Copyright DW BAILEY
The Tuli Block of Botswana is a land of contrast. It is also known as the Land of the Giants due to its extremes, including massive Baobab trees, numerous herds of elephants, the largest recorded Leadwood tree, and the Limpopo and Shashe Rivers, which are often dry but which change to great raging torrents when the rains come, before settling back to a normal pace of life after the floods have moved on.
In the past, when hunting was still carried out in the area, numerous records for trophy game were recorded and still stand. Another “giant” in the area has to be the night sky. All that can be seen is the stars and the moon – no other lights are visible. The greatest appeal to the area has to be the vastness of its wilderness – huge tracts of untouched bushveld that still exist and which can be enjoyed by the privileged few who choose to invest in the area.
The Northern Tuli Game Reserve forms part of the Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area (TFCA) which was proclaimed in 2006 and incorporates land in Botswana (72,000 hectares), South Africa (25,800 hectares) and Zimbabwe (41,100 hectares) totalling an area of 136,900 hectares. The TFCA officials have agreed to extend the TFCA on the Botswana side from the Platjan Border Post to the Zanzibar border post. This will occur once the TFCA in the existing footprint is properly established and functioning. Currently the ‘Integrated Development Plan’ is being finalised for implementation. This covers all aspects of the TFCA from usage to management. The TFCA is a milestone in the advances of conservation. For a long time, political boundaries have had an adverse effect on conservation. Finally, countries are working together to conserve ecologically sensitive areas and the fauna and flora thereof. More information on the TFCA and Notugre can be found at the following websites: http://www.notugre.com/home/gmtfca and http://www.peaceparks.co.za/tfca.php?pid=19&mid=1003
Botswana is definitely one of the, if not the most, stable countries in Africa. It has a strong currency, a small population and very little crime of which there is seldom if ever violent crime of any description. Botswana’s previous president retired and handed over the position to the Vice President and successor in his political party showing stability not often found in Africa. This move has received support from most of the population as this party carries a vast majority and the current president is a firm favourite amongst the people as he genuinely is “for the people”.
The current president’s full name and title is “His Excellency the President Lt. General Seretse Khama Ian Khama”. President Khama has a true passion and love for the Tuli area and is often a visitor to the various lodges when he gets a break from his official duties.
The Northern Tuli Game Reserve (Notugre) consists of approximately 72,000 hectares. The land is divided into a number of farms that are privately owned. Of significant importance to the investor is that most land in Botswana is lease hold but the farms in the Tuli Block are free hold and make up a large percentage of the total free hold land in Botswana. The farms are individually owned and managed but the key to the success of Notugre is that there are no fences between the farms and all land owners are focused on game farms / reserves / lodges and not on cattle or cultivation. This allows the free movement of game, creating an area large enough to sustain viable populations of species of game naturally occurring in the area including impala, wildebeest, kudu, eland, zebra, steenbok, duiker, waterbuck, elephant, lion, leopard, hyena, jackal wild dog and cheetah to mention just a few of the species found here.
The reserve also has a huge diversity of trees, plants, insects and over 350 species of birds for the nature lover. The reserve is situated in the crossover zone of eastern and western subspecies of birds, animals and insects as well as various flora, and for this reason you have a much greater diversity where most places would only have the subspecies found in either the east or the west. While the farms are privately owned and managed separately to each other, most of the land owners are members of the Northern Tuli Game Reserve Association. The purpose of this Association is to facilitate the working together of the land owners for the combined goal of conservation. The Association handles aspects of the management such as game counts, certain anti-poaching activities and the liaison and facilitation between the TFCA officials, government and the land owners. While land owners are free to introduce game should they wish to do so, the Association has also facilitated certain re-introduction programmes such as the Wild Dog – a critically endangered species.
Member farms pay an annual levy to the Association based on the size of their land. This money is used to fund the operations of the Association.
Dopotta is a 5500 hectare private game farm situated in the Northern Tuli Game Reserve. The farm is roughly triangular shaped. The Majali River creates the North West to South East boundary of the farm. This river is impressive when in flood and holds pools of water all year round, ensuring good game viewing no matter the season. There are also other rivers and springs on the farm that hold water year-round. Spectacular view spots can be found scattered around the farm. These view spots make for memorable sundowners location. There is also a tree platform at one of the permanent water holes where you can relax while the game comes to drink or for the more adventurous, you can sleep out on the platform to experience the nocturnal activities of the bush and game viewing. Sleeping out on the platform, especially during full moon has yielded sightings of elephants wallowing in the mud, leopard and cub drinking, antbears searching for termites, hyenas hunting a kudu and many more wonderful sightings.
Dopotta owns a share in the farm Uitspan, which borders the South Eastern corner of Dopotta, allowing shareholders a further 4,000 hectares on which to traverse. This farm also has spectacular viewpoints and riverine areas. Until recently, Dopotta only hunted for rations for the staff. Hunting has now been stopped completely and the staff compensated financially for the meat they no longer receive. Hence this opportunity will not be of interest to anyone looking for a hunting lodge.
Dopotta was built in 1999 and opened its doors for occupation in 2000. The lodge is nestled into the bank of the Dopotta River, overlooking permanent pools of water. The entrance path from the arrival area leads one down a few steps into the mezzanine level of the central facility. A wooden and stone walkway from the central facility takes you to the rooms.
Dopotta Lodge consists of:
- A central facility that includes a modern and fully equipped kitchen, pantry, inside dining room, outside dining area, braai area / fire place, small library, inside lounge and outside lounging areas, storage lockers for shareholders as well as a swimming pool.
- Six chalets each consisting of two en-suite bedrooms, each bedroom having either a double bed or two single beds, equalling a total of 24 beds.
- A manager’s house.
- Garage, parking and workshop facilities.
- Staff quarters.
Three of the chalets were lost to a fire in September 2014. These chalets have been rebuilt and while it was a tragic occurrence, the rebuild means that three of the chalets (six bedrooms) are new, with completely new furnishings. The new units have been built in the original layout and with largely the same materials as originally used so the lodge atmosphere and architecture has been preserved. The only changes made were implemented to improve the rooms, the atmosphere and the maintenance thereof. The Dopotta Lodge is in what we term an elephant exclusion zone. There is a three-strand electric fence around the lodge at roughly an elephant’s chest height. This keeps the elephants out and by default, the giraffe. All other game is free to move into and through the lodge grounds and surrounds. This was a decision taken some years ago to protect the vegetation surrounding the lodge which is crucial to the privacy of the lodge and units as well as to the fauna and flora of the area. Since erecting this exclusion zone we have observed an increase in bird life around the lodge.
There has been no effect on the movement of animals through the lodge (obviously apart from elephants and giraffe). The fence was erected some distance from the lodge buildings so as not to be visible from the lodge and to be able to protect an area of sufficient size to be of environmental relevance and importance. This project has been a huge success.
Being a private lodge with such low occupancies, Dopotta is a self-catering lodge. Shareholders are responsible for bringing all their own food and drinks with them for the duration of their stay. There are possibilities of ordering food from shops in the extended area and having it delivered to the lodge but most shareholders prefer to do their own shopping before travelling to the farm. The lodge is equipped with a Toyota Landcruiser Game Drive vehicle for the shareholders’ use, but many of the shareholders also keep their private game viewing vehicles at the lodge. These private vehicles are kitted out to the shareholders own requirements.
Getting to Dopotta
Shareholders flying into the Tuli Block will land at Limpopo Valley Airfield to the south of Dopotta where they will clear customs into Botswana. They can then either be fetched from this airfield by the Dopotta staff or can fly to Jwala Airstrip just to the north-east of Dopotta, where they can leave their aircraft in Jwala’s hangar and again be fetched by the Dopotta staff.
Should shareholders wish to drive to the reserve, it is a comfortable five-hour drive from Johannesburg to Pontdrift Border Post. Once at Pontdrift, most shareholders choose to be fetched by the Dopotta staff in a game drive vehicle as the border post is also the entrance into the Northern Tuli Game Reserve. During the dry season it is possible to drive through the Limpopo River between the South African and Botswana border posts and during the wet season when the Limpopo is flowing, access is gained by use of a cable car over the river.
There are 25 equal shares in Dopotta and the lodge and farm are for the exclusive use of the shareholders and their guests only. There are no commercial operations and this is not a timeshare. Shareholders are entitled to visit the farm as often as they like and there has never been a problem with a shortage of accommodation. The lodge has an occupation of approximately only 30% per annum. The shares can be held by an individual or their respective company or trust. Each share must have a nominated user which needs to be a natural person to prevent misuse. The only limitation is that shareholders may not bring a group of more than 10 people other than by special permission for a special function.
There is currently a share available in Dopotta at a price of £360,000.00. The last share traded in February 2017 for £350,000.00. This value is determined by a number of factors including, but not limited to, the values of the land, lodge buildings, sundry assets such as vehicles, company investment and return on investment, traversing rights and access to airfields as well as the overall management of the farm.
Security / Risk on the land
The land is unencumbered and thus there is no risk in investing. The share will be transferred into your name or holding institution, company or trust at the time of payment. The land is not to be used as any sort of surety and no bonds will be registered over the land. Therefore there is no risk in the investment and once you have paid, you will have a tradable asset should you wish to on-sell at any time. Funding The lodge and farm operations are funded partially through income from the farm’s investments and partially by shareholders monthly levies. The levy amount depends largely on the performance of the investment in the previous year.
Dopotta has a manager residing at the farm. The manager reports to the Executive Committee, which is made up of shareholders appointed by vote at the AGM each year.
For any nature and outdoors enthusiast, Dopotta is a unique slice of heaven on earth. The remoteness and wildness mixed with the exclusivity and comfort of the lodge cannot be adequately described in words. To lie in bed at night and hear the roar of a lion not 10m from your room or to sit on the deck enjoying dinner while the hyena whoop in the distance. To explore untouched areas of the bushveld on foot or to enjoy a game drive on your personal game drive vehicle. To be free and to be at peace. It has to be experienced to be truly appreciated. If this is the lifestyle that interests you, you will not be disappointed with Dopotta.
For further information on this opportunity, please contact Derek Bailey via any of the following channels:
- Email: email@example.com
- Mobile Phone: +27 83 656 5890
- Fax: +27 86 614 7823
Full details of Memorandum and Articles of Association of the company, Shareholders Agreements and audited financials will be supplied once a firm interest and the ability to purchase has been expressed.