This year (2016), Sefapane Lodge and Safaris celebrates 25 years of Limpopo hospitality, characterised by “growth, innovation and great hospitality,” says Managing Director Joris Bertens.
“25 years in any industry is an achievement and I am extremely proud of the role that Sefapane Lodge and Safaris has played in bringing thousands of visitors to our beautiful province, exposing them to the Kruger National Park’s wildlife, the diverse people of Limpopo and its varied landscapes and attractions,” he says.
Over the last quarter of a centuary, Sefapane has become a Limpopo institution and a destination in and of itself. Original Dutch-owners Jan Willem and Patricia Sterk’s vision for an oasis on the edge of the iconic Kruger National Park has blossomed under the guidance of Bertens, who first visited Sefapane as a student, before taking over the lodge in 1994.
“With each passing year, we’ve learnt more about this special part of South Africa, more about our guests and what they’re looking for, more about ourselves and the business we want to become,” says Bertens, who himself as been involved in Sefapane for 21 years. “We want to thank and reward our regular visitors this year and, attract lots of new ones.”
As traveler trends and expectations change, Sefapane Lodge and Safaris changes too, notes Bertens. Rather than resting on its laurels, the lodge, which has properties in the Greater Kruger National Park and Phalaborwa, is using its anniversary as an opportunity launch some exciting new products; the Phalaborwa Social Club and its adventure offerings, which include the world’s only zip line in a free-roaming big five area. They’re also launching an ambitious project to give away 25 weekends at their tented camp to kids from the communities around the Kruger National Park’s Phalaborwa Gate.
The Phalaborwa Social Club is an informal bar and chisa nyama joint, where South African and international guests can mingle and enjoy an authentic vibe with great music and local food and beverages. “Our visitors want to enjoy South Africa the way South Africans do, and our proudly local team has worked hard to make the Social Club a welcoming and inclusive space. It’s the place to be on Friday nights,” says Marketing Manager Aldecia Mafokwane. It complements the lodge’s Calabash Grill restaurant, which caters for more formal dining and events under the guidance of chef Craig.
The new line of adventure activities is another way of ensuring Sefapane’s guests have the opportunity to experience something different to the run-of-the mill safari offerings. “Our focus on the integrity of our environment remains, but we’re excited by the opportunity to offer people new ways of encountering nature,” says Bertens. Run to the highest of safety standards by adventure company Gearon, the Sefapane zip line activity takes place in the Greater Kruger National Park. This unique activity is complemented by guided walks, mountain-biking, archery, rock climbing and more.
“It’s perfect as a team-building activity for corporates, for families or for anyone seeking adventure,” says Mafokwane. Guests can stay at the rustic tented camp alongside the Olifants River or the Sefapane River Lodge in Greater Kruger, or at Sefapane’s Phalaborwa resort; a lush, tropical oasis with spa, swimming pools, the Tusk Bar and various other amenities. Day visitors can also be accommodated on full or half day excursions.
Sefapane is also using its 25 year anniversary to reaffirm its commitment to corporate social responsibility. “That’s just a fancy way of saying we care for our community, especially our kids,” says Bertens, who has spear-headed the lodge’s involvement in a number of youth oriented projects. These include supporting a soccer league, hosting educational exchanges and bring children from under-resourced communities into nature for unforgettable experiences. “This year we are committed to hosting 25 bush weekends with learners and will be announcing more about these plans soon,” says Bertens.
In addition, Sefapane regularly collaborates with the Endangered Wildlife Trust, Elephants Alive. SANParks, SAEON and various universities to support conservation-oriented research and projects. “While we’ve been here 21 years and counting, one day I will be gone. It’s vital that we do all we can to protect what will remain…nature, our wildlife and the ancient systems that we are privileged to feel a part of at Sefapane Lodges and safaris,” concludes Bertens.
To launch its 25 year anniversary celebrations and its new products, Sefapane Lodge and Safaris is running various specials. Follow them on social media and use the #SefapaneMagic hashtag and book to experience some #SefapaneMagic for yourself.