PHOTOS Dook WORDS Debbie Loots
For Frank and Myriam Vogel, redesigning the five-star Mhondoro Game Lodge in Limpopo was as much about creating a luxurious bush getaway as it was about providing a refuge for white rhino.
There is a something profound about the Bushveld expanse. It is like nowhere else on earth. In 2008, Frank and Myriam Vogel fell in love with the bush and bought Mhondoro, a five-star game lodge in Welgevonden Game Reserve – think 35 000 ha of malaria-free bushveld under big skies. Preserving its wildlife and habitat became the Dutch couple’s passion.
“Mhondoro is not just a luxury getaway; it’s also about creating a sanctuary for white rhino,” says Frank. “We hope that properties like ours will help protect these endangered beasts.” Welgevonden has the largest concentration of white rhino on private land, thanks to a highly effective anti-poaching unit, as well as the rest of the Big Five, cheetah, hippo and much more.
An idyllic picture today, but the Vogels had their share of obstacles. After a fire destroyed the main lodge in 2013, the couple had to start over. “It took two years for the lodge to be operational again,” says Myriam, “and everybody pitched in!” “Everybody” included architect Julia Williams, the owners themselves (it helped that Myriam is also an interior designer!) and lodge managers Jasper Bruinsma and Annemarie Sechterberger. Today, Mhondoro sees its main lodge and five luxury suites fully re-designed.
As for the inside, “I wanted all the interiors to be warm and cosy,” says Myriam, “so I combined earthy tones and textures, and put it all together with European-style wallpapers and accessories for that bit of Dutch flavour.”
There’s also a new villa with three luxury en-suite bedrooms and a pool, gym and yoga room. Add a personal chef, butler and game ranger, and you get the picture.
Perhaps the most exciting addition is the new game hide. “It was Jasper’s idea,” says Frank of the 65 m-long tunnel running underground from the main lodge to the waterhole so guests can enjoy an intimate view of the animals.
Seems many new and good things have sprung up after the fire, with Mhondoro today offering wild and human creatures a little bit of heaven on earth.