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The birth of Founders Lodge by Mantis

Over two decades ago...

Adrian Gardiner set about making his conservation dreams a reality.

It all began in the Eastern Cape where he founded the legendary Shamwari Game Reserve. Through extensive research, he discovered that the Eastern Cape had once teemed with wildlife, including Africa’s Big 5. With this knowledge, it became his vision to restore a vast tract of farmland to its former glory. He successfully rewilded this part of the Eastern Cape and brought explorers and discovers from all over the world to enjoy luxury accommodation and intimate encounters with nature.

Viewed by many as the founder of conservation tourism in the Eastern Cape, Adrian Gardiner has left a deep spoor in the global conservation community and in the hospitality industry. Adrian’s original vision connected the Garden Route with the Big Five, all within driving distance from Cape Town and Port Elizabeth and in a malaria-free region. As tourism to the Eastern Cape boomed, Adrian recognized the opportunity to provide a consistently high-quality journey from start to finish for international visitors wishing to explore more of South Africa. His vision was a portfolio of properties that would join forces under one group, providing the assurance that visitors would encounter the same standards at each venue. In 2000, Adrian formed the award-winning Mantis Collection that today owns, manages or represents over 88 hospitality establishments situated on all seven continents across the globe.

He now offers a small, select number of guests the opportunity to stay over at his original residence, the secluded Founders Lodge, and to experience all of its serenity as well as viewing the Big Five at the adjacent Shamwari.

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