Lion Sands Game Reserve is an extraordinary gift passed down over generations. Even for those of us who have known its sweeping landscapes since birth, it remains a place of astounding beauty with mysteries that will never be fully discovered.
We know that our family is one of the most privileged in the world to be the custodian of some of Africa’s truly unspoiled wilderness areas.
Guy Aubrey Chalkley, affectionately known as Chalk, was a keen hunter and traveled extensively throughout Africa. It was on one such adventure that he stumbled across Kingstown. Belonging to the Transvaal Consolidated Lands, this was a jewel of a property on the border of the Kruger National Park. These were the same lands that were soon to become the basis of what is now the world-famous Sabi Sand Wildtuin (Game Reserve).
Guy was filled with affection for the animals around him and with admiration for the pristine condition of the Kingstown property. It’s a known fact that he never lifted a rifle to an animal in this reserve. Guy purchased the property on the 25th of November 1933 from Transvaal Consolidated Mines for four thousand pounds and fourteen shillings.
The Sabie River, snaking lazily through the Kruger National Park and the Kingstown property, was the life source of the plentiful fauna and flora, and in the late 1930s, Guy built a small camp on the banks of this impressive river. There weren’t any roads in those days, and Guy, in his old Ford Sedan, had to follow markings on trees to find his route to the camp.
For over 60 years, the camp was enjoyed as a peaceful private retreat by the Chalkley and More families.
Guy’s passion for conservation and protection of wilderness areas has been passed down through four generations to the More brothers who now own and run Lion Sands Game Reserve on the very same Kingstown property.
John More, who married Guy’s granddaughter, Louise Chalkley, introduced Kingstown to the public in 1978 when he built two camps: River Lodge and Bush Lodge. Even during those early days of extremely basic bush operations (hot water was a luxury), the More family concentrated on keeping Kingstown in its pristine state.
Today, the family employs a full-time ecologist (the only reserve in the Sabi Sand Wildtuin to do so) to monitor the effect of commercialization on the wilderness.
But as much as you can do to protect nature from man, there’s very little you can do about protecting nature from itself. On the 7th of February 2000, an enormous flood changed the face of the banks of the Sabie River forever. Already by 9am that day, the river had risen above the roofs of both River Lodge and the family camp, Warthog Wallow, washing away decades of history in a single blow. Nicholas and Robert More, fourth-generation owners of Kingstown, set about rebuilding River Lodge and in 2004 created the stunning new Ivory Lodge. They incorporated the magnificent 4 000-hectare (10 000 acre) Kingstown and both River Lodge and Ivory Lodge, and gave the property its new name – Lion Sands Game Reserve.
The name might have changed and a few buildings might have been erected, but to this day, this area still retains the same unspoiled beauty that stopped Guy in his tracks the first time he saw it almost a century ago. The More brothers have always had the type of passion for Lion Sands that can only be instilled by a profound sense of history and heritage.
Guy Chalkley, in his brilliance, provided a great opportunity for his family to create something unique and magnificent to share with the entire world. And to enrich mankind in the process.
Our childhood was the stuff of which dreams are made. I remember swimming at our secret place on the Sabie River where you always kept a close eye over Guy and I. I remember you jumping to my defence when a hyena bit me at the warden’s house – I was just three. I remember you and I being chased by a pack of wild dogs, and spending four long and blistering hot hours perched for dear life in a tree. I also remember many long walks home in the dark of night when our old rusted Land Rover broke down. What an amazing path we walked together!
You left too soon, but I know that you have taken your place among the stars. Just like all of our family who have gone before, you will always be kept alive through the mark you made on the heart of Lion Sands.
My promise to you, which I have already pledged, is to protect our legacy for the next generation of family and guests.
We miss you.