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:
Tintswalo Boulders Boutique Villa (Simon’s Town, Cape Town) has extended its culinary offering with the introduction of in-house dining options for resident guests. In addition to Tintswalo’s signature breakfast feast that is included in the rate, guests may now order family-style platters and dessert to enjoy dinner on the terrace overlooking Boulders beach, in the wind-protected courtyard around the firepit, or in the spacious indoor dining areas on chilly evenings.
A variety of wholesome, 2-course menus are available to choose from, including Mustard crust roast beef and jus with a steamed green veg medley, duck fat potatoes, Tintswalo salad and freshly baked breads, followed by Mini-lemon meringue. Other options include Sea bass & prawn curry with carrot, red onion and coriander salad, served with steamed basmati rice and papadums, ending on a sweet note with a Chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream and chocolate mint glaze. Light meals are also available for lunch, including salads and sandwiches, as well as a Cake of the day. The villa is now also licensed and offers a full bar and wine list.
Tintswalo Boulders offers guests direct access to the boardwalk leading to the famous penguin beaches, and since opening two years ago, has become a popular destination for celebrations and for families with children.
Tintswalo Lapalala has launched two conservation participation experiences that offer guests the unique opportunity to join the Lapalala conservation team in rhino and elephant research and monitoring activities in the Lapalala Wilderness Reserve in the Waterberg (Limpopo Province).
Lapalala Wilderness Nature Reserve is committed to ensuring the survival of Africa’s rhinos and in doing so, applies best practice research, management and monitoring of these magnificent animals. As part of these management programmes, the reserve conservation and veterinary teams are in the process of implementing various monitoring methods which include, ear-notching, DNA sampling, as well as the inserting of microchips on each animal.
Guests are invited to participate in one of these Rhino Experiences that will take place on four specific dates throughout 2021 (May 7-9; June 18-20; July 16-18; August 20-22). The veterinary team will dart and immobilize a white or black rhino and participants may assist with monitoring the animal during the capture. The DNA collection forms part of the Rhino DNA Indexing System (RhODIS), which is a forensic tool that stores a unique genetic fingerprint for every rhino that has been sampled using blood, tissue and horn. It also plays an important part in Lapalala’s rhino security initiative and its fight against poaching as DNA data may be used as evidence in court.
The Lapalala Wilderness Reserve is located within the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve, an official UNESCO World Heritage Site. Over the past 40 years the reserve has become a beacon for wildlife research and conservation in South Africa. Recognised as one of the largest and most scenic private reserves in southern Africa, its abundance of flora plays home to a vast array of wildlife that is protected within its 48 500 hectares. This includes 300 bird species, 50 fish species, 147 mammal species, 114 reptile species, 33 amphibian species and various breeding projects. Eco-friendly Tintswalo Lapalala is operated off the grid to accommodate only 16 adults and four children, and as one of only two lodges within the reserve, it guarantees a rare, and personalised wilderness experience.
Guests may also have the rare opportunity to get up close and personal with the giants of the bush during an Elephant Collaring operation. The 27 elephants within the reserve are carefully monitored as part of the sustainable management of the population. From time to time, as an elephant collar needs to be replaced, a small group of guests have the chance to join this once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Guided by an experienced ranger, the group is driven in an open 4×4 safari to meet up with the helicopter used to locate and dart the elephant. Guests may assist the veterinary team in monitoring the elephant’s vital signs, such as breathing rate and temperature. DNA samples are collected while the elephant’s collar is replaced, before the tranquiliser wears off and the elephant is free to join its herd again.
Following the success of OurAfrica.Travel 2020, the organisers have announced that the virtual meeting platform will be back in March 2021 to offer the travel trade a safe and affordable Africa-focussed travel show. Pre-scheduled, one-on-one, face-to-face virtual meetings will take place over 10 days to bring Africa to global buyers, conveniently and practically during their working hours.
Spearheaded by industry experts Allie Hunt and Storm Napier, OurAfrica.Travel 2021 will be presented in partnership with ATTA (Africa Travel & Tourism Association) on the following dates: 1 – 5 March (Europe, Africa, Asia & Oceania) from 04h00 – 19h00 CAT, and 8 – 12 March (Americas) from between 10h00 – 23h00 CAT.
Storm Napier says: ‘In 2020 we had no less than 321 exhibitors and 1199 buyers who connected virtually in just under 21 000 virtual meetings. The feedback has been phenomenal and by popular demand, we are delighted to bring the show back in 2021 and look forward to growing it even further.’
The 2020 event included some of South Africa’s most prominent travel brands such as, Escape & Explore, Wilderness Safaris, Triumph Travel, Singita and Red Carnation Hotels, all of whom have already confirmed their participation for 2021. Global buyers who participated in the 2020 event ranged from Private Safaris Switzerland, Swain Destinations and Swagman, to Virtuoso agents, FTI Touristik, Lusso and The Africa Adventure Company.
The show will take on the same format as the inaugural event of 2020, with the addition of a more extensive Indian Ocean section to include participants from Zanzibar, Mauritius, Seychelles, Reunion, Comores and Maldives.
Exhibitors who offer accommodations, safaris or other special experiences all over Africa and the Indian Ocean Islands, are invited to sign up to connect with African travel specialists from around the world.
Chris Mears from ATTA says that digital events are here to stay, providing some certainty in marketing endeavours, at least until the trade are able to once again meet in person. Alison Hunt added that the resilience of the travel trade industry is certainly being tested. ‘We did not think that we would need to arrange another OurAfrica.Travel virtual show but, here we are! We’d like to thank ATTA for their support and partnership within the event. We are ready to show the world that Africa is truly the most diverse and rewarding travel destination one can ever explore.’
The transformation of the iconic Glencairn Hotel has been completed with the opening of Barstaurant at Glencairn, a new family-friendly restaurant off the shore of False Bay between Fish Hoek and Simon’s Town.
Barstaurant at Glencairn occupies the entire floor area of the landmark building, which dates back to 1904. It is the new family offering created by the Tintswalo group, in partnership with Tintswalo Atlantic’s seasoned general managers Ryno and Melissa du Rand, and restauranteur Clint Fennel, who is well-known in the industry after ten years managing Willoughby’s in the V&A Waterfront.
The beauty and character of the historical Glencairn Hotel has been meticulously preserved to showcase its unique and hidden features. Local contractors were used during the renovation process, which created 40 jobs. In line with the ethos of a family business, the interiors were designed by the owners themselves with the assistance of third generation decorator Camlyn Goosen to create a stylish, yet casual family restaurant and neighbourhood bar.
The restaurant seats 80 diners and offers various seating areas, including a welcoming lounge area with a fireplace, a sushi bar, and a light and bright covered terrace, as well as cosy dining in the Sports Bar area, which includes an alcove for more private dining. The outdoor dining areas are already popular with parents and their young children, overlooking lawns with jungle gyms and safe play areas, with sea views in the distance. Specially geared for children, Barstaurant at Glencairn includes a kids’ menu with an inter-active opportunity to make their own pizzas.
Barstaurant at Glencairn is open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Specialities include an All-Day Breakfast, wood-fired pizzas and classic bistro staples such as Fish and Chips; Cheeseburgers or Steak cut-of-the-week and hand-cut chips; Tacos; Chicken Ceasar Salad, salads and vegetarian options. From Wednesdays to Sundays a sushi menu is available too, freshly made by the team of professional sushi chefs and overseen by sushi aficionado Clint himself. An extensive selection of drinks is available, including beers on tap and craft beers, and a wine list that features some popular options, as well as more unusual vintages and varietals. Live music is available on weekends and sports events are broadcast on big-screens in the bar area.
Tintswalo owners Warwick and Lisa Goosen say their years of passion for the tourism and hospitality industry have sparked a love for new and exciting projects. For Warwick this project was the opportunity to create something new from the old, and completing the circle with food and drinks, play and sport. ‘There is an energy in the Deep South of Cape Town like nowhere else in the world. I feel it and I love the location and being able to expand our offering as a group, reaching out to the local community and to families specifically, with our partners by our side,’ he says.
In support of its community, Barstaurant at Glencairn is forming a charity to support local initiatives close to its heart, ranging from firefighting to land and sea conservation projects using the hashtags #landshepherd, #fireshepherd and #saltshepherd.
The Barstaurant at Glencairn team is looking forward to becoming a household name to families in the area and beyond, not only as a favourite eatery for adults and children alike, but also as a destination to celebrate special occasions and make lasting memories with loved ones.
FEDERAL AIRLINES (‘FEDAIR’) ANNOUNCES 50% DISCOUNT ‘SA RESIDENTS FAIR’ TO SAFARI LANDING STRIPS AS PART OF REVOLUTIONARY NEW APPROACH
Federal Airlines has announced a revolutionary new approach to meet customer needs and market demands. It has introduced reduced SA Resident fares starting from Johannesburg directly to a number of landing strips within the Sabi Sand, Madikwe, Northern Sabi Sand, Timbavati, Hoedspruit lodges and Garonga. This amounts to a discount of approximately 50% of the 2020 low season fares.
Mark Hurst, group CEO of Solenta Aviation and incoming CEO of Federal Airlines, says that FedAir’s customer fares are being made simple and flexible as a future game changer within the luxury safari lodge shuttle and charter airline business.
‘We are learning to say yes. Covid-19 has caused significant disruption within the tourist and travel industry, but it has also created new opportunities for us. Our aim is to make the business more dynamic, more customer orientated and more flexible’, he says.
With immediate effect, the cancellation policy of Federal Airlines has been adjusted to be more flexible and customer orientated, offering free cancellations up to 15 days prior to departure date. There will be no charges for any changes made to FedAir bookings and clients may have unlimited changes at no cost.
‘In addition, our 2021 fares will be reset to the 2020 low season fares and we have removed all seasonality rates, offering the same low season fare throughout the 2021 year. We look forward to assisting every traveller to reach their lodge destination in a comfortable, efficient and professional manner, with our daily shuttle services from OR Tambo International Airport to the Sabi Sand, Timbavati/Kruger region, the Madikwe Game Reserves and our restarted inter-lodge flights between the safari camps, from 1 December 2020’, Hurst concluded.
The Private Charter division of Federal Airlines will continue to offer customised, exclusive charter flights to meet personal schedules and requirements as required.
Mark Hurst interview:
Perivoli Lagoon House has opened outside Stanford on the Whale Coast close to Hermanus, a 2-hour drive from Cape Town. The villa is booked on an exclusive-use basis for up to eight people with flexible booking options that include housekeeping service, as well as a choice of all-inclusive or self-catering. Special launch rates are available until 15 December 2020.
Perivoli Lagoon House is owned by the philanthropically focussed Perivoli Trust which channels all profits to conserving and restoring the land, while any surplus is donated to the charitable Perivoli Schools Trust. The secluded villa is managed by seasoned hoteliers Marcelino and Simoné Henckert and represented by the marketing team of Inspirational Places and FiveStar PR.
Designed by architect Gregg Goddard with interior design by Simoné Henckert, the ultra-contemporary open-plan design with its elegantly curved roof is a new landmark on the banks of the Klein River lagoon.
It is home to four double suites with private bathrooms and terraces, and generous living areas that spill out onto sprawling wooden decks and a heated infinity pool. The house invites complete relaxation with deep sofas and shaded views of the lagoon to immerse oneself in nature, watch the birds and breathe the scented fynbos. Geared to all-year round comfort, Perivoli is equipped with a wood-burning fireplace and efficient eco-friendly pellet stoves, as well as ceiling fans and insect screens. The kitchen is state-of-the-art, leading to spacious indoor and outdoor dining areas with a BBQ station under cover, and well-known Stanford chef Madré is available to cater by prior arrangement.
Situated on 140 hectares that is in the process of being proclaimed a nature reserve, Perivoli is a natural hideaway of wide-open spaces and breathtaking views. It is the perfect backdrop for quality time spent with family and friends where children of all ages are welcome. A myriad of adventures and activities await within the isolated wilderness, from guided fynbos walks and beach excursions to nearby Walker Bay Nature Reserve, to birdwatching, mountain biking and canoeing. Guests at Perivoli have access to a speedboat to make full use of the unique lakeside location which lends itself to water activities such as water skiing and tubing, as well as fishing. More relaxing pursuits include yoga baskets, in-room massages and lounging around the magnificent swimming pool.
On the doorstep waiting to be explored, is the surrounding area of Stanford and Hermanus. The region has received global acclaim for local culinary gems that include award-winning restaurants, craft breweries and cheeseries, as well as wine estates.
Tintswalo Boulders has introduced an exciting Marine Exploration Adventure Experience for guests to explore the fascinating underwater world of False Bay where renowned cinematographer Craig Foster filmed ‘My Octopus Teacher’.
Two nights’ luxury accommodation with breakfast is included at Tintswalo at Boulders, the uniquely located beachfront villa that is surrounded by fynbos, with unobstructed views across the world-famous Boulders Beach penguin colony and the ocean.
Sea activities are guided by the Shark Warrior Adventure Centre and take place in the marine protected area of the Table Mountain National Park. Snorkellers will glide through the mystical kelp forests to encounter the mysterious life beneath the waves where fish and other marine life sway in the flow of the currents around the reefs. A magical 2-hour kayaking excursion in single or 2-seater kayaks will include gentle paddling in the clear, turquoise sea and protected coves of Boulders Beach to watch the antics of the endangered African penguins and other seabirds.
Located on route to Cape Point, Tintswalo Boulders has a rooftop pool overlooking the ocean and a garden pathway that leads to the Boulders Beach boardwalk and the entrance to the SANParks penguin viewing area. The villa offers spacious living and dining areas, a central courtyard with a fire pit and generous terraces with sea views. The nine luxurious suites have en-suite bathrooms and are individually decorated and named after ships to pay homage to Simon’s Town maritime history.
Sanbona Wildlife Reserve has opened its Explorer Camp with a special offer for South African residents. Known as the Western-Cape’s premier wildlife destination, Sanbona is situated close to Montagu, a three-hour scenic drive from Cape Town along Route 62. The Explorer Camp is located within the north east of the sprawling malaria-free reserve, which stretches across 58 000 hectares of the wide, open plains of the Klein Karoo.
This unique wilderness trail experience is aimed at those who enjoy walking safaris and the ambience of a tented bush camp. The camp is situated along a beautifully shaded riverbed and operates seasonally during the summer months (October to April), with departures on Fridays. The 2-night guided walking safari experience is offered on an exclusive-use basis to a small group of up to six guests (16-years and older), who are active and reasonably fit. The camp is off the grid and accommodation is provided in three double tents with comfortable beds and an outdoor bathroom that comes complete with a hot shower under a tree. The camp has an open-air lounge and dining area under canvas. Guests enjoy evenings around a campfire under the starry skies of the Karoo, and enjoy delicious, wholesome South African dishes prepared on an open fire.
It’s back to basics at Explorer Camp which offers the authenticity of the original safari on foot. Distances walked vary each day but can last up to four hours and may include opportunities to encounter the Big 5. A game viewing vehicle remains in camp and depending on where guests walk that day, the trail may start from camp or depart camp by vehicle to visit another area of the reserve.
Sanbona is a sanctuary for indigenous flora and fauna, but it is the vastness of the landscape and the alluring isolation amid the raw beauty and boundless plains which sets it apart. Sustainability and responsible utilisation are the cornerstones of all operations.
A qualified, experienced guide hosts the Explorer Camp guests and further enhances this unique experience by sharing knowledge of birding and wildlife, as well as the cultural and natural history of the area. Guests are invited to immerse themselves in the serene, wide-open spaces, engage in a meaningful connection with nature and enjoy a purposeful, perhaps even transformative wilderness experience.