The newly opened luxury Mthembu Lodge in the Umfolozi Big Five game reserve in KwaZulu Natal, is one of two lodges recently opened by the Mantis Collection.

The lodge has nine rooms that can accommodate up to 22 people. Two of the rooms are family villas that can also be booked as separate rooms, having doors that lead on to a shared lounge and kitchenette. One of the villas has its own private pool, and all rooms overlook the bush.

En-suite bathrooms have a bath and shower, with double basins, and the bathrooms are glass enclosed to maximise the view.

Floor-to-ceiling glass windows allow guests to bathe with a view of the bush.

There is also WiFi across the whole lodge, to give guests easy access.

The main lodge has a bar, lounge and large dining area, with a separate temperature-controlled wine room that houses a collection of South African wines, including the ‘house’ wine – Bayede! – which is endorsed by HM King Goodwill Zwelithini Kabhekuzulu, the reigning King of the Zulu nation.

Mthembu Lodge dining area.

The lodge had a ‘soft’ opening in September 2018, and has fast gathered pace in bookings. Lodge Manager of Mthembu Lodge, David Wilmington, says it has received guests from countries across the world, in particular the UK, with other source markets including the US, Germany, and China. Domestic travellers also form a large percentage of guests. “We are expecting even more from the UK with the direct flight between KZN and the UK, as well as Germany,” added Wilmington.

The lodge has separate rates for domestic and international guests, says Co-Manager, Christina Walker.

Mthembu currently offers morning and late-afternoon game drives, an in-room spa experience, and food and wine pairings. It is also in the process of creating a cultural village on the property, which will provide locals with jobs, and give guests the opportunity to experience a local ‘village’ setting, and browse and purchase arts and crafts created by local craftsmen.

Elephant sighting by guests on a game drive.

Wilmington, concludes: “I see the future of the lodge being run by the community, being completely dependent on the community, and having a symbiotic relationship with the community members. As much as it is for conservation, and increasing business, I see the community side as the most important. Seeing it being successful, drawing people from overseas – not just to the lodges and Umfolozi – but to KZN. It will shine a new light on this area that has what everyone wants in a holiday – mountains, game drives, pristine beaches, luxury. And this aids the whole environment, of all the different communities and the income thereof.”