One of the most family-friendly lodges in the Welgevonden, Mhondoro has an exclusive-use villa that sleeps six and a new Family Suite that sleeps four – perfect for a family or small group of friends looking to spend the ultimate bush experience together. The luxurious private villa, close to the main lodge, but also screened from view with clever positioning, has all the bells and whistles you could want in a bush getaway. From a gym and yoga room downstairs to a heated pool and an outdoor shower with a peephole through which you can watch passing game, it’s so comfortable that you could easily stay for a week.
What’s also unusual is that you have access to the main lodge’s facilities – such as an amazing underground viewing hide, linked to the lodge by a tunnel that emerges at the waterhole – a great feature for photographers who want to get up close. But you can also choose to enjoy the villa in complete privacy as you would your own home, albeit with a private chef, guide and staff on standby. Three en-suite bedrooms (the main a palatial space with a mini-study, dressing room, enormous bathroom and private deck area) all face onto the waterhole, which the resident elephant Mr T is known to frequent.
The design also encourages outdoor living – to fully experience the setting you can dine on a covered deck, game view or star gaze in one of a few different beanbag- or lounger-equipped spots, or swim in your own pool.
Decor is contemporary safari chic – refreshing in a realm so often dominated by kitsch curios and overbearing or muddy colour schemes. Neutral tones and understated textures create a comfortable airy atmosphere. But it’s luxe, too: the richly textured wallpapers are different in every room, the furniture is all supersized and ultra-comfortable, and the villa is kitted out with everything from Clinton Friedman umbrellas to delicious-smelling bath products. Overall the experience is one of easygoing luxury – big open spaces, serious comfort and inspiring scenery.
What we love!
- The underground waterhole! We could sit there for hours watching quietly as game comes to drink and nibble on the grass around the edges. It’s a photographer’s dream but also an experience of a lifetime for children who have never got close to animals.
- And the fact that Mhondoro is an easy three-hour drive (tops) from Joburg, which makes it a no-brainer for a weekend away. No plastic bottles here either, please.
- Mhondoro’s food is beautifully presented and their vegetarian options absolutely delicious.
What you need to know…
- Mhondoro is one of many different safari destinations on Welgevonden Private Game Reserve. The reserve is home to the Big Five, but with very strict regulations (a limited number of game vehicles is allowed per lodge, and building codes are strict, for example), so you get an amazing wildlife experience without feeling like you’re somewhere overrun with visitors. Sitings have improved recently with the introduction of new game.
- There is a new two bedroomed house next to the villa called the Family Suite – great for families of four. It’s also available on its own at a lower rate than the villa as it doesn’t have a pool or a view of the waterhole but, if you’re like us, you’re so busy on game drives and enjoying the main lodge area that it isn’t an issue.
- Ask about the Honeymoon Suite if you’re looking for a romantic retreat, but any of the luxury waterhole facing suites are just glorious.
Reviewed by Julia Freemantle and Michelle Snaddon