Short stay: Mantis Founders Lodge, Eastern Cape, South Africa

Two rhinos, sculpted from waste oil drums, stand by the entrance to Mantis Founders Lodge. The pair are symbols of equally the progress made preserving rhino and long term ambitions for the species at the birthplace of Jap Cape conservation.

Those people sculptures are also a symbol of Mantis properties’ eco-commitments. Soon after all, the acronym stands for Male And Nature Collectively Is Sustainable. Mantis Founders Lodge is “where it all began”, when Adrian Gardiner set out on his mission to re-wild this remarkable landscape. From introducing flightless dung beetle via oxpecker birds to elephants, it was a vastly formidable project.

Soul-reviving safaris, at dawn and dusk, generate by almost 100 sq. miles of distinctive eco-devices with an abundance of wildlife, fauna and flora. Nevertheless, the Japanese Cape is not just about The Massive Five: a 70 minutes’ push normally takes friends to Port Elizabeth for whale and shark recognizing. The Huge Five expands to the Significant 7.

The welcome

Just within the entrance to the reserve, we turn into the Founders Lodge estate the place gardeners strim and weed to make manicured gardening perfection at the coronary heart of the bush.

Chilled flannels and a amazing consume welcome us. As we are guided to our space, our luggage follows.

The home

A short while ago designed over the breakfast space, elevated place 7, aka The Honeymoon Pod, is arrived at by a flight of stairs. While some rooms have their own gardens, selection 7 has a roof backyard garden with dining table, chairs and magnificent sweeping sights across the valleys and bush.

One particular wall is almost solely devoted to sliding glass doors showcasing a serene vista across the lawns to a blue gum tree. Beautifully positioned, a sofa offers pole-situation match-viewing. Beneath the tree, Rodney, a large white, rhino browses from his never-ending breakfast, lunch, and evening meal buffet. Reassuringly, an electrical fence retains Rodney and his relatives at a safe length.

It is what is lacking from our roomy place that helps make it even more attractive. No mosquito nets. The Japanese Cape is malaria cost-free. Large winds and an absence of surface h2o maintain the malaria-carrying mosquito species at bay. Light-wooden doorways and timbered ceiling give a ski-chalet come to feel to our space. However tribal spear curtain rails and an Africa climate map remind us that this is Africa. Moreover there’s a wraparound balcony for those people sights throughout the bush.

Alternatively, topping a hill just underneath a 2km drive absent, there is The Railway Carriage, resplendent in its regal purple and product livery. After it was the carriage that Adrian Gardiner employed to vacation across Africa’s railways.

Now, it has a few bedrooms that rest five for distinctive use for loved ones or mates. A personal chef and butler give the service. Expansive decking hosts an al fresco lounge and dining space overlooking a magnificent valley. Soon there will be a watering gap, fed by the carriage’s gray wastewater, for recreation viewing beyond the boma and swimming pool.

At the close of the carriage, the recently constructed Ticket Workplace homes showers with floor-to-ceiling views throughout the bush.

The toilet

Heading into the eighth calendar year of drought, with rain about 30% of common stages, visitors are inspired to use drinking water economically. A cost-free-standing white oval tub is tempting, specifically with a aspect desk of bathtub salts, candle and Healing Earth toiletries.

But a rain-forest shower, with views earlier the rhinos to the distant hills, is an eco-welcoming option.


That includes just 7 rooms, Founders Lodge presents a array of eating choices. An indoor boma as effectively as an outside boma host braais of beef lollipops, kudo sausages, rooster breasts, pork chops and vegetarian kebabs.

A non-public eating evening is a extremely exclusive situation. Seated in the library by Adrian Grainger’s priceless collection of birding publications, candles romantically mild our desk for two, while a spouse and children have exclusive use of the formal dining home.

Big, confined version wildlife photos by David Yarrow appear in the course of the impromptu eating rooms. Soon after supper friends meet by the billiards table in the bar.

An outside swimming pool, overlooking the valley where by a dazzle of zebra and impala roam, is a person of the areas for lunch. A little swimming pool in the courtyard, subsequent to the health and fitness center, is a favourite cooling off place after a spell in the steam room.

Then, of system there are the star attractions, early early morning and late afternoon sport drives. As very well as the macro safari of spotting elephants searching on trees, Scooms, our driver / manual, also focuses on a micro safari.

He describes how workers and soldiers blend in the many termite mounds. Wanting up he tells us about birds that imitate the alarm phone calls of other species to scare them away from good foods resources.


Flights from both Cape Town and Johannesburg consider friends to Port Elizabeth. The Mantis Lodge there, No. 5, will make for an best stopover, ahead of the closing transfer to Founders Lodge. A lot of visitors prolong their continue to be to start off their quest for the Significant 7, embarking on whale or shark watching expeditions.

Other great touches

Recreation drives get in touch with in on Munu, a black rhino who shed one eye in a territorial struggle with yet another rhino. Then an infection unfold to his remaining eye blinding him. Now, as 1 of just 250 remaining southwestern black rhino, the research is on for a mate for Munu. In the meantime, we feed him his favourite blue-flowered plumbago. With his possess Fb and Instagram webpages, furthermore two complete time staff members seeking just after him, Munu has turn into an not likely social media celebrity.

For little ones, there is a Bear Grylls journey working experience in the valley. Though it is an option to rest by one particular of the swimming pools, most moms and dads just can’t resist going along as well.

The expense

Lodging at Founders begins from £551 for each place, for each evening, primarily based on two individuals sharing (all-inclusive).

Special use of the Founders Railway Carriage starts from £1060 per night on an all-inclusive foundation for an common household of two grown ups and two little ones. This incorporates a committed personal staff, all meals, gentle drinks and regional beer/wine, activity drives and onsite routines.

The very best bit

On selected dates, visitors have the prospect to get component in rhino conservation. After tracking, occasionally making use of a helicopter, and sedating a rhino, friends help with professional medical procedures.

Perhaps using obligation for monitoring pulse and ocular movement. Greedy their clipboards, guests participate in a rhino health and fitness examine, aiding to assess dung composition, vertebrae and hip protrusions. For the duration of the drought, extra food stuff is provided for the rhinos. This provides an option for medicinal pellets to be blended into the feed to handle any difficulties identified by the health test.

The last verdict

Craig and Glynis, the husband-and-wife group controlling this tiny lodge, are often on hand. They tutorial us by the day’s programme and patiently respond to our endless thoughts. With a decanter of port in our home and Scooms serving early morning espresso and night sundowners on recreation drives, this is a lavish exploration of the Eastern Cape.

Disclosure: our remain was sponsored by Mantis Founders Lodge.

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