The drive to Sakae Paradise is a quiet serene one as I head down Leopards Hill, past the boom gate turn onto State Lodge Road and drive through the newly developed neighbourhood. As I get to Sakae I’m struck by the sprawling trees on this 80-acre estate, I drive across a small bridge and look out at the beautiful green land in front of me. Dima Thobejane Mushauko, co-owner of Sakae Paradise, greets me with an enthusiastic smile and leads me to the garden where we sit under the shade of the large trees with sunlight streaming through the branches and leaves. I immediately feel at home and relaxed, nature has that effect on me.
Sakae is Lusaka’s hidden gem, located off Leopards Hill Road. As you enter the tranquil 80 acre estate you drive on a small bridge to get to the developed ten acres that boasts gorgeous cover from trees, lush green gardens, monkeys climbing trees and a cool breeze. Sakae is a wildlife resort with a variety of animals except wild cats and other predators. There are giraffes, zebras, warthogs, a variety of bucks (sable, impala, waterbuck and bushbuck), as well as monkeys and guinea fowl. It’s a brilliant and convenient location for people who can’t make the time to get away for a safari in other parts of the country.
“Dimavati Investments was founded by myself and Vatice, five years ago. When we founded the company, our main aim was to do property development in Zambia. So, we came together because we had seen different types of cool properties, particularly industrial type properties, through traveling, especially in Joburg. The CBD and the urban renewal that they had done, we wanted to redo the same thing here when we initially opened the company. We started with The Cubes Apartments in Ibex Hill and built those up and once The Cubes started operating and we saw that people loved the product and gave us great feedback from that we expanded it into phase two,” Dima tells me enthusiastically.
After gaining further experience in property management and property development Dima and Vatice stumbled upon a slice of paradise at Sakae. “Initially we wanted it for ourselves and for our private residence. So that’s why we acquired it, but after spending some time here, we wanted to share the space with other people on a limited basis. We opened up Sakae Paradise Resort, at the beginning of 2020, to the public,” Dima reveals.
She explains that opening during the pandemic has had some benefits: “COVID-19 has actually been positive for us. I mean, we opened when COVID was becoming a real thing here in Zambia. It’s been a good thing for us because our set up is outdoors, the tables are at least thirty meters apart. Because travel had slowed down, people, especially people in Lusaka, are looking for options of activities that are close to home. I think that’s actually been good for business because obviously, options are limited.”
Sakae Paradise Resort offers day visits to the public as well as overnight accommodation at the isolated guesthouse. The guest house currently is ideal for couples, including honeymooners, as it only sleeps two and you have your own personal bridge to access it. All visits are done on a booking basis through email and phone. A day visit can accommodate up to twenty guests with the offer of a three-course menu. However, some people want to do picnics and bring their own food, which Sakae happily allows.
What sets Sakae Paradise apart from other local wildlife spaces is that they offer an intimate experience with a variety of activities. Aside from the three-course menu, they have their picnics which can be done in the gardens or by the waterfall. The waterfall is an ideal spot for picnics for couples and small groups of friends. The sound of the water is calming and the views are particularly beautiful this time of year as the rain has made everything so much greener. Sakae also offers other activities like hiking, mountain biking as well as bushwalks and bush lunches where you get to see the animals up close and personal during feeding time, making Sakae the ultimate destination for game viewing in the city.
Dima explains, “Day visits are popular because people can enjoy the spacious garden and our three-course meal prepared by Chef Bornface and afterwards we feed the animals in the late afternoon. The animals come close; they are wild animals but they are used to people because they are in captivity. We advise our guests on all safety protocols and to just sit back and enjoy watching the animals feed at a safe distance.”
The animals roam freely during the day, like any other animals in the bush grazing and feeding on what they find. They are also fed daily at a certain time so that people visiting can see the animals. During rainy season they are able to graze off of the lush greens that are growing and sometimes not all the animals will come up for a feed, however, the warthogs and bucks tend to stop by. In winter, the animals come much more often due to the fact that the area becomes drier. The animals are even more eager to come to the front property because they know they will be fed.
I got a tour of Sakae that included a walk to the waterfall where there is a cute table and chair set up and plenty of space to sit and set up a picnic.
I also checked out the hiking trail and the mountain biking trail that draw many day visitors. I consider going mountain biking but the trail looks like it’s made for people more experienced than me. Perhaps a nice relaxing hike is more my speed, legs firmly planted on the earth.
Later in the day, watching the animals come out for a feed in the front of the estate is quite the experience. Being so close to warthogs, bucks, zebras and giraffes feels like something out of a movie. We sit in our comfortable, well cushioned garden chairs as the animals trot in. I’ve never been so close to a giraffe and I marvel at its unique pattern, its majestic long neck and the way it moves elegantly towards the feeding trough.
Before I reluctantly leave I ask Dima about plans for the future. She tells me Sakae hosted its first ever wedding. Based on the success of the event they are considering hosting more small weddings (no more than 60 people) on a limited basis. There are also plans to add six more chalets and have them running by the middle of 2021.
A visit to Sakae Paradise is undoubtedly an intimate, serene and unique wildlife experience within the city that is both affordable and accessible. Perfect for the business traveller on a short stay in Lusaka, the family that lives in Lusaka and can’t get away, as well as your group of friends looking for something new and exciting to do.
As the sun sets my day visit to this slice of paradise within the city comes to an end. I’m sad to leave but I feel peaceful, recharged and ready for the week ahead.