St Helena - a Landscape Photographer's Muse

Mantis St Helena is a brand new hotel on the mystic St Helena Island which is located in the middle of the South Atlantic. The hotel officially opened its doors on the 28th of October 2017, and Mantis Collection thought it the perfect time to commission the first professional photographer to capture its new gem. True to Mantis’ mission; Mantis St Helena is an example of the best St Helena has to offer and was built and developed in harmony with the culture, architecture, and environment of the island’s capital – Jamestown. 8 of the hotel’s 30 rooms are Heritage Rooms which are located in the East India Company’s old Officer’s Barracks constructed circa 1772. Lovingly and respectfully restored by Mantis, this building now forms part of the hotel and is the basis of the architectural style chosen when the building plans were drawn up.

When Mantis Collection’s Group Marketing Manager, Sasha Ella, and the GM of the hotel, Matt Joshua, set off searching for a photographer they decided it could not be someone focused on buildings and room photography. “We needed a photographer who could encapsulate all the characteristics of a St Helena island experience, because truly – it is like no other”. When the pair found Des Jacobs of Mpumalanga, South Africa, it was not his vast and impressive portfolio of the best lodges in South Africa that landed him this job; but rather the spark in his voice when he spoke about his great love for landscapes. “His passion was evident as our eyes picked up on minute details tentatively brought to life on stunning images of vast bodies of land, water, and air”.

Des was ready to leave the day he got the call confirming he would be photographing one of the world’s last virgin landscapes, he could have walked out the house that minute with just his hiking boots, his Canon 6D and a 17 – 40 mm lens. His flight was booked for Saturday 28th October, however, due to heavy mist causing zero visibility on the runway – SA Airlink could only fly out following Monday. The technology that allows us to travel safely to this remote island is one of the few differences between us 21st-century sojourners, and the pioneers who ‘discovered’ it in 1502.

With clear skies predicted for the tropical South Atlantic island on Monday 30th of October, Des Jacobs and many other excited tourists, businessmen, and Saints set off from Johannesburg to the island of St Helena. Des described the flight as pleasant and filled with excited angst which boiled over in the conversations between passengers as the dramatic landscape came into sight. The winds were calm, and the Embraer airplane landed smoothly into the brand new airport. The airport staff serviced the passengers with the highest efficiency and an uber friendly manner. One thing Des hopes for is that the genuine and friendly service never wanes as the airport gets busier – it’s a highlight he will never forget.

Des was met at St Helena Airport by Matt Joshua, GM of Mantis St Helena. They hopped into a local taxi and enjoyed a 30-minute drive into Jamestown. “The drive was so beautiful, its given me new meaning to the words scenic or picturesque,” Des recounts checking into the hotel, and once again being blown away by the friendliness of The Saints. The locals working at the hotel are naturally hospitable, they want to assist you, and make you feel at home – it’s just in their nature!

The hotel has 30 rooms and is the most luxurious one on the island, the rooms are very nicely done. I had the best fish dishes there, I think apart from breakfast – all I ate was fresh seafood. There is nothing like that in Mpumalanga, so how could I resist? I suppose it could be put down to South Africa and St Helena’s mutual history, but I found the food to be familiar and very much what I am used to eating at home. There were some interesting twists though, like Black Pudding on the breakfast menu which I just had to try, and was pleasantly surprised by!

Walking out the hotel and up and down the hilly streets of Jamestown was my favourite part the day on the Island, there was always someone coming up to me and having a chat. One guy saw I had a camera and he took me for a quick tour of Jamestown, showing me nooks and crannies I would have certainly missed. Everyone is just so friendly and always greeting with smiles in their eyes.

For a small place, there is so much happening, and nothing stays the same which meant I always had something new to find and do in each moment. I made the most of my time there by doing what was best in the moment. When the sun is shining and the winds are calm, quickly get to the dive centre because you don’t know when next you’ll be able to explore ancient ocean wrecks and lose yourself in the undersea caves. I loved how accessible every place is from Mantis St Helena hotel – I could walk out the door and find myself climbing Jacob’s Ladder, fishing, or shooting from Diana’s Peak, wherever the moment took me.

When asked what his favourite lookout point on St Helena is, Des unwaveringly said Blue Hill. He said standing at the ‘Man and Horse Cliffs’ kept him in total awe of the contrasting yet complimentary sects of land and water in one line of vision. “St Helena is not a typical island. When I told my family I was going there they immediately starting going on about white-sand beaches and palm trees. Even when I first read about it being a volcanic island I imagined a mixture of barren, dark soil and greenery. I was never ready for the variety in the land, and the environment. With every turn I took I saw something different; I was the proverbial kid in a candy shop. There are variations of beauty there – from the barren, rocky shores, the green pastoral hills, to the desert-like areas – all so very different. The tropical weather ebbed and flowed as the clock ticked through the day, and the skies consistently reset the mood. St Helena is my muse!”

Click here to see some Des Jacob’s photographs of Mantis St Helena and the island.

Book your spot on the next Mantis St Helena Photography Experience!

RESERVATIONS: +27 41 404 9300 |

HOTEL: +290 25505 |  |

Nungwi Dreams by Mantis. Another Exceptional Place to Find Yourself.

The Mantis Collection has unearthed another exceptional place to find yourself; Nungwi Dreams on the North-East coast of Zanzibar. This is a brand new hotel, building has been completed, and quite a few guests have already experienced this wonderful oasis. The hotel is open to guests while Mantis Collection oversees the transition into managing, marketing and aligning the finishing touches and services to the Mantis standard. Nungwi Dreams will officially come under the Mantis banner in June 2018, at which stage there will be an official opening.

Nungwi Dreams is built for luxurious island living and gives guests the freedom and privacy to experience the essence of The Spice Island. True to Mantis form, Nungwi Dreams is a boutique hotel with only 28 rooms comprising 2 villas, deluxe and junior single suites, and 2-bedroom apartments. Each room is spacious and well-appointed with contemporary finishes. The rooms are designed for flexible living and can accommodate families and groups very well. There is Wi-Fi throughout and satellite television in each room. The Nungwi Dreams’ guest is spoilt with East-African cuisine and fresh seafood served in the on-site restaurant. The generous infinity pool looks out over a private white-sand beach and the azure waters of the Indian Ocean beyond.

The Mantis Collection is a family-run collection of award-winning, privately-owned hotels and eco-escapes located on all 7 continents of the world. Each property in the Mantis portfolio represents the finest example of its kind and celebrates the culture, gastronomy, architecture, and nature of the location in which it is found; offering guests truly authentic experiences. Officially founded by Adrian Gardiner in 2000, Mantis is committed to the spirit of conservation and restoration, and each property is sensitive to its surroundings in respect of the building, environment, and local community. Mantis’ approach in the development and management of Nungwi Dreams strives to preserve the authenticity of an island experience in Zanzibar.

Mantis has created flexible rooms and rates that encourage the Nungwi guest to go out and explore Nungwi Village and surroundings. Nungwi Village is characterised by wide, palm-lined, pristine beaches. It is home to the Mnarani Turtle Conservation Pond which protects green and hawksbill sea turtles in a tidal lagoon. There is a wide range of activities including fishing, diving, snorkelling, boating and kite surfing, spice tours, swimming with dolphins, and turtle conservation.  Nungwi is a 45-minute drive from the historical Stone Town which is the oldest part of Zanzibar City and a UNESCO World Heritage Centre.

Celebrating 10 years of true African luxury at Oceana

Oceana Beach and Wildlife Reserve is the product of a man who had a vision about what true African Luxury should be. As we celebrate our 10th Anniversary we’ve put together what we consider to be the ultimate Luxury African Experience showcasing all that we and the local area has to offer. This really is the best of both, bush & beach.

The Basics

  • 6 Nights Accommodation for 4 people in either two Ocean Suites or the Private Ocean House because true luxury should be shared with those close to you
  • All meals and selected beverages including house wine and local spirits
  • Transfers from Port Elizabeth and back

 The Wild

  • A 3 hour horse riding adventure on the beach
  • A full day of deep sea fishing or whale watching out of the Kowie River
  • A full day Big 5 Safari excursion including boat trip and riverside lunch
  • Daily game drives in Oceana’s Private Wildlife Reserve experiencing over 30 different species

 The Wonderful

  • A day of rest and relaxation with Spa Treatments to value of R1 000 per person
  • An evenings private wine tasting with a special selection of food pairings
  • An evenings private in-suite dining with gourmet bubble bath
  • An evening starting with sundowners in the reserve followed by a private seafood barbeque on the beach deck
  • A luxurious and lazy beach picnic

This offer includes:

  • 6 Nights for 4 People
  • All Meals
  • Selected Beverages
  • Transfer to and from Port Elizabeth
  • Numerous Activities & Experiences

Terms and conditions

  • Valid August 2017 – December 2018
  • Package cost is in ZAR 126 000
  • Standard Agents Commission applies
  • All inclusions are subject to availability and weather conditions
  • Standard cancellation terms apply for off peak and non peak times.

What’s better than one fantastic getaway? Three!

Are you looking for a supremely perfect way to experience the Eastern Cape’s Coast Meander?

Our fabulous Eastern Cape trio- No. 5 By Mantis; Founders Lodge and Oceana Beach and Wildlife Reserve- have teamed up to provide the ultimate city, beach and wildlife experience. This unique 3-in-1 experience can’t be missed.

Founder’s Lodge, hidden away from prying eyes, lies nestled adjacent to Shamwari Game reserve. With daily game drives, It is the perfect base from which to plot your Big 5 experience, and walk in the natural beauty of the Eastern Cape Bush.

No. 5 By Mantis, set in the affluent beach suburb of Summerstrand, offers you a discreet and elegant boutique hotel to act as your home whilst you explore the bustle of Port Elizabeths markets, nightlife and surrounds.

Oceana Beach and Wildlife Reserve, perched on a vast and pristine private beach allows you the opportunity to indulge in luxury, bask in the warmth of the beach, or explore the watersports and local wildlife in the midst of this exotic reserve.

The best of three worlds lies at your fingertips. What happens when you dare to go big and combine all three? A thrilling adventure packed with water sports, land adventures; biking trails; warm beach days and vibrant city nights.

Spend the day getting up close and personal with this unique corner of Africa’s natural fauna and flora, your nights partying it up with the locals or retreat to your private paradise to relax and unwind .

The full stretch of the magnificent Wild Coast meander lies at your fingertips – Book today, before you miss out, and experience the adventure of a lifetime.

This can’t-miss combo comes with a added special offer, contact reservations to find out more.

Celebrate 25 years of dedicated conservation

25 years ago, Mantis founder Adrian Gardiner acquired swathes of farmland in South Africa’s Eastern Cape, re-introduced the game that had long since disappeared, and established Shamwari, “one of the most successful private conservation initiatives in Southern Africa”.

When he sold the game reserve in 2008, Gardiner retained the 400ha alongside Shamwari that had always been his personal sanctuary. Founders Lodge was recently opened to guests who can now enjoy the privacy of this private retreat. It is stocked with plains animals only, so guests can safely explore the ruggedly beautiful landscape on foot. Daily guided game drives at neighbouring Shamwari Game Reserve offer the chance to spot the Big 5, as well as the herds of other game and abundant birdlife that live in this malaria-free paradise.

Whether you’re hosting your family, friends or business colleagues, you’re assured of superior service and the epitome of safari-lodge luxury, just an hour’s drive from the  Port Elizabeth airport in South Africa’s Eastern Cape. The six double en-suite rooms each boast their own veranda.  There are two outdoor swimming pools, a billiard room, library with business-centre facilities, gym and steam room, boma, casual dining terrace and elevated viewing deck. And, of course, there is complimentary wireless connectivity throughout the lodge.

Experience the freedom and privacy of your own game lodge. When booking ask about our Mantis Madness Special: book 3 nights at Founders and get 2 nights free at any The Last Word property, at No5 By Mantis or Windermere.

Mantis Owners Collections’ family friendly villas

Planning a family holiday with toddlers or teens? We’ve got you covered with our range of family villas.

Jembisa Bush Lodge

Children love Jembisa, enjoy a thrilling safari adventure while being educated in some of the wonders of the natural world and leave as mini-game trackers. For families to share this experience is a never-to–be forgotten holiday.

At Jembisa family safaris are our speciality and we offer a very wide range of unique activities designed for all age groups to give a full and rounded depth to the safari. As we are small we are flexible with our safari programme to cater to the ages and interests of each family group.  Our tailor made children programs like the game ranger course for kids, tracking and sleeping under the stars.  With no predators on this game reserve it allows for many activities on land. Explore property:

Boulders Beach Villa

Children love Jembisa, enjoy a thrilling safari adventure while being educated in some of the wonders of the natural world and leave as mini-game trackers. For families to share this experience is a never-to–be forgotten holiday.

At Jembisa family safaris are our speciality and we offer a very wide range of unique activities designed for all age groups to give a full and rounded depth to the safari. As we are small we are flexible with our safari programme to cater to the ages and interests of each family group.  Our tailor made children programs like the game ranger course for kids, tracking and sleeping under the stars.  With no predators on this game reserve it allows for many activities on land. Explore property:

Hopewell Private Game Reserve

The secluded and spacious main lodge is perfectly positioned for panoramic views over the reserve. Perched above the elephants’ favourite watering hole, the deck is the ideal spot for relaxation and some idle game-viewing. Two stylishly decorated en suite Executive Suites with separate outside showers overlooking the indigenous bush are available in the Main Lodge.

These rooms would also be suitable for a family of four and all activities at Hopewell Private Game Reserve are tailored to the family needs. Explore property:

Birds, Bears & Belugas

What could be better than seeing the legendary polar bears up close, in their natural summer habitat? How about swimming with beluga whales? Or spotting over a hundred bird species, many of them so-called ‘lifers’? All while staying in a luxury eco lodge in Canada, with a spectacular backdrop of warm weather tundra..


Oman: A Visitor’s Guide

Oman is undoubtedly one of the world’s undiscovered travel gems. From a traveller’s perspective, it has so many of the advantages of its middle eastern neighbours with none of the crowds, the development without the decline. Like Morocco, it offers a warm welcome and rich cultural and culinary experiences, but without the cheerful chaos that marks a weekend in Marrakech, for example.


Ruin Lust: From Exhibition to Reality

‘Ruin Lust’ is the slightly offbeat title of the latest exhibition at the Tate in London, “a guide to the mournful, thrilling, comic and perverse uses of ruins in art from the seventeenth century to the present day”. It’s a title translated directly from a German term for the aesthetic appreciation of ruins, Ruinelust.


10 Things You Didn’t Know About Humpback Whales

There’s something visceral about seeing a whale, whether it’s for the first time, or just the latest in a string of whale watching adventures (the activity has a large fan club – don’t be surprised if you become a bit of an enthusiast yourself). Perhaps it’s their sheer size – humbling and wonderful as looking up at the stars – or their innate curiosity and even friendliness, despite the danger humans have long presented to them.


Wildlife of the Arctic: An Introduction

Far above the northernmost regions that your average tourist will ever travel, on a vast, ice-encrusted ocean surrounded by treeless permafrost, is the land of the polar night and the midnight sun – the magical kingdom of the Arctic. Average temperatures here never venture higher than 10 °C, and can dip as low as an astonishing -40 °C, seemingly making it one of the least hospitable places on earth.