SWIMMING WITH THE ELEPHANTS AT MHONDORO SAFARI LODGE & VILLA
Chasing a coalition of Cheetah’s hunting Impala, swimming with two African Elephants having a refresh at the lodge pool or watching a Rhino bull attempt to befriend two female Rhino cows relentlessly – these are just some of the memories from a weekend away at Mhondoro Safari Lodge & Villa.
Located in the malaria-free Welgevonden Game Reserve in the Waterberg (Limpopo), the luxurious 5-star Mhondoro Safari Lodge & Villa is 2h45-minutes’ drive from Johannesburg. It accommodates up to 24 guests and includes a Honeymoon suite and two child-friendly Family suites, as well as an opulent Villa.
A comfortable drive with a breakfast stop along the way, leads to the gates of Welgevonden Game Reserve. With safe parking at the gate, it’s another hour’s drive from here to Mhondoro Safari Lodge & Villa on a game vehicle, welcome drink in hand. On arrival at the lodge, it’s time to off-load and take in a cheerful welcome from the staff and management team, with a refresher towel and quick orientation tour. Lunch is about to be served.
Dutch-owned, bringing together a design fusion of African chic and edgy European influences, Mhondoro Safari Lodge & Villa offers luxury accommodation, fine cuisine, passionate service, unique experiences and breathtaking views. Unique features include a waterhole with underground hide that is connected with the main lodge by a tunnel, wine cellar, kids play room, as well as a star deck, private gym and a heated swimming pool.
The two-bedroom accommodation with en-suite bathroom, lounge, dining area and kitchenette has a minimalist African feel, with complete serenity out in the bush. Whilst there is no television in the room, the lodge offers WiFi. The well-stocked mini-bar is complimented by a cutting board with fresh lemon, a Nespresso coffee machine and two branded reusable metal water bottles.
Mhondoro Safari Lodge & Villa recently added the Family Villa Suite that can accommodate two adults with two children to increase the capacity of the exclusive-use villa to a total of 10 guests. Adjacent to the Villa, the new Family Suite has two bedrooms, as well as a living area with a fireplace that leads to a private deck. The award-winning private villa accommodates six guests on an exclusive-use basis, complete with a gym, massage room and swimming pool, and the services of a private chef, butler and guide with a game viewing vehicle.
The magnificent Villa Master Suite has a spacious bathroom with both indoor and outdoor showers, and a separate private lounge and study that offers a calm sanctuary to work or relax. There are another two bedrooms, which both come with en-suite bathrooms and wooden decks with views of the lodge waterhole and the wilderness beyond.
The large, open-space kitchen, dining and lounge area provides ample opportunity for relaxation and entertainment, leading out to a heated pool and sun loungers. On balmy summer evenings, the Outdoor Lounge sets the scene for relaxing sundowners while watching ‘resident’ elephants stop by the waterhole for a drink, while a cosy indoor and outdoor fireplace means that guests can enjoy the magic of the wilderness even on chilly nights. A private, fully-equipped gym and a massage or yoga room are located within the Villa for those wishing to start the day with a rejuvenating workout, or relax with a massage treatment, yoga or Pilates session.
Before the first afternoon game drive, it’s time to take in one of the many superb meals served at Mhondoro Safari Lodge & Villa, with every dish presented by the team of chefs, using South African inspired ingredients, prepared to the highest standards. Mhondoro Safari Lodge & Villa focuses on the health and wellness of guests with fresh and delicious wholesome cuisine using locally sourced produce and vegetables and herbs from its own kitchen garden. And for those with a sweet tooth, there is also that essential holiday indulgence on the menu!
The dining experience is enhanced by an incredible view of the Mhondoro Safari Lodge & Villa waterhole, which stages some of Africa’s most remarkable theatrics, with animals both big and small gathering throughout the day. One of Mhondoro Safari Lodge & Villa‘s most unique features is a temperature-controlled, environment-friendly salt swimming pool, which apart from offering all-year round swimming is often frequented by elephants passing by to enjoy a drink. This amazing front-row experience with these giants of the African bush is one to remember as they suck up the pool water with immense suction power only to cool off their hardened skin under the South African sun.
If this game viewing is not memorable enough, a series of early morning and afternoon game drives through the Welgevonden Game Reserve, offers some marvelous sightings, including a dawn chase of a coalition of Cheetah’s hunting Impala through the bush. As anyone who has experienced the African bush knows, this is truly a rare and electrifying experience.
The game drives also allow for a brief stop along the way, to take in the surroundings over a glass of bubbly and canapes or a cup of South African bush coffee with rusks and quiches.
Another special facility at Mhondoro Safari Lodge & Villa is a ‘star deck’ for exceptional stargazing at night, which brings guests together after dinner to explore the crystal clear Southern Hemisphere sky. For those looking to view the stars of the bush up-close, a waterhole with underground game viewing hide connected with a tunnel to the main lodge provides excellent photographic opportunities around the clock.
The Mhondoro Safari Lodge & Villa has an array of recognitions to its name, including a hat trick in the 2019 Haute Grandeur Global Hotel Awards held in Kuala Lampur (Malaysia), having been voted the Best Safari Retreat on a Global Level, as well as Best Villa in Africa and Best Pool Villa in South Africa.
The Haute Grandeur Global Awards is the world’s leading, most respected luxury hospitality Awards initiative, honouring establishments that continuously excel through remarkable hospitality experiences. The Awards are revered as the highest accolade in hospitality, and a promise of unparalleled guest service excellence, recognizing exceptional contributions by hotels, lodges, casinos, resorts, retreats, spas and restaurants worldwide.
The last day of adventure in the Welgevonden Game Reserve is a detour from the daily game drive to take a guided wilderness walk to visit ancient rock art, hidden away for thousands of years and connecting visitors with civilizations of yesteryear – an unmissable experience!