Nelson Mandela's luxurious holiday home was recently opened to the public as a holistic retreat where travelers can explore South Africa's rich wildlife offerings.
The Nelson Mandela Centre for Reconciliation House is located in the 24,000-acre Shambala Private Game Reserve, a 2.5-hour drive north of Johannesburg.
Mandela considered his house at Shambala a haven of peace and tranquility where he could receive high-profile guests. It was a gift from Douw Steyn, owner of Shambala and Johannesburg's Saxon Hotel, Villas and Spa.
Mandela's former private secretary, Zelda La Grange, wrote about Shambala in her memoir, "Good Morning, Mr. Mandela," saying: "Shambala not only created the perfect setting for him to write, but also much-needed peace and quiet time."
Using Mandela's book "Long Walk to Freedom" as a reference, the interiors draw inspiration from his reminiscences of his childhood in Qunu and the importance of his African upbringing.
Gracing the walls are photos of some of the prominent figures who have visited the center over the years, including Oprah Winfrey and Bill Clinton.
The homestead features a covered heated pool overlooking a private waterhole; an expansive outdoor deck and lounge area; a large formal sitting room with a fireplace; a boardroom; a presidential suite with his-and-hers dressing rooms, a private dining area and large living room; and five luxury bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms.
So far, Nelson Mandela tours and attractions have not generated a huge interest from the American public. Tour operators report history is usually not a big draw for U.S. travelers, who are generally more interested in South Africa's wildlife than its museums.
"Nelson Mandela attractions are a big attention-grabber with the public, as he was such a well-known and well-respected individual," said Lisa Hubner, spokeswoman for Indus Travel. "But these types of tours and attractions are not for every traveler, and only a few make their purchase decision based on these types of activities."
'As original as possible'
Still, Linda Pereira, marketing manager for the Saxon Hotel, which oversees the property, said she believes the combination of wildlife and history will make the Nelson Mandela Centre a success with the U.S. public, adding that she has seen quite a lot of interest since the opening of the vacation house last month.
Part of its appeal, Pereira said, is that the home has remained much as it was when Mandela stayed there: "Nothing has changed; it has been kept as original as possible to retain the memory of the late president."
The Nelson Mandela Centre can be rented for between $5,763 and $ 6,585 per night, season dependent, for up to 12 people sharing six double rooms.
This price includes breakfast, lunch and dinner prepared by a private chef, butler service, a sunset cruise on the Douw Steyn Dam and the services of an experienced safari guide.