Mashovhela Lodge is situated on Morning Sun Nature Reserve, a natural heritage site in the beautiful Soutpansberg Mountains of the Limpopo Province of South Africa and now, (together with World Heritage Site Mapungubwe) part of the UNESCO-registered Vhembe Biosphere Region.
The first of the 4 farms that make up Morning Sun Nature Reserve was purchased in 1970 by the current owner, Dr. Hans H Hahn, who at an early stage concluded that, in order to preserve and conserve a property of such size for posterity and protect it against the pressures of a growing population, the property could not forever remain a private family refuge, but had to be opened up to a broader conservation-conscious public, in close cooperation with its Venda neighbours.
Mashovhela Lodge, which has 10 en-suite chalets, a safari tent, a unique hammock camp, and an award-winning restaurant and conference centre, was built on the already degraded site of an abandoned Venda settlement in order to minimize the ecological footprint. A decision was made not to connect to the public power grid. Instead, renewable energy, wherever possible, is used to satisfy the energy needs of the Lodge. Hot water is produced entirely by solar water heating, supplemented by efficient mini-boilers, fuelled by wood (eucalyptus and wattles recovered from our exotics eradication programme). Sound waste management and recycling practices and innovative water saving and recycling measures form part of our eco-friendly policies. To date, Mashovhela Lodge has been rewarded for its eco-tourism efforts by receiving a Golf Leaf by the Wilderness Foundation and having won the Imvelo Award for Best Single Resource Management Program: Energy in 2010
On Morning Sun Nature Reserve is the second most sacred site for some local Venda people, Mashovhela rock pool “the place where the drum can be heard”. A Venda cultural theme can be seen through the lodge’s design and decor, with its chalets, safari tent and restaurant having an ethnic feel to it.
Guests of the lodge can enjoy a combination of a nature and an authentic cultural experience, with nature walks, scenic drives, Venda dancing and Venda tours on offer. Our walking and hiking trails are planned to range from easy short walks to longer and more challenging hikes to suit different levels of fitness. A night out, sleeping under the stars at the Hammock Camp, is a new addition to the activities on offer and this can be combined with a night sky safari and a bush dinner or bush breakfast.
Opening in May 2008, Mashovhela Lodge is still relatively new and has worked hard in getting known by the trade and general public.
The attendance at the Exhibitions and Workshops has resulted in Mashovhela Lodge seeing a continual growing occupancy year on year, even during the global recession when other lodges in the area sat basically empty. Owing to the growing occupancy, plans are already underway to increase the number of chalets, introduce additional safari tents, and further hiking trails with overnight facilities. Additional 4x4 tracks, its own camp, horse trails and a golf course and an eco-friendly golf course are under study.
Lokovhela Mountain Lodge
The recent acquisition of a neighbouring farm included a small lodge known as Lokovhela Mountain Lodge which is much higher in the Soutpansberg, and in the mist belt and cool on hot days.
Lokovhela Mountain Lodge suffered some storm damage and is temporarily closed for repair, renovation and expansion work.
Lokovhela Mountain Lodge has at present 4 spacious rondavels, each able to accommodate up to 4 persons, with bathrooms/toilets en-suite, a large communal dining room/lounge area and a big swimming pool.
Once the existing rondavels and the kitchen have been re-roofed and upgraded, it is intended to build an additional 4 similar rondavels.
Mashovhela Lodge's restaurant will provide catering for Lokovhela Mountain Lodge; however it is intended to provide self-catering facilities for guests who prefer this option.
The success of the Lodge is due to the dedication and determination of the owner, Dr. Hans Hahn, who leads the team. His son, Norbert, in the early 1980ies, moved to the property which was then mostly inaccessible African bush, in order to explore and research the outstanding biodiversity and archaeology of the property and cultural practices of the local Venda people. This resulted in the property being registered as one of the earliest Nature Heritage Sites in the region. It earned Norbert a PhD in botany and international recognition. Norbert initially started the building of the lodge which was later completed by his the owner's daughter, Ingrid, who created the unique Venda-inspired decor of Mashovhela Lodge. who She is now in charge of operations.
Most of the local building team has been trained in hospitality and with ongoing training some of them have already reached junior management positions. The high levels of service and friendliness by all staff members ensured that the Lodge won the Welcome Award in 2009/2010 for best Lodge in South Africa by South African Tourism. This is just one example of our programme of upliftment of the local communities as part of our responsible tourism policies.