NESTLED strategically in the area bordering Gauteng and Limpopo Provinces, the multimillion-Rand Ritsako Game Lodge has been officially opened amid pomp, fanfare and a major boost to tourists currently travelling vast distances mostly to see the Big Five.
The lodge, with an investment of R35 million (US$2,47 million), is located 45km north of Pretoria on the N1 highway an hour-and-a-half drive from Johannesburg.
The opening of Ritsako is a major boost for local tourists considering the Kruger National Park, hailed over the years as the home of the Big Five (lion, leopard, rhinos, elephant and buffalo) is over 400 kilometres away.
"We have brought the Kruger National Park to Gauteng," Joseph Zinyana said, the lodge's director, said.
Retsako's positioning is also handy in that, according to Statistics South Africa, Gauteng and Limpopo are currently the most popular destinations for day travellers.
The lodge has been built in three phases since construction started in August 2016.
Ritsako boosts the profile of the Dinokeng Game Reserve, which is the first free-roaming Big Five residential game reserve in Gauteng next to an urbanized area.
Located in Hammanskraal, it was opened six years ago.
"Ritsako has become a pivotal part of Dinokeng," Zinyana said.
With the establishment of the lodge, the executive said they were committed to boosting the growth of the industry and boost employment creation, in line with aspirations of government.
Some 16 people are employed permanently at the lodge.
The lodge offers 19 luxurious fully catered units where about 80 clients can be accommodated.
Ritsako has conference a conference centre can accommodate up to 250 people and a chapel to accommodate 150 people.
Hulisani Thabela, Marketing and Trade Executive at Tshwane (Pretoria) Tourism Association, pledged government support to the growth of such establishments as Ritsako.