(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.
In the spirit of giving back during the global pandemic #lockdown, the Caleo Foundation has launched a #bednightsforfoodparcels fundraising initiative to support vulnerable communities in South Africa. The Caleo Foundation is a non-profit conservation organisation established in Switzerland. In South Africa the Caleo Foundation is custodian of both Sanbona Wildlife Reserve and Jock Safari Lodge.
Using the format of a Silent Auction that will run for five days between 18 and 22 May 2020, members of the public are invited to bid on luxury getaways via Facebook, Instagram or email.
Auction items include an all-inclusive 2-night stay at Jock Safari Lodge for two persons sharing. All proceeds from this highest bid will be donated to food parcels for the Do More Foundation. Jock Safari Lodge is situated in the south-western corner of the Kruger National Park. Steeped in history, it is known for its warm hospitality and unforgettable wildlife encounters. Accommodating only 30 guests at two unique lodges – Main Jock and Fitzpatrick’s at Jock – it is a perfect choice when planning a post-lockdown safari adventure, a special occasion, or a vacation the whole family can enjoy.
Sister-property Sanbona Wildlife Reserve has sponsored an auction item of a 2-night stay at flagship Dwyka Tented Lodge within the Sanbona Wildlife Reserve, including all meals and safari activities for two persons sharing. All funds raised from this winning bid will be donated to two worthy causes in the Little Karoo – Breede River Hospice and Helpende Handjies. Sanbona is situated an easy three hour drive from Cape Town, providing an authentic safari wilderness experience with a choice of three different lodges, including the child-friendly Gondwana Family Lodge, as well as the seasonal Explorer Camp.
The value of social media during times of crisis was highlighted by a new travel trade community initiative that was launched on a facebook platform during South Africa’s lockdown, called #tourisminmyblood.
The facebook group has received global attention. Within the first 10 days, membership had grown to more than 10 400 travel industry professionals in 99 countries, with more than 100 member posts per day.
The group is open to all people in Tourism. The forum is the brainchild of Greg Smith, Sales & Marketing Director of Johannesburg digital marketing agency Zebra360Online. and Richard de la Rey from Dark Giraffe Marketing. Smith says: ‘The Travel and Tourism industry is in survival mode and we need to stick together and share ideas on how to best deal with this global crisis. The #tourisminmyblood network focuses on sharing positive stories and marketing initiatives through creating a platform for industry colleagues to help and support one another. Information is exchanged about a wide range of topics, from member surveys and technology platform recommendations, to health and safety tips for hotels and lodges post-Corona. We can learn from one another’s experiences in how to cope and build strategies to survive the disastrous impact that the pandemic is having on the travel industry.’
While the world is in chaos and industry has ground to a halt, the travel trade is preparing for post-lockdown and looking at ways to promote travel products and stimulate sales, including boosting domestic travel in the short and medium term. ‘During times like these, the human factor comes to the forefront. Travel is all about people and experiences. This is a time to re-connect with acquaintances, re-establish business connections and explore new opportunities’, Smith says. The #tourisminmyblood platform invites agents and operators to share information on destinations and products within this network, with the view to forging solid working relationships that will be mutually beneficial to all parties in time to come.
‘It may be too early to say, and of course people are bound to have more frugal spending habits post-Covid-19, but there is potential for the rise in free independent travellers (FIT) business. With an influx of irresistible travel deals coming on line, we could even hope for some ‘revenge spending’ on travel. Either way, the travel industry has to be ready’, Smith concluded.
One of the liberties South Africans are most looking forward to post-lockdown, is probably the freedom to be outside, enjoying nature and exercising in the great outdoors. Tintswalo Lodges has identified this as a unique safari opportunity for South Africans and have stepped up to the plate with the introduction of walking safaris offered at excellent rates.
Walking safari packages will be on offer at Tintswalo Safari Lodge in the Manyeleti Nature Reserve in the greater Kruger region, and Tintswalo Lapalala in the malaria-free Waterberg, an easy 3-hour drive from Johannesburg.
The 3-day/2-night packages include luxury accommodation with all meals, as well as four guided bush walks. These range from a 3-hour walk with a bush brunch followed by a game drive in an open safari vehicle to return to the lodge, to 2-hour excursions setting out on foot from the lodge, and a shorter one–hour walk on the morning of departure. Walking safari packages are available from R12 000 per person sharing for a group of maximum six people. Children can be accommodated from the age of 16 and older. (Rates valid from 1 June to 31 July 2020)
Lisa Goosen, the owner and CEO of Tintswalo Lodges says that there has been a surge in interest from viewers following Tintswalo’s lockdown virtual safaris that is broadcast daily on its social media channels. ‘We have had a phenomenal response to the virtual safaris and positive feedback from South Africans who have been inspired to tick that safari bucket list. Bush walks in Big 5 territory is a specialized activity that is not that widely available and so we are fortunate that we can offer this in both these pristine reserves, as Tintswalo’s experienced rangers are qualified as walking trails guides too.’
There is no safer place to escape the Corona virus than being away from crowds, out in the bush. In addition, the idea of a walking safari instead of driving around in a vehicle for game viewing appeals to many South Africans who have been cooped up for weeks during lockdown.
‘Walking safaris offer a very real, multi-sensory experience as you are much more connected to nature when you are on foot. Our lodges are looking spic and span after we have had lots of time for maintenance work and our service staff are eagerly anticipating their return to work. We simply can’t wait to open our doors again to welcome our guests.’
The world is reeling from the startling effects of the global pandemic COVID-19, and here in South Africa poverty-stricken children are amongst the most vulnerable in the community. Since schools have been forced to close, children are already experiencing the devastating impact of the temporary termination of the National Schools feeding scheme, as the majority of these children rely on this one meal a day as their sole source of nutrition.
Tintswalo Lodges has launched its #TintswaloCares campaign and taken on the Cans with Purpose, a Superiate initiative. The non-profit company, Friends of Tintswalo was founded to provide financial support to various charities. Each Tintswalo Lodge is connected to a specific beneficiary – ranging from rhino, wild dog and shark conservation projects, to community support programmes that include a performing arts foundation for children and now, Cans with Purpose. Tintswalo encourages its friends and fellow South Africans to donate to this worthy cause, which can help save lives during these trying times.
Monetary donations are welcomed via the Afrika Tikkun organization who through its national network assist more than 9000 children and their families in need with food and care packs.
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Tintswalo Safari Lodge has launched free virtual safaris that are available on its social media channels to all its followers. Says Lisa Goosen, CEO of Tintswalo: ‘The national lock-down in South Africa has been very challenging for humans, but in the bush, nature continues undisturbed as it has since the beginning of time. The conservation of our nature reserves and protection of our precious wildlife remain a priority for the Tintswalo family. Within the greater Kruger region, the Tintswalo wildlife management team in the Manyeleti Nature Reserve is ‘on the beat’ in the bush throughout lockdown and continues to monitor and safeguard our vulnerable fauna and flora.’
Tintswalo’s conservation patrols have presented the unique opportunity to bring virtual safaris to viewers at home. ‘We invite you to enjoy the freedom to escape for a while, focus on positivity and take delight in the wonders of the African bush as inspiration for planning your next Tintswalo safari’, says Lisa Goosen.
The game rich Manyeleti Game Reserve is known world-wide for its Big 5 sightings, but also for its birdlife and many smaller species and other interesting creatures.
Tintswalo’s ‘On the Beat’ virtual safaris include video footage of actual sightings, as well as some of the exhilarating encounters experienced by its game rangers on patrol. Videos are uploaded daily on all Tintswalo’s social media channels.
FIVESTAR PR has been appointed to represent In Residence luxury villa rentals. The Cape Town based PR consultancy specializes in luxury travel and hospitality PR and is preparing a communications strategy to roll out in the much-anticipated return of local and international travel post the current COVID-19 crisis.
Following global trends, the luxury villa rental market is expecting a boom in South Africa too, as more and more affluent travellers opt out of hotel stays, to choose the exclusivity, privacy and convenience of spending their vacation in a private villa, exclusive apartment or an exceptional private home.
Says Janie van der Spuy, founder of FIVESTAR PR: ‘During this time of crisis and disruption, it is essential for the travel industry to continue with marketing activities. History has shown that during crisis times those businesses that continue to develop and adapt their business strategy by introducing creative PR and marketing campaigns, are invariably best positioned to thrive when they come out the other side.’
In Residence, one of South Africa’s leading luxury villa rental companies, represents what is widely considered the ‘top 50 villas and properties’ on Cape Town’s Atlantic Seaboard. Other villas within the collection are located in the Cape winelands, Hermanus, the Garden Route and private game reserves. Signature In Residence properties are typically architecturally innovative, contemporary homes featuring the latest security and technological innovations, as well as truly exquisite views of South Africa’s unique landscape. Bespoke interiors are adorned with curated private art collections featuring the continent’s most talented artists. Many of these magnificent properties are exclusive to the In Residence portfolio.
The In Residence offering is completed by a professional and personalised in-house concierge service catering to all possible requirements. These range from luxury cars, chauffeurs, butlers, chefs and caterers, to babysitters, personal shoppers, yoga instructors, masseuses, personal trainers and VIP protection services. The In Residence team is available around the clock to satisfy its guests’ every recreational wish, organizing personalized tours and concerts, helicopter trips, boat rides and yacht rentals, as well as spa treatments and health-club visits – as would be provided by a world-class 5-star hotel.
In response to the international Corona Covid-19 travel restrictions, Tintswalo Lodges has introduced reduced-rate 2-night Staycation offers at each of its properties to present locals with as much as 50% discount for self-drive travel until 31 July 2020.
Each of Tintswalo’s small and exclusive luxury lodges are located in idyllic, remote locations close to nature where there are no crowds. Here the clean, fresh air affords guests the opportunity to escape, connect with nature and relax in a stress-free natural environment.
All Tintswalo lodges have child-friendly accommodation options too, making them ideal destinations for families to spend quality time together during the newly introduced extended school breaks.
Tintswalo properties offer sanctuary to humans and wildlife alike. The portfolio includes Tintswalo Atlantic in Cape Town, as well as safari destinations in the malaria-free Waterberg, Tintswalo Lapalala and the new Tintswalo Family Camp at Welgevonden, and Tintswalo Safari Lodge in the greater Kruger region.
Lisa Goosen, CEO of Tintswalo says that the South African tourism industry has been hard hit by enforced cancellations from international tourists due to the ban on air travel and the global trend to delay overseas travel plans. ‘Many South Africans too are forced to cancel their international travel plans for the year. This has created the opportunity to offer Staycation deals to locals wanting to escape some of the frenzy experienced in cities and populated areas, to enjoy a restful break with loved ones at some of South Africa’s top bucket-list destinations.’
She continued to say all Tintswalo staff have been briefed and trained and lodges have prevention action plans in place to minimise the risk of Covid-19 contamination. As a further precautionary measure, guest rooms and all communal areas and kitchens are disinfected on a regular basis and sanitation products are at the disposal of guests.
Tintswalo’s Staycation deals start from a 2-night stay for two at Tintswalo Atlantic at R10 850 – inclusive of breakfast and afternoon snacks.
Safari deals start at R26 000 and include all meals and daily game drives for a 2-night stay for a family of four (including 2 children under the age of 16) at Tintswalo Lapalala in the Waterberg, or a 2-night safari for two adults at Tintswalo Safari Lodge. In the same Manyeleti Reserve the Tintswalo Manor House is available at a special Staycation rate of R63 000 per 2-night stay for a group of 10 people, including all meals and safari activities, or at R65 000 per 2-night stay for the take-over of the Tintswalo Family Camp at Welgevonden Game Reserve, for 10 people.
In the wake of the current COVID-19 crisis which has resulted in international air travel coming to a halt, some excellent opportunities have opened-up for South African residents to make use of unprecedented discounts offered at luxury safari lodges.
Mhondoro Safari Lodge & Villa, the award-winning 5-star safari lodge in Welgevonden Game Reserve in the Waterberg (Limpopo province) has announced 40% discount offers that are valid with immediate effect for new, direct bookings for stays up to 31 May 2020. Discounted rates include all meals, house drinks and twice daily safari activities, and start from R3250 per person sharing per night.
The 35 000-hectare, malaria-free Welgevonden Game Reserve is known for frequent ‘Big 5’ sightings and offers wide-open spaces and low-density tourist numbers to present excellent opportunities for isolation, rest and relaxation. The wildlife experience is complemented by Mhondoro’s luxurious accommodation, indulgent spa treatments, fine cuisine and passionate service. Fast speed wifi is available in all suites allowing connectivity for those wanting to work remotely. All sanitation procedures and precautions have been implemented to minimize contamination and staff are trained accordingly. Public areas and guest rooms, as well as the kitchen and spa are disinfected on a regular basis and sanitation products are available to all guests and staff.
The family-friendly lodge is an easy 2h45-hour drive from Johannesburg and welcomes children of all ages. Special children’s activities are on offer along with babysitting services and short game drives may be booked for families with young children. Little travellers can run free in the dedicated open-air play area, which is protected by an elephant fence and a playroom is stocked with games.
At the main lodge two dedicated family suites with private lounges each accommodate two adults and two children. Within the same concession, Mhondoro Villa provides a luxurious yet comfortable home-away-from-home for bigger families. The Villa comes with its own heated pool and small gym and sleeps six people, but can accommodate up to 10 when the rest of the party book the adjacent 2-bedroom Family suite.
Tintswalo has extended its portfolio of family-owned luxury lodges and boutique hotels with the opening of the Tintswalo Family Camp in the Welgevonden Game Reserve in Limpopo (South Africa). The third safari location in the Tintswalo stable and its’ second in the malaria-free Waterberg, the new Family Camp is booked on an exclusive-use basis only. The camp accommodates one group of between 10 and 16 guests travelling together and welcomes children of all ages. (Rate R47 670 for up to 10 guests, including accommodation, all meals and soft drinks, twice daily safari activities and wifi in the main lodge. Six additional guests may be added at R3500 per person per night)
Tintswalo Family Camp is an ideal destination for corporates breakaways and executive retreats. Comfortably furnished, the main communal lounge area provides a warm and welcoming ambience with large fireplaces. An expansive deck overlooks the valley below and features a swimming pool with poolside loungers. The viewing deck inside the camp overlooks the waterhole and the spacious entertainment room may be converted into a conference room. There is a small gift shop and the camp is protected by electric fencing against predators and dangerous game to allow children the freedom to enjoy the outside areas.
Tintswalo Family camp is ideal for a group of 10 but can accommodate a group of up to 16 with en-suite bathrooms, and up to 20 guests when the group includes younger children sharing a bathroom. Five spacious freestanding luxury units are positioned on either side of the main lodge, comprising of two 3-bedroom units, each with 2 bathrooms and a veranda overlooking the wilderness; two 1-bedroom units with an en-suite bathroom and adjoining private lounge; and one 2-bedroom unit with en-suite bathrooms.
The Welgevonden Game Reserve comprises of 40,000 hectares of pristine bushveld and ranks amongst South Africa’s largest private game reserves, forming part of the only savanna biosphere reserve in the world, proclaimed by UNESCO in March 2001. It boasts a great variety of game and is home to South Africa’s Big Five. The Welgevonden Game Reserve is a pioneer in conservation initiatives; this ethos forming an integral part of the rich, multi-generational family experience on offer at Tintswalo’s Family Camp.
Says Tintswalo CEO Lisa Goosen: ‘Tintswalo Family Camp is strategically positioned to offer an exclusive and unique, private safari experience for a family group or friends travelling together. We are excited to bring to the market this new relaxed, family product, which offers full exclusivity for a group to spend quality time together to make the safari experience memorable and personal. The need to disconnect from everyday life and immerse oneself into nature is becoming increasingly sought after, with more and more people opting for experiences like these, that are good for the soul.’