The Ranch Resort

The Ranch Resort is a family-owned leisure, sports, exhibition, conservation, accommodation and conferencing centre within the 1,000 hectares (2,500 acres) Ranch Conservancy located in the Capricorn District of the Limpopo Province, 25 kilometres (16 mi) south of Polokwane - the capital city of the Limpopo Province - in South Africa.It is adjacent to the Makapansgat Valley, an archaeologically significant area that has produced fossils and bones that signify early hominid presence in Limpopo and forms part of Gauteng’s Cradle of Humankind World Heritage site.

The Ranch Resort is known for its Lions and the "Walk with Lions" experience.

A 12 hole par 3 - Executive Golf Course was officially opened in May 2010 by the Premier of Limpopo Province, Mr Cassel Mathale.

History

The Shearer family established The Ranch in May 1960 initially as a stopover for people travelling between Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) and South Africa. As the establishment became better known, it developed into a leisure and conference resort, now known as The Ranch Resort.

On 22 May 2010 the Shearer family, owners of The Ranch Resort, celebrated 50 years in hospitality at a special function where The Premier of Limpopo Province, Mr Cassel Mathale, officially opened The Ranch Resort 12-hole, par-3 Executive Golf Course and Academy. VIP guests included the South African Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, Ms Maite Nkoana Mashabane who gave the keynote address, and Minister of Health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi.

Tourism

The Ranch Resort's geographical position is convenient for travellers visiting or passing through Polokwane and the Limpopo Province as it is centrally situated within the province. Limpopo offers many tourism attractions from mountains, forests, the Kruger National Park, private game reserves, and historical heritage attractions like the neighbouring Makapansgat Valley World Heritage site. The Ranch Resort offers visitor attractions in its own right, featuring daily activities like “Walk with Lions”, horseback safaris, game drives, lion tours, golf, eco-tourism and sports activities.

Conservation

The Ranch Resort stands in a 1000 hectare nature conservancy, comprising grasslands and bushveld and is home to, amongst other wildlife; lions; giraffe; zebra; warthog; kudu; impala; wildebeest; and over 200 bird species. Active in wildlife rehabilitation since the 1960s, when organised conservation was in its infancy, The Ranch Resort continually offers shelter for orphaned or injured wildlife which cannot be released into the wild. Providing a safe haven for lions and other Big 5 animals from Zimbabwe which were under threat at a time of political and social instability.

Lions

The Ranch Resort is home to over 30 lions, many of which have been groomed for human interaction and use in movies.

Walking with Lions

In addition to horseback safaris and game drives, an annual government licence permits rare initiatives such as the “Walk with Lions” experience, a major tourist attraction in Limpopo Province. The lions also feature in educational outreach programmes, including initiatives aimed at facilitating close contact with wildlife for groups such as young people, the handicapped and visually handicapped.

Lions in Movies

Previous generations of The Ranch Resort lion prides have starred in movies including The Gods Must Be Crazy, King Solomon's Mines, Incident at Victoria Falls, The Lion Child (1993 film), The Ghost and the Darkness, Pride. The current lions and their forebears have appeared in a total of over 400 international movies, documentaries and commercials. Resident animal trainer and handler Vivian “Viv” Bristow has extensive movie credits.

Eco Tourism

The Ranch Resort is licensed to allow close contact with its animals. Under the supervision of specialist rangers, visitors can walk with the lions and watch cubs at play or being bottle-fed. Horseback safaris have become a mainstay of animal-contact eco-tourism at this venue, offering visitors close-up encounters with giraffe, zebra, warthog, impala, kudu and wildebeest. There are over 200 species of birds on the property.

Executive Golf Course and Academy

In 2003 it was estimated that the economic impact of golf and golf-related spending in the province amounted to R 219 million per annum. To capitalise on the growing demand for executive golf facilities, The Ranch Resort developed a 12 hole par 3 Executive golf course and academy The Golf Course development was designed to harmonise with the natural bushveld surroundings. The resident Golf Pro is Sean Pappas one of the three Pappas brothers and five times Sunshine Tour event winner.

The Limpopo Province Premier, The Honourable Cassel Mathale performed the official opening on 22 May 2010 as part of The Ranch Resort celebrations of 50 years in hospitality. Mr Mathale said “Our province is home to some of the best luxurious wildlife golf estate resorts in the country and the African continent as a whole. It is on this note that we are correctly regarded as a tourist province in the country. We are counting on the Ranch Hotel and other organisations to join hands with government in the development of the game of golf.”

Accommodation

Situated at The Ranch Resort is Protea Hotel The Ranch, a four-star hotel with over 100 en suite and air-conditioned rooms, presidential and executive suites, self-catering chalets and an outdoor experience tented camp option for eco-tourism and team-building set in the natural bush.

The Hotel offers deluxe facilities including fine dining. It was granted the Professional Management Review magazine (PMR) Golden Arrow in 2009 in the Executive Hotel category.

Conferences

The Ranch Resort has facilities for large and compact conferences and is host to local government, eco-tourism, conservation and commercial conferences. It was granted the Professional Management Review magazine (PMR) 2009 Golden Arrow award for excellence in convention/conference centres.

Weddings

The Ranch Resort has its own non-denominational chapel, set in a Rose Garden as a wedding venue for traditional or themed weddings.

Government Recognition

The Ranch Resort's role in attracting eco-tourism to the Province has been given recognition by the Limpopo Provincial government and the government of South Africa. On 22 May 2010, South African Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, accompanied by the Minister of Health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, gave the keynote address at the resort's 50th anniversary celebrations, during which she paid tribute to its many developments which have contributed to tourism growth. The Minister said “I have been part of this journey in so many ways, and I am really honoured to launch this 50th Anniversary year. I remember the elephants and the lions coming from Zimbabwe to live at The Ranch Resort … the opening of the bush camp … the development of the Ranch Conservancy and the introduction of 23 species of wild animals... the construction of the new conference venues. And now, this evening, we have all been privileged to be present at the birth of the Executive Golf Course and Academy.”

Location

The Ranch Resort is 200 kilometres (120 mi) north of Pretoria, the Republic of South Africa's capital city and 24.5 kilometres (15.2 mi) south of Polokwane, the capital of Limpopo Province. It is situated between the South African National Highway N1 and the R101 - with entrances to The Ranch Resort from both roads. It has its own airstrip.