Responsible Tourism

Eco-Tourism Policy

Mashovhela Lodge in South Africa subscribes to the principles and practices of responsible and eco-tourism.

In conducting our operations, we strive to minimise our impact on the environment, spread benefits throughout the local economy and promote community well being.

The Mashovhela Eco-Tourism Policy has been developed with due diligence of, and taking into account, the following three aspects: Social, Economic and Environmental:


Conserving the beauty and ecosystems of this Natural Heritage Site.

About 40 years ago, when the first farm (Little Leigh) of Morning Sun Nature Reserve was bought by the present owners, some large areas were severely degraded by a few decades of subsistence farming resulting in abandoned lands, exhausted soil, overgrazing, erosion and bush encroachment. Sixteen years of severe drought had intensified the environmental damage and caused habitat depletion.


Minimizing the ecological footprint.

In order to minimise the ecological footprint, Mashovhela Lodge was built on the already degraded site of an abandoned Venda settlement. Considerable efforts were made to preserve, wherever possible, the existing indigenous vegetation, in particular the trees. Any unavoidable damage (including natural damage caused by the floodwaters of a cyclone in 2000), was repaired, where possible, by replanting locally indigenous grasses, trees and other vegetation, grown from seed or rescued from nearby road building and other construction activities


Understanding all aspects forming this complex ecosystem.

Mashovhela Lodge proudly houses its own private research institute, founded by Dr. Norbert HAHN, including the only internationally recognized and electronically catalogued herbarium in the Limpopo Province of South Africa.


Education forms the backbone of our Responsible Tourism policy, from training of the local community members in different skills and environmental awareness to educating our guests in socio-ecological and environmental practices.

The Vhembe Biosphere Reserve

The Vhembe Biosphere Reserve received international status when it was registered by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) as a biosphere reserve in 2009 and it is South Africa’s sixth biosphere reserve.

Fair Trade in Tourism

Mashovhela Lodge strives to minimise impact on the environment, spread benefits throughout the local economy and promote community wellbeing.

Mashovhela Lodge is situated in the Morning Sun Nature Reserve which is a natural Heritage site. This Hidden Treasure lies in the heart of the Soutpansberg Mountains in the Limpopo Province.

Energy Consumption Management

Since inception, the principal owner of Mashovhela Lodge, Dr. H.H. Hahn, made a conscious decision not to connect to the public power grid, but instead to use renewable energy, wherever possible, to satisfy the energy needs of the Lodge and make it a research and testing ground, prototype and showpiece for renewable energy.

Water Efficiency Management

All our water consumption is part of a total recycling system as follows and our water efficiency management formed an important part of being awarded the Gold Leaf by the Wilderness Foundations Green Leaf Standard.

Our sole source of sanitary water, suitable for drinking, was formerly a manually dug well, which in the past was almost permanently overflowing, feeding the downstream natural wetlands.


Natural Heritage ~ 1988

The South African Natural Heritage Programme (NHP), established in 1985, that had become non-operational in recent years, is currently being revitalized. The NHP focuses on the participation of civil society and in particular on private landowners. It is focussed on the conservation of important natural biological diverse areas or exceptional natural features that are both privately- and publicly-owned. Due largely to two decades of research by Dr Norbert Hahn, the Soutpansberg is now recognized as one of the world’s top biodiversity hot spots. As one of the earliest registered Natural Heritage Sites (No. 89), Morning Sun Nature Reserve is proud to share in this distinction.

Gold Leaf ~ 2009

The Gold Leaf is the highest level of the Wilderness Foundation’s Green Leaf Environmental Standard, which is an international standard that measures five elements at a resort, namely water and energy usage, waste recycling, green procurement and innovation.
The Leaf itself is the iconic logo of the Wilderness Network and story behind it is told in an extract from an essay written by Dr. Ian Player where he recalls how Grey Owl offered a green leaf to civilisation as a symbol of environmental harmony.

Bird Friendly ~ 2009

Birdlife South Africa’s mission is to promote the enjoyment, conservation and understanding and study of wild birds and their habitat. Birder Friendly Enterprises have committed themselves to responsible tourism practices and aim to please their bird watching enthusiasts.

Imvelo Award ~ 2010

Mashovhela Lodge received an Imvelo Award in the sub-category, Best Single Resource Management Programme – Energy in 2010.
The aim of the category is to recognise businesses that have made a particular effort to reduce and manage their energy consumption through practical and sustainable activities.

Salt Shaker Finalist ~ 2011

Mashovhela Lodge received this accreditation due to our efforts in the local economic inpact on tourism in the area.

Fair Trade in Tourism ~ 2012

Mashovhela Lodge received the Fair trade in tourism accreditation due to our policy in respect to human rights ,culture and environmental commitments.