Morning Sun Nature Reserve is a National Heritage Site nestled in the magnificent Soutpansberg Mountains of South Africa’s Limpopo Province. The declaration came in recognition of the Reserve’s unique biodiversity, and it’s a status of which we are very proud. We know that we have a responsibility to maintain and conserve the diversity and natural beauty of the Reserve for future generations and to educate as many people as possible about the importance of treading lightly on our precious planet. As part of this responsibility, we established Mashovhela Bush Lodge. Built on the already degraded site of an abandoned Venda settlement, this is an eco-lodge doing all it can to minimise its ecological footprint. The lodge embraces all the principles of environment management, from recycling to renewable energy, and everything in between.
Responsible Environment Management Is At The Heart Of All We Do
We love having families and other tourists visiting us at Morning Sun, and in particular at Mashovhela Bush Lodge. We are always so excited to show people what it is we do here, and how we run our lodge according to sound responsible tourism and environmental management practices.
For example, as far as possible, we construct all our roads, walking and hiking trails, following old wagon roadways, footpaths, game and cattle trails. We do our best to prevent any erosion damage, and always repair any that does occur.
Here are some other ways in which Mashovhela Lodge avoids or mitigates environment degradation and embraces eco-friendly principles:
We thoroughly sort all waste from the Lodge, recovering any recyclable materials, such as glass, paper, tins and plastic. All old tyres are reused for erosion prevention or put to other environmentally friendly uses. We compost organic waste, and sewage passes through multiple-chamber septic tank systems for cleaning, before emptying into large French drain systems. Wastewater from the kitchen – pre-cleaned in grease traps – and other “grey” wastewater, also goes into the same system.
Visitors to the Lodge notice that we avoid introducing any plants – decorative or otherwise – that are foreign to the natural vegetation of Morning Sun Nature Reserve. Even our lawns are planted with grass species that occur naturally in the valley.
The Lodge uses a shallow borehole for gardening and fire-fighting purposes. Our drinking water comes from a borehole that’s drilled 70m deep into a solid rock aquifer. The water from this aquifer is extremely pure and utterly delicious. Although we are fortunate that our water sources have even withstood severe recent droughts, we encourage our guests and staff to use water sparingly. We urge our guests to reuse their towels instead of sending them for laundering every day, for example.
Right from an early stage, the owners of Mashovhela Lodge made a conscious decision not to connect to the public power grid. They committed instead to using renewable energy, wherever possible, for all the Lodge’s needs. In this way, we help to minimise greenhouse gas emissions and offset climate change.
At the lodge, we have two systems in place for heating water. One is a system of flat solar hot water panels, based on a design published over 30 years ago by the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). The second is a much more sophisticated and efficient system, co-developed by Dr H. Hahn, co-owner and CEO of the Lodge. This also uses a flat panel system. However, it is assembled from black anodised extruded aluminium profiles specifically and is designed for extreme thermal efficiency, and its more recently, greatly improved version is now ready to be mass-produced.
A highly efficient, wood-burning hot water boiler, also designed by Dr H. Hahn, supplements the solar systems. In its first test run, this boiler brought a 700-litre hot water tank to the boil in just over half an hour! This tank was then replaced by the present 1500 litre tank to ensure that guests always have hot water – even when the weather is bad.
The Lodge has a 2500 Watt array of PV panels mounted at an angle to the sun. These panels are adjustable, depending on the season, to ensure maximum output. The system charges a 24V set of batteries, which is enough to supply all the lighting and some of the other power requirements of the Lodge. Three diesel generators of differing sizes supplement the solar-generated power. As with water, guests and staff are encouraged to use electricity sparingly.
All firewood is recovered from the ongoing eradication of the Nature Reserve’s exotic trees, such as eucalyptus and wattle, as well as from our bush encroachment control programmes. Indigenous wood is used only when it’s recovered from dead trees.
Further improvements and additions to our renewable energy section are part of an ongoing research and development programme and will increasingly be used also at Lokovhela Mountain Cottages and at the over-lander and camping facilities of Morning Sun Nature Reserve.
Why not come and experience for yourself the peace of a life lived as close to nature as we can get it? A stay at Mashovhela Bush Lodge will leave you with a new appreciation for our natural environment and the vital importance of preserving it. Call us today.