Luxury with a purpose

Less than three hours from Johannesburg, Mhondoro Safari Lodge & Villa in Limpopo’s Welgevonden Game Reserve offers a uniquely conscious luxury safari experience.

It was while sitting quietly at the end of the 65m tunnel that connects the main lodge at Mhondoro Safari Lodge & Villa with the underground waterhole hide,  and meeting eyes with an old buffalo, that I had my goosebump moment. The goosebumps were partly due to being eye level with the old bull, who probably weighs about 500kg more than me, but also due to the enormity of what we often take for granted.  

Sitting to my left was a Dutch couple with their two young boys, mouths hanging open at the scene before us. It was their first time not only in South Africa, but in the bush, and the first time they’d gotten up close and personal with one of the world’s most revered (and feared) animals. 

Mhondoro Safari Lodge & Villa in Limpopo’s Welgevonden Game Reserve

It’s an opportunity that is amplified at Mhondoro. In addition to the five-star luxury experience, the waterhole – located directly in front of the main lodge – attracts a wide variety of game, while the main heated pool has an ‘elephant line’ on the deck as a reminder to guests to stay behind it when ellies are drinking from the pool. They do this so often that the lodge has erected a sign marking the “Elephant Selfie Spot” where guests can take a pic of themselves in the pool with the pachyderms a few (safe) metres away. 

It’s understandable then that some guests forgo an extra game drive to simply sit and absorb the scene from the lodge, which can be enjoyed from the comfort of your bed in the luxury rooms, from under an umbrella or in a hanging chair on the expansive wooden deck with a cocktail in hand, or indoors cuddled up next to a cosy fire. Even the gym has an uninterrupted view of the busy waterhole and surrounds.  

The expansive wooden deck at Mhondoro Safari Lodge & Villa in Limpopo’s Welgevonden Game Reserve

Mhondoro means ‘the place of the lions’ and while you’re sure to see the big cats out on your game drive, you’ll most likely also set eyes on the rest of the Big Five, as well as a wide variety of antelope and other game and birds as Welgevonden Game Reserve is home to over 50 different mammals 

Guided walks at Mhondoro Safari Lodge & Villa in Limpopo’s Welgevonden Game Reserve

Guided walks with trained game rangers are offered and we had the incredible experience of spotting white rhino while on foot. Other activities include guided stargazing on the specially designed star deck (an absolute must-do if you enjoy the night skies), an infrared sauna and spa. Kids are welcome and there is an indoor and outdoor play area, and special activities.  

A standout for me was the overall hospitality and warmth of Mhondoro. All staff, from those at the front desk to the guides, are passionate and nothing is too much for them. This ethos appears to filter down from the owners, Dutch nationals Frank and Myriam Vogel, who are fully invested in the conservation of the area, as well as reducing the lodge’s carbon footprint.

Mhondoro has a greywater filtration system for irrigation; a major solar power installation of 620 solar panels and batteries (the largest solar operation at any Limpopo lodge); a full recycling initiative for glass, paper and plastics; glass decanters in the lodge, and personalised steel water bottles for guests to minimise use of plastic bottles; online check-in and re-usable leather wallets for gratuities to reduce the use of paper, which saves 2,000 envelopes a year.  

2400h of derelict farmland adjoining Welgevonden Game Reserve,

The Vogels have also purchased 2,400 hectares of derelict farmland adjoining Welgevonden Game Reserve, with the aim of turning it into a protected wilderness area, while fresh produce for the lodge is grown in a section of one of the farms. The exceptional home-grown produce project, which is worth a visit, supports the healthy food concept at Mhondoro, where chefs focus on clean, seasonal dining, with a dailychanging menu. Surplus produce from the local greenhouse is donated to the surrounding communities. 

The rooms are modern, but warm and homely, with decor handpicked by Myriam. The lodge sleeps 24 guests and offers a choice of luxury pool suites, an executive suite with its own plunge pool, family suites, a honeymoon suite and an exclusive-use villa that can accommodate six adults. The ultimate in luxury and privacy, the villa is ideal for families or a group of friends. It boasts a super-luxe master suite and two additional bedrooms, all with en-suite bathrooms, as well as a private gym, massage room and heated swimming pool, a viewing safari vehicle with a personal ranger, and the services of a personal chef, butler and housekeeper. You can’t get better than that! 

 For bookings and more information, email