She is proof that nothing is impossible, a true representation of resilience and hard work. Many thought she was nuts and she’d never been able to do it. Against all odds, Nompumelelo Ngwenya, a tough, independent, and driven woman built and decorated the safari lodge in the African bush, in Bela Bela. After years of trying out different business ventures, some successful and mostly failed, she bought a farming plot which is now known as LeNgwenya Private Game Lodge in Bela Bela.
Home to wildlife and guests looking for a home away from home, LeNgwenya Private Game Lodge offers breath-taking views of wildlife; zebras, nyalas, gemsbok, impala, waterbuck, and peacock. An early morning game drive with breakfast in the bush is ideal for relaxation.
Enjoy the tranquil atmosphere of the African bushveld, in this luxury self-catering lodge located about 20 km northeast of Bela-Bela, on the R516 highway going towards Thabazimbi.
The luxury accommodation is suitable for young and old, family getaways, and those looking for a private getaway under the African sky. LeNgwenya Private Game Lodge is suitable for conferences and corporate gatherings, away from the hustle and bustle of the big city. Massages at the lodge spa are a must-have and children can enjoy outdoor play areas, a jungle gym and a children’s pool.
LeNgwenya Private Game Lodge welcomes day visitors and the restaurant (KwaDontsa), with gourmet meals while enjoying mother nature. The bar and lounge are suitable to watch the children while they play.
A quick drive out to the Warmbaths Bela Bela, to enjoy the geothermic hot springs can be enjoyed on a hot summer’s day.
Address: Farm 41 Droogekloof, Bela Bela
About the owner of LeNgwenya Private Game Lodge
Nompumelelo Ngwenya is a South African businesswoman, an Accountant and an Ethnomedicine Advisor. She is the owner of LeNgwenya Private Game Lodge and Whole Herbs.
Born (4 April) and raised in Cape Town, Nompuumelelo was raised by her uncle Thamsanqa Sijaji and aunt Patrica Sijaji from the age of one-years-old. Her uncle had a taxi business and her aunt was a vendor selling food at local schools, that is where she learned business skills from a very young age. Nompumelelo grew up a happy child, in a busy home. She had a business acqumin from a young age, all because of her guardians and at 10 ear sold, she started a small business selling sweets at school. She had very little time to play with other kids. She preferred to send her extra time helping out in the family businesses. She studies I studied Management Accounting and worked as a bookkeeper to an Accountant. She is a qualified Family Herbalist (Inyanga). I am also currently completing studies in Ethnomedicine through the Ethnomedicine Practitioners Association of South Africa (EPASA). Nompumelelo is completing her studies in Ethnomedicine while balancing family life with a husband and a blended family of eight children.
When did you officially open LeNgwenya Private Game Lodge?
After saving up and trying all sorts of business ventures. I bought a farm in 2012. I opened a record label with my sister called Xhentsa Entertainment and signed two artists, Lisa Good and Jey Charles but the business did not do well. A lodge was a more sensible investment specially to use the farm space and that is how Le Ngwenya was birthed. It had old houses which my husband and renovated into cabins for the lodge. I did the décor myself and the look and feel of the lodge. We officially opened the lodge to the public in 2019.
How many employees did you start with and how many do you have now?
We started with three employees helping out and we currently have seven full-time employees for now.
What do you love the most about running the lodge?
I love seeing guests relaxing and enjoying nature. When people think of a holiday, they always think of the beach or going to see family in their hometown, but family gatherings can also be done away from familiarity, in the outdoors where people can experience nature.
Are you involved in the day-to-day running of the lodge?
Yes, I am. I manage the administration and finance. The rest of the staff make sure that it is well maintained and that guests are treated well and that we give guests an African experience.
What are some challenges of running a lodge?
When we launched, things were going smooth, and guests were enjoying the new lodge. Then COVID-19 happened, and it was the biggest challenge. We were out of business for 9 months. After strict lockdown rules were relaxed, the business was very slow. People couldn’t afford holidays, and some were afraid to be in public spaces. In the last quarter of the year, the business picked up.
It’s a white/male-dominated industry, how do you stay on top of the game?
Running any business comes with its challenges and should never be taken for granted. I always avoid playing the race card and offer great service. Small things like keeping the lodge well maintained, treating guests well, and always meeting international standards.
Tell us about your childhood?
I was raised be my uncle and aunt in Cape Town, where I was born.
My uncle had old taxis, he used to wake us up early in the morning to help him start the taxi. Then we will help my aunt to prepare the meals she will be selling at school. When coming back from school, we had to go and buy stock for the following day l. So playtime was very little.
My mom got pregnant when she was doing matric and went to nursing school then my aunt took care of me. My biological parents are James Hlohla (Cape Town) and Sandulela Ntonga (Durban) left me in the care of my uncle and aunt who took care of me. My uncle owned old taxis and my aunt sold food at a local school. I then later got married in 2010 and my husband and I have a blended family of 8 children.
What and where did you study?
I studied Management Accounting and worked as a bookkeeper to an Accountant. I am a qualified Family Herbalist (Inyanga). I am also currently completing studies in Ethnomedicine through the Ethnomedicine Practitioners Association of South Africa (EPASA).
Management Accounting helped me to understand the company books and finances side of running a business, instead of only using my instincts and learned business skills.
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