Sleep Next to Lions at This Luxurious Safari-Style Gem 3 Hours Outside Sydney

Jamala wildlife lodge

Awakening to the resonant roar of a lion, I found myself in a surreal moment where the untamed met the unexpected. The lion’s breath hung in the cold, crisp air just beyond my reach. It was the African safari experience I had always yearned for. Yet here I was, not on the vast plains of Africa, but in the unlikeliest of places — Canberra.

Nestled within the heart of Canberra lies a place where the boundaries between luxury and conservation fade away — a place where you can sleep just a whisper away from some of the planet’s most awe-inspiring creatures. Welcome to Jamala Wildlife Lodge.

Jamala Wildlife Lodge isn’t merely a place to rest your head for the night; it’s an immersive adventure that defies convention. Picture yourself spending the night in an exotic African bungalow, where the only thing separating you from a majestic lion’s powerful roar at 3am is a sheet of glass. 

An Overnight Safari Stay

My recent stay at Jamala Wildlife Lodge was nothing short of extraordinary. Jamala offers a unique blend of luxury and conservation, and my partner and I  were captivated from the moment we arrived.

The adventure began with a guided tour around the adjacent National Zoo and Aquarium, led by keepers Gemma and Angela. They introduced us to the personalities of the animals, unveiled the intricacies of breeding programs, and shed light on the critical conservation efforts being undertaken to protect these magnificent creatures.

One of the tour’s many highlights was stepping into a cheetah enclosure, where three brothers curiously observed our every move. It might sound nerve-wracking, but we were in the capable hands of three experienced keepers who had raised these cats from cubs. An interesting tidbit: Cheetahs are more inclined to flee than fight when confronted with threats. Phew! 

jamala wildlife lodge

It’s All About Protecting These Beautiful Animals From Extinction

Our adventure continued with a heartwarming visit to the sun bears, Otay and Arataki. We fed Arataki some fresh pear as we learned about the bears’ harrowing past. Otay had been rescued from an illegal bear bile farm in Cambodia, while Arataki’s triumphant recovery from melanoma left us deeply moved. It became evident that Jamala is not just a place for guests — it’s also a stronghold for animal welfare and conservation advocacy.

After an exciting afternoon, we enjoyed tea by the Colobus monkeys and watched sharks swim in the aquarium.

jamala wildlife lodge

Next, it was time to meet our roommates for the night. We would be staying in a Jungle Bungalow, where there are options to sleep next to cheetahs, lions, sun bears, or tigers. We soon met the lions Mlinzi and Nairbiri, who would be keeping us company that night.

This was just one of the options available at Jamala, though. Other accommodations on the property let you stay close to giraffes, sharks, or meerkats.

It’s a Unique Experience

Before indulging in a delicious three-course meal at the Rainforest Cave Restaurant, we had the privilege of witnessing the feeding of the hyena brothers Pinduli and Zuberi. However, the most enchanting moment of the evening unfolded when white lions Jake and Mischka joined us for their dinner. Watching Jake emit a low growl and purr as he savoured his meaty dinner was an unforgettable spectacle. 

Upon returning to our bungalow, we were excited to see Mlinzi and Nairbiri nestled just outside our window. It was the perfect time to unwind with a soothing bubble bath, and getting to watch these magnificent creatures sleep peacefully on the other side of the glass made the experience that much more special.

Mlinzi’s roar woke us at 3am — we’d been warned! Earlier in the day, Gemma had informed us that Mlinzi, a male lion, had mastered the art of creating vibrations by roaring against the glass. 

Jamala Wildlife lodge

We spent a tranquil morning watching the sunrise with our lions right before us. 

After a delightful breakfast at the Rainforest Cave, it was time to check out. We took our time exploring the zoo, but eventually, it was time to head home. Jamala has always been on my bucket list, and let’s just say it didn’t disappoint.

Head to their website to book in your next adventure!

Kailah was a guest of Jamala Wildlife Lodge.

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