We were on our way to Gaberone, Botswana and whilst driving on the Phokeng Border Road, we noticed two sign posts (for Lodges in the vicinity) on one of the side little dirt roads. We quickly stopped the car because we were looking for a place to stay at on our way back from Botswana on the Friday afternoon - somewhere sort of half way to home. We love the "bush" so have stayed at various other game farms/lodges and B&B's in and around the Madikwe, Nietverdiend, Swartruggens and Pilanesburg areas. The one place we saw advertised on the board was for a lodge that had animals in the wild and rescued/hand reared animals in captivity that one could interact with.
Jonathan phoned the number on the board and spoke to a helpful and really friendly chap - we did not know at the time that he is the owner. We told him why we wanted to stay over - a1 nite stop over on our way back from Gabs in a game environment. Anyway, he told us that he had another place that he took over 1 year ago and he had made a lot of changes and done major renovations to it and there were more wild exotic animals that we could interact with if we wanted to. I was sold - it was on the way back to JHB and I was looking forward to a night in the "country" having a braai and listening to the roars of the lions and the calling of the hyaena's amongst other noises.
So, we arrived at about 4.30pm on the Friday and were welcomed by Nazeer Cajee, the owner. He showed us to our room which was "private" but surrounded by all the amenities. The King size bed was incredibly comfortable, the room was big enough, with a TV (for those who have to be in touch at all times!!), coffee/tea and kettle, desk - and the bathroom was gorgeous. We also had our own private little patio outside. I think there are 8-9 double rooms -they all looked stunning. We put our things down and were delighted to hear that a couple were renewing their vows and Leila the Cheetah was carrying the rings tied with a ribbon to her collar. So, we stood around the corner watching the whole procedure - oh my word, it was absolutely awesome - the Cheetah "carrying" their eternity rings, then sitting on the red carpet while the couple were renewing their vows and then the groom untying the rings and the couple having photo's with the Cheetah - all of this taking place in one of the most beautiful surroundings and gardens. Mmmmmmm, this gave me ideas!!
We asked Nazeer if they could prepare a braai for us in the evening as we didn't bring any food with us. He said no problem, we will do everything for you - supply you with meat, salads and pap and I have two guys who will be your waiters and braai masters for the evening - they will look after you. So, Jonathan and I got to the Boma and the fire was going and our table for 2 was set. It was stunning - the boma has been built with stone on the outside and wooden "sticks/poles" inside so it keeps the warmth in the area when the fire is going. I always love a log fire but there was something extra special about this one - it is the most amazing wide iron holder/grid for the actual fire with a small concrete wall around the base. We sat next to the fire in the camping chairs, looking at the stars, enjoying the warmth and the sound of the liions roaring in the background. And, Nazeer was not joking, our braai masters were amazing - the chops, sausage, chicken and steak were cooked to perfection, there was enough food to feed a party of 10 - not just the two of us. There were also 3 different salads, garlic bread, pap with the most divine sauce and if there was anything else I cannot remember because I ate too much anyway.
The next morning, we wanted to do one of the activities - interacting with the animals, however, as luck would have it, it was a really cold day (from 28 degrees the Friday) - about 16 degrees and the wind was blowing. I managed to cuddle and kiss a little white lion cub for about 15 minutes - they kindly brought him wrapped in a blanket into the boma area (it was warm because the sun was at least shining in the boma) and I was in my element - and in love.
So, maybe it was a good thing I didn't get to see the Tigers; Hyaena's; White Lions and Cubs, Lions and Cubs; Wolf; Wild Dog; Serval; Black Leopard; Lynx and Jaguars and play with any of them - it gives me a really good reason to go back again .... and again ... and again.
If you are a wild animal lover and understand the importance of these "sanctuaries" that rescue, rear and care for wild animals that would not normally survive in the wild, then you have to visit Akwaaba Lodge - either for a day with the family (braai and pool facilities are available) or for a weekend with your loved one (and the family) or even for a conference. The place is really beautiful and welcoming and the animals are all very well looked after (very healthy indeed), loved and cared for by the most amazing guy, their living environments are perfect and overall, this is a place that deserves support.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Akwaaba Lodge & Predator Park View a wide variety of predators. Siberian tigers Cheetah's Lions Cubs White lions Leopards Black leopards Jaguar Caracals Servals Madiba our Strawberry Leopard ,only one world wide in captivity Interaction packages available with: Lions, Cheetah, Wolf,Malaika our striped Hyena and cubs. 4 star Accommodation Spa Pool Boma Conference/Wedding Venue Restaurant Day Centre/Day Visitors Kiddies Parties Team Building No Hunting. Situated on the R52 Koster road, approximately 20km from Rustenburg and 40km from Sun City. ... more less