Observation hide: Rhulani’s biggest project ever is finished
Very proudly, but also a with bit of sadness, at Rhulani Safari Lodge we have completed the largest, most expensive and most fantastic construction project in our history: The underground observation hide directly at the water hole. We are proud because we are so excited and satisfied about the result. Sad, however, because we haven't had the opportunity to show the hide to our guests because of the corona crisis. The day that we can hardly wait for will come with the reopening. Here is a review of this project.
When we discussed in our team the idea of a cozy lounge directly at the water hole in mid-2019, everyone was thrilled. Not a single vote against. Enthusiasm everywhere!
A very special feeling
The hide should be reached through an underground tunnel so that the animals are not scared away by our approach. This will be a completely new experience for our guests. Just go there in the quiet hours during the day and maybe also at night, stay there quietly and watch the animals up close when they are drinking water. Not only you will see the elephants very closely, you also look them directly in the eyes. That’s a very special feeling. Or as Riaan, our manager said: “It will inspire me so much that when we have no guests in camp, I will stay in the hide all night.”
The enthusiasm soon was transformed into a project that financially outshined all of our previous investments. Together with our longstanding partners Lieb Liebengerg (R J Konstruksie) for construction and Heather Grobler (Flipswitch) for the interior decoration, the plan was so exciting that we said we are now going to do it. The groundbreaking ceremony took place in October 2019.
Quality was top priority
But we had to bury our ambition to open the new hide for Christmas 2019. The project was bigger than we thought, and the rocky dolomite subsoil too hard. The TLB machine that cuts the rocks progressed slowly. The original plan of where the tunnel should go had to be adjusted a few times. We had to get around the hardest rocks. Eventually the TLB broke, which led to a temporary interruption in construction.
Fortunately, we didn't have any time pressure and decided that quality has top priority. We took our time. At the end of summer, the tunnel and then the lounge were completed. The windows were installed, the walls were plastered and painted, electrical connections were installed ... The hide was taking shape.
We were almost done when all of our plans came to an unexpected end because of COVID-19. Due to the lockdown, the final touches could not be carried out. Our skeleton staff who stayed in the lodge, was at least able to enjoy the first, indescribable view from the hide. They could see elephants from a frog's perspective for the first time.
As soon as the lockdown level was downgraded to 3 and you could move around in South Africa again with a permission, we called our suppliers. The last rocks were removed, the tunnel roof covered with earth, and the interior of the hide was beautifully decorated.
We can't wait to officially open our new hide for our visitors. We are still looking for a suitable name. Do you have any suggestion?