Melozhori Private Game Reserve

The Lodge at Melozhori receives an inspirational refurbishment

In the foothills of the Overberg Mountains, near Bonnievale and midway between Cape Town and the Garden Route, Melozhori Private Game Reserve is a 2,300-hectare predator-free wilderness with a handful of exclusive-use accommodations. Among them is The Lodge, a sophisticated four-bedroom exclusive-use abode that’s just emerged from an extensive refurbishment.

For many, the pièce de résistance at Melozhori Private Game Reserve’s recently overhauled exclusive-use Lodge, is its imaginatively located fire-pit. A marvel of unexpected design, it’s essentially a chill-out area sunken into a rim-flow swimming pool that hovers at the edge of a pristine swathe of Overberg wilderness.

It makes for a bit of a sunset adventure: first there are the sweeping amphitheatre views across the reserve from the large timber deck, and then you step across the edge of the pool and down into the circular, drop-level lounge where there’s the surreal sensation of gazing, eye-level, across the water, golden sunset glinting off the surface as you take in the vastness of the enfolding terrain.

While the fire-pit will add a theatrical dimension to your sunset experience, you can just as easily enjoy this space for morning coffee or to watch as giraffe and zebra and sable antelope wander around The Lodge at any time of day.

Or, equally awe-inspiring, sink back and stare up at a glittering canopy of stars while, at your feet, there’s a dancing fire.

This harmonious blend of elegant, contemporary design ideas within a contrasting, faraway countryside setting is part of The Lodge’s special magic; it’s sophisticated styling against the backdrop of the great outdoors.

Melozhori Private Game Reserve

And it really is great out there: whether you are staring at it from one of the decks, traversing it on a game drive, hiking it or biking across its rolling hills, you feel yourself fully immersed in a beauteous natural realm that unfolds across 2,300 protected hectares at the foot of the Overberg Mountains.

It’s remote and away from any mainstream tourist hub, and yet Melozhori is a mere two hours from Cape Town (add an hour or so if you pause en route for a farm-stall pie or for a tasting at one of the nearby wine farms). And, once you arrive, it’s like coming home.

At The Lodge, every anticipated creature comfort and luxury touch is at your fingertips, carefully put together for an easy, hassle-free, home-from-home experience.

Melozhori Private Game Reserve

Inside, the first thing you notice is the spaciousness. There are four bedrooms and a vast open-plan living area under a soaring pitched roof, thatch and wooden ceiling beams high above the oak floors. Uncluttered and serene, everything’s done out in a range of neutral, earthy hues with lots of organic textures and materials that draw inspiration from the environment.

Individually crafted furniture and finishes are used throughout The Lodge. In the big open-plan living areas, generously-proportioned sofas are covered in hardy natural-fibre fabrics, a tall, stacked stone fireplace looms on one side, and a pair of enormous ornamental chandeliers made with hundreds of pieces of cocoa sticks hang above a specially crafted table-tennis-sized dining table with a magnificent blackwood top. Accentuating its proximity to wildness, humungous fold-away glass doors to connect this indoor living space with the majestic world outside.

Melozhori Private Game Reserve

“We took incredible care selecting decorative accents,” says Lientjie Nell, who manages the lodge with her husband Coenraad. “From handwoven washing baskets by Mia Mélange, to the throws in beautifully textured fabrics by African Jacquard, we sought to keep it local and unique, aimed to create a one-of-a-kind atmosphere while keeping it liveable and durable – and family friendly. We want grown-ups and children to feel totally at home in the space, not tip-toe around it.”

So while it’s plush and invitingly comfortable, there’s no sense of fussy grandeur nor over-the-top ostentatiousness, no excess or faff. What there are, though, are judiciously selected aesthetic elements, from beautiful pendant cork light fittings by award-winning Cape Town-based designer Laurie Wiid van Heerden, to the curved stacked-stone wall that enfolds each of the private outdoor showers.

“As much as it’s an aesthetically cushioning environment, it is still a nature reserve,” says Lientjie. “It is still wild and, aside from the variety of hoofed mammals, there are plenty of weird and wonderful creatures, too. And the amazing stars at night.”

Melozhori Private Game Reserve

Open the doors in front of your bed, and nature is right there, too, an undulating landscape stretching towards a distant horizon. To enable guests to more intimately experience the setting, each bedroom has its own private deck. “And to each deck we’ve added a hammock,” says Lientjie. “Again, perfect for stargazing.”

As wonderful as it all is to look at and inhabit, though, the real highlight is the sense you get that nothing’s too much trouble. The small, unobtrusive team are experts at anticipating your needs, making you feel at home and helping you get the most out of your time here.

Guests at The Lodge need never fit into a plan or itinerary: everything – from your safari outings to each of your meals, your drinks preferences, even your snoozing schedule – is tailored around you. And, since nothing’s written in stone, no one will judge you for sleeping in instead of hopping on that intended early-morning game drive.

Melozhori Private Game Reserve

While Melozhori is superb if you want to spend time observing wild animals in a pristine environment, your safari from The Lodge is unencumbered by the mad-rush pursuit of big game or predators. There’ll definitely be good opportunities to spot a wide variety of antelope: gemsbok, eland, kudu, red hartebeest, waterbuck, bushbuck, nyala and bontebok are all here, and you may see black-backed jackals and bat-eared foxes. And you’ll definitely see more of the reserve’s friendly giraffe herd – typically up close. Even Cape leopards, notoriously shy and extraordinarily elusive, have been captured by camera traps on the reserve.

Since there are no dangerous animals, though, you’re free to hike and stroll, or even jump on your mountain bike to set off to see if you can spot animals from the saddle, or simply to discover more of Melozhori’s dramatic landscape.

You can also opt for game drives with head ranger Samantha Faria whose special touch is her love of the details often overlooked. It’s humbling and illuminating learning about the three biomes found here. Aside from the fynbos, with its unique, Overberg-adapted plants, there is rare renosterveld, and stretches of succulent Karoo vegetation, too. Between all of this, you’ll also get to know some of the 130-or-so birds that circulate in the area.

Melozhori Private Game Reserve

“We’re about the more intimate kind of relationship with nature,” says Samantha. “Our deep interest is in the conservation aspect, about truly looking after animals. Our guests get to learn about the lesser-known creatures, discovering a unique insect, maybe meeting an endangered tortoise. And possibly seeing one of our resident black harrier hawks, an endangered raptor that, globally, is down to fewer than a thousand mature breeding pairs.”

“We’re also very family orientated,” says Lientjie. “We don’t have strict times for game drives nor strict rules regarding children. Since The Lodge is very private, your safaris are just for you. And because we don’t have a high footprint, you’re never going to run into a crowd.”

Back at The Lodge, that absence of anything cookie-cutter continues. Like Melozhori’s free-roaming wildlife, guests follow no particular schedule. The watchword is freedom – whether you enjoy exploring and wish to keep active or prefer to settle into a more relaxed, guilt-free, do-nothing routine, the choice is entirely yours.

That goes for mealtimes (and snacking), too. Cuisine is a really special touch at The Lodge. Dietary preferences and requests are taken seriously and each meal is crafted specifically to your personal wishes. And while the kitchen is the chef’s domain, it’s also a welcoming space for curious guests – or if you’re feeling peckish in the middle of the night. There are eats and treats for late-night picking and a cupboard for when you crave something sweet.

Melozhori Private Game Reserve

And, should you be more interested in cooking for yourself, or want to be left to your own devices entirely, there are other options on the reserve, ideal for couples or small families. Apart from The Lodge, Melozhori’s accommodations include several self-catering fully-private spaces. Hugely popular are a pair of state-of-the-art eco-pods, both of which accommodate a couple (and, by arrangement, a child). And there is also an astonishing double-level “Treehouse” that provides an elevated view of the surrounding terrain. Plus, there’s The Cottage, a two-bedroom self-catering pet-friendly abode with its own wood-fired hot tub and a pool to sweeten your connection with the outdoors.

That connection fostered with the environment will likely prove the ultimate reward for time spent at Melozhori. It is a place made for tapping into nature’s healing power, getting that recharge you deserve, and discovering that your second home was here all along.

The exclusive-use 4-bedroom en-suite Lodge at Melozhori Private Game Reserve is priced from R40,000.00 per night. For reservations, make contact via or call +27 (0)66 595 7823 or send an email to