The History of Kwa Madwala
Up until the 1920’s the Onderburg area (Kruger National Park South) which encompasses modern day Kwa Madwala was native bush with few farms, towns or inhabitants. The topography of the region ranges between mixed grassland and thick bush interspersed by granite kopjies (hills) which are a feature of the area.
The nearest town to Kwa Madwala is Hectorspruit which was originally known as Mjejane, taking its name from a local Swazi tribal chief. The Onderburg area is very close to the Swaziland border and most local people are Swazi and are very close in terms of language and customs to their more southerly neighbour, the Zulus.
In 1985 Jan Grobler bought a 2,000 hectare section of the far Lowhills and developed it into a very successful cattle ranch during the 80s and 90s. He also realised that the natural beauty of the area far exceeded the financial benefit of cattle farming and had a vision to restore the area to its natural rugged beauty for tourism.
With this plan in mind Jan started to introduce a variety of indigenous animal game species onto the farm. The old farmhouse was extended to accommodate guests and renamed Gazebo Lodge. At the same time he visualised the exciting potential in eco-tourism and decided to develop a magnificent private conservancy with the Manyatta Rock Camp. This unique hilltop camp is without doubt the true pride of the Kruger Park south area.
In 2000 the neighbouring farms abandoned hunting which was very much in vogue and joined the vision in terms of eco tourism and Jan changed the name to Kwa Madwala meaning ‘the place of the rock’ in Swazi.
Kwa Madwala Today
Today the reserve covers an area of 2,000 hectares (approximately 5 000 acres) in the heart of the Kruger Park south. The operation is now run by Jan’s daughter, Renita and her husband Conrad. The reserve boasts the ‘big 4’ with healthy numbers and species of game. Recent expansion has taken the 4 star Manyatta Rock Camp to 27 room units and a beautiful new dining deck which has stunning views out across the bush.
Jan Grobler’s original vision is very well established and the reserve continues to pioneer and break new ground by introducing a wide range of award-winning eco tourism concepts and activities.
The most recent developments have involved Conrad taking over the tourism operation with a complement of international partners based in Sweden and Finland.