translates into a few key principles. Limiting our capacity to a small number of guests helps us reduce our footprint while creating an intimate, comprehensive rainforest experience. Providing sustainable jobs and vocational training to local residents ensures their participation in protecting the ecosystem (an effort supported by SPAC’s primary education programs). And generating economic benefits and opportunities for our employees, suppliers, partners, and neighboring communities helps diversify the Congolese economy in a sustainable way.
The Kamba experience spotlights the local cultural heritage. An increasing number of our staff have grown up locally and bring sacred stories and ancestral knowledge to the guest experience. Our guides integrate local lore — which plants are used medicinally, the mythical significance of certain animals — into their interpretive narrative. Meals embrace local ingredients and techniques, and our interior design incorporates Congolese motifs and materials.
Internal culture is paramount as well. Our people, and their families, make Kamba. We hire and nurture committed, friendly, passionate, guest-centric professionals who love living and working in the incredible wilderness that is the Congo Basin. Hiring locally, team-building, vocational training, and personal career planning all contribute to our positive impact on our people.