Zulu Nyala Group

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Zulu Nyala began back in May of 1981 when Trevor Shaw, the founding member of the Zulu Nyala Group, decided to take a risk and buy a remote 15 500 acre piece of land in the middle of Kwa- Zulu Natal, an undeveloped but superb wilderness area. ‘Bester’s Game Ranch’, as it was then known, was simply the land with a few small, basic lodges dotted around the mountain side. Shaw named the property Zulu Nyala, after the predominant culture of the area and the beautiful but shy Nyala buck, which is plentiful in this area but rare elsewhere in the country. He built up the lodges on the property to the extent that after 10 years he received an offer he couldn’t refuse. The lodges and land were sold – except for one small piece of land with nothing on it but an amazing view and a quarry manager’s cottage.

Zulu Nyala bushveld sunset 

And so it began again. In 1991, Trevor Shaw began constructing a ‘gentleman’s camp’, an exclusive 12 room thatch and stone lodge on top a hill, offering a beautiful view out over the region. This gentleman’s camp has been developed over 19 years to become the magnificent private lodge that today hosts guests from all over the world. Over this period of time, Zulu Nyala also acquired adjoining pieces of land from neighboring cattle farmers. Today the game reserve surrounding the Zulu Nyala Game Lodge is a 4 500 acre property that is home to over 40 different animal species.

Zulu Nyala Game Lodge

In 1997 a hotel across the railroad from the lodge came up for sale. Shaw jumped at the opportunity to expand the company. He bought the Ingwenya hotel and renamed it ‘Shaka Zulu’, but there were many objections to this name. After much deliberation, it was decided that due to the rich heritage in the area, the hotel would be called the Heritage Hotel. Shaw began renovating the old hotel. 2 years later, the film crew of ‘I Dreamed of Africa’ saw the hotel while scouting the area, and knew that it was the perfect place to accommodate their crew while filming their movie on location at the Zulu Nyala Game Reserve.

Zulu Nyala Country Manor

The film crew required 10 tents for the filming of the movie. Mr. Shaw, excited about adding another dimension to the hotel, did not hesitate to fulfill the film crew’s request. A tour operator saw the tents and suggested to Mr. Shaw that the tented camp experience would be so popular with visitors that he should build more. Shaw agreed. Another 32 tents were constructed and became an immediate hit. Realising that it was a great benefit to be able to offer different accommodation experiences to his guests, Shaw converted existing farm and estate manager houses on the reserve to become the small, private camps, Ndlovu and Nyathi.

"I Dreamed of Africa" film set at Zulu Nyala Game Lodge

I Dreamed of Africa was the first production to be filmed at Zulu Nyala. Since then, Zulu Nyala has had 6 other movies filmed on the premises with more to come. The movie also acted as a catalyst to bring all the different properties together - the Game Lodge, the Heritage Hotel and Ndlovuand Nyathi camps. They now operate as a single unit giving Zulu Nyala Group 164 rooms in total. In 1999 Trevor Shaw began giving travel packages to Zulu Nyala as donations to help raise funds for charities in the United States . The experiential package turned out to be so popular that many people now visit Zulu Nyala through these donations and fund raisers – a winning situation that raises funds for worthy causes whilst bringing many appreciative guests to the beautiful piece of Africa that is Zulu Nyala.

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