Meet Gerry Cuje-Jakoby, Putting The Klein Karoo On The Map, As The Manager Of The White Lion Lodge

White Lion Lodge Staff

Some like to wake up and head to the office, whilst some like to work from home. Gerhild, aka Gerry, likes to opt for a more natural office in the form of a nature reserve, offering all the sights and sounds of what Africa is truly about.

As the Manager of the White Lion Lodge, Gerry’s job is not an easy one as she’s tasked with the important duty of looking after many individuals who have come from far and wide, in order to experience a wildlife wonderland that is the Sanbona Reserve, on which the White Lion Lodge resides.

Offering a unique nature and wildlife experience near Cape Town, the privately-owned White Lion Lodge is situated in the southern part of the Sanbona Wildlife Reserve. It offers luxury accommodation, exceptional personal service and delicious cuisine combined with safaris through a 30000ha concession of the Reserve.

The network of wooded kloofs, valleys and river channels that dissects much of the Karoo provides habitat for specialist woodland browsers such as Black rhinoceros and Kudu; and in addition, makes for exquisite panoramic views from your private suite.

We caught up with Gerry, in an exclusive one-on-one and found out what it takes to be a successful lodge manager, in the lodging and tourism industry.

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How long have you been working at The White Lion Lodge?

The Lodge was built between 2006 and 2008 and opened its doors in 2009 and I have been involved since day one. I was asked to find a spot somewhere in the Western Cape, in a Nature Reserve, where a private home can be built and let at the same time.

Sanbona was found and the planning began. After falling in love with Sanbona, I did not return back to Cape Town and stayed in the Klein Karoo permanently – the best decision I ever made.

Growing up, was working in lodging something you always wanted to do, or how did you get into the industry?

Yes, it was… After working in big entities like old age homes, hospitals, I decided to move to a place where I can work with ‘happy’ people and be out in nature, surrounded by wildlife and the outdoors.

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When did you first discover a passion for the travel industry and essentially hosting people?

Working and hosting, spoiling people – it is my passion. No better feeling when you can combine passion and work.

What, in your opinion, makes the White Lion Lodge ‘special’?

Being in the Sanbona Reserve and the location as to where the Lodge is situated, the “magic” simply surrounds you. The calmness, peace, freedom and being able to live a ‘down to earth’ life is priceless. There is nothing better for me than living with nature and in nature.

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What do your managerial duties look like on a daily basis?

In a small lodge like this, you become a “man” of many trades and wear many hats. From office work to maintenance, guest relations, guiding, lots of detailed planning and organising, are only a few things to mention.

Two days the same… The best-planned day can be turned around in seconds due to an unforeseen event or happening.

Originally from Germany, what makes South Africa “home” to you?

Home is where your heart is and that’s South Africa for me. It does not matter where you live, you have to work to make a living. What South Africa offers me, I can’t get back in Germany. I have never looked back…

What does it feel to be able to work out in a natural wildlife setting on a daily basis?

I don’t call it work. It is enjoyment. You have to love it, otherwise, you will never be happy.

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What are some of the challenges you face working so remotely out in the wilderness?

The biggest challenge is when guests don’t tell us up front if they have any dietary needs or special requests. As we are far away and remote, we need to know this in advance. Sometimes we must perform miracles, head to shops that are 55km away, one way, and make the magic happen. 

Picturesque, the White Lion Reserve is a breath-taking destination filled with wildlife, including the Big-5, and a variety of biodiversity hotspots, Fynbos and Succulent Karoo Biomes together with indigenous free-roaming animal species, that what the San people saw hundreds of years ago.

“We take a ‘safari stay’ one step further by offering an educational experience where our guests are introduced to a new and different landscape that they may not necessarily be used to,” 

Gerry


For more information, visit https://www.whitelionlodge.co.za

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