Mhondoro Safari Lodge & Villa has successfully started organic food production at Platbank, its newly acquired farm bordering the Welgevonden Game Reserve in the Waterberg (Limpopo province). In line with Mhondoro’s food philosophy of ‘fresh, simple and organic’, its chefs take pride in offering a ‘healthy food’ concept, incorporating international culinary trends presented with local flair. Establishing its own fresh produce farm right outside the reserve has enabled Mhondoro to bring to the table the freshest possible organic ingredients, as well as unique guest experiences such as the opportunity for guests to select their own free-range eggs for breakfast.
The farming of free-range chickens has been a great success and its brood of Koekoek and Australorp chickens are well established and thriving, producing eggs in abundance. Within the 70ha farm, a 300m² greenhouse is planted with a wide variety of vegetables that include spinach, beetroot, pumpkins, carrots, tomatoes, peppers and onions, as well as herbs and salad greens. Future plans for the farm include planting crops once an animal-friendly fence has been erected to keep out warthogs, porcupines and other curious animals who may be tempted by the delicious fresh produce.
With the lodge currently closed under COVID-19 lockdown regulations, all vegetables and free-range eggs are being donated to the local community, including to the Bushveld Mission Children’s Home outside Vaalwater. It is home to sixty orphaned, abandoned, abused and starving children between the ages of newborn to 18 years old and is staffed by 15 volunteers who have a mission to ‘love the children back to life’.
Mhondoro lodge manager Ronel Breytenbach says: ‘Charity starts at home and we are pleased to be able to supply food parcels to the local community where our 20 staff members come from. Many of our people have family members who have lost their jobs in the wake of the pandemic crisis, whilst other employees are sole breadwinners for families of up to nine people. The need is great – and we are grateful to be able to lend a helping hand in these difficult times.’
Tintswalo Lodges has introduced a self-catering option for families and friends to stimulate local travel and accommodate South African residents within the current lockdown restrictions. Exclusive-use, self-catering options are available at three of the Tintswalo properties, offering a choice between a safari or coastal breakaway for a group of up to 10 people.
The R25 000 per night deal for 10 people (2-night minimum stay) offers excellent value to South Africans seeking a luxury destination for a self-drive reunion close to home, or further afield once inter-provincial travel is allowed.
Options include the Manor House at Tintswalo Safari Lodge in the greater Kruger area; the Tintswalo Family Camp in the Welgevonden Game Reserve in the Waterberg; and Tintswalo at Boulders Boutique Villa in Simon’s Town, Cape Town. Lodges are fully serviced and all health precautions and safety protocols are fully complied with. Safari options also include two safari activities a day, a safari vehicle and the services of guide, as well as a private chef, housekeeping, laundry and wifi. (T’s & C’s apply. Excluded are food and beverages and gratuities)
With unobstructed views across Boulders Beach and its world-famous resident colony of endangered African penguins, Tintswalo at Boulders Boutique Villa boasts a unique beachfront location. Paying homage to maritime history and the villa’s location in Simon’s Town, the luxurious suites are individually decorated, some with private balconies. Ideally equipped for a group travelling together, the villa features open-plan lounges with fireplaces, a TV-room and two fully equipped kitchens and indoor dining areas. There are spacious outdoor terraces, as well as a wind-protected courtyard with a fire pit, and a sea view pool on the top deck.
Tintswalo Family Camp Welgevonden is located in the malaria-free Welgevonden Game Reserve in the Waterberg (Limpopo province). It ranks amongst SA’s largest private game reserves and boasts a great variety of game, including the Big Five. Five spacious freestanding luxury units are positioned on either side of the main lodge, which is comfortably furnished with spacious entertainment and lounge areas with fireplaces. The camp features a swimming pool with poolside loungers and a viewing deck overlooking the waterhole. It is child-friendly and protected by electric fencing against predators and dangerous game to allow children the freedom to enjoy the outside areas.
Situated in the pristine Manyeleti Private Nature Reserve, the Manor House at Tintswalo Safari Lodge features spacious lounge and dining areas and deep, shady patios that are ideal for relaxation and entertaining. The 56,000 acre Manyeleti Reserve is known as the “Place of the Stars” and has fenceless boundaries to the Kruger National Park. The traditionally styled private villa has 5 bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms, two with outside baths for indulgent soaks under starlit skies. Welcoming children of all ages, the family-friendly destination comes with a swimming pool and rolling lawns protected by game fencing, overlooking a waterhole that offers excellent game viewing 24/7.
(Photograph: Annemieke Muller)
In a joint effort by the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), Lapalala Wilderness Reserve and Tintswalo Lapalala, a free-roaming pack of 10 wild dogs was successfully captured and relocated to Lapalala Wilderness Reserve in the Waterberg (Limpopo).
According to Glenn Phillips, Chief Executive of Lapalala Wilderness, the dogs, which are currently in a boma on the reserve, have adjusted well: ‘So much so, that we are delighted to announce that the alpha female has produced a litter of pups. The birth of this litter of pups provides a welcome boost to the survival of this endangered species and we look forward to setting them free in the reserve together as a pack when the pups are strong enough, probably around the end of August (2020)’.
WEBCAM – WATCH THE WILD DOGS LIVE HERE:
Further exciting news is the live streaming from the reserve, where technology driven wildlife and conservation media company Painted Dog TV has installed bush cameras allowing viewers 24/7 insight into the daily life and behaviour of the pack. Three individual bush cameras have been positioned to focus on the den site, the feeding site and the waterhole.
Due to ongoing habitat fragmentation and conflict with human and agricultural activities, the African Wild Dog (Lycaon pictus) is one of the world’s most endangered mammals. According to the latest estimates, there are only around 6500 individuals left in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2018, this particular pack had only numbered two individuals. Since then, the pack has successfully raised two litters in the Vrymanrust area of the Waterberg. Unfortunately, the pack started predating on livestock as there was potentially not sufficient numbers of natural prey in the relatively small area they were utilizing. A decision was therefore taken by the Wild Dog Advisory Group (WAG) to capture and relocate the pack to a safe area within the Waterberg.
Phillips continues: ‘Growing human populations and the shrinking of habitat suitable for endangered species such as wild dog, makes this conservation project vital for the survival of the species. Lapalala Wilderness is therefore honoured to be part of such an important conservation project.’
The Reserve ecologists have been carefully monitoring the animals in Lapalala’s predator bomas during the post-release period. ‘By keeping the wild dogs in a large holding boma for a few months, we are attempting to break their inherent instinct to return to the area they originated from, as well as teaching the animals to respect electric fences’, says Herman Muller, Biodiversity Manager at Lapalala Wilderness.
Founded in 1981 by conservation champions, Dale Parker and Clive Walker, the Lapalala Wilderness Reserve is one of the largest private reserves in SA. It is recognized as a champion of sustainable wildlife conservation with the vision to leave a legacy for generations to come.
The Reserve stretches across 48 500 hectares of pristine bushveld and will provide ample hunting opportunities for the wild dogs. Wild dogs are highly effective predators and form an essential part of natural ecosystems by keeping herbivore numbers in check. Home to the Big 5, Lapalala is a unique landscape and offers opportunities to see numerous endangered species such as Roan antelope and Black rhinoceros. Boasting breath-taking scenery amongst classic savannah biomes, it offers 27 kilometers of perennial river frontage in the form of the Palala river, 800km of game viewing vehicle tracks, and excellent game viewing. The wildlife in this region is staggering in numbers, including 290 bird species, 60 mammal species, 97 reptile, 19 fish and 17 amphibian species, as well as 169 different types of trees and 25 species of aloe.
Says Lisa Goosen, CEO of Tintswalo Lodges: ‘Our luxury tented camp Tinstwalo Lapalala is operated off the grid and is one of only two lodges within the reserve. It is family friendly and accommodates only 16 adults and four children. The guest experience is unique as one really feels as if you have the reserve all to yourself when out on game drives or wilderness walks. We are very excited about the arrival of the wild dogs in the reserve and soon, we hope our guests will have the opportunity to view the wild dog in their natural habitat within the reserve’.
Within the Lapalala Wilderness Reserve, excursions are also offered to an iron age site to view ancient artefacts and Bushmen rock art paintings. Visits may also be arranged to the famous community based Lapalala Wilderness School, which to date has hosted more than 100 000 children and young adults in its Environmental Education programme.