Steve & Nicole got married on January the 14th under a Weeping Boer bean in the dry river bed of the Great Hlararalumi River. With 12 close family & friends as witnesses, a troop of Baboons in the surrounding trees and elephants in earshot, they said their “I Do’s” and started on a new chapter of their lives together. This could not have been a more perfect wedding for these two bush babies.

Steve was born in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia). Because of the war, his family moved to Johannesburg when he was six and to his total disgust, that is where he grew up. From a very early age, he decided he was going to be a “Game Ranger”, and although there were a few obstacles to over come, nothing stood in his way. He was in the bush for his 21st birthday and every one since then. As a young man, armed with loads of enthusiasm, he started his career in the Pilanesberg National Park, working as a field guide at Bakabung. He is one of the early members of FGASA(field guide association of SA) and has his level 3, SKS tails guide qualification as well as SKS Birding. He has also worked with Africam on various projects (including, as a presenter on the program “Live and Wild” in 2000) and is passionate about conservation.

Nicole’s life was very different. She was born in Pretoria, loved the city and made a good living working in the Complimentary health field. She is a qualified, reflexologist, massage therapist and kinesiologist. One day the opportunity to work at a Game lodge presented itself and after some thought she decided to give it a go. Her new life could not have been more different to her old, but Nicole fell in love with the bush and it did not take long before the seed was planted. She would own her own piece of African bush, from where she could practice her various therapies.

One and a half months after Nicole started working in the bush, Steve came to the lodge as a freelance guide, and that is how they their paths crossed. Together they worked in the Sabi Sands, Timbivati and the Kalahari. Their shared dream, of owning their own lodge was never far from their thoughts and 4 days after they got married they walked into Toro Yaka for the first time. They had seen the advert in the Africa Geographic and, since they were in the area……………..!!!!!! It was love at first sight! Finally, after a couple more stumbling blocks, on 15 June 2006, their dream became a reality. Toro Yaka Bush Lodge (which means MY DREAM in Northern Sotho) was their platform from which they could live their dream and share their passion and love for the African bush with others.

Steve and Nicole’s ideas for Toro Yaka Bush Lodge, was to create a bush paradise where nature as a whole is the main attraction, and that incorporated aspects of 5 star lodges, but remained a more affordable bush escape, where you can find good food, great hospitality, unforgettable nature experiences and go home feeling relaxed and rejuvenated, with good memories and stories to tell.

The staff at Toro Yaka are always friendly and helpful. Pinkie has been there from the beginning. She is capable in many aspects of the running of the lodge and is developing her cooking skills. She is also in the process of getting her drivers licence. In August 2006 Vusi joined the Toro Yaka family. He started out as a general assistant and is busy undergoing training to be a guide. He has completed a birding course and a basic field guide course and is in the process of getting a drivers licence. Patience joined in 2007. She is responsible for the house keeping the house keeping. Mildred started helping as a temporary staff member in 2008. Wherever Mildred is needed is where you will find her.  When needed Mpho or Sibusiso are brought in to help as general assistants on a temporary basis.

At Toro Yaka conservation and environmental responsibility is a priority. Eco-friendly products are used, recycling is common practice and food scarps are fed to earthworms or composted. Sound land management practices are implemented, with alien vegetation being removed and mattress packing is done to prevent soil erosion. Wherever possible local communities and industry is supported.


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