Lepogo Lodges, an entirely not-for-profit safari lodge in the heart of the Limpopo Province, has unveiled its second property, Melote House – a brand new exclusive-use safari lodge, sleeping 16.
Joining the brand’s well-established Noka Camp, Melote House has officially opened its doors within the same South African reserve. The highly anticipated property is a private oasis of luxury in a desirable off-the-grid setting embracing nature’s elegance.
Melote House is inspired by the rock formations of the Waterberg region and has sustainability at its core. It is built in tiers on the side of the hill to maximise the magnificent views over the Lapalala Wilderness.
Boasting living roofs that small animals can graze from, the design incorporates the house back into the mountain, and every element extracted from the earth has been meticulously restored and skilfully integrated to ensure the property blends seamlessly into its natural surroundings.
With a dedicated guide and personalised service, Melote House provides an experience that is truly tailored and fully exclusive, allowing guests to witness the ‘Awesome Eight’ alongside meaningful bush experiences.
Encompassing 50,000 hectares of pristine terrain, Lepogo Lodges’ vision is to create an enduring legacy of sustainability and conservation excellence that will echo through time—all the while offering guests an unrivalled level of luxury and tranquillity.
Melote House is situated in the malaria-free Waterberg region of Limpopo Province, in the Lapalala Wilderness Reserve.
Overlooking a pristine landscape of deep valleys and tumbling streams, the lodge shares a habitat with not only the ‘big five’ but the ‘awesome eight’ (the big five plus cheetah, wild dog and pangolin), a diverse array of birdlife and a huge number of incredible South African animals that inhabit the Lapalala Wilderness – a number of which can be seen from Melote House’s watering hole.
With strict building regulations, there will never be more than three commercial lodges within the reserve, enabling a truly unique wilderness experience for Lepogo Lodges guests.
To get there, guests can take a flight to Johannesburg, followed by a private charter flight to Lapalala’s airstrip (approx. 50 mins). Both lodges, Noka Camp and Melote House, are a quick 20-minute drive from the airstrip. Road transfers are also available and are an approximate 3-hour drive.
As an exclusive-use property, Melote House is ideally suited to hosting special gatherings of families, friends, safari veterans, and beginners alike looking for a private and personalised ultra-luxe safari experience.
Each property element has been carefully designed, selected and curated to tell the story of Melote House’s dedication to its beautiful surroundings, unique wildlife and the history of the Lapalala Wilderness.
The bedroom suites are elegant and calm, whilst the main living areas are filled with colours celebrating some of the beautiful birds who have made the gardens around the house their home.
The main house sleeps 12, and an adjacent separate cottage with two ensuite bedrooms, a living area and a kitchen sleeps four. The accommodations can be accessed via a buggy path from reception.
The spacious Baobab Suite, situated on the third tier, boasts 120 sqm indoors, a 100 sqm outdoor living space, and a staircase leading to an integrated private sky bed deck – ideal for stargazing. The Baobab Suite features its own pool, double indoor shower, underfloor heating, outdoor shower, walk-in wardrobe and a bioethanol-fuelled cocoon fireplace.
The Marula Suites, located on the second tier, offer interconnected options for families. Each suite, encompassing 100 sqm, includes a double indoor shower, double vanity, bath, and outdoor shower. The Seringa Suite, situated on the main tier, mirrors the amenities of the Marula Suites.
Adjacent to the main house is The Cottage, a separate 250 sqm dwelling with two ensuite bedrooms, a central kitchen, a living and dining area and a rock pool. The bedroom suites echo those in the main house, and the well-equipped kitchen allows guests to dine independently if desired.
The Seringa Bar and Lounge, also on the main tier, features a library, study, main living area, dining room, bar, wine cellar, guest kitchen, and an outdoor living area with a 100 sqm pool, various outdoor seating areas, and a shaded relaxation area. Additionally, a lookout deck offers a vantage point near the waterhole, and the relaxing spa area offers decadent treatments.
Convenient walkways wind around the lodge, and an electric buggy is also available on standby. There is a fully equipped gym and spa with two treatment rooms as well as a rock pool and bar.
The rock pool at the very top of the lodge is complete with martini steps and ledges and is the perfect place to enjoy a tipple or two whilst cooling down and looking out over the magnificent wilderness.
Drawing inspiration from the curved form of the mountain it sits upon, Melote House connects every room to the surrounding nature and, through variously defined thresholds, leads the guest from the wilderness outside to a luxurious sanctuary ensconced in dramatic monolithic structures carved into the hillside.
Concepts created by Yuji Yamazaki from YYA Architects, Jacobus Uys and Jessica Rogers from Black Sable Architects and Kelly Adami from Copperleaf Studio have come together to create a serene haven amidst the wilderness.
Featuring impressive, rammed earth walls built using the earth taken out of the hillside it sits on, the design allows for natural thermal stability and reduced energy consumption.
The walls are soft and curved into the hill to blend seamlessly with the landscape and to give wide-angled views from the house.
Melote House has been designed to be as sustainable as possible. Through the use of thermal mass, utilising rammed earth walls, planted roofs, large roof overhangs and embedding the building into the hillside, the building has minimally exposed elevations to the harsh external environment, providing a stable internal temperature for the building to manage.
Furthermore, all power is generated on-site, using photovoltaic panels, and the heating and cooling systems make use of an innovative cooling system, significantly reducing the amount of energy required.
South African artisans and artists are extensively used throughout the project. For example, Clive Walker, legendary conservationist and artist who founded The Endangered Wildlife Trust, has personally painted a scene of the landscape surrounding the lodge, which has been converted into a fabric by Evolution Product and is featured in the wardrobes.
Evolution Product has also interpreted the rock art into custom-made bed throws, whilst the bespoke hemp table linen has been hand-embroidered by the talented women of the Mogalakwena community project. The prestigious local tiling company, Wolkberg Casting Studio, created the tiles in the bathroom, which reflect the surrounding landscape and terrain.
Renowned artists have also crafted stunning artworks exclusively commissioned for Melote House. Among them are Darryn Eggleton, Bruce Little, Sophie Niemann, and Stephen Rew, a distinguished recipient of the David Shepherd Wildlife Artist of the Year award.
A fully non-for-profit venture, Lepogo is one of the few lodges in the world that bestows 100% of any financial gains back into the reserve.
Working diligently and passionately to continue a conservation legacy that Noka Camp has well established, Lepogo Lodges is dedicated to safeguarding the ecosystem.
Conservation initiatives include funding research and working with the Lapalala Wilderness Reserve to establish the reserve as a centre of excellence for the release of wild cheetahs, land rehabilitation with buffalo and the sponsorship of the pangolin rehabilitation centre (coming in 2024).
On top of this, Lepogo Lodges carbon offsets every guest’s flight from the moment guests leave home to the moment they arrive at Lepogo Lodges. Guests are then presented with the opportunity to choose one of three conservation projects for the lodge to offset their carbon footprint.
The available projects include Lepogo’s own ‘Community Stove Project,’ which donates efficient stoves to local families, meaning that less wood is burnt for the same amount of cooking and heating, the ‘SA Forest Trust’ focusing on indigenous tree species planting, and ‘Stand For Trees,’ a global initiative protecting forest landscapes and their communities and wildlife.
Lepogo Lodges supports community outreach programs and partnerships and contributes to local socio-economic development, education, and empowerment. This holistic approach ensures that the benefits of ecotourism are shared with those who live in harmony with the land.
A stay at Melote House will provide the ultimate private safari experience. The untamed land of Lapalala is best explored through thrilling game drives, serene water safaris on the river and guided bush walks.
Fishing excursions on the riverbanks are also available. Those seeking a deeper discovery can embark on a conservation vet experience, a visit to an Iron Age site, or bushman painting sites.
Itineraries at Melote House are fully personalised to each party – all incorporating luxury surprises that take place within the magic of the South African bush.
When guests aren’t out exploring, Melote House will be a sanctuary of relaxation, offering an authentic experience in the Lapalala Wilderness.
Nightly rates for 2024 are from $12,000 to $20,000 per night on an all-inclusive basis, depending on season and number of guests. For more information on Lepogo Lodges, please visit www.lepogolodges.com.