Makongo Hills derives its name from the AmaQongo hilltops it overlooks, hilltops that mark one of the most significant Zulu-Zulu battles of all time – the 1840 Battle of Maqongqo. This was a battle for Kingship that took place between Dingane and Mpande and their respective Zulu factions. Sewn together with Boer alliances and the force of 5000 impi, this is a enthralling legend that defined the future of the Zulu kingdom…
Ven-Africa was established by the Maldonado Family who are passionate about conservation and sustainability.
The family’s lineage of conservation first began with the Venezuelan Hato El Frio ranch in 1911. Some 80 000 hectares in size, the ranch was located in the flood plains of the Orinoco river and became renowned for its wildlife diversity and successful private management. Through its permanent research station, the reserve facilitated over 120 research papers on various plant and animal species found in the area. Hato El Frio ranch’s establishing family member, Samuel Dario, was a passionate conservationist who dedicated his efforts to protecting the Venezuelan Amazon jungle. Samuel’s son, Ivan Dario Maldonado, pioneered sustainable cattle ranching in Venezuela in the 1940s, educating his employees and the local community about the importance of natural conservation.
After visiting Africa, Ivan Dario saw the potential of the land and established Ven-Africa as an extensive cattle ranch in 1975. You can see the photos of the farm’s beautiful Brahman cattle on the dining room wall. In 2017, it was decided to align with the conservation ethos of the family; the cattle were sold and the land was declared as Ven-Africa Private Game Reserve.
The Maldonado family live out their commitment to conservation by educating and inspiring communities and visitors, as well as actively conserving and restoring the reserve.
“We see ourselves not as owners but rather as stewards of a unique and wild habitat. Our heritage and legacy remains to preserve and respect this environment for future generations.”– Samuel Maldonado, grandson of the founder Ivan Dario