Sometimes, in the long run, terrible tragedy can be turned into something resoundingly positive.
This is certainly the case for Mhondoro Game Lodge, which recently reopened to the public two years after a devastating fire razed it to the ground.
The new lodge, found in Limpopo’s Welgevonden Game Reserve, is undoubtedly the most stylish and luxurious in this beautiful Big 5 malaria-free reserve. Local wood, stone and African artefacts have been seamlessly blended with contemporary cutting edge design and irresistible exclusivity.
The lodge’s raised wooden decks offer stunning views over the reserve, as do the gym and the pool.
There are five secluded suites and a super-luxury villa on the property. The latter sleeps six and has its own pool, gym and yoga studio, as well as a dedicated chef, ranger and butler.
The food at Mhondoro, whether served in the handsome main dining area or around the fire in the boma, is unfailingly spectacular.
But perhaps the most impressive feature at the new lodge is the state of the art hide that can be safely accessed via an underground tunnel. This hide pops up in the middle of a waterhole that is a popular drinking spot for elephants, warthogs, zebra and more.
When inside the hide, you are just a few metres from the animals, and the low perspective across the water is also a photographer’s dream.
Sometimes, though, the elephants skirt the waterhole and head straight for the cleaner water available in the swimming pool, just another magical part of the Mhondoro experience.
Welgevonden itself is equally spell-binding, comprising 37,000 hectares of consolidated and rehabilitated farmland characterized by rugged antediluvian rock formations, plunging valleys, lush green vegetation and more than 2,000 plant species.
Ambitious game relocation efforts and careful ecological management have seen this large, exclusive and accessible wilderness area returned to something close to its original state, and more than 50 mammal species and 300 bird species now call the reserve home.
Mhondoro’s Dutch owners, the Vogels, have created a fund to help the reserve’s wildlife populations continue to flourish.
The lodge’s experienced and charismatic guides allow guests to explore Welgevonden on exclusive game drives and can also organize guided bush walks where they’ll share their intricate knowledge of this environment.
Back at the lodge, there’s even a telescope and stargazing deck that allow guests to get more intimate with the reserve’s star-studded night skies.
As if all of this wasn’t enough, Mhondoro is much gentler on the bank balance than similarly luxurious lodges at some of the better-known South African reserves.
For the moment, both Welgevonden and Mhondoro remain true hidden gems on the South African safari circuit, so visit now before everyone else cottons on.
See our Mhondoro specials here.