Mhondoro Safari Lodge & Villa has invested in a major solar power installation that consists of 620 solar panels and batteries to supply all the power required by the 24-sleeper luxury lodge in the Welgevonden Game Reserve in the Waterberg (Limpopo).
It is one of the largest solar operations at a safari lodge in South Africa and it has successfully taken Mhondoro off the grid to be self-sufficient in terms of all its electricity requirements.
CEO Fritz Breytenbach says that the travel industry is heavily impacted by Eskom’s energy crisis. ‘The only way for us to continue attracting well-heeled local and international travellers, is to make sure that we literally keep the lights on. In the luxury travel and safari industry especially, guests expect a certain level of service, and it goes without saying that all lodge facilities and amenities should be available to guests and in working order – whether there is loadshedding, or not.’
‘But besides offering a luxury, 5-star product to our guests, we are proud of the fact that everything we do here at Mhondoro is based on environmentally safe principles. Internationally there is a lot of talk about so-called greenwashing, but this capital investment in our solar plant is another tangible example of the vision of the Dutch owners, Frank and Myriam Vogel, to further reduce the carbon footprint of the lodge.’
Various other eco-friendly initiatives have also been put in place at Mhondoro, including the installation of a grey water filtration system for irrigation around the lodge. Mhondoro also operates its own water purification plant that produces drinking water fresh from the surrounding Waterberg mountains, and uses glass decanters and personalised steel water bottles for guests to minimize the use of single-use plastic water bottles. All glass, paper and plastics are recycled, and Mhondoro has an agreement with Nespresso to recycle used coffee pods and grinds. Furthermore, guest check-in is being done digitally to reduce the use of paper and re-usable leather wallets are used for staff gratuities that save 2000 paper envelopes per year.
Mhondoro also produces as much of its own fresh produce as possible. The owners purchased two derelict farms adjoining Welgevonden Game Reserve of which a section is utilized to grow fruit, as well as vegetables and herbs in two greenhouses. A chicken coop was successfully established to supply farm fresh eggs for use at the lodge. The balance of the 2400 hectares of farmland is being rehabilitated and over time will become protected wilderness areas.