The best value game reserve in South Africa!
We have been going to Moholoholo Forest Camp for over a decade (we usually go there for our anniversary in August) and it gets our vote as the best value game reserve in the country!
The camp is located in a small but beautiful game reserve which nestles against the foot of the spectacular Swadini escarpment of the Drakensberg range. It's not a Big Five reserve as it is too small for elephant, lion or buffalo, but it does have hippo, white rhino and leopard. However, the big attraction for us is seeing smaller and more unusual species, many of which are rehabilitated animals that have been released from the Moholoholo Animal Rehab Centre (see review elsewhere), which is also on the property. We have often seen animals such as bush pig, civit, genet, bushbaby and brown hyaena here which are hard to spot in the bigger reserves.
The huts are scattered through the riverine forest, and fit in unobtrusively to the beautiful surroundings. The huts are comfortable and have recently been upgraded. A wonderful development is the addition of a two bedroomed hut, where parents and children can stay in the same unit, but parents still retain some privacy (just be aware of the fact that the second bedroom opens off the first one if you're considering booking this unit for two couples travelling together). Each unit has its own private viewing deck, and the decorating style is best described as a slightly eccentric variation of 'bush chic' (tree branches instead of door posts, for example). Buck - particularly bushbuck and nyala - wander freely through the camp, and a herd of bush pig visit in the evenings to forage on the kitchen scraps: these marvellous animals are not to be confused with the much more common warthog, and look like reddish variations on a European boar theme.
The food is good, simple and plentiful - hearty farm cooking with something for everyone (including fussy kids). The bar works on an 'honesty box' system and is the only additional cost: otherwise, everything else (including game walks, night drives and guided tour of the rehab centre) is factored into the price. This is a real bargain, as most game lodges charge these items as extras, which can leave you feeling rather resentful when your invoice is presented prior to departure. The staff is knowledgeable and extremely obliging, and we have been touched by the trouble that they have taken to anticipate and accommodate our changing needs (from madly-in-love brand new couple through new parenthood to middle aged old farts with school age children in tow!).
For some reason, Moholo does not seem to be as widely known among South Africans as one might expect, and the majority of the clientele are from overseas. The rehab centre has an intern programme where volunteers (usually gap year students) from all over the world come to offer cheerful slave labour: these volunteers stay elsewhere, but do come to the camp for their meals, and add another interesting 'game watching' dimension! Quite simply, we think that Moholo is perfect, and so do our kids!
If you're looking for an upmarket game lodge with an infinity pool and on-site spa, then this is not for you (but don't despair, as there are plenty of other options in the area which fit this bill).
If you're looking for good value accommodation which you can treat as a 'home from home' and know that you are going to be treated as family, then this is the place for you! The game viewing is often out of the ordinary, and the setting is gorgeous, with the rehab sanctuary being a bonus for anyone interested in wildlife rehabilitation and conservation (or just seeing the animals closer up). Perhaps what we like most about Moholo (as we call it) is the friendliness and hospitality, as well as the laid back atmosphere. Nothing is too much trouble for the camp manager and his team, and we find it interesting that they are as capable of catering for couples looking for a romantic getaway as they are of accommodating families with young children.
The owners operate two other lodges in the area: Mountain View on the adjacent property and Ya Mati, which also offers wedding facilities!
It is also only 60km from the Orpen gate of Kruger National Park, so can easily be tacked onto a Kruger expedition (where you have the opportunity to see the Big Five).
There is no swimming pool in the camp. We usually go to the Swadini resort (about 20 minutes drive away) which has lovely open air thermal pools set against the jawdropping Swadini buttress - however, Swadini seems to have recently discontinued the option to enter as a day visitor, which is a real pity.
Moholo also hosts game ranger courses from time to time, which present an unusual opportunity for wildlife enthusiasts to develop a deeper understanding of the bush and its complex ecosystems. And of course, you can despatch your moody teenager as a volunteer to the rehab sanctuary in the certain knowledge that they can't get into too much trouble as Brian will work them to death!