Meet the team at Mosetlha Bush Camp & Eco Lodge
Mosetlha is family owned and run, and there’s always a family member on site managing the camp to ensure the best possible personal attention at all times. We like to think of Mosetlha as a home from home for our guests (just without any mod cons like television sets and air conditioning – and with slightly wilder animals)! Mosetlha is a place for you to come and just “be” in the bush with a real chance of seeing magnificent animals in their natural habitat and where someone else makes your bed, does the cooking and clearing up, and drives you around.
Our rugged rangers ...
We pride ourselves on the fact that our field guides are extremely well qualified and experienced – well over and above the minimum qualifications required in order to work in Madikwe – and they’re really good guys to boot.
Jonny Motsieloa and Justice Rasello each has individual qualities and abilities that set them apart, and together they make a formidable team.
Jonny, our senior field guide, is arguably the most experienced guide in the Madikwe Game Reserve. He was born here and grew up and played on the roads and farmlands that became Madikwe, and he went to school in what are now the North West Parks Board’s head office and conference rooms.
He started work in the reserve as a security guard in 1992 and his brilliant career was seriously kick-started when he was chosen to attend the Mafisa* training programme, which he successfully completed, followed by practical training at one of the reserve’s luxury lodges. He came to us on Friday 13 September 2002 (a date lucky for some!).
Jonny is super knowledgeable, has eagle eyes (he could spot game through a solid brick wall) and really takes our guests into his world on his drives and walks.
In November 2021, we received the exciting news that Johnny had been voted one of the world’s top specialist guides, receiving bronze in the prestigious Wanderlust Travel Awards launched in December 2005 to recognise the unsung heroes of the travel world: guides and tour leaders.
The organisers of the Wanderlust Travel Awards believe that guides and tour leaders are the remarkable individuals who turn their clients’ trips into life-enhancing and life-changing adventures. Thousands of travellers globally voted one of South Africa’s finest as one of the world’s best!
*Mafisa was a course run by the Environmental Training Group in 2000 (see Chris Lucas’s biography below), where eight local villagers were selected and trained, from scratch, in all aspects of field guiding and the hospitality industry. All eight are still working very successfully in senior position in various lodges in the reserve.
Justice is the quiet, unassuming member of our team. He started work in Madikwe as a maintenance staff member at a lodge, and worked really hard to qualify as a guide.
He is self-taught and really knows his stuff. We were his first choice, and none of us have looked back since he joined Mosetlha in 2008.
Chris Lucas started all this. Chris’s passion is, and has always been, the bush. Qualified as a civil engineer (Cambridge, 1965), he ran a successful project management company towards the end of his career and retired early to enjoy his little spot in Madikwe.
As so often happens after retirement, this little hobby has become a (more than) full-time job, requiring more people, more vehicles, more cabins and more energy as the years have gone by!
Chris’s thing is most definitely the morning bush walks where his knowledge, expertise, patience and ability to make the little things in the bush come alive for you is unsurpassable.
June has many strings to her bow – apart from being a fully qualified first-aid Instructor (who trains the field guides at all the Madikwe lodges), she is also a field guide and a pretty decent back-up on those bush walks.
She no longer takes drives as she feels guests prefer to be guided by our young male rangers (the real reason might be that she’s scared of getting lost navigating Madikwe’s vast network of roads!).
June designs the menus, buys the stock, chooses the décor, and is the hostess with the mostest!
Caroline was living in London when the camp was started in July 1995. She was doing the corporate thing, working as a project manager, when she came home to “help out” for six months. All the teething problems of running a new business had, by then, been sorted out and all that was needed was some dedicated time at the camp itself to make it even more of a success (for which she, quite unashamedly, takes complete and absolute credit).
In 2011, Chris and June decided the time had come to retire, so Caroline took over the running of the business. Needless to say, she constantly battles to keep her mom and dad away from the lodge – what better place to retire to?!
Monika is our camp manager and in charge of all that happens at the lodge.
She will host you, show you how everything works, feed you, and make it look like the whole place runs like a well-oiled machine.
She is also a maintenance expert – and loves fixing stuff. She keeps everything in tip-top condition (the cabins are oiled; the floors are sanded; the firebreak is cleared; vehicles, generators, gas appliances and water pumps are maintained; and anything that stands still is painted). Our store rooms are immaculate, our recycling bins impeccable, and even our wood pile is neat!
And she bakes! Malva pudding and milk tart were added to the dessert menu when Monika started, along with carrot cake and banana bread, and pretty cupcakes for tea ... and decadent chocolate cake for any celebration.
Mosetlha started as a weekend-only operation. At the time, we couldn’t properly employ anyone – mainly because we only had guests staying sporadically. (Please note, we now operate 24/7, 365 days a year!)
It was one late afternoon: Chris was out in Old Smokey and June was on camp duty, literally keeping the home fires burning, watching the potjie bubbling on the fire, and lighting a few oil lamps to welcome everyone back for dinner.
A big old truck came rumbling down the access road and pulled right into the camp. A man jumped out and asked if June had any work for his niece, who was sitting shyly in the passenger seat. June explained that she was sorry but there really wasn’t a job available, because the camp wasn’t often open and was a very uncomplicated operation, with everyone chipping in and doing a bit of everything.
She thanked the pair and went back to heating some water using the donkey boiler. Hearing the truck head off, she turned to discover Nurse left standing there waiting to see how she could help.
Nurse never left. And she never stopped helping. She quickly lost her shyness, found her voice, and kept her amazing smile ... and now manages the housekeeping and kitchen side of things – as well as the three other ladies in her team.
Fran is Nurse’s best friend and came to Mosetlha temporarily to cover for her during her maternity leave. This was more than 20 years ago.
Frannie did not believe in temporary assignments and, as we were by then operating throughout the week, convinced us we needed another housekeeper to work alongside Nurse. She quickly gained confidence along with experience and keeps the rest of the staff in check – especially her two nephews on our maintenance team who she helped to bring up and who now tower over her!
We’ve shared many personal and professional adventures with her: her wedding to Amos (who was with us for a few years and is now a field guide at another lodge), two babies, her departure to go and manage a lodge at another reserve, her return when it didn't work out ... and many more.
She is second in command in our housekeeping/kitchen team, is impeccably attentive to detail, and makes the best bobotie and peppermint crisp dessert.
Jonny suggested that his wife’s sister could come and help out for a few months while Fran was away on maternity leave.
Rose is a fast learner, a thorough worker and genuinely cares about the people around her.
She is a bit reserved around guests (unlike her brother-in-law), but holds her own in the kitchen.
Never bossy, she is sweet and reliable and a pleasure to be around.
(Her beef potjie is the bomb – and she constructs the best vegan meals.)
Goitsemang (Louis) Bogatsu
Also known to guests as Louis, and as “Seven” (his jersey number when he used to play soccer) in his community, Goitsemang assists Moses with the evening tasks.
He used to be an ambulance driver and is now our driver. He will meet you at the North West Parks Board’s office in Vleischfontein when you arrive in Madikwe and bring you to the lodge a few minutes’ drive away, and also take you back to your car to head home after your stay with us.
Moses has been involved with Mosetlha since the building stage in 1994.
He knows how everything works and has graduated to now staying overnight in the camp. He prepares the evening meal, sorts out the lights and puts out the lanterns (so that we can hear the usual “this is just like fairyland” comment when you arrive home after your evening drive).
Moses also makes sure that the camp is spick and span in the morning when you wake up to lit fires and hot water from the donkey boilers, the smell of freshly made coffee, and a table with fruit and a light breakfast.
He does everything at a run; his catch phrase is “I’ll sort it out”; and he knows where all the resident animals and birds can be found in the camp.
Andrea is your first port of call if you want to know anything about Mosetlha – before, during or after your stay.
She puts a face to the cheerful voice at the other end of the phone, and is the helpful responder to all your emails and WhatsApps.
She’s only been with us for two years, but has taken to her job like a duck to water – and it feels like she’s been with us forever.
Andrea arrived for an interview (on a Saturday morning, in shorts and flip-flops) when we were at the end of our rope trying to find someone to run our office. Within a few minutes, we could see that she “got” what we do at Mosetlha.
She quickly understood her role and how her work fits into the provision of your Mosetlha experience. She started that Monday.
Andrea had wide-ranging experience before she joined Mosetlha. Here are some highlights. After leaving school and studying travel and tourism, she worked for a manufacturing company in Hong Kong. Back in South Africa, she joined Royal Swazi Airways (which eventually closed down), then Karos Hotels, followed by Travel Vision (a tour operator), where she spent a few years.
She also spent eight years running events for the United States Commercial Service.
She then took on her most important role, as a stay-at-home mom to two awesome boys. As her sons are now young men, she returned to the workforce at Mosetlha, where she does all the reservations.
Jenny has been with us for five years and is in charge of our money – how it comes in and how it goes out. She looks after the bookkeeping, petty cash, and all the SARS tax stuff. She pays the bills and salaries, chases us for slips, and invoices you.
Jenny also follows up with you after your stay, thanks you for coming and invites you to follow us on social media and write a review about us on Tripadvisor.
Her background has mainly been in secretarial and administration roles in various industries – from auditing and courier services to beauty product manufacturers. She also spent a few years as a beauty therapist.
She works with Andrea in the office and is the chief carer of Grey Cat, the creatively named feral cat who moved in with us once he realised we have soft surfaces in the sun, bowls of food, and Jenny to shower him with love.
Thabo is Fran’s nephew, and he has been working at Mosetlha for more than 15 years. He is the oldest of the four-person maintenance team.
This behind-the-scenes team ensures that the camp is always looking its best: that wood is received from the supplier and chopped for the fire and the donkey boilers, water is collected daily from our borehole, the laundry is delivered to a local village lady, gas bottles are received and installed, the fridge is stocked with drinks, the rubbish is burned, the (more than 150!) lanterns are cleaned and filled with paraffin.
These four guys generally make sure the place runs cleanly, greenly and efficiently.
Romeo is Thabo’s brother and came to us when he was barely out of his teens.
He has a great sense of humour and spends much of his time in the kitchen “helping” the ladies. To be fair, he is often in there creating the lunchtime meal for the staff (which can take much of the morning) and keeping everybody upbeat and cheerful.
Jonny’s baby brother, Ishmael – also called Paniso – joined Mosetlha at the end of 2019. He takes the most care in keeping the camp swept, raked and looking immaculate, and keeps the lantern glasses sparkling.
Kabelo joined us in 2019. In addition to all his other jobs, Kabelo loves to drive the kilometre to collect water from our borehole (it allows him to get out of the camp and out into the bush for a bit) and keeps all the bowsers full for your donkey-boiler safari showers. He also makes a beautiful griddle for your brunch.
Austin is based at the Johannesburg office and is worth his weight in gold. He does all the resupply lists, shops for all the groceries and almost everything else we need to operate the lodge, packs it all, and drives it to the camp once or twice a week. He also grows the salad veggies we bring to the camp.
He is an experienced barber, butcher, gardener, house-builder, painter, handyman, fish farmer, and a champion pool player. There is apparently nothing he cannot do.