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OVERVIEW

Operator

Babanango Game Reserve

Location

Babanango Game Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Client

Babanango Game Reserve

Services

Architecture

Interior Design

Project Management

Procurement

MADWALENI RIVER LODGE

Formerly cattle farms, Babanango Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, boasts rich historical, cultural, and environmental significance. Recently, it underwent one of Southern Africa's most ambitious rewilding projects, welcoming back the Big 5 after nearly 150 years. Luxury Frontiers was tasked with creating a lodge celebrating this rewilding and rebirth while paying homage to its layered past. Occupying 20,000 hectares of Zulu-seeped history along the White Umfolozi River, Madwaleni River Lodge intricately stitches historical and tribal heritage into its design.


The twelve tented accommodation units, nestled along the river, feature plunge pools, outdoor seating, lounges, bedrooms, and bathrooms, all offering expansive river views and a deep connection with nature. Inspired by the Zulu shield, each unit boasts a 22-meter curved timber beam supporting a stretch-fabric membrane. Sustainable materials like upcycled timber poles and bamboo decking embrace the lodge's eco-conscious ethos, while traditional African craftsmanship permeates the design.


The central gathering area spans 1,492 square meters, housing various amenities including a restaurant, lounge, library, pool, gym, and wine cellar. Echoing the curved membrane of the units, the buildings feature concrete canvas roofs pigmented to blend into the surroundings. Balustrades emulate Zulu basket weaving patterns, further connecting the lodge to its cultural heritage. Prefabrication and environmentally conscious assembly methods were employed throughout.


Holistic sustainability guided the lodge's development, exemplified by the boma—a structure inspired by Zulu beehive huts. Hand-woven with invasive wattle by local artisans, the boma showcases sustainable design and community upliftment at its core.

MADWALENI RIVER LODGE

MADWALENI RIVER LODGE

“Our mandate to Luxury Frontiers was to develop a 5-star luxury camp, with unique curved tented and building structures intended to mimic the hills and rock formations surrounding the site. Luxury Frontiers developed an incredible product for us, which tour operators and visitors to the reserve have been absolutely blown away by. By working with the team from Luxury Frontiers we feel we have been able to develop a worldclass product which will enable us to set up Babanango Game Reserve as a world class tourism destination. "


– Andrew McGill, Product Manager, Babanango Game Reserve

OTHER WORKS

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