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Our Team

Making You Feel Part of the Family

DUNCAN & LOUISE RODGERS - Operations Director & General Manager

Duncan and Louise have been in the Game Lodge industry for the last 32 years, and have worked at 5-star lodges throughout their careers. They joined Leopard Hills during the building and development stage in 1998 and together with many of the Leopard Hills team members have been here ever since. Duncan and Louise have a passion for Leopard Hills and strive to create a family atmosphere for the staff as well as the guests. This is evident in the relaxed yet professional service at the Lodge.

Raising their two daughters, Megan and Kiara in the bush has been a blessing, and has allowed them to learn a holistic approach to life. Duncan, Louise and the Leopard Hills team look forward to welcoming you to this little bit of “paradise” they are lucky to call home.

HUGO BREED - Assistant General Manager

Born and raised in Pretoria, Hugo has a passion and love for the bush, especially the Lowveld, which started at a young age while visiting the Kruger National Park during every winter holiday. Hugo studied law after school. After completing his articles and being admitted as a lawyer, his passion for the bush ignited and he exchanged life in the city for one in the bush.

Hugo completed his FGASA level 1 and Trails Guide training at Entabeni Nature Guide Training. He then joined the team at Leopard Hills in 2013 and fell in love with the Lodge and its surroundings! After five years as an integral part of the guiding team Hugo was promoted to Assistant General Manager. He is honoured and privileged to be part of such an amazing team and looks forward to his future at Leopard Hills.

BRIDGET BLEM - Assistant to Management | Spa Therapist

Having worked as a Spa Therapist in Johannesburg for a number of years, Bridget decided it was time to give up the city life and head for a new environment. Bridget joined Leopard Hills in 2006 and it is here where her love affair developed for the African bushveld. Bridget developed her skills not only as a talented Spa Therapist but also in the Front of House Department. She is passionate about Leopard Hills and her dedication and drive make her an ever present force. Bridget loves art and finds the raw beauty of nature in her surroundings truly inspiring for her charcoal drawings and paintings.

MEGAN RODGERS - Front of House Manager

Megs has been blessed to call Leopard Hills her home since the Lodge first opened in 1998. Being born and raised in such a unique environment, has allowed her to follow her dreams of a career in the bush, affording her the opportunity to meet people from all around the world, and introduce them to this very special place.

Upon completing her schooling at Leopard Hills, Megs started job shadowing in the various departments within the Lodge so she could learn the ropes. She particularly enjoyed reception and guest relations so when a full-time position came available, she jumped at the opportunity of joining the team and thrived. The position of Front of House Management recently came available and Megan has stepped into the position with such passion. In between working full time and studying Hotel Management Megs still finds the time to pursue her passions of writing and music.

TRUST CHAWANE - Receptionist

Born in Welverdiend village to a single mother, Trust is the definition of humble beginnings. Unable to attend full time tertiary education, Trust began his career as a casual maintenance worker at the renowned Singita Lodges. He then moved on and worked himself through the housekeeping department, scullery division and volunteered in the kitchen and food and beverage departments in his spare time. Trust soon found himself in a permanent barmen position and several years later was promoted to the position of Banakeli (butler). His will to succeed was evident when he became the first person to complete the inhouse Service Level 1 and Bar Level 1 training programme as well as obtaining his Administration Manager Certificate through correspondence studies. After 11 years at Singita an opportunity arose for Trust to join the Leopard Hills family as Restaurant Manager. He is constantly looking for new challenge and has recently moved into Reception, to broaden his experience even further. He looks forward to growing within the Leopard Hills family.

MELISSA DE WET – Spa Therapist

Melissa joined the Leopard Hills family as a Spa therapist in November 2018. Although she has never envisioned herself in the setting of the bush, she quickly adapted to the slower, less stressful lifestyle this unique position offers. She is empathetic and has an immense love for people and the Health and Beauty Industry. She never knew how stimulating and exciting the hospitality industry would be and is excited to explore a whole new world and lifestyle.

THANDI MABUNDA - Executive Housekeeper

Thandi was born in Swaziland, but left at the tender age of 3 to move with her family to a small village in Mpumalanga called Utah. Thandi’s zest for life and love for people are what lead her to study Hospitality and Tourism when she left school. Thandi worked in the lodge industry for 7 years before joining Leopard Hills in January 2016 where she worked in Food & Beverage service. Her sparkling personality and her drive saw her take on a promotion in the Front of House department which she excelled at and has recently moved to Executive Housekeeper. Thandi has a passion for singing and her bubbly nature is enough to brighten up anyone’s day.

STEVEN SHABANGU - F&B Manager

Steve was born and raised in the Kruger National Park. His passion for people, fine wine and food have taken him across Southern Africa. He has worked for some of Africa’s finest lodges and has 15 years of 5-star hospitality experience. Steve’s bubbly personality, warm character and friendliness have won the hearts of the Leopard Hills faithful and he loves the daily interaction with all of his guests.

ANTHONY NDLOVU - Restaurant Manager

Anthony was raised in the Welverdiend Trust on the edge of the Kruger National Park. His love and passion for the hospitality industry started at the early age of 7. His late father was a caretaker and his mom a house keeper at a lodge in the Timbavati. He used to visit them during school holidays. His first job after finishing High School was a gardening job at Maliphalele Lodge in White River. He then moved on to Waterval Boven as a waiter/barman, after which he joined Thornybush Game Lodge as butler for 3 years. Anthony also worked at Singita for 2 years as a Head Butler, where he obtained several certificates such as Food & Beverage Professional, Bar Professional and Wine Professional, to name just a few. He joined the Leopard Hills family in November 2018 with his long term goal to settle down here at Leopard Hills until his retirement in 2040. He is a Gin Specialist and Table Service is his area of expertise.

CELESTE KOTZE - Head Chef

Born and raised in the Lowveld, Celeste has always had a passion for food and loves being in the kitchen. Celeste studied at Culinary School in the Western Cape, training under some of South Africa’s best Chefs. She has worked in prestigious restaurants across the country where she gained invaluable experience and knowledge. In 2018 the opportunity arose for Celeste to return to the Lowveld and join the Leopard Hills team. Her personal imprint is evident throughout the kitchen and she has proven herself as a creative force and essential part of the culinary team, so when the opportunity arose she moved up to Head Chef in the Leopard Hills kitchen.

MAVIS GUMEDE - Senior Sous Chef

Mavis was born and raised in Acornhoek in Limpopo and grew up loving to cook for her family. After hearing about the prestigious Singita School of Cooking, Mavis beat out the competition and was one of the 6 chosen applicants for this highly sought after opportunity. Mavis was employed full time in the Singita kitchens following her studies until the opportunity arose for her to join the Leopard Hills Team. Mavis quickly showed herself to be a force to be reckoned with and has steadily worked her way up the ladder into the Senior Sous Chef position. She is a strong influence in the kitchen and leader to her team.

JOSE CARVALHO - Senior Sous Chef

Jose grew up on a farm just outside Hartebeespoort and fell in love with the bush from a young age. Jose’s passion for food as well as his love of people combine to make him a chef who is ideally suited to a five-star lodge environment, in which he’s worked since achieving his Advanced Diploma in 2012. Jose loves the bush and is passionate about creating his guests dishes that compliment this environment. Jose has mainly worked in the luxury boutique environment and has specialised in South African cuisine with a twist. He enjoys cooking venison which enhances his passion for the Lowveld dining experience. Jose’s love for people drives him to achieve the best results – pleasing each guest and their individual requirements. He has an interest in people of all ages, and enjoys entertaining the children of his guests too.

EVERT HANEKOM - Maintenance Manager

Evert was born and grew up in Newcastle in the east of KwaZulu-Natal. He worked in various places across South Africa before ending up at Leopard Hills where he has been part of the family since 2009. Evert loves the hands on approach when it comes to working at the Lodge, and has earned the name “Mr Fix It”. He also has a passion for the bush and all the animals, especially the small and creepy ones, and can often be seen around the Lodge at night with his torch and camera, photographing frogs and insects.

REVIEW

Trip of a Lifetime

Everything about Leopard Hills is exceptional. The location, the unparalleled service from all the staff that goes out of its way to attend to every need, the food, and the game drives that bring you so close to the animals. The rangers and trackers are absolute experts and so knowledgeable. They are incredible ambassadors for the wildlife and for Leopard Hills. This is an amazing place and we had the best time from beginning to end

DAI777, United States (September 2018)

View on TripAdvisor

Our Rangers

Your Guides to Our African Wilderness

JOHAN DE LA REY - Head Ranger

Growing up on a farm with animals around him, Johan learned to respect and love nature from a young age. After school he worked with an overland company (Tours Across Africa) as a tour guide. Travelling across the African continent his true passion developed for the bush and its wildlife. In 2004, after three years of touring, his passion for the bush steered him to the western sector of the Sabi Sand Game Reserve and in 2013 he joined Leopard Hills guiding team.

Johan’s hobbies include fishing, birding, photography and sports, so when the opportunity arises he enjoys playing a round of golf or a cricket match. As a guide Johan loves to immerse his guests in the true experience of the bush. He believes the bush is too special to rush around, we do that enough in everyday working life, so he enjoys taking the time to explain what guests are seeing; and not just ticking off the “boxes”.

STUART BUY - Assistant Head Ranger

Stuart has been visiting Leopard Hills since he was 7 years old, and it was here that he fell in love with the bush. Spending time in this beautiful piece of Africa, with the rangers and trackers, his knowledge and interest in all things flora and fauna grew into a passion.

After completing his training and qualifying as a guide in 2015, Stuart’s guiding career started off in the Madikwe Game Reserve. When a ranger position opened up at Leopard Hills Stuart was elated to have the opportunity of realising his childhood dream of guiding in a reserve he had grown to love at a young age.

Every day in this job is a blessing, and living a dream just makes it even better.

NIGEL RIDGE - Ranger

Nigel was born into a nature loving family, so it is no surprise he would make the bush his career and life. From a small child, he spent all his family holidays in the Kruger National Park, learning about the bush.

Nigel went to school in Pretoria and then went on to study a diploma in Nature Conservation at Tshwane University of Technology. He is currently completing his B-Tech part time. He has also completed FGASA Level 2 and is a qualified Trails Guide.

While completing his diploma Nigel did his practical year at Karongwe, where he became a permanent guide for 3 years, before the opportunity arose for him to join the Leopard Hills team.

Nigel is passionate about the bush and says he is “Living the Dream.”

CAL BUTLER - Ranger

Since a young age Cal has had a keen interest in wildlife and nature, spending time up in the mountains and around the wetland areas and oceans of Cape Town.

After completing his studies at Stellenbosch University and the Stellenbosch Business School, Cal worked in the finance sector for a few years.

Soon a love for wildlife photography started to take shape. Longing to be out in nature Cal decided to change careers and underwent his ranger studies through Bushwise Field Guides and completed his practical at Karongwe Private Game Reserve.

An incredible opportunity presented itself at Leopard Hills and Cal joined the team.