Now, this one is a little out of the ordinary, but its worth it, trust me. I am a real animal lover… of my chocolate (not so) mini groodle Ollie (for those of you living under a rock, a groodle is a mix between a golden retriever and a poodle). So, when my partner’s parents presented us with a family voucher for an all inclusive night at Jamala, I was excited, but a little unsure about it. You know, I don’t like to admit it, but I am a tad precious. I like the comforts of a nice hotel, a beautiful pool to lay besides and drink an Aperol Spritz.

Boy was my mind changed.

So off we went, on the Griswold’s Family Trip to Jamala. It’s a scenic drive in the country side, towards Jamala, located in the outskirts of Canberra. Jamala Wildlife Lodge is a part of the Canberra National Zoo. A private zoo that is maintained solely on the basis of the proceeds of Jamala.

When we arrive, we were escorted to the main lodge, where we were treated to a beautiful array of afternoon tea, with coffee and tea. This place is the epitome of safari style design. A gorgeous vaulted ceiling, framed with large glass openings, and dark stained woodwork. Beautiful textural qualities adorn the space. Leather lounges, hide rugs, beautiful hand-carved wood furniture pieces. We were surrounded by enclosures home to exotic monkeys and lemurs, not to mention the pool & balcony overlooking the lion enclosures!

We were then taken on a guided tour of the zoo with a very knowledgable guide, we met a cheetah who lives with a farm dog, visited the lion enclosures up close, hand fed an emu and saw the baby penguins have a swim.

uShaka Main Lodge at Jamala. Images via H&C and Jamala.

The beauty of this lodge, is that you get to stay in a super luxurious suite that backs onto an animals enclosure… and luxurious it was. We stayed in the giraffe treehouses, and yes, we had the resident giraffe named ‘Hummer’ leaning over our balconies! It was absolutely unreal to see him up close. We all hand fed him from our balconies and also got to pat the resident deer and alpaca in our front yard.

The rooms were on another level. Generous in size, with a large ensuite bathroom, double shower and vanity, and a nice big bathtub. Continuing on with the safari theme, a four poster bed was framed with linen drapes, luxurious safari decor and as I mentioned before, it was all about texture. From faux furs, to leathers, hides, lightweight linens, carved woodwork furniture, it was everything you’d imagine of a real African safari.

Giraffe Treehouse at Jamala. Images via H&C, Jamala & Traveller.

We were promptly picked up from our treehouses and taken to the main lodge and through the aquarium for pre-dinner drinks while we watched the hyenas being fed, all the while sipping on an extensive and top-notch selection of wines, and being offered beautiful canapes. 

We were seated for dinner with the other guests of the lodge alongside brother and sister white lions. It was surreal. Now, it’s pretty natural to assume, wildlife lodge.. what type of food are we thinking. Well. It was a 3 course meal that would beat a lot of the top Sydney fine dining restaurants. Not to mention the service, which was also impeccable.

Cave Dining Room. Image via  Jamala .

Cave Dining Room. Image via Jamala.

The following morning, we woke to Hummer outside our balcony window, munching away on his breakfast, and so we walked up to the main lodge for ours. We walked through the zoo and passed an unbelievable sight, the two white lions and the three other lions (Narnia lions I like to call them) were having a morning chat. It was the sound of lions roaring, the most amazing sound to hear live.

Once we had eaten our poached eggs on sourdough with a good coffee (and we are Sydney coffee snobs, what of it?), we headed out on our second tour of the zoo. We saw multiple different groups of tigers, cheetahs, leopards and some cute sun bears (apparently not cute if you get caught in the wild with one), lemurs leaping from treetop to treetop, monkeys, and the big boys, rhinos. These things are absolutely massive, but their zookeeper talks to them like we talk to human babies. We then visited zebras, kangaroos, ostriches and more.

Animals at Jamala. Images via H&C & Jamala.

This place is the perfect scene for an adventure, something different from your usual weekend away. Don’t worry, it isn’t filled with kiddies running around. But if you’ve got little ones, its a wonderful trip for them too.

Ready for an adventure? Book online here. Let us know if you’ve been to Jamala, tag us!

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