26 February 2012 by Julienne du Toit

Paul Geiger and Motswari

How commitment, vision and love led to a lasting legacy that embraces the integrity of an eco-experience.

I was poking about Motswari’s website recently, impressed by the fact that this game lodge is accredited by 2 organisations – Green Globe (via Heritage Environmental Management Company) and Fair Trade in Tourism.

I was particularly interested because years ago I’d met the Geiger family – specifically Roland (who died tragically in an aeroplane accident in Kenya in 1998) and his father, Paul. It was Paul who bought the land that became Motswari Private Game Reserve nearly 30 years ago, within the Timbavati area.

And I’d been there, absolute ages ago, sometime in the early 1990s. Paul took me on a walk around, and I remember being staggered by his commitment to the land and his vision, and also how much he loved the people who worked at Motswari.

Paul died recently, after a long illness, aged 81. He was hailed as a pioneer of the wildlife tourism industry, but more importantly, as someone who was never seduced by the ever-increasing luxury options. Motswari doesn’t have a spa, or heated plunge pools for every suite, satellite television, or a cigar bar.

He was hailed as a pioneer of the wildlife tourism industry, but more importantly, as someone who was never seduced by the ever-increasing luxury options.

Paul, by contrast, wanted guests to feel the magic and wholeness he felt when he first encountered it in the late 1970s. He and his family created a lodge with all the comforts and elegant beauty you could possibly want while still retaining the integrity of an eco-experience.

Geiger defied the trend of the ever-more luxurious game lodge. Many these days are simply ultra-luxury boutique hotels with exotic backdrops of bushveld and the thrill of wildlife. Their environmental and energy footprints are massive.

Liz Westby-Nunn, who started the Portfolio Collection, notes in her homage to Geiger that Motswari remains 1 of the most authentic game lodges in South Africa.

Category: Culture & History, Responsible Tourism, Wildlife

comments powered by Disqus