MHONDORO GOES OFF THE GRID: CELEBRATING ITS 5th BIRTHDAY WITH LODGE REVAMP AND NEW ECO-FRIENDLY INITIATIVES
Mhondoro Safari Lodge & Villa is celebrating its 5th birthday with the unveiling of an extensive revamp that took place over the past few months. The 5-star lodge, situated in the Welgevonden Game Reserve in the Waterberg (Limpopo province), also earned three major accolades in the 2020 Haute Grandeur Global Hotel Awards, which voted Mhondoro the Best Family Villa on a Global level; Best Pool Villa in Africa; and Best Safari Lodge in South Africa.
In line with the vision of the Dutch owners, Frank and Myriam Vogel, to further reduce the carbon footprint of the lodge, various eco-friendly initiatives have been put in place. Mhondoro is the proud owner of a major solar power installation of 620 solar panels and batteries. This is the largest solar operation at a lodge in Limpopo province and has successfully taken the operation off the grid to be self-sufficient in terms of all its electricity requirements.
Other projects include investing in a grey water filtration system for irrigation around the lodge, and the use of glass decanters and personalised steel water bottles for guests to minimize the use of plastic water bottles. Guest check-in is being done online to reduce the use of paper and re-usable leather wallets have been introduced for staff gratuities that will save 2000 envelopes per year. Mhondoro recycles all glass, paper and plastics used at the lodge, and has an agreement with Nespresso to recycle used coffee pods and grinds.
Lodge improvements include the refurbishment and redesign of guest suite bathrooms, the extension of decks and the addition of plunge pools to all suites (excluding Family Suites for child safety reasons). Soft furnishings and décor items have also been updated throughout the lodge.
Mhondoro has also purchased two farms measuring about 2 400 hectares adjoining Welgevonden Game Reserve. These tracks of derelict farmland are being rehabilitated and over time will become protected wilderness areas. A section of one of the farms is already being utilized to grow fresh produce for use at the lodge. It includes a chicken coop for farm fresh eggs and a greenhouse where herbs and vegetables are grown, with surplus produce donated to the surrounding communities.
Mhondoro sleeps a total of only 24 guests in two Luxury Pool Suites; a 2-bedroom Executive suite with en-suite bathrooms and a plunge pool; a 2-bedroom Family Deluxe suite with 2 en-suite bathrooms; another Family Suite with 2 bedrooms and a shared bathroom; a romantic Honeymoon suite with a private plunge pool and viewing deck with a daybed; and an exclusive-use Villa that can accommodate six adults.
Unique features include a custom-built stargazing ‘star deck’ and a waterhole with underground game viewing hide that is connected to the main lodge by a 65m reinforced concrete tunnel. Other lodge facilities extend to a gym, infrared sauna and heated swimming pools for all year-round swimming, and a dedicated Spa complete with a private, outdoor spa deck and bath.
Tintswalo Safari Lodge has received wide acclaim for its exciting virtual safaris which have been viewed online over the past year by millions of fans locally, and all over the world. When level 5 hard lockdown first kicked in and its lodges were deserted, Tintswalo acted swiftly and instinctively to find a creative way to continue communication with loyal guests.
In the African bush nature played out as it had since the beginning of time, and the guides of Tintswalo Safari Lodge continued their early morning game drives to monitor animal activity and conservation within the reserve. Getting up at the crack of dawn, they started filming what became known as the ‘On the Beat in the Manyeleti’ virtual game drives, which were broadcast on social media around the globe.
The first virtual safari went live on 25 March 2020 with 41 092 views. Now, exactly a year and 178 episodes later, Tintswalo’s Virtual Safaris have received an astonishing 7,4 million views from followers all over the world.
Says Alistair Leuner, Regional General Manager of Tintswalo’s Safari Operations: ‘During lockdown social media became a lifeline for many people as a way to connect to the world out there. People were looking to escape boredom and isolation and were searching for interesting and meaningful content. It was a great opportunity for Tintswalo to not only bring the bush right into their living rooms, wherever they were, but also to inform and educate the public about various important conservation issues.’Hosted and narrated by experienced guides, each and every virtual safari brought new adventures to the screen. From tracking the day-to-day movements of a herd of elephants and exhilarating sightings of wild dogs passing through the area, to following the Manyeleti’s magnificent Mbiri pride and finding a lion cub in a tree. Heart-warming comments and support poured in daily from fans far afield. This was ‘reality TV’ at its most authentic best!The game rich Manyeleti Nature Reserve is known world-wide for its Big 5 sightings, but also for its birdlife and many smaller and other interesting creatures. Tintswalo’s ‘On the Beat’ virtual safaris include video footage of actual sightings and personal encounters experienced by game rangers on patrol. Whilst nothing beats going on safari in real life, Tintswalo’s virtual safaris are still continuing and are said to be an inspiration to many viewers who are planning their ‘bucket list’ safari trip of a lifetime.
Videos are uploaded daily on all Tintswalo’s social media channels: