It was the late 1920s and there was only one word on everyone's lips – gold. So Guy Aubrey Chalkley, an American of Irish descent, decided to come to South Africa to explore his opportunities as a mining engineer. The stock exchange had just been created to help raise finance for all the mining activities, and Guy chose to establish himself in this field instead. Together with Paul Davis, he formed a stock-broking firm, Chalkley Davis. Their business flourished and culminated in one of South Africa's foremost brokerage firms, Davis, Borkum & Hare. (This firm, as a matter of interest, was recently purchased by Merrill Lynch to form the basis of their South African branch.)
Guy, 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 lifter 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 three 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 brothers have 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, had provided a great opportunity for his family to create something unique and magnificent to share with the entire world.