Lilayi Lodge, “the place to rest at sunset,” is a lovely day or weekend getaway from Lusaka. If you are in Lusaka for work or pleasure and have a morning, afternoon, or a weekend to kill it’s a nice place to visit, with or without children. It has beautiful rolling grounds with an outdoor terrace where you can have a cold one or some pretty delicious food to eat. They have a small game farm, so you can do a relaxing hour or so game drive and see giraffes and other animals. If you have kids, bring their swimming suits; there is a nice swimming pool, playset with swings, and lots of space to run around.
There is also the Lilayi Elephant Nursery that may be visited where you can observe orphaned elephant calves being fed from bottles and one of the staff provides a talk about elephants, situations surrounding the young being orphaned (which typically involves poachers killing the mothers for ivory).
Reservations are required in advance for dining, overnight stay, game drives, and elephant nursery visits. Click here to the link on Lilayi’s website which includes a map, phone number, and email. If you live in Lusaka and have your own vehicle, it’s an easy drive. If you are visiting, you should be able to easily arrange a taxi to bring you there. It’s an easy half hour drive or so from Lusaka’s city center.
We spent half a day at Lilayi to celebrate my birthday a few weeks back. We started with the 11am elephant feeding, which much like our visit to a similar elephant orphanage in Nairobi was enjoyable for the first five minutes before my three year old started whining and my 14 month old was screaming because I wouldn’t let him climb down the steep wooden stairs. The elephants down their milk in a matter of minutes, so, to be honest, it’s actually a great short activityto do with small children as long as you aren’t personally disappointed missing out on some of the talk. My recommendation, if you are going with little ones, is to lower your expectations, remember that they have short attention spans, and be happy when they delight in watching the elephants feed and quickly bow out afterwards and head to the restaurant. Don’t forget to give a small donation to help care for the orphans on your way out. My three year old was curious about why they don’t have mommies and it was a good “teaching moment” to talk about being kind to animals.
My three year old and her four year old companion, a friends’ daughter who was with us, had a lovely time frolicking in the rolling fields while we sipped some delicious white wine and waited for our food to come. The food was nice, and as vegetarians we weren’t completely amazed by the one vegetarian option (vegetable curry), it was decent. If you are carnivorous you will probably love it- many people rave about it. There is a rather small kids’ menu without any vegetarian options, but fish fingers and the like. They are very kid-friendly and didn’t mind our small crew of four running amuck, but it would definitely be wise to bring along kids’ sippy cups and some snacks for them. Juice was served to our 3 and 4 year olds in tall glass cups with straws, and we were 2/2 for juice spills as one would expect.
The game drive was relaxing- the kids fell asleep as we slowly drove through the trees and tall grasses, and it was fun to spot giraffe and another antelopey animals, and kudus. No big game here, but it was a nice way to spend a leisrely Saturday afternoon. Afterwards we hung out by the pool as the kids swam and indulged in some scrumptious desserts and Amaraula.
Food, spirits, sunshine, fun, friends, elephants, and a game drive…a perfect day in Africa!