This week, I was lucky enough to have a layover in Johannesburg, South Africa.
It’s currently winter time in South Africa, so, while the weather was still a damn sight better than the ‘summer’ months back in the UK, it was slightly too chilly to lounge by the swimming pool.
With the possibility of topping up my tan off the list, I decided to step into the wild for the day and visited Glen Afric County Lodge.
While I had done a little research on the lodge, I still had no idea what to expect, and was pleasantly surprised when I arrived; the site was absolutely beautiful. Home to the set of BBC’s Wild At Heart series, Glen Afric is situated about 40 minutes outside of Johannesburg, and is perfectly placed to provide guests with undisturbed views of the Magaliesberg mountains.
We were ushered through reception and onto a rustic deck, where, along with a handful of other guests, we enjoyed a gorgeous buffet meal whilst taking in our surroundings. As we ate, we could see giraffes strolling around in the distance, which was such a surreal yet amazing experience in itself. The lodge has such a peaceful atmosphere, and once we had filled up on a generous helping of food from the buffet, we had a little wander around whilst we waited for our guide to collect us.
First up on the itinerary was an elephant interaction. This was by far my favourite part of the day – the elephants were absolutely beautiful and I could have stood watching them for hours. Glen Afric is home to 3 elephants; a mother and daughter and then a second baby elephant which had been adopted by Three, the mother. Our guide explained to us that it is extremely rare for elephants to adopt babies, since looking after their own is hard enough work! However, since Three knew that both herself and her own baby would be taken care of by the lodge, she accepted the baby, who had been washed away from her own mother, as her own.
The elephants are looked after by handlers due to the ongoing fear that they will be poached for their tusks. It was heartbreaking to hear about the threat to elephants from poachers, yet heartwarming to witness how much the handlers and guides at Glen Afric cared about the elephant’s wellbeing. We were lucky enough to get very close to the elephants, who carried on munching away at the shrubbery as they do for 20 hours every day!
Once we had torn ourselves away from our new friends, we hopped back into the jeep for our game drive. En route to see the rhinos, lions, and tigers, we stumbled upon a real life Zebra Crossing situation!
The lions and tigers at Glen Afric are also rescue animals, and as such, are kept in penned off areas to aid in their protection and development. Each animal has a story, and it was amazing to hear about the personalities and quirks of all of them. Primarily a conservation project, Glen Afric does not buy or trade animals for the sake of a tourist attraction, but provides protection and rescue to those in need. It is clear to see how much the staff there care for the wellbeing of the animals, and the lodge is committed to providing a safe and natural environment for animals who may otherwise be subject to violence and abuse by those intent on making money through the sale of tusks or fur, or through tourism.
I would highly recommend a visit to Glen Afric to anybody visiting Johannesburg, and I hope you enjoyed reading about my day there!