Jamala Wildlife Lodge: A Luxury African Escape

Today we are so excited to introduce you to one of Canberra’s newest places to stay — and this one has a lot more to offer than your average hotel!

Jamala Wildlife Lodge is situated in and around the National Zoo and Aquarium in Canberra, giving visitors an up close and personal experience with the wild animals living there. And just as exciting as what’s happening outside the lodge windows — sharks, sun bears and lions — are the breathtaking interiors that the zoo’s private owners have created.

We were lucky enough to be taken on a private tour by Wildlife Lodge Officers Russell and Renee.

Jamal Wildlife Lodge Canberra

Sonia and Gina from Team SC
Sonia and Gina from Team SC

The owners curated the collection of African art, sculptures and artifacts over a ten year period, taking several trips to Africa to hand pick the items.

“Maureen [one of the zoo’s owners] has a very good eye and purchased the items directly from African artists and makers. They also commissioned a leading South African sculptor to fashion ‘the Big 5’ that adorn the dining room known as the Cave,” says Renee.

“Much of this lodge was previously the owner’s private residence. Over several years they completely redesigned and decorated the lodge to create what we have today.”

We’re standing in the lounge area of the uShaka lodge and all of a sudden a giant shark swims past us in the 200,000 litre reef aquarium. Such a surreal sight, we couldn’t help but laugh.

The uShaka lodge also has seven suites and a luxurious outdoor area with infinity pool and spa and overlooks the lion enclosure, National Arboretum and Scrivener Dam.

uShaka lodge

uShaka lodge and aquarium

African JuJu hats

Outdoor area

Infinity pool and spa

View from uShaka Lodge balcony
View from uShaka Lodge balcony

“The owners also built an additional six Giraffe Treehouses and five Jungle Bungalows,” says Renee, “These are all private, self-contained suites with king beds and ensuites, and are styled in a similar aesthetic.”

The entry door to each suite features an impressive animal carving, and once you step inside we guarantee your reaction will be ‘wow!’.

The first thing that caught our eye when we stepped into the Sun Bear Bungalow was the giant bear cubby that the suite is built around — they’re not joking when they say you will get up close with the animals. Today the sun bear is playing on the ground just below, which is close enough for us!

“The sun bear loves to play in his cubby. We built him a sawdust bed and you will often find him scratching or rolling around in it,” says Russell.

Sun bear

Sun bear bungalow bedroom

Sun bear bungalow

This suite is also lavishly furnished with items including wooden sculptures, animal print rug and cushions, carved furniture and African JuJu hat. We love the intimate lighting they have achieved with an array of lamps.

“Most of the suites have a four post king bed, except in this room the posts are suspended from the ceiling,” says Renee.

A design feature that made us squeal is mosaic feature wall in the ensuite.

Each room has a different mosaic. Here in the Sun Bear Bungalow the mosaic is of a sun bear but others feature giraffes and lions, just to name a few.


Sun bear mosaic

Ensuite details

“The idea of Jamala is to give guests an interactive overnight experience in the hope they walk away with a greater understanding of the animals and important conservation issues,” says Russell.

“The zoo has taken in rescued animals from circuses and unfortunate backgrounds, plus we work with zoos worldwide in an effort to conserve endangered species.”

Jamala Wildlife Lodge officially opened in December last year. To find out more or book a stay, visit their website. You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter.

Of course, while we were at the zoo we had to visit all the beautiful animals so we’re leaving you with some of our favourite animal snaps. Enjoy!

Photography by Gina Ciancio, all rights reserved.





    • Thanks Cindy! Funny that you say that because when we were there we were like ‘it does not feel like we’re in Canberra right now!’… the rainforest surrounding the lodge and tranquility of the place is amazing.


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