ChaZen Private Nature Reserve and Lodge is situated on 12 Km from the town of Vredefort in the FreeState province, South Africa. We have interacted with numerous people and wildlife at ChaZen over the years with wildlife tourism being our main aim. With the knowledge we acquired from various organizations we have decided to dedicate our time and efforts on a new venture – the ChaZen Educational and Breeding Centre.
With the ChaZen Educational and Breeding Centre we aim to educate people on conserving, enhancing and protecting our wildlife heritage. By working with different educational entities and wildlife organizations we can offer education and training opportunities to individuals, as to establish help ensure that South Africa has well trained individuals for the Wildlife Tourism Industry, and create numerous job opportunities. The Centre will also focus on promoting effective conservation by establishing and breeding superior genetic lines of selected species such as the African lion, painted dog, and leopard that can be used to reintroduce these and other species to designated wildlife management areas.
The ChaZen Educational and Breeding Centre will be implemented in different phases. Presently, the Centre consists of the Lodge and Chalets and this proposal seeks approval to erect and operate the structures needed to establish an Educational and Breeding Centre. Future phases will include the erecting of a raptor centre, indigenous plant nursery, staff/volunteer housing and a centre for research, training and rehabilitation.
The Mission of the ChaZen Educational and Breeding Centre is to promote wildlife conservation by teaching understanding of the importance of wildlife conservation and training the next generation of conservationists.
More than 20 years ago the Viljoens purchased a sheep and cattle farm. It had been stripped of grass, with attendant erosion. Major renewal programs to recover the land with environmentally sensitive techniques were used. Grass seed added to the feed of various antelope species so they spread the seeds along with the fertilizer.
Wildlife tick infestations are controlled by moving a small herd of cattle around various sections of the reserve then the cattle are dipped with environmentally safe tick dip. As a result of these and other clever techniques, the land is now supporting magnificent herds of wildlife.
At ChaZen you will see Giraffe, Cape Buffalo, Zebra, and much of the antelope family along with Ostrich and many other birds.
Most of the photographs in the book Birds of the Vredefort Dome were taken at ChaZen.
There is a particularly rich diversity of cats, including Caracal, Serval, Genet, African Black-footed cat, Leopards and Lions—the Lions and Leopards are fenced from the rest of the wildlife, not only to protect the rest, but to be raised with thorough genetic control for restocking areas where cats have become endangered or destroyed.
Led by registered guides, our game drives yield exciting game viewing opportunities in custom game viewing vehicles.
It is believed that a major catastrophic event occurred over 2,000 million years ago when a huge meteorite (10-15 kilometres diameter) slammed into this area creating a massive, 300 km (180 miles) diameter impact crater. Although half of the circular rim has eroded away and the crater filled in, a semicircular range of rim hills still exists, and it is inside this circle of hills that ChaZen is found. In fact, when you sit on the observation deck at the lodge, you have a view of the underside of the Earth’s crust as it was 2 billion years ago!
Being designated as the “Vredefort Dome International World Heritage Site” honoured this impact area. It is the largest and oldest meteorite impact structure on Earth, and is the only land crater on Earth that is visible from space.
The microclimate allows a particular association of plants and animals to thrive here that is truly unique.