Making safari magic happen since 2001
Marianne Birrell was born in Namibia and grew up in South Africa. “During university holidays spent in Zimbabwe, I had the priviledge of enjoying Africa's wilderness - it's unspoiled beauty, incredible wildlife, the warmth of its people. This was the world we grew up in. After teaching and travelling, an opportunity came my way to work in a top Sabi Sand game lodge, and I took it. My experience in the safari industry began there."
This was followed by a decade in corporate life, half of it in Switzerland. "My husband and I quit the rat race and returned home to South Africa when Nelson Mandela was released. We created Willowbrook Lodge in the Cape winelands (left), a delightful country house hotel that we owner-managed with enthusiasm. We established a solid reputation for our 12-room hotel while our country took its baby steps with democracy."
But the call of the wild is insistent. In 2000 the couple sold their riverside lodge and built a home in a private nature reserve called Eden, near Kruger Park. "Life among Africa's wild creatures was an incredible gift. Every day presented special surprises - like these giraffes gliding by our pool. Before long, we were exploring this top safari area. We visited many, many safari lodges, and I wanted to share the treasures we found."
This handsome golden-maned lion is called Little Leo. He was rescued from a sordid South African canned hunting farm, and now lives at Drakenstein lion sanctuary in the Cape winelands "near my current SA home. We have adopted Little Leo and Joy; all the lions here have been rescued from cages, circuses, or atrocious zoos in Europe or the M/E. We applaud ALL wildlife warriors, true heroes all. They remind us that WE are all the custodians of our planet."