Motswari: A bio-secure safari sojourn that beckons from the Timbavati SA

Published: Tuesday, May 11, 2021

ConservationAgriculture Animal careEntertainment Variety

Hailed as one of South Africa’s original safari lodges, the family-owned game reserve has been welcoming visitors since it was first established in 1979 by the late Paul Geiger, a visionary and conservation-conscious legend who created a piece of heaven deep in the African bushveld. After his passing in 2012 the baton passed to his daughter Marion Geiger-Orengo and her husband Fabrice Orengo de Lamazière. 

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Host to the African Big Five - lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhino – Motswari, which is represented by Newmark Hotels, Reserves, Lodges and Residences, is settled advantageously in an unspoilt sector of the 53,000-hectare Timbavati -Umbabat Private Nature Reserve that borders the Greater Kruger National Park. Having an unfenced common boundary means the payoffs are the plenteous migrating herds and a glorious collective of terrestrial and aerial species that thrive in the flourishing environment. Game viewing is exceptional, enhanced by the intense beauty of the Limpopo Province famed for its rich cultural heritage and contrasting landscapes shaped by diverse habitats and indigenous vegetation, including eighty-five listed tree types.

As the pandemic continues to disrupt the world as we know it, travellers expect destinations to adhere, and be forward thinking to all Covid-19 safety protocols. While a Motswari vacation in blissful seclusion and wide open spaces ticks all the right boxes, the lodge is also bio-secure. In Sotho, the direct translation of Motswari is to ‘hold’ meaning “to protect and conserve”, a phrase that pertains to the preservation of life, of both the natural environment and all who grace the threshold of this mesmerising place, offering peace of mind as they embark on the ultimate quintessential safari. 

Fifteen thatched rondavels make up the accommodations that are situated under a low tree canopy along the Nhlaralumi River. Spaced well apart to ensure maximum privacy, rooms are stylish, decorated with a restrained hand by David Strauss and possessing an air of subtle sophistication. “The idea was to allow nature to advise the décor process,” explains Marion. “David was very mindful that Motswari should be a ‘soul’ holiday, a place where the hero is the bush.”  Of the grey, white, black and caramel colour palettes used in each suite, Marion reveals that her source of inspiration was the handsome Nyala antelope, small herds of which can often be seen roaming nonchalantly through camp.

The main building is the social hub that houses a boutique and spacious seating areas, intimate reading nooks and dining areas, all open-air, and a dreamy rim flow pool to complete the idyllic picture. The property enjoys a gorgeous frontage that overlooks an embankment of riverine thickets and dense foliage favoured by buck, elephant and other animals. Guest seated in any of the breezy communal spaces are privy to this intoxicating setting and treated to the finest eco theatre imaginable.

Marion Geiger - Orengo is an established artist whose blithe spirit exudes through her vibrant paintings and quirky embellishments that are so intrinsic to Motswari’s charm. Just as her own art is showcased throughout camp, so too is the work of many other local artists Marion has collaborated with over the years and whom she frequently commissions to create statement pieces that add to the unique gallery of handcraft on display. 

Ten minutes from Motswari is the lodge’s more exclusive neighbouring getaway, Geiger’s Camp. Once a traditional home, it now caters for up to eight persons in four exceptionally spacious bedrooms, each with a Victorian pedestal bath, indoor and outdoor showers, and a private patio. Design elements are superb, a luxurious conflation between Bohemian chic and vintage safari elements. During the pandemic, Geiger’s is currently being offered as a self -catering stay for families and groups, and post Covid-19 it will once again be available as an all-inclusive lodge complete with a private chef and butler.

A stunning optional extra for guests at both Motswari and Geiger’s is the overnight experience for two at Giraffe’s Nest, a hide built on stilts that overlooks a watering hole. Falling asleep under diamond skies to a nocturnal soundscape is an extraordinary experience, an unforgettable sojourn in the heart of the reserve.

Game drives and bushwalks, the latter a particular thrill, are led by expert guides and trackers, men and women at one with their surroundings who relish the opportunity to show off the bewitching beauty of the reserve and its myriad inhabitants. Motswari is an adventure into a true wilderness, a place where you “arrive as a visitor and leave as a friend,” in the words of Paul Geiger.

Motswari is approximately a 6 hour drive from Johannesburg or only a one hour flight from OR Tambo to Hoedspruit. A conservation levy of R400 per person per night applies at the entrance to the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve.

Motswari Private Game Reserve is represented by Newmark Hotels, Reserves, Lodges and Residences. For booking enquires, call Newmark’s central reservations office via +27 (21) 427 5900, email [email protected] or visit www.newmarkhotels.com.

 

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