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Eco lodges are gaining popularity as travellers seek organisations and establishments that contribute to preserving the environment and make concerted efforts to minimise their impact on the natural environment.
Mosetlha Bush Camp & Eco Lodge, Madikwe Private Game Reserve
Before I met Caroline, a leaf-eater and passionate environmentalist, I never thought I would like her ‘type’, let alone think of staying at an eco-lodge! I secretly wondered why travellers would find anything basic and down-to-earth appealing. Little did I know, shortly after meeting Caroline, that I would become a vegan, not particularly in defence of animals but for health reasons, and I would develop a new appreciation for eco-lodges and sustainable tourism.
In this article, I introduce you to Mosetlha Bush Camp & Eco Lodge, a one-of-a-kind eco-lodge in one of South Africa’s prime nature reserves, Madikwe Game Reserve. I introduce you to Caroline, who manages the lodge and whose parents not only founded the lodge but constructed most of it themselves.
How I met Caroline Lucas of Mosetlha Bush Camp & Eco Lodge
I met Caroline a year ago when she visited my office in Fourways to discuss a social media collaboration between the lodge and Travel Buddies Lifestyle. She shared some of her fondest memories of the lodge and of her father establishing the lodge back in 1995. I could hear from her narratives that she is a biophilic nature enthusiast and, yes, a tree hugger of note! (In a beautiful way).
I could see how much the lodge means to her from the smile on her face when we went through the many pictures on her phone, and I understood that this place is not something to just read about but to be experienced. Through my conversations with Caroline, I learned that at Mosetlha, guests contribute positively to the environment while enjoying the richness and beauty of the Madikwe Game Reserve.
She explained why people stay at their eco-lodge and the adventures that await guests at Mosetlha Bush Camp & Eco Lodge. Needless to say, she invited me for a weekend to unplug during the last weekend of September 2023. Here, I learned more about Caroline’s passion for people and her commitment to leaving a legacy for future generations.
What is an eco-lodge, and who would enjoy it?
An eco-lodge is an accommodation that minimises the adverse effect lodging has on the environment while positively contributing to local communities and/or conservation efforts.
Eco lodges are thus environmentally friendly establishments that prioritise minimising the harmful effects of lodging on the environment. They also aim to make a positive difference in local communities and support conservation efforts. Moreover, they focus on renewable energy sources to power their property and use energy-efficient lighting and water preservation initiatives.
Green and eco-tourism is a new experience for most travellers. Lodge owners and staff lead guests on a new journey of discovery. Guests learn about the local culture, the natural environment and how to live eco-friendly and sustainably. Therefore, eco-tourism is for anyone willing to embark on new adventures and to be open-minded about new ways of doing things.
Where is the Madikwe Game Reserve?
Mosetlha Bush Camp & Eco-Lodge is in the malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve. It is one of the largest game reserves in South Africa, covering 75,000 hectares. Madikwe is a magnificent conservation area in South Africa’s Northwest Province.
This remarkable reserve boasts lush grasslands and rocky Tshwene hills alongside Botswana. In this Big five reserve, you may encounter endangered wild dogs, including 475 bird species that call Madikwe their home, from ostriches to majestic vultures and the striking Kori Bustard.
This reserve is unique in that no private vehicles can traverse the park. Game rangers pick guests up in safari vehicles from the entry gates.
What makes Mosetlha Bush Camp & Eco-Lodge unique?
- While Mosetlha provides guests with basic accommodation and unassuming meals, they instead focus on fostering meaningful relationships with guests and nature through sustainable practices. Mosetlha Bush Camp is featured among the world’s top eco-lodges in Hitesh Mehta’s Authentic Eco-lodges, and it is the only eco-lodge in the malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve. The lodge was founded by Chris Lucas, the father of Caroline Lucas, who now manages the lodge. The camp is named after a Mosehlta tree after her father followed an elephant path to where the camp is today.
- The ethos of the camp is simplicity, authenticity and conservation.
- The camp promotes sustainable tourism by relying on old-fashioned technologies.
- The environment-inspired primitive design reflects the simplicity of nature. The bare-basic construction of buildings complements the minimal environmental impact. The intimated open-air lounge provides a cosy gathering place after game drives. The bedrooms support minimalistic use of furnishings and are far removed from anything luxurious.
- Due to the area’s warm climate, architecture has been cleverly adapted to transition easily between indoor and outdoor spaces. For example, the rooms only have half-way wooden sidewalls, not giving much privacy, but who needs that when you want to experience nature to the fullest? In the evenings, a canvas ‘curtain’ can be dropped over the back opening of the bedrooms.
- The unfenced lodge provides an authentic African experience.
- Best wildlife photographic opportunities.
Why you should visit an eco-lodge like Mosetlha
Embarking on new adventures is always an exciting opportunity for growth and learning. Staying at an eco-lodge offers a unique chance to immerse yourself in a world of sustainability and environmental preservation.
Unlike traditional luxury accommodations, places like Mosetlha Bush Camp and Eco-Lodge focus on coexisting harmoniously with nature. Learn about local cultures, get up close with wildlife, and experience unforgettable game drives. Most importantly, escape the demands of modern life and indulge in the peace and tranquillity of the bushveld. Leave behind the distractions of technology and relish the simplicity of life without constant connectivity, running water and electricity.
Mosetlha Bush Camp & eco-Lodge promises to give you an eco-lodge experience like no other.
Best features of Mosetlha Bush Camp & Eco-Lodge
A typical day at Mosetlha Bush Camp & Eco-Lodge
Guests are treated to once-in-a-lifetime, twice-daily (early morning and late afternoon) game drives with expertly trained game rangers and trackers. This is when wildlife is most active, particularly predators such as leopards, lions, and cheetahs.
A day in the camp usually starts with an early morning wake-up call (unless you wish to sleep in). Guests can enjoy a ‘light breakfast’ before departure. A warm breakfast is usually served upon their return.
Most guests prefer to shower after breakfast (it’s easier to prepare the shower in daily light.
Spend the day leisurely enjoying the newly built deck, ideal for gazing at the game-filled landscape.
Lunchtime is another opportunity to enjoy conversations with fellow guests in camp and learn about their home counties.
After a small lunch, there is time to enjoy a siesta. Wake up late afternoon for some afternoon tea or coffee to refuel before departure for the late afternoon/evening game drive, departing around 16:00.
Guests return to a lamp-light camp in time for dinner around 20:00.
What are the accommodations like at Mosetlha Bush Camp & Eco-Lodge
The accommodation features ten thatched pine cabins on stilts with partially open sides. The cabins are arranged in adjoining family or detached cabins with twin beds. Essential bedding and towels are supplied. The ‘bathrooms’ are conveniently located near the cabins (not en-suite).
Guests prepare their own showers using the primitive method of heating water in old-fashioned ‘donkey-boilers’ and then carrying the water-filled buckets to their showers. Remember, eco-lodges like Mosetlha pride themselves in being off-the-grid; therefore, you can expect no modern amenities like running water (although clean borehole water is available) and electricity.
How to get to Mosetlha Bush Camp & Eco-Lodge?
Depending on your route, Mosetlha Bush Camp and Eco-Lodge is between three and a half to four hours’ drive from Johannesburg (about 300km). The lodge recommends driving via Rustenburg/Pilanesberg and entering Madikwe through the Molatedi Gate. This trip is mainly on tar roads, with only the last 9.5km before you reach the gate on gravel.
Once you reach the Park’s entrance gate, you will be directed to the North West Park Board’s administration offices, where you will leave your car. You will be collected in a game-viewing vehicle and taken to Mosetlha, about a ten-minute drive from there.
Take a refillable water bottle, as the lodge no longer sells single-use plastic bottles of still water. However, they sell glass bottles for R120 each, which can be filled from their safe borehole water.
Good to Know
- There is a reserve entrance fee of R180.00 (€9) per person once off, which the Lodge collects from you on behalf of Northwest Parks and Tourism Board.
- There is an R150.00 (€7.50) charge per guest per night for the Madikwe Guest Conservation Fee.
- The lodge sells a reasonable selection of beers, wines, spirits, and soft drinks.
- There is supposed to be a cell phone signal in the camp. However, we found it very slow and mostly intermittent.
What we missed at Mosetlha Bush Camp & Eco-Lodge
- There were no welcoming drinks upon arrival at the lodge. You only get what you pay for additionally.
- A large fire in the ‘boma’ upon our return from evening game drives to create a pleasant atmosphere.
- Attention to detail. No Amarula or similar on game drives, freshly baked cookies for morning game drives, varieties of ‘biltong and droë wors’ on game drives or similar interesting snacks for evening game drives.
- We missed authentic South African food and experiences such as witnessing the ‘potjie’ being prepared on the fire, or freshly baked pot bread over hot coals, traditional braai ‘broodjies’, or authentic South African desserts prepared over hot coals like Malva pudding, etc. Most of the meals were prepared beforehand. Meals are basic without choice or variety. The same (may I add boring) menu has been served for the last couple of years with a weekly rotation.
- Bedding, towels, dining room and lounge, etc., are not what you would expect for the price you pay (although our stay was hosted)
- There were no ‘bathroom’ or room amenities such as eco-friendly soaps, shampoo, etc.
- ….And just maybe a tiny splash pool to deal with the heat.
How to book Mosetlha Bush Camp & Eco-Lodge
Please phone Andrea at the office at +27 (0)11 444 9345 or Whatsapp message us at +27 (0)71 951 5841
To get a prompt and efficient response from the lodge, please include:
- where you live,
- for how many people and nights you would like to book,
- your preferred dates.
Mention Travel Buddies Lifestyle to qualify for a 10% discount!
Judging from the many guests who return year after year, it is evident that this Mosetlha lodge is a hit with international travellers. For example, we met an elderly couple from Holland who were in awe of this lodge and a young lady and her mom on their second eight-day visit to this camp.
You will love this lodge if luxury and attention to detail are less important to you, but excellent game viewing and new experiences are non-negotiable. Also, don’t expect hearty meals and pampering often associated with private lodges. Instead, disconnect from technology and embrace eco-friendly experiences with unforgettable game drives and up-close elephant encounters.