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Thanda Tau – A surprising N3 fuel stop between JHB and Harrismith

90 km North of Harrismith and 180km away from Johannesburg I pulled over at the Puma fuel station beside the N3 for some coffee.

N3 freeway Thanda Tau

I was surprised to see lions, their cubs, an OK express store, a Spur, coffee shop, bakery, restaurant, accommodation, art gallery and so much more in a serene environment.

Signpost Thanda Tau
This facility was opened in October 2016 and officiated in mid-December 2016. Hence why I hadn’t seen it before.

Official sign thanda tau

I chilled there for about an hour after getting cappuccino from the bakery and coffee shop.

Bakery Thanda Tau

Coffee shop Thanda Tau

They’ve got a cool restaurant, homemade delights and handicrafts.

Lions share restaurant Thanda Tau

I took a walk outside to the back of the restaurant.

Thanda Tau pond

And noticed a number of white lion.

Lions at Thanda Tau

And cubs.

Lion Cub 2

There’s also a rhino and cheetah which I only learnt of after I left.

Thanda Tau wildlife sign

A number of people have expressed concern about the wild life viewing. The response from the facility management was:

They haven’t mentioned if / where the animals are released to after rescue. I don’t believe that the animals should have a dependency on humans to feed, and give up their natural hunting skills. I hope the management takes action to rectify if these animals are being kept captive for long periods (i.e. release the wildlife) as the location alone with its other facilities are great enough for a stopover or getaway out of JHB:

Signage Thanda Tau

The chalets on-site:

Thanda Tau chalets

Their address: N3 Offramp 107, Roadside, Free State, South Africa

You can view the accommodation options and book on http://www.roomsforafrica.com/establishment.do?id=20320
Or contact the facility directly: Emailbookings@thandatau.co.za Webhttp://www.thandatau.co.za/
Post updated at 15:00 on 05/01/2016 to reflect concerns regarding the wild life viewing

About Zaid

Zaid is an intrepid traveler from South Africa that has traveled to all 7 continents. He loves to explore new destinations, experience new activities and go off the beaten path.
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11 thoughts on “Thanda Tau – A surprising N3 fuel stop between JHB and Harrismith

  1. Checked this place out at the end of December and I am disgusted by how ignorant people are to support cub petting and blatant predator breeding. Please do your research before falling into the trap of thinking these animals will be returned/placed into the wild.

    Captured In Africa Foundation added 5 new photos.Like Page
    October 13, 2016 ·

    Heartbreaking images of yet another lion farm in South Africa, situated on the N3 in the Freestate and part of new local developments.

    THANDA TAU LION FARM – will this be somewhere you visit? We won’t be.

    Questions we would like to raise to Thanda Tau Lion Farm;

    Q: Why are they breeding lions and other animals?
    Q: What is their purpose, will this facility be a lifelong home for the animals?
    Q: Does Thanda Tau trade and/or sell any of their animals?

    “A total of R12.032 billion from the Department of Economic, Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (DESTEA) will be channelled towards economic initiatives in the province. “These programmes will undoubtedly inject much more needed capital and create sustainable jobs for the people of the Free State,” said MEC Sam Mashinini. Among the programmes, the Thanda Tau Development on N3 Route in Phumelela worth R 80 million to be completed in July.”

    Quick details that we know of (supplied by an anonymous 3rd party source);


    * Owner Hannes De Jager, owns 6 or 7 Engen garages.
    * Breeding lions, took over his cousins farm 5km down the sand road from the complex heading South.
    * Has Black Leopard already.
    * In the market currently to buy lion, caracal, Tiger, leopard, cheetah, serval, Rhino.
    * 2 American Pumas are being sponsored by Puma Petrol, Brent Oil.
    * Spent R300 million already.
    * Opening end Sept.
    * Spur and KFC plus other fast food outlets.
    * Pieter Domini is managing the project for De Jager.

    Images supplied by Captured In Africa Foundation

    Related articles:


    Blood Lions WildiZe Foundation Democratic Alliance 50|50 Community Global March for Elephants and Rhinos Global March for Lions Kevin Richardson Traveller24 CNN CNN-News CBS News Sky News Great Plains Conservation Wildlife Conservation Network Wildlands Environmental Investigation Agency Oxpeckers Investigative Environmental Journalism Walking For Lions Africa Geographic eNCAnews Panthera Africa FOUR PAWS South Africa FOUR PAWS International FOUR PAWS UK World Animal Protection White Lion Protection Trust NBC News SA Tourism Update Online Love South Africa Tourism Business Council of South Africa WildAid CITES IUCN IUCN Red List of Threatened Species U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Department of Environmental Affairs. you need to do your research. Thank you.

  2. Yet another example of wildlife being exploited for profit! I drove past there last week on the way to JHB. It was probably 30+ degrees out and these poor animals were out in the blazing sun, lying against the fence. I also think it is shameful how these big name brands have supported this. It is proved time and time again that once these little cubs are finished being exploited and petted and prodded they end up in the canned lion hunting scene. Disgusting!

  3. Why can’t these wild animals just be left alone in the wild, I can see already what’s going to happen to those little cubs once they’ve grown up, our beautiful country and our beautiful wildlife, all for the greed of money, animals have no voice and you’ll never stop hearing mine. God never sleeps

  4. An exploitation of animals !! Ignorant and arrogant !! not to mention the restaurant only serves white customers first while we waited for 40 minutes for a 3 sandwhiches and walked out as we were fed up watching everyone else get served first. Racism still rife in these areas.

    1. Hi. See my comment above. When I posted my comment that barred me from further commenting on their site, and I cant get onto their website. Therefore they have something to hide, And removed any comments i made. They barred my child as well from their site when she asked about the animals there.
      if you see https://web.facebook.com/volunteersbeware/ they weote an article about this place etc.

    2. Hi. See my comment above. When I posted my comment that barred me from further commenting on their site, and I cant get onto their website. Therefore they have something to hide, And removed any comments i made. They barred my child as well from their site when she asked about the animals there.
      if you see https://web.facebook.com/volunteersbeware/ they wrote an article about this place etc. regards Cheryl

  5. yep, what Cheryl said! What happens to all these lion cubs when they grow up?
    Places like this shouldn’t exist. They do nothing for conservation, just checked their site and there is not a single mention about their “conservation efforts” (which they say the do in facebook).
    This is not a sanctuary, it is a tourist trap.

  6. It important to protect, nurture and look after our natural heritage, which include wildlife, in the African continent

    Instead of relying on emotion and intuition, the best possible way to do this is by encouraging our young people to take up wildlife conservation learnerships and programs available through both public and private institutions. They start with simple methods on how to handle snakes which may wander into your house in search of food

    Teaching children to appreciate and respect wildlife is paramount for human development in the world

    Wildlife species populations are declining rapidly in most African countries except in Southern Africa, due mainly to private reserves and resilient species intensive breeding programs

    There is no such thing as wild animals roaming freely in their natural habitat without human intervention in their feeding, breeding and population control methods in the morden world

    Wild animals are in one way or another always kept in captivity, without this there wouldn’t be a single wild animal in the world today

    It is the degree of captivity we can debate, not free roaming in their natural habitat because no such thing exist. Wild animals at Kruger, which some on this forum will argue that it represent exploitation of wildlife for profits, as indeed people pay to go see or interact with animals there, while others may see the same as wildlife conservation effort, are in a huge camp, and when elephants breach the fence, as they often do, they are hunted down and brought back to captivity

    Even at such a large enclosure, human intervention in their feeding, health care, breeding and general welfare activities is constant. Otherwise they would all die

    Transportation and upkeep of wildlife is a highly regulated area and licencing as well as regular inspection are done to ensure the welfare of the animals is not compromised

    It is important to note that Thanda Tau is a close on 1000Ha farm, probably in the early development phase as wildlife conservation hub in the area, and there are already many other ‘roaming’ antelope out there

    It’s different strokes for different people. Society can not be expected to be homogeneous with same belief systems. Statistics show clearly that there are people in society who enjoy facilities such as Kruger and Thanda Tau. Call on Thanda Tau and see if you can get a booking

    If something is legal and there is insatiable demand, why not offer supply service if you have capacity?

  7. I think it is ignorant to believe that they are not doing good by rescuing cubs that would be kept in terrible conditions otherwise. When i visited the lions seemed comfortable with loads of space and amenities. I think these animals are very well looked after. Nowhere does it say they will release them back to the wild. This isn’t an easy task. They are simply helping the animals out of situations that would kill or torture them and are giving them a better life. They follow all the laws and regulations as well as provide entertainment and education for guests. I think it is easy to sit and type how they should go about their business without realising how difficult it is. These people are doing a good act by saving these animals.

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