Your Resort Stories: Friedel Wichmann’s Story

We love it when our valued guests and shareholders share their holiday experiences with us. As a new section, as part of our blog, we will feature stories that our guests shared with us – some from yesteryear and others from more recently.

Here is a story, told as seen through the eyes of shareholder, Friedel Wichmann:

My wife and I have had Timeshare at Mabalingwe for the past 32 years now.

We, as a family, love this place. Older folks enjoy nature, animals and birds. Younger people love horse riding, swimming, playing Mini-Golf and listening to music at Kalahari Oasis.

When we first came to Mabalingwe, Kalahari Oasis was only a stopover for a beer or cool drinks. The day the film was made for the oil advertisement, we drove through the area not knowing what was going on. As you can imagine, we were not very popular.

I still remember the site where the jersey cow raised the buffalo.

We had a narrow escape where the old elephant bull decided to storm our car at Buffel Waterhole.

Before they put the safety fence up at the Units, the warthogs came to your door looking for food. One wanted to enter our Unit, and I hit him on the bum with a newspaper, upon which he turned around and hit me with a tooth; luckily for me, it was not very deep. Friends phoned us and my wife told them “my husband is bleeding like a pig”.

In the olden days, the hippos used to walk between the Units and you had to be very careful when walking to your car at night.

The old bar called ‘Kanniedood’ was named after a Kanniedood tree – that was growing near the entrance. As you entered the bar, there was a leopard mounted between some rocks. Basie Wessels, the owner at that stage, would talk to the people in the bar. The barmen working there were Timothy and Japie. Unfortunately, Basie died in a plane crash on the farm and Timothy, I understand, in a motor vehicle accident. With the big fire at the restaurant, the Kanniedood bar and all its memories were destroyed.

The Resort has since grown to a 5-star holiday destination, from the time I first came to Mabalingwe. It is near Pretoria and Johannesburg, and I can recommend it to anyone looking for a relaxing holiday.

Friedel Wichmann


Share your Mabalingwe experiences with us by sending your stories to to be featured on our blog!

Your Resort Stories: Johann J van Emmenis’ Story

We love it when our valued guests and shareholders share their holiday experiences with us. As a new section, as part of our blog, we will feature stories that our guests shared with us – some from yesteryear and others from more recently.

Here is a story, told as seen through the eyes of shareholder, Johann J van Emmenis:

My Roadmap:

It started on Saturday, 24th of February 1990. My wife and I went to Warmbad (Bela-Bela) for the day to visit friends that booked a weekend there. Coming off the Highway towards Bela-Bela, at the “T” junction, some energetic people were handing out fliers. “Come for a tour to Mabalingwe, and we will give you a T-shirt and Lunch (Pap, etc.)” Thinking this is a good idea for a FREE lunch; we (my wife, our friends and I) headed to Mabalingwe. There we were introduced to this new concept of a holiday called “Timeshare.”

We fell in love with what we saw – BUSH – and I love it! We worked out how to split the costs three ways, and the rest is history. At the time, I was the only member of this three-way alliance that had little debt, and the other 2 partners agreed that this should be in my name. Costing us R6600.00 for the unit, and an initial levy of just R240.00

The 12th of October 1990, saw the first week of holiday at Mabalingwe. Driving my Toyota Corolla into the Parking area of Unit 20. Wow, what an experience!

Since that day, we visited Mabalingwe every year – Week 41… 

In recent years, we also obtained some Vacation Club Points, and now we frequent this 2nd home at least twice a year, spending +- 3 weeks on average here.

Why you may ask? What is making this such an attraction for me?

I stay less than 170Km from the gate; it is in the bush. My dad grew up on a farm in the Waterberg; we visited it regularly (December when my dad’s whole family would go to “Die Plaas”). Being in the bush has such a calming effect, and I found myself sometimes just sitting on the hill looking over the valley. Wind, birds, the odd tractor, or steam train in the distance, that is “what is in my blood”.

What we have found in the first years, you get there on a Friday, and by Wednesday, you are so relaxed, just to see the upcoming Friday around the corner. We have done this many times; rather stay for 2 weeks, than go home on the first Friday.

Oom Basie did it for me, with the income generated from the farm, ploughing it back into the farm. I remember the one time when a truck with antelope arrived, and it was for the farm, the people that love the bush. It could have been so much different if he didn’t love the bush.

Then there is the Staff, from way back until now, making you feel like family and not just another guest from some far corner of the country. Having a passion for their work, always greeting…. then there are some more special ones, making bets when you will be back, with a “Nee Oom jy mag nie antwoord nie” at the meet-and-greet, making you feel like a special person in their lives.

Yes, in every organisation, company, household, there are challenges some days; with ups and downs, but working through it, sticking to your beliefs – Mabalingwe is still number 1 on my list of “MUST be” places!

Yours truly,

Johann J van Emmenis


Share your Mabalingwe experiences with us by sending your stories to to be featured on our blog!

A Mabalingwe tale about elephants: a game ranger’s story.

The great and majestic giants of the bushveld with their mighty size, columnar legs and great strength have long been the topic of mythical folklore on the African continent. The myths and tales, passed down by generations, about these gentle giants stretch far and wide; weaved into African traditions, beliefs and modern-day symbolism. The origin of some of these myths has become ambiguous over the years and cannot be credited to a single tribe. Nonetheless, these stories add to this magic aura around the largest living mammals walking the earth today – the great African elephant.

As legend has it, these powerful beasts with their ‘wisdom sticks’ or tusks can tell the exact time and place of their death. It’s exactly for this reason certain African tribes believe old tuskers are often seen without their herd, preferring to find a hiding place to die, thus maintaining their dignity, as they wish to die alone and in peace. It reminds one of the novel by Dalene Matthee, ‘Kringe in die bos’, a story about Oupoot – the legendary elephant bull that breaks away from its herd and forms a powerful bond with Saul Barnard, the woodcutter. Saul aims to protect the elephant and the surrounding woods of Knysna, and by doing this he finds his truth.

This brings us to the next myth, with its origin in Kenya and the Kamba tribe. The Kamba people believe elephants were once humans who changed into elephants as a result of magical ointment that was rubbed on their teeth. They believe that it’s for this reason elephants are so intelligent, but also why humans have such an unusual connection with them.

Mabalingwe, too, has a legendary tale about elephants. Here is that story, told is as seen through the eyes of Game Ranger, Carl Swartz:

I have had my fair share of sightings of elephants on Mabalingwe Nature Reserve, and each time the experience is dreamlike. It’s so unreal how you can recall the specific mood, bushveld-smell in the air, that hair-raising moment where one becomes one with nature – it just leaves you in awe.

With each new elephant sighting on the Game Rangers’ radar, there is always that ‘eureka’ moment, the adrenaline rush and funnily enough, an exact course in how the events unfold. This time it played out exactly like before…

It always starts with a call from another Ranger:

Carl Swartz: “Yes, tjomma, howzit going?”

Game Ranger 2: “Lekker, lekker friend. Listen here, I have the elephants in front of me.”

Carl Swartz: “Okay, cool man, can you tell me where they are?”

Game Ranger 2: “Ja, dude! Do you remember that place I almost poked my eye out with the two-way radio’s atenna, well it’s about 500 metres past that, close to a rock that looks like elephant excrement?”

Carl Swartz: “Yeah, yeah.” I would usually reply, realising that no one else would be able to find this mentioned location based on those directions.

And off I go “racing” at 25 km/h to get to this precise location. At this moment the excitement in the vehicle is buzzing, whilst I am sweating bullets – thinking of the possibility of being too late and the elephants disappearing into the bush again. 


I finally arrived at the location, but no elephants in sight. This is where the doubts creep in – am I too late; did we scare them off; am I at the right location?

I call one of the other rangers: ring…ring…ring…

Guest: “Is it true that elephants are scared of mice? And do they really get drunk on Maroelas?” I hear from the back of the vehicle.

Carl Swartz: “Huh?” startled I react, before answering the guest (If you would like to know the answers to these questions, please book a Game Drive with Carl Swartz.)

Game Ranger 2: “Hello, Carl, you there?” meanwhile, on the line.

Carl Swartz: “Hello. Yes, can you hear me?”

Game Ranger 2: “Yes, ‘yster’ – do not move. Where are you now?”

Carl Swartz: “Next to that rock you mentioned.”

Game Ranger 2: “Okay, cool! Drive towards the dam where you fell in that one evening, turn right, then left and you will see them!”

+/- 10 minutes later

Carl Swartz: “Ladies and gentlemen, please remember to keep noise levels down; in front of you, you will see a herd of elephants.”


A few minutes later…

The elephants started taking an interest in us. The herd heading closer to the vehicle. Not aggressive, just curious. Several of the elephants greet us by shaking their heads and lifting their trunks. The lady behind me suddenly grabs my shoulder tightly, squeezes it and in a panicked state whispers:

“Let’s go, let’s go.”

Carl Swartz: “Ladies and gents, please do not be afraid. These elephants smell fear and that will make them nervous.” I calmly explained.

At this point, a nervous energy has erupted, with guests asking question after question, and the elephants moving closer and closer. It is at this exact moment when the matriarch stops and out comes a little calf. The chaos all of the sudden turns to “ooh’s and “aah’s”. She has come forward to show off the newest addition to the herd. She cautiously guards him, as the calf steps forward, wild trumpet, lots of scuffling and pushing – as if he’s the alpha male. As suddenly as they appeared, they disappeared into the bush. Thereafter, it was a moment of complete silence – a simple act reminding us about the human characteristic these majestic creatures possess, but also a reminder of their gentle nature.


In closing, let us be reminded of the elephant tusks in South Africa’s coat of arms that represent wisdom, strength and eternity. Let us be wise and safeguard elephants and African folklore, surrounding these incredible beings, for years to come. Let us show the strength to protect elephants for future generations. And let us work together to ensure that elephants are alive and thriving for the rest of eternity. Let the legend live on…

A Walk on the Wild Side

We have to admit, there is something special about being in the South African bushveld. It isn’t just about the holiday or the break away from busy city life; it’s more a feeling, a calling to come home. As South Africans, we are used to piling into a relative’s bakkie and scouring the landscape for the largest animals we can find – it kind of turns into a competition between family members. But how often do we actually stop or slow down at least, to appreciate the smaller filaments of the biome? To take a walk on the wild side?

Of course, there is a certain rush, a kind of adrenaline high, when you arrive at a cluster of vehicles with faces peering through the glass panes, to see the new-born elephant calf and its mother grazing a stone’s throw away from the road. How exciting it is, to actually witness a large cat in action, chasing for a dinner, or seeing a hippopotamus for the very first time out of the water – its oddly shaped figure turning into a rock formation as the sun sets and it is cast in shadow.

Vehicle viewing elephant and calf

But how many of us have actually spent time on foot in the bush?

That feeling of coming home, that calling back to the bushveld, that’s the moment when you step out of the protection of your chalet and into the wilderness. It is a matchless experience.

Mabalingwe is lucky enough to be one of the few Nature Reserves where guided bush walks are actually made possible. Naturally, you’re bound to spot game: impala herds or giraffe, but the true beauty, its true essence, is the bush itself. One of our #PowerRangers leads our bush walks; The Eco Trail and Live-Long Trail. The Eco Trail was designed for younger guests to learn and explore the bush and its many wonders, whereas our Live-Long Trail is for an older crowd.

Live long hiking trail

Both of our trails take guests on a winding path through the bush, pausing to appreciate; smaller insects, the medicinal properties of certain plant life and interesting facts about the trees in the biome. The Waterberg region is rich in plant life, catering for the sustenance of a variety of game and providing a breath-taking ecosystem for exploration.

We are obsessed with bush walks and you should be too. Here are our top reasons to take a guided bush walk on your next visit to Mabalingwe;

  • Every minuscule detail has greater significance. Often times, in a vehicle, you tend to overlook the termite mounds, or dung beetles. This is a great opportunity to learn more about these fascinating creatures and their, rather important, impact on the ecosystem.

Dung Beetles

  • You become submerged in the surrounds. Your senses heighten and every inch of the landscape you walk through becomes alive with sound, sights, and smells. You’re no longer trapped in a vehicle and stuck listening to its humming engine. Now, you can hear the rustling of dry grass as the breeze filters through it, smell the damp earth after it has rained and see the insects scattering through the foliage.

Walking past an elephant

  • Time. You start enjoying the minutes you spend; inspecting spoor, chatting to your guide about a specific animal or plant and absorbing the atmosphere and vibe of the bush. A bush walk takes away the panic and anxiety the family generally faces when planning a self-drive through the Nature Reserve; will you reach the next check-point in time? Have the gates closed? Can we make it to the position a leopard was last spotted? – No more tantrums and frustrations when you’re walking rather than driving.

Rooibok in a field

Taking a walk on the wild side through the Mabalingwe Nature Reserve is something you have to enjoy, at least once in your lifetime.

Try something amazing – try one of our Trails.


Leaving your busy city life behind for a South African bush escape can need some serious preparation – what will you wear, will you need anything not easily accessible, do the kids have enough to keep them entertained? We’ve learned, the hard way, that you need to expect the unexpected and be prepared for anything. That’s why we thought we’d share our hacking the bushveld tips and tricks!

1) Bottle it up


Travel Size Bottles


Packing up the car sparks that excitement of going on holiday, but it can also be a frustration when your suitcase just. won’t. close! Toiletries generally take up the bulkiest amount of space and for this reason, we just love swapping out big bottles and oddly shaped shower gel packaging for small screw top squeeze bottles. You can decant your: shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and even body cream into them, pop a label on and save half the space while doing it!  Another great use for these is for a homemade concoction to protect you against the sun and to assist in deterring mozzie bites! Simply pour your preferred sunscreen, along with a few drops of essential herb oils (like mint and basil oils) into a bottle and stir or shake it up. Now, you’ll be able to quickly smear on that protective layer before taking on the bush.



2) Keep the Kids Entertained


Family RoadTrip


Keeping the kids satisfied on the drive to the Resort, or during your afternoon nap time at our Resort could be the difference between easy breezy travelling and nightmarish headaches. So to remedy this and make sure your trip is smooth sailing, use a backpack and fill it with a few activities such as: a colouring-in book and pencils, your little one’s favourite book or stuffed toy; and a small selection of yummy snacks. Hang the slip on the back of the front seat headrests so the kids will have access to the goodies inside. This will give them something to do when you need them to be distracted/pre-occupied for a few hours.



3) Fuel up Tiny Tummies


Ziplocked Snacks


Snacks for the kids, in general, are something handy and something you can plan to have on hand, for when those hunger pangs set in. Why not fill a little Ziploc bag with treats? Some peanuts and raisins, pretzels trail mix, fruit rolls, or similar not only gives them something else to do but will make sure their tiny tummies are happy.



4) “Oopsie, Mommy I messed”


wet wipes for hands


For all those sticky fingers and, “Oopsie, mommy I messed” moments, keep a packet of wet wipes on hand in the glove compartment for easy-breezy cleaning.




5) Game Viewing Galore

Game viewing vehicle


Have you ever been on a self-driven game drive where the family aimlessly wanders around the Nature Reserve, in search for elusive leopards or grazing elephants, only to wind up back at the Resort with the family all huffing and puffing and a photograph of a tree stump you thought was a buffalo? Same. For maximum exposure to the wildlife in the area, rather skip the frustrated family drive and opt for a guided game drive so the Rangers can track and locate the animals you really want to see – they’ll even impart their awesome knowledge with you. Don’t forget to pack a jersey or light jacket. It might be warm at the Lodge, but the open aired vehicle will make you wish you had thought of a warm top!



If you have any interesting tips or tricks for visiting the Mabalingwe bushveld, let us know: