Lion House is Harrismith’s ‘mane attraction’

Posted on 10 January 2019

Have you ever spent the night surrounded by lions? The Glen Garriff Conservation in Harrismith, Free State, gives visitors the opportunity to sleep metres from its pride and joy.

The reserve has a farm-style homestead that sleeps up to 12 guests, but the mane attraction is the Lion House.

The Lion House is a three-bedroom cottage that sleeps up to six people and is set up in such a way that guests will never be more than five metres from a lion. The cottage is also cosily furnished with a fireplace and has little touches – such as ostrich and lion scatter cushions – that pay homage to nature and the surrounding wildlife.

Aslan and his pride to the left of the guest house. Image supplied: GG Conservation.

The lion sanctuary boasts its own royalty, and one of the favourite big cats there, Smokey, is a hit on Facebook and Instagram.

The Glen Garriff pride, comprises 77 lions, was first introduced to the reserve in 2002, a century after the last two wild lions had been hunted down in Platberg in 1902.

Arial view of GG Conservation, winter time, Drakensberg mountains in the background.Image credit: Supplied/ GG Conservation.

The ‘GG’ property has been in the Shannon family for four generations and over 100 years. Patrick Shannon, owner of the conservation and father of CEO Traci Shannon, was a vet on the reserve with his father, where they both specialised in cattle and horses.

‘Lion House is not only just for lion enthusiasts but also appeals to any animal and nature lovers, with our beautiful landscapes and scenery, including the Harrismith Platberg mountains and we are also very close to the Northern Drakensberg … we also have many other species of free roaming game on the reserve,’ explains director of GG Lions NPC Suzanne Scott.

Lion House hosts families and solo travellers from near and far, and it’s not a bad spot for a couple’s retreat either:

‘We recently had a marriage proposal in the presence of Shalom and Ariel, the two white lions living directly outside Lion House. The lady in question was a massive fan of the GG Lions social media pages, so her partner surprised her and the parents with a four-day stay at Lion House and popped the question in front of the two lions,’ Scott adds.

GG’s own Bakerskop Mountain. Image credit: Supplied/ GG Conservation.

The Glen Garriff has also received some very special guests over the years. ‘In 1947, whilst on the Royal Tour of South Africa, the future Queen of England, Princess Elizabeth at the time, visited Glen Garriff as the property was then,’ Scott says.


Apart from the big cats, the Glen Garriff is also home to animals like ostriches, zebra, impala, wildebeest and springbok, and game drives through the reserve can be arranged at an extra cost. This, along with the booking fee, goes towards the GG Lions NPC, a non-profit charity.

Suzanne Scott explains, ‘GG Lions NPC evolved nearly four years ago as a non-profit subsidiary of GG Conservation, a lion sanctuary whose mission is simply to love, protect and preserve the lions in our care.’

‘Our lion sanctuary offers a safe and healthy environment for our lions to flourish in this beautiful natural habitat, to keep the GG lions protected from harm and yet as close to living in the wild as captivity allows. As of the last three-plus years we have had an active contraception and sterilisation programme here at GG to ensure no cubs are born.’

Check out some of Smokey’s pals and their awesome ‘play area’:

Boy and Bright Eyes sun themselves just behind Lion House. Image supplied: GG Conservation

The Dam Camp pride. Image supplied: GG Conservation.

These lodgings, with their unique wildlife offerings and great views, have received positive reviews on the Airbnb site as well as on TripAdvisor.


Featured images: supplied/GG Conservation.

yoast-primary - 1004431
tcat - Accommodation
tcat_slug - accommodation
tcat2 - Travel news
tcat2_slug - travel-news
tcat_final -