Ashia Cheetah Sanctuary

WORDS Natalie Boruvka IMAGES Karl Rogers

The Ashia Cheetah Sanctuary outside Paarl is a conservation destination that’s worth a day visit – or a stay in one of the four beautiful suites.

Nestled at the foot of the dramatic Drakenstein Mountains, Ashia (the name means “life and hope”) was founded to prevent the further decline of the cheetah population through its efforts to release captive-bred animals back into the wild. It also offers the opportunity to contribute to these conservation initiatives via volunteer programmes, working holidays and research/internship programmes – something visitors can do while staying at the farm’s new facilities.

ashia cheetah sanctuary
Handmade memorabilia can be purchased at the gift shop.

The first building you’ll notice on arrival is the remodelled workshop that was used to service machinery. “Our aim with this building, along with the others on the estate, was to transform it in a manner that would in some way retain the integrity of its farmhouse vernacular,” says designer Nicky Tyers, adding that a fundamental part of the remodel involved installing expansive windows and doors to maximise mountain views.

Containing a reception area, café and gift shop, the barn’s interior is characterised by a sophisticated, industrial aesthetic that uses concrete, exposed brick, sandblasted pine and oak, metal cladding and bespoke glazed ceramic tiles. “This voluminous space demanded myriad textures for interest and visual weight,” says Nicky. “In the absence of colour, the abundant light creates its own unique palette by reflecting off the varying smooth and rough surfaces. These subtle shades contrast vividly against the backdrop of black corrugated cladding.

ashia cheetah sanctuary
The Barn houses the reception area, café and boutique gift shop.

The four luxury guest suites are a stylish take on Afro-chic and every suite has been given a signature look . “I designed grand, king-sized four-poster beds with mosquito nets, which transport you to a place of sumptuous comfort and indulgence,” says Nicky. Each has a beautifully finished kitchenette and bathroom.

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Looking for more architectural or travel inspiration? Take a look at the Cheetah Plain Sabi Sands Lodge.