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…

Heritage Day

What first comes to mind when you think about our unique attributes as a country? Our rich cultural heritage! The melting pot of cultures has birthed amazing food, art and music which we still enjoy today. We cannot deny that South Africa has a distinctive flavour that can only be found in this beautiful country.

noun · singular
Those features belonging to the culture of a particular society such as traditions; languages or buildings that were created in the past and still have historical importance.

On 24 September, South Africans observe National Heritage Day. This is a momentous day meant for us to reflect, share and embrace the many cultures that make the very fabric of our colourful and diverse nation. In celebration of this important day, we would like to share with you the special things about our Mabalingwe heritage that make us #proudlySouthAfrican.


Our country has a catalogue of eleven beautiful languages which served as a source of inspiration for the unique name for our Resort. ‘Mabalingwe’ was created by melding together the Setswana words “mabala a nkwe”; which translate to the “spots of the leopard.”


Our Nature Reserve is home to a vast variety of indigenous flora; from the popular acacia tree; the ever-green succulent aloe vera plant and the tall amber-hued grass that stretches across the horizon. Each plant, unique in form and function, serve an important part of our eco-system. Even though most of these indigenous plants need very little care, we work to protect them to maintain a well-balanced eco-system which gives life to the abundant wildlife and birdlife on the Reserve. Our Ranger Team lead the Eco-Tainment programme that teaches guests about the great outdoors and how each element in the wilderness is vital in the cycle of life within this unique South African biome.


We consider ourselves extremely fortunate to be home to an array of indigenous animal and bird species. As a Nature Reserve, it is our responsibility to maintain a natural landscape that these species can live and thrive in. In doing so, we preserve a sacred part of our heritage that future generations will be able to enjoy. On a game viewing tour, you get to spot all sorts of beautiful wildlife species, dotted all along our Nature Reserve. Avid bird lovers have the opportunity to view over 250 bird species from Mabalingwe alone. Watching how they navigate in the natural surrounds is a fascinating experience that we cannot get enough of.


The Kalahari Oasis Pub is a guest favourite for that ‘local-is-lekker’ experience. Situated in the heart of the bushveld, this unique pub was once the set of a TV film and the iconic Castrol Oil Ads before it was converted into this distinctively South African venue. Evenings at the pub are filled with laughter; sizzling smells of flavour from braai’ing good food and families having an absolute ‘jol’ under the starry African sky.


On the topic of Heritage Day, our Team had to definitely oblige to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s call to take part in the phenomenon that has taken over the globe – the Jerusalema dance challenge. Check out our response to the challenge:

If you are looking for the quintessential bushveld experience, look no further than Mabalingwe. We bring you closer than ever to the essence of the exquisite South African wilderness for an amazing holiday experience. We love embracing our heritage and being able to share with this amazing slice of #proudlySouthAfrican pie with you. Share with us on our Facebook page how you will be celebrating your unique heritage this month!

To book an amazing getaway for you and your loved ones get in touch with us on or +27 (0) 14 001 7011.

What your Mabalingwe family has been up to this lockdown period

Can you believe it? What started as a 21-day national lockdown turned into more than 80 days, and we are still counting. This period has served us with many challenges, however, we have decided to look for the positive as we all work together for a safer and healthier world.

This period has allowed us to pause for a little while and appreciate our extraordinary Resort. We miss having families and their loved ones fill our space with lively laughter and joy. But that doesn’t mean we are waiting idle – our small onsite team has been hard at work with projects to spruce up the Resort with upgrades that will make for an even better return for our guests. The animals have also used this time to enjoy the natural surrounds to the fullest. All in all, we, your Mabalingwe family, the wildlife included, have taken this period in stride as we eagerly prepare for your return.

We would like to let you in and share with you how we have been holding up during the lockdown period.

The upgrades we have been busy with 

We have repainted the bathrooms at the recreational area with vibrant patterns and colours. The Plaaswinkel has also been given a facelift. It has been fully repainted and re-decorated, giving it a whole new look.


We haven’t forgotten about the general maintenance

We have been busy with the maintenance of all 105 of our units all in preparation for your return! All of the laundry items have been washed and steamed to avoid them getting dusty and germ-ridden. The team has been busy clearing the bushes and maintaining the fields as well as the gardens in between the units. We are keeping the pools crystal clean and ensuring that they remain in tip-top shape, ready for the perfect splash!


The stillness has brought a deeper appreciation of nature and wildlife

We have missed having guests with us, the vivacious energy they bring to the Resort is infectious. However, this time has given us an amazing opportunity to spend more time appreciating our surrounds and the majestic animals that also call Mabalingwe Nature Reserve their home. We have had the privilege to see and appreciate the incredible views of nature and animal sightings which have been the highlight of our days in this time. Here are some amazing sightings that we have been able to capture:

The views of the sun rising are still priceless

The views of the sun rising are still as captivating as ever.

SPOTTED! A tower of giraffe’s striking a pose

Spotted! A tower of giraffe’s sticking a pose.

The majestic Nyala bull, with his ethereal features

The majestic Nyala bull, with his ethereal features.

A herd of Zebra’s – their striking stripes are a wonder to look at

A herd of Zebra’s – their striking stripes are a wonder to look at.

Thank you for your continued support and patience during this time. We are preparing for the day we can welcome you and your loved ones back with open arms for a wonderful holiday in the Waterberg. Until then, stay safe and keep healthy.

For more information and the latest COVID-19 updates, please visit

Turn your home into a lockdown haven

Our country, and the globe at large is dealing with a pandemic that has forced world leaders to implement unprecedented measures in the fight against the COVID-19 virus. On Monday, 23 March 2020, South Africans all tuned in as President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the country to announce a 21-day national lockdown, which has subsequently been extended for a further two weeks. Everyone, with the exception of essential service providers, has been ordered to stay indoors for their safety and the safety of others.

Unfortunately, the lockdown also means that any of our plans to travel, locally and internationally, have been brought to a screeching halt – well temporarily so, as we all wait in the hope that things will return to normal sooner rather than later. 35 days is a very long time to be cooped up indoors, and whether you will be spending this time alone or with family, the days can feel like an eternity as you yearn to be out and about doing your favourite things. Here are a few Mabalingwe-inspired tips to keep yourself busy with during the lockdown:

DIY sugar scrub treatment

Do not neglect your body’s largest organ during the lockdown. You may not be able to book a Mbali Day Spa treatment at the moment, but you can still treat your skin to some tender-loving-care with a refreshing home-made scrub. Gently exfoliate your face and body with an easy-to-make scrub you can make with ingredients you can find in your kitchen!

You will need:

  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup oil of your choice (coconut, jojoba, olive or grapeseed)
  • essential oil (optional)
  • spoons for mixing
  • mixing bowl
  • measuring spoons or cups
  • sealable container to store excess scrub

Pour all of the ingredients into the mixing bowl and mix to desired consistency. Apply the scrub to the desired skin area and gently massage into the skin. (Please note: it is advised that you only exfoliate once a week to avoid over-exfoliating and irritating your skin.)


Delicious home-made flapjacks 

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day – even if your mornings are starting a little later than usual. The Belgium waffles we serve at the Boeretroos coffee shop are a real treat, but for a home-made treat, try making some scrumptious and quick-to-make flapjacks to enjoy at home.

You will need:

  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 30 mil oil
  • 1 ¼ cup of milk
  • 1 tsp of vanilla essence
  • 1 egg
  • honey
  • yoghurt
  • fruit of your choice

Mix together milk, egg and oil, then add that to the dry ingredients: flour, sugar and baking powder. Mix until batter is silky smooth. Prepare your non-stick pan over a medium heat. Add a teaspoon of oil to coat the pan. Pour out a round spoonful of the batter onto the pan – once you see bubbles on the top of the round batter, flip it around. Remove from the pan once both sides are golden brown. Repeat this until your batter is finished. Serve with some honey, plain yoghurt and your choice of fruit.


Energising home exercise

Exercise has amazing benefits for your physical and mental well-being, such as:

  • Regular exercise is a mood booster and can reduce feelings of anxiety and depression.
  • Exercise is crucial to supporting a fast metabolism and burning calories and also helps you maintain your muscle mass and weight loss.
  • Exercising regularly can increase your energy levels.
  • Exercise improves skin health by inducing skin cell adaptations and promoting blood flow, which can protect your skin and delay signs of ageing.
  • Physical activity helps you build muscles and develop strong bones

During the lockdown period, access to your regular gym facilities is prohibited, and sadly, so is your usual run around the block. You will probably also miss out on a guided walking trail where you could have taken in the tranquil surrounds and spotted a few fascinating animal and birdlife at our nature reserve. However, what you can look into in the meantime is exercising at home. Try taking your work-outs outside in your yard, or balcony for those who live in apartments, and appreciate some fresh air as you work up a sweat. Create your own personalised work-out programme to challenge yourself with during the lockdown.


Games night

For those of you who are with their loved ones during the lockdown, this is absolutely a great time to create awesome memories you can cherish for a lifetime! Unplug from technology and log out of the internet for a while to enjoy some “digital-free” entertainment. Turn the living room into your own games room for a change and bring out the board games, that 1000 piece puzzle that you haven’t been able to complete or the deck of cards you haven’t used in a while! You will be surprised at how much good ol’ fun you and your loved one’s can have with some retro and modern games.


“There’s only one thing more precious than our time and that’s who we spend it on.”

– Leo Christopher

We all need to do our part and abide by the rules set out by the government during this time – but there is no harm in making the time indoors enjoyable and meaningful. We hope these tips will bring you some much-needed light to your home in these trying times.

Your next amazing post-Covid vacation at Mabalingwe will be waiting for you. Explore our website on for more information.