Winter Comforts: Decadent Hot Chocolate Mug Cake

Indulge in the cosy warmth of winter with this easy-to-make hot chocolate mug cake. Perfect for those chilly evenings when you crave something sweet and comforting. In just a few minutes, you’ll have a delicious treat ready to enjoy by the fire.


– 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour

– 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

– 3 tablespoons granulated sugar

– 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

– 1/8 teaspoon salt

– 3 tablespoons milk

– 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

– 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

– Mini marshmallows (optional, for topping)


1. In a microwave-safe mug, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, and salt until well combined.

2. Stir in the milk, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract until the batter is smooth and no lumps remain.

3. Microwave on high for 1-2 minutes, or until the cake has risen and set in the middle. Be careful not to overcook.

4. Let the mug cake cool for a minute before topping with mini marshmallows, if desired.

5. Grab a spoon and enjoy your warm and gooey hot chocolate mug cake!

*Tip: For an extra indulgent twist, top your mug cake with whipped cream or a drizzle of chocolate sauce.*

Wildfire At Mabalingwe Nature Reserve

Dear Mabalingwe Shareholders, Friends, and Guests

As many of you will already be aware, a devastating wildfire, which started at around 14:00 on Saturday afternoon, 23 September 2023, on a neighbouring farm, has swept through Mabalingwe Nature Reserve. The cause of the fire is still unknown.

Mabalingwe comprises approximately 8,800 hectares and has been an established holiday destination since the early 1990s.  Mabalingwe has 205 privately owned houses (also known as lodges), 105 timeshare chalets, a caravan park, and various commercial entities. With strong winds propelling the fire from the north, the fire rapidly widened to a front measuring several kilometers from end to end. More than one hundred (100) fire protection workers from the local team and staff were deployed and tried to contain the fire through Saturday night and found some success yet were not able to put the fire fully down.  On Sunday morning the winds picked up again and spread the fire further and caused havoc resulting in 56 private houses (lodges) being burnt to the ground, with a further eight houses partially damaged. A bush camp and one timeshare chalet were also destroyed.  Assessments regarding damage to infrastructure are still ongoing.

The impact on animals within the Reserve is also still being assessed. It is estimated that 6,000 hectares of grazing in the Reserve were consumed by the fire.

All guests and residents staying on the Reserve over the weekend were evacuated, starting on Sunday morning. While the fire was eventually brought under control on the Reserve late afternoon (25 September 2023), firefighters remained on scene, fighting, and managing the fire in the greater Bela-Bela area. The extremely dry environment and windy conditions, as well as the mountainous terrain, have made for extremely challenging conditions for those who have been fighting the fire.

Mr Matie Barnard, manager of the Mabalingwe Common Property Association (MCPA) reported that he is relieved to advise that no human fatalities have occurred. Tragically, a Mabalingwe Nature Reserve staff member was severely burned while assisting with firefighting efforts on Sunday. He was caught in the flames when the wind turned suddenly and was hospitalised for treatment. We are pleased to advise that he was released from the hospital this morning, Tuesday, 26 September 2023. No further injuries or loss of life of any of the fire protection workers as well as the visitors/residents was reported, which can be attributed to the coordinated process resulting in the timeous decision to evacuate the Reserve and the communication between the firefighting teams.

Barnard thanked the Mabalingwe neighbours for their unwavering support during the crisis and local businesses that provided support to the firefighting teams, which included more than 200 individuals at times.

With the immediate danger to life, limb, and property addressed, the focus has now moved to animal welfare where steps have been put in place to ensure a constant supply of water and feed.  A generous donation has been received from a veterinary specialist and helicopter team to complete an aerial survey to evaluate the situation.  Teams onsite have reported seeing a lot of animals moving around the Reserve. The primary concern for the short term is providing the animals with feed, having lost most available browsing, and grazing to the fire.

We would like to express our gratitude to every staff member, member of the community, local businesses, and the public for your actions amid this tragedy; and overwhelming support, assistance, prayers, and wishes during this time.

We are grateful and humbled to say that we have received numerous requests from individuals wanting to make financial contributions to a Mabalingwe Fire Disaster Support effort. We are also endlessly grateful to the phenomenal greater Bela-Bela community who have provided food and refreshments for the firefighting teams over the past two days.

The pressing need now is for donations to provide support to families that have lost their homes, any requirements for the fire team over-and-above food and refreshments, and for game feed for the wildlife.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank any shareholders and members of the public that are able to donate and assist, in advance. The official banking details for donations are as follows:

Bank:  ABSA

Account Name: Mabalingwe Common Property Association

Branch Code: 632005

Account Number: 40 6415 9982

Reference: Kindly only use the following reference – DONATION (for any donations towards the fire team support, or families that have lost houses)

Bank: FNB

Account Name: LUDUM Game Consortium (Pty) Ltd

Branch Code: 250855

Account Number: 627 827 349 85

Reference: Kindly only use the following reference – GAME FEED (for any donations towards feed for the wildlife)

For any physical game feed donations, the needs include:

•  Game blocks and game pellets

•  Lucerne, teff, oats, blue buffalo grass

•  Salt licks

*Upon arrival at the main gate, Security will direct donations to a drop-off area

In addition, a Back-Our-Bokkies campaign has been established via Ludum Game Consortium. Details and banking details for donations can be viewed via the following link:

All the information about what is needed, and the relevant banking details, can be accessed via the above link.

This tragedy has a far-reaching impact on many lives and has had a devastating effect on a significant tract of pristine, reserved South African bushveld and the wildlife and eco-systems contained within that environment. As the recovery and infrastructure repairs get underway, and the rangers begin making provisions for feed and water for the wildlife; we request your prayers for the protection of our people, safe-harbour and relief for the animals, and for the revival and re-establishment of the lands, infrastructure, and earth that make up the greater Mabalingwe Nature Reserve.

As always, we are grateful for the many blessings and kindnesses shown and shared during this devastating event and are incredibly appreciative of the support and care we continue to receive from you, our valued shareholders, friends, and guests.

We kindly request your patience and understanding, as all our operational and administrative systems and procedures have been impacted to some extent. Should you have any specific urgent and important queries, kindly direct same via our email channels and we will attend to same as soon as possible.

Yours faithfully,

The Mabalingwe Nature Reserve Board

A Stress-Free Wedding Planning Timeline: 6 Months to “I Do”

Congratulations on your engagement! We understand that the initial excitement of being engaged can quickly turn into a state of confusion and uncertainty about what to do next, but planning a wedding doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With proper planning and a well-structured timeline, you can ensure that your special day unfolds seamlessly. In this 6-month wedding planning timeline, we’ll break down the tasks into manageable steps, allowing you to focus on what truly matters. Let’s get started on your journey to a stress-free wedding and don’t forget to download your printable wedding checklist!

6 Months To Go…

Set A Budget.

First things first, decide how much money you and your partner are ready to put into the wedding. Once you have a general amount in mind, compile a list of the key items and services you want to prioritise and include in your wedding. This will help you allocate the majority of your funds effectively.

Plan Your Guest List.

Start putting together a list of people you would like to invite to your wedding. After you have got an idea of the approximate number of guests, you can start talking about the kind of place and size you want for your wedding venue.

Choose a Date and Venue.

Make sure to consider all the things that come with renting a venue, like the cost of catering and the size of the rooms. Keep in mind that you only have six months or less to find a place for your wedding. That means there might not be a lot of options available, so you might have to think about different dates, like Fridays and Sundays. If you decide to have your wedding at Mabalingwe, you have the option to choose to have it at Kalahari Oasis for a truly authentic South African experience or at Le Fera Restaurant with its breath-taking view of the Waterberg landscape.

Hire a Wedding Coordinator.

If you feel overwhelmed or could use some expert help, and you’re able to fit it into your budget, consider hiring a wedding coordinator to guide you through the process. One great thing about choosing Mabalingwe as your wedding venue is that we have a dedicated team ready to assist you in creating the absolute best experience for your special day!

Secure Your Main Vendors.

Once you have secured the date and location, it is crucial to swiftly arrange essential vendors such as the photographer, videographer, florist, entertainment, and cake baker. These wedding vendors often have busy schedules, so it is wise to act quickly and secure your preferred choices in advance.

5 Months To Go…

Say Yes to The Dress.

How quickly you need your dress will vary based on whether you want something off-the-rack or made-to-order. But remember, if you go for a custom-made dress, there might be an extra fee to ensure it is ready on time. It is also advisable to allocate some extra time for any potential last-minute alterations you may require.

Choose Your Wedding Party.

Once you have decided on the family members or friends you want standing with you at the altar, make sure to ask them if they’re willing to take on that role ahead of time. Keep in mind that you might also need to arrange their wedding attire. Although it won’t take as much time as the bride’s dress, it is a good idea to take care of all the details early on.

Send Your Save-the-Date Cards.

Save-the-date cards are optional, but many people like to send them while they are still sorting out the details of their wedding. It’s a way to give your guests a heads-up to “save the date” and keep an eye out for the official invitation. That way, they will have enough time to make the necessary arrangements and decide if they will be able to make it.

4 Months To Go…

Book Other Vendors.

You’ve already got the important ones covered, but keep in mind there are additional vendors to think about, such as hairstylists and makeup artists.

Order Your Wedding Rings.

The rings hold significant importance during the wedding ceremony and are something you will probably be wearing all the time; it’s wise to steer clear of any last-minute rush or hasty decisions. The delivery time for the rings can also stretch up to 90 days, so it is crucial to order them at least four months prior to the big day.

Plan Your Rehearsal Dinner.

Make sure to give some thought to your rehearsal dinner too! It’s important to book the venue well in advance to ensure everything goes smoothly.

3 Months To Go…

Do Your Cake and Menu Tastings.

Meet with your caterer and baker to try out different food choices for your wedding. Treat these tastings like a fun date with your soon-to-be spouse and have a great time! If you’re a foodie, this can be one of the most enjoyable aspects of planning your wedding.

Send Out Your Invitations.

By now, your invitations should be printed and ready to be sent to your guests. Make sure to send them out with an RSVP deadline of around two to three weeks before the wedding.

Plan Your Honeymoon.

Pick a destination and start booking your flights and accommodation to ensure a well-deserved break after your wedding. Mabalingwe Nature Reserve provides a range of accommodation options for private getaway. The Team will also assist in adding a touch of romance to your stay!

2 Months To Go…

It’s Time To Party.

Enjoy your pre-wedding celebrations with your favourite people at a bridal shower or a bachelor/bachelorette party. Your wedding party usually takes care of organising these events, so you can simply sit back and enjoy yourself.

Do a Hair and Make-up Trial.

Avoid any unexpected surprises on your wedding day! Take the time to schedule a hair and make-up trial to ensure that your hairdresser and make-up know what your vision for the day is.

Buy Gifts For Your Wedding Party.

Your wedding party will be there for you every step of the way during the wedding preparations, so it is always a kind gesture to get them some gifts to express your gratitude. The bachelor and bachelorette parties are the perfect occasion to hand these gifts out.

1 Month To Go…

Confirm Final Details.

Communicate with your vendors and your wedding party and make sure to confirm all the details and ensure everyone is on the same page

Finalise Your Seating Chart.

At this stage, you should have received all your RSVPs. Now, it’s time to finalise the seating arrangement for your reception and decide where everyone will be seated.

Create A Timeline for the Day.

To ensure a seamless wedding day, it is important to have a timeline in place. Map out your whole day, down to the minute, and let your vendors and wedding party know what’s happening and when. This way, everyone stays on track and things run like a well-oiled machine.

The Wedding Day!

Congratulations! You pulled it off. You managed to organise your whole wedding in just six months. Your dedication is about to bear fruit, so pause for a moment, catch your breath, and enjoy the remaining days of your engagement.

We get it, there’s a lot of information to take in at once, so we have put a lot of effort into creating a printable six-month wedding checklist just for you. It’s designed to make things easier and help keep you on track. Feel free to contact our Team at or +27 (0) 14 001 7011 to assist you in creating an unforgettable experience that your guests will mull over for years to come!

Lion Man MTB Event

The Lion Man Mountain Bike Race, held at Mabalingwe Nature Reserve, is an exhilarating experience that combines the thrill of mountain biking with the beauty and majesty of the South African bushveld. This event is a must-attend for anyone who loves mountain biking, the outdoors, and adrenaline-fueled adventures.

Mabalingwe Nature Reserve, located in the Limpopo Province of South Africa, is a vast 12,500-hectare reserve that is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including elephants, rhinos, buffalos, and leopards. The reserve is also home to a network of well-maintained mountain bike trails that wind their way through the bushveld, offering riders a unique opportunity to experience the beauty and thrill of mountain biking in a truly wild environment.

The Lion Man event attracts riders from all over South Africa and beyond, and consists of a 2-day race, challenging the riders on day 1 with their distance of choice, followed by a 20km sprint on day 2. The combined times will determine the winners in each respective distance.

The route of the race takes riders through some of the most beautiful and challenging terrain in the reserve, including steep climbs, technical descents, and rocky trails. Along the way, riders will encounter some of the reserve’s most iconic wildlife, including herds of antelope, giraffes, and zebras.

Participants stand to win as much as R30 000 in holiday accommodation, including activities; and there are various other prizes up for grabs too.

The Lion Man event is not just a race, but a festival of mountain biking and bushveld culture. Riders and spectators alike can enjoy a range of activities, including music, traditional South African food, craft beers and market stalls with lovely goods and treats available.

The Lion Man MTB Race is a truly special event that combines the thrill of mountain biking with the beauty and majesty of the South African bushveld. It is a treat for mountain bike enthusiasts, bushveld lovers, and adrenaline junkies alike, and is a must-attend for anyone looking for a truly unique and unforgettable experience. So, gear up, get ready, and join the adventure – the Lion Man awaits!

EVENT DATES for 2023: 5 to 7 May 2023

Enter the race here:

Search available accommodation for the 2023 Lion Man here:

More info:



Meet Your Manager: Noël Basson

Many of our guests have expressed their love for Mabalingwe in every sense; hospitality, nature, game, and tranquillity. Creating an environment where our guests are able to make memories that they will cherish long after their holiday has ended requires dedication and commitment – two characteristics that our Resort Manager, Noël Basson, does not seem to lack. We have been lucky to have him as part of our family for a while now and it is for this reason that we thought that it is time for you, our valued guests, to get to know him a little personally as well.

What education and experience do you have in the Hospitality Industry?

My career has actually come full circle now that I am the Resort Manager at Mabalingwe. My introduction to the Hospitality Industry was in 2005 when I was appointed as Night Auditor at Mabalingwe Nature Reserve. During that time I was able to learn a lot about the Resort and the Reserve and all their respective operations, and because of that, I found myself longing to be more involved in those daily operations, which led to me being transferred to the Housekeeping Department. While spending some time in that Department, I gained some valuable experience and knowledge about Timeshare and Private Home Owners and this afforded me the opportunity, in 2013, to become the Operations Manager at Ngwenya Lodge. I, of course, jumped at the opportunity because it was something I had wanted for so long. During that time, I worked alongside the Lodge’s current Resort Manager and fellow Mabalingwe Old Boy, Diederik Herholdt. Every day working with him felt like a family reunion! I spent five years at Ngwenya and then, in 2018, I was offered the position of Resort Manager at Sandy Place in St. Lucia, KwaZulu-Natal. After three years, I returned home to Mabalingwe – right back where it all started, except this time as Resort Manager.

What do you love most about Mabalingwe Nature Reserve?

I love EVERYTHING about Mabalingwe! As I mentioned, this is where it all started for me so every aspect of it holds a special place in my heart – the Resort, Reserve, our incredible and dedicated staff, and all the memories and lessons this place has given me. I hold all of it so dearly and will cherish every aspect of it forever.

What three words would your Mabalingwe family use to describe you, and why?

I asked them and their answers almost brought me to tears because everything they said was so kind. The most common answers that I got were that I’m funny, caring, and a unifier. I guess it’s because I do not see them as just staff members. They really are my family; my brothers and sisters, and there is a lot of love between us all.

What has been your funniest, or most memorable moment at the Resort?

I have spent quite some time at Mabalingwe so I have plenty of funny and memorable moments to look back and reflect on but the one that stands out the most is that I found my greatest love, Anel van Wyk, who was, ironically, my former HOD when I was first starting at Mabalingwe. We have been in each other’s lives for a beautiful and blessed nine years. This is another reason why Mabalingwe is such a special place to me – it gave me one of life’s most precious gifts.

Tell us what you love, and what events are best celebrated, at Kalahari Oasis Bush Pub, Boeretroos Coffee Shop or Vulture’s View Bar?

Rugby, good food, and bushveld breakaways –  which all go hand-in-hand when you think about Kalahari Oasis Bush Pub, Boeretroos Coffee Shop, and Vulture’s View Bar. All three of these Resort facilities have an unmitigated sense of uniqueness that you can only experience in South Africa. It is not something that one can describe, but the minute you walk into any of those establishments you are immediately met with the familiar feeling. People who live abroad won’t understand what I mean when I say this but it feels like South Africa, and what an amazing feeling it is because South Africa is home!

Working in the bushveld, one is bound to come across a few creepy crawlies. Have you come across any interesting ones? What can you tell us about that critter?

Yet again, there are too many to mention. However, during my time as Housekeeping Site Supervisor, a fellow staff member asked me about a certain spoor (or track) that they had come across in the veld. We then decided to both follow the track and it stopped at one of the trees in the veld. Confused because we had hit a “brick wall”, I turned around and said to the other staff members, “The track stops here.” Before I could say any more words, one of them exclaimed “Look up!”. Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw when I lifted my head to the tree. Staring right back at me was the biggest rock python that I have ever come across! It was so big that the whole tree was slightly slanted to the side due to the python being so heavy. We ran so fast; land speed records were certainly broken that day!


What has been the most incredible wildlife-sighting or story you have experienced at Mabalingwe?

This cannot be justified by a singular sighting but rather by the change of season come springtime each year. Every year when we are drawing closer to the end and we start experiencing some summer rains, the Resort comes to a calm and the Reserve becomes what I would call a “crèche” for the animals. This is the time of year when mothers, with their newborn calves, cubs and foals in tow, emerge from the shrubbery and can be seen all over the Reserve; jumping, running, and playing with high spirits. It’s an incredible time of year.

Do you have a favourite guest story?

This incident was so funny that we have even dubbed it “The Complaint” because it took an unexpected turn. One of our guests had requested me to visit them at their unit regarding a number of complaints that they had. Upon my arrival, I found an elderly lady waiting for me on the patio, and to say that she was fuming would be an understatement! I introduced myself and she summoned me to a seat so that I could take all matters head-on. She then went full tilt noting complaints of all sorts; none of which she could explain or show the matters of concern or displeasure for. After this had gone on for a while, she apologised for the manner and tone in which she had addressed me and offered me a drink and something to eat. I didn’t think it would take too long because I had already sat there with her for a while so I thanked her and obliged. We sat and had a really lovely chat where she was asking questions about the Resort, Reserve and myself, and, without even noticing, I was held “captive” for over three hours. Our staff kept coming to the unit to ensure that all was well, but with every request to leave it seemed that she had more to talk about. By the end of our extensive conversation, she thanked me for the visit and invited me to come over again the following day so that we could pick up where we left off. It was a wonderful opportunity to hear her thoughts and suggestions, and by the end I felt as though I had gained a new friend and a story I’ll never forget.

What essential would you say guests should pack when visiting Mabalingwe?

Limpopo is one of the warmest regions in the country. It can get extremely hot so I would advise guests to pack clothing items that they will be comfortable and cool in such as “vellies” or flip flops, a light shirt, comfy shorts and, most importantly, sunscreen. If guests happen to forget these items at home then it is not a problem at all because they are available for purchase at the Farmshop and Boeretroos.

What is the one thing you think every guest at Mabalingwe should experience?

Mabalingwe has so much to offer and I could not possibly single out just one place, spot, entity, activity, or event that guests should experience. The ‘Mabalingwe Experience’ begins with the Natal Francolins chirping and singing their chorus as a rosy hue is cast across the morning sky by the sunrise and the warthog greets you as it passes while you enjoy a fresh brew of your morning cup of tea on the patio. The experience then continues as you set off to the Reserve for a game drive and it is here where you are at your closest with the unspoilt nature of the Limpopo province and the abundant wildlife. On this journey, you find yourself stumbling upon Kalahari Oasis, and on your return to the Resort the Farmshop, recreational area and swimming pools will be waiting for you along with other guests who are looking to mix and mingle. As the day comes to an end and the sky is ablaze with the fire of the African sunset, the scent of a braai calls you and your loved ones together for a pleasant dinner filled with laughter. The warthog passes by once more and guinea fowls chirp afar to bid you a good night. You find yourself thinking: “No other experience could be better than this.”

Mabalingwe Nature Reserve has been home to Noël for many years and this is the core reason why so many of our guests have chosen this Resort to be their home-away-from-home. He makes sure that everyone’s holiday experience is uniquely Mabalingwe and wonderfully family and fun! We hope that you enjoyed getting to know him better and if you ever bump into him, be sure to say hello. He is always up for a good chat.