Nestled into the voluptuous and verdant 35,000-hectare Welgevonden Game Reserve in the Limpopo Province is an Eden of such luxury and exceptional calibre that adjusting to real life afterwards may very well require a couple of sessions of therapy.
The five-star Mhondoro Safari Lodge & Villa offers visitors to this “Big Five” game reserve lodgings of magnificence with themes of African culture, wildlife, and hospitality that are pervasive throughout, from the six-person villa complete with fully stocked bar fridges, outdoor shower, and private chef, to the stargazing platform with its telescope and sweeping views of the Milky Way.
The Welgevonden Game Reserve
Located an approximate 3-hours’ drive from Johannesburg in the Waterberg region, the Welgevonden Game Reserve is a rare malaria-free reserve that’s home to Big Five game – elephant, rhino, lion, leopard, and buffalo – and just about every other species of African animal you can think of, big and small.
Each turn in the road reveals imagery reminiscent of the opening scene of the Lion King movie: vistas alive with wildlife such as rhino moving about like great steel tanks, perpetually grim-faced warthogs, and baboons playfully chasing each other, careful to avoid the alpha male.
The bird life at the Welgevonden Game Reserve is also exceptional; Lilac-Breasted Rollers stand sentry on the topmost branches of the trees that dot the savannah, while shy Natal Francolins cry shrilly from the refuge of the roadside foliage. Overhead, gaudily coloured European Bee-eaters restlessly wheel and swoop; ever evading the camera lens.
The Lodge and its Wildlife
The Mhondoro Safari Lodge & Villa consists of a beautifully appointed main lodge, which functions as a reception, guest lounge, and restaurant; a spa, a “boma” for a traditional South African dinner under the stars, a curio shop, and a luxurious collection of rooms, suites, and a villa that accommodates six people.
Mhondoro has been built with the reserve’s wildlife front and centre to its operations…literally. A mere stone’s throw from the main lodge’s expansive deck is an exceptionally popular watering hole that attracts wildlife daily, including, on occasion, the reserve’s big cats. At eye-level to this watering hole is an underground hide that is connected to the main lodge through a 65-meter long concrete tunnel, offering guests perfectly safe, eye-to-eye encounters with the wildlife and unparalleled photographic opportunities.
Another facet of Mhondoro’s immersive wildlife experience is the fact that just about every vantage point (indoors and out) on the lodge and villa overlooks the watering hole. And so the wildlife viewing continues while you take your lunch on the lodge’s beautiful sun-drenched deck or while you brush your teeth in the comfort and luxury of your bedroom.
Mhondoro maintains a fleet of safari vehicles that are not only bigger and sturdier than most of the animals you’ll encounter on your excursions but are also very comfortable to sit in, even while they negotiate dongas the size of the Grand Canyon. The game rangers are constantly communicating with each other, reporting sightings and sharing information over the radio, which gives guests much better odds of spotting rare, shy animals like leopards.
And after a few hours’ fruitful game viewing, the rangers stop the vehicle, usually somewhere with a beautiful view, and break out the beverages and snacks. Could it get any better than standing in the middle of the African bush with a gin and tonic in your hand, watching the setting sun paint a blaze of fierce colours on the horizon?
Mhondoro Dining Experiences
Back at Mhondoro, the chefs subscribe to a healthy food philosophy, so the dishes incorporate a lot of fresh, organic vegetables, fruits, and herbs, many of which are grown in the lodge’s very own garden. Magnificent breakfast spreads, opulent three-course lunches, and extravagant dinners are enjoyed either on the deck of the lodge or the villa or in the atmospheric boma, with a central bonfire to keep you warm and the songs and dances of the local staff for entertainment.
The Mhondoro Safari Lodge & Villa and the Welgevonden Game Reserve into which it is nestled is one of the most beautiful places you could ever hope to visit. It is an Eden within an Eden that doesn’t shut out the outdoors as many luxury establishments do, but rather celebrates it; allowing it to percolate in. From the heavenly spa, the attentive service, and the gorgeous food to the exceptional wildlife experiences and luxurious accommodations…if there were ever a prototype for heaven on Earth, Mhondoro would be it.
Phone: 014 755 4917