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Hluhluwe uMfolozi Park – iSimangaliso Wetland Park
Johannesburg to Durban OR Durban to Johannesburg
Big Five South African Guided Safaris Tours
Please note that as our tours are exclusive to only your party, we can tailor-make any of these tours below to suit you. You may for example want to stay at the Ghost Mountain Inn for a longer period and experience activities at Zimanga, or maybe stay an additional day or two longer in the Hluhluwe/Umfolozi Park or Kruger Park or an additional night at St. Lucia. You may also want to substitute your Mkuze or Ithala days for a visit to the Zimanga Private Game Reserve (which is really, really good for photographers of any level). You can also opt, for example on the 13-day Johannesburg to Johannesburg safari to rather visit the Nambiti Game Reserve instead of Montusi Mountain Lodge – the choices are yours.
Please be aware that if you are travelling on to Cape Town from your stay at the Kruger Park, there are direct flights to Cape Town daily from both Skukuza and the Kruger Mpumalanga International Airports and we can drop you off at either airport instead of in Johannesburg.
These safaris can also be tailor-made to fit a visit into the Anglo/Zulu War Battlefields and particularly the battlefields of Rorkes Drift and Isandlwana. The Anglo-Zulu War was fought in 1879 between the British and the Zulus. Following Lord Carnarvon's successful introduction of federation in Canada, it was thought that similar political effort, coupled with military campaigns, might succeed with the African kingdoms, tribal areas and Boer republics in South Africa. In 1874, Sir Henry Bartle Frere was sent to South Africa as High Commissioner for the British Empire to bring such plans into being. Among the obstacles were the presence of the independent states of the South African Republic and the Kingdom of Zululand and its army. Frere, on his own initiative, without the approval of the British government and with the intent of instigating a war with the Zulu, had presented an ultimatum on 11 December 1878 to the Zulu king Cetshwayo, with which the Zulu king could not comply. Bartle Frere then sent Lord Chelmsford to invade Zululand. The war is notable for several particularly bloody battles, including a stunning opening victory by the Zulu at the Battle of Isandlwana, as well as for being a landmark in the timeline of imperialism in the region. The war eventually resulted in a British victory and the end of the Zulu nation's independence.
Ghost Mountain Inn : Mkuze, KwaZulu-Natal
At the foot of the legendary Ghost Mountain in Mkuze, Northern KwaZulu Natal lays the privately owned Ghost Mountain Inn - a perfect setting to experience the allure of Africa in stylish comfort. This intimate and beautiful hotel is the ideal location from which to explore the array of wildlife and coastal reserves in Maputaland and the Elephant Coast. The hotel spa offers a range of skin and body treatments and healthy lunches in a tranquil environment. Those who prefer the relaxing sound of birdsong and the warmth of the African sun will find their respite at the poolside within the glorious gardens of Ghost Mountain Inn.
Seasonal menus with local ingredients are combined with traditional favourites and served either in the dining room, outdoors on the terrace or under the stars in the traditional Boma. Roy's Bar is a comfortable place to meet other travellers over a cocktail or gin and tonic, or just unwind and enjoy the comfortable African decor. Enjoy a glass of wine from our award winning wine list whist taking in the view of the swimming pool and gardens.
Hannah Lodge : Mpumalanga
Hannah Game Lodge is a reflection of the Africa in its entire natural splendour. Here in the heart of the African bushveld their guests experience a rare sense of freedom and renewed spiritual inspiration. The lodge lies amongst the gently rolling hills of the Northern Drakensberg Escarpment. This beautiful private game reserve embraces more than 8000 hectares of malaria free, unspoiled African bushveld. Hannah Game Lodge is a captivating tapestry of African sounds, smells and colours, where the rising sun showers the valley with shades of pink, red and orange. Professional, friendly and down to earth quality service characterizes this warm and peaceful getaway.
Hannah Game Lodge offers elevated standard en-suite thatched roof chalets with private verandas providing breath taking views of this pristine private reserve.
The Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park : Zululand, KwaZulu-Natal
The Hluhluwe/Umfolozi Park lies in the heart of the Zulu Kingdom, where ancient trails lead through the thornveld and along the rivers of Africa’s oldest established wilderness area. Once the exclusive royal hunting ground of King Shaka, (where the first conservation laws were put in place), this rich tapestry of natural and cultural history still beats with the rhythms of Africa. Hluhluwe and iMfolozi Game Reserves were formally established as game reserves in 1895 and today, along with the Corridor Reserve, were proclaimed in 1989 to become the Hluhluwe/Umfolozi Park, covering some 96 000 ha with an immense diversity of fauna and flora.
The Hluhluwe section in the north is characterised by towering grassland hills and diverse terrain and vegetation and is exceptional for its rich variety of bird and animal life.
The iMfolozi section in the south is characterised by wide open spaces and is a natural treasure store of fascinating fauna and flora.
Hilltop Camp, Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park : Zululand, KwaZulu-Natal
Hilltop Camp in the Hluhluwe sector of the Hluhluwe/Umfolozi Park was established on the summit of a forested hill that offers fine views of the surrounding rolling topography of Zululand. The camp, the largest in the Hluhluwe/Umfolozi Park, was extensively rebuilt and enlarged during the early nineties.
Facilities at Hilltop Camp include an a la carte restaurant, which is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. An attractive bar and lounge, decorated with photographs and memorabilia depicting the history of Hilltop Camp and the Hluhluwe Game Reserve, as well as a gift shop and store, selling curios, basic foodstuffs and a variety of drinks such as soft drinks, bottled water, beers and spirits, is open from 08:00 to 19:00 daily. A large swimming pool for the use of camp residents is situated within the confines of the camp. A self-guided trail through some remnant indigenous forest is available to guests at Hilltop Camp, and commences at the entrance to the swimming pool.
Hilltop Camp is fenced, so it is relatively safe to move about within the confines of the camp, but it is advised to have a flashlight with you after dark. There is 24 hour main-line electricity with a back-up generator.
The Mpunyane Restaurant at Hilltop Camp offers a full English / buffet breakfast. Lunches from Monday to Saturday are a la carte and on Sundays a hot and cold buffet is on offer. Dinners are hot and cold buffet with a traditional braai (barbeque) on Friday evenings (weather permitting).
Ithala Game Reserve : Northern Zululand, KwaZulu-Natal
This magnificent reserve, tumbling from the heights of the Ngotshe Mountains a thousand meters down into a deep valley, carved over the eons by the Phongolo River revealing the world's oldest rock formations, is a game viewers paradise - situated in the rugged, mountainous thornveld of northern KwaZulu-Natal, the reserve's multitude of habitats host a spectacular array of wildlife species. Its scenic beauty aside, Ithala's most characteristic feature is perhaps its astonishing geological diversity. Some of the oldest rock formations in the world are found here, dating back 3 000 million years. With a topographic profile varying from 400m above sea level in the north to 1 450m near Louwsberg in the south, Ithala's terrain extends over lowveld and densely vegetated riverine valleys to high-lying grassland plateaus, ridges and cliff faces. Ithala has excellent auto trails to facilitate visitor's game viewing, and wildlife here includes rhino, elephant, leopard, giraffe, zebra, eland and a fairly large variety of mother antelope species.
The Kruger National Park : Mpumalanga and Limpopo Provinces
The world-renowned Kruger National Park offers a wildlife experience that ranks with the best in Africa. Established in 1898 to protect the wildlife of the South African Lowveld, this national park of nearly 2 million hectares, SANParks - Kruger National Park is unrivalled in the diversity of its life forms and a world leader in advanced environmental management techniques and policies.
Truly the flagship of the South African national parks, Kruger is home to an impressive number of species: 336 trees, 49 fish, 34 amphibians - 114 reptiles, 507 birds and 147 mammals. Man's interaction with the Lowveld environment over many centuries - from bushman rock paintings to majestic archaeological sites like Masorini and Thulamela - is very evident in the Kruger National Park. These treasures represent the cultures, persons and events that played a role in the history of the Kruger National Park and are conserved along with the park's natural assets.
Lidiko Lodge : St Lucia, Zululand, KwaZulu-Natal
Set above the Great St Lucia Lake, on a coastal dune, accommodation in the well-appointed 16 garden lodges is provided on a bed & breakfast basis. The charming thatched roof colonial building, which today houses the reception area, guest lounge and art gallery, was one of the first residences to be built in St.Lucia in the “County of Zululand” in the late 1930’s. The two family/triple rooms are also part of the original building.
The main building of the lodge is one of the first buildings that was erected in St Lucia and with its thatch, oozes an Old World Zululand charm. The main building houses the reception area, guest lounge, and a small library for guests, as well as the dining deck with views of the bird and often monkey and mongoose filled gardens. Free Wi-Fi is available in the communal areas. The main building leads to the tropical pool area and the rooms. The park like gardens and outdoor lounge of the lodge is ideal for bird watching, conversation or just to enjoy quite time. The pool is ideal to cool off or to do some sun soaking on the loungers round the pool.
Lidiko Lodge is centrally situated in St Lucia and within 5 minutes walking distance from all the restaurants, craft market, walking trails and main attractions. Lidiko Lodge is the ideal venue to visit the surrounding wetlands, big 5 game parks as well as pristine beaches. It is a safe haven for joggers, cyclists and walkers. It is also the only known village with hippos roaming the streets at night.
Mkuze Game Reserve : Zululand, KwaZulu-Natal
A place of great beauty and high contrasts, Mkhuze is renowned as a mecca for bird lovers, with more than 420 bird species on record. The reserve has an astonishing diversity of natural habitats, from the eastern slopes of the Lebombo Mountains along its eastern boundary, to broad stretches of acacia savannah, swamps and a variety of woodlands and riverine forest.
A rare type of sand forest also occurs in the reserve. Two beautiful pans, Nhlonhlela and Nsumo, lie in the north and east respectively, home to communities of hippo, crocodile, and an incredible variety of waterbirds. Situated in northern Zululand, this 40 000 hectare reserve was proclaimed a protected area in 1912.
The Mkhuze Game Reserve constitutes the north western spur of the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park a recently declared World Heritage Site. The Mkhuze River curves along the reserve's northern and eastern borders with a fine stretch of fig forest along its banks. Fish eagles swoop over the pans, snatching prey spotted from their perches in the fever trees. Other animals to be found in the reserve include black and white rhinoceros, lion, elephant, giraffe, leopard, buffalo, wild dog, nyala, blue wildebeest, warthog, impala, kudu and other smaller antelope. Rare species occurring are cheetah, hyena and suni.
The Montusi Mountain Lodge offers genuine hospitality in the tranquillity of one of the most beautiful settings in Southern Africa. Space, comfort and peace are what you will find when you treat yourself to the natural splendour and peaceful, romantic ambiance of this Drakensberg haven.
Situated in the Kwazulu-Natal Drakensberg, halfway between Johannesburg and Durban, Montusi Mountain Lodge is the only upmarket destination in the area with a full and uninterrupted view of the Drakensberg's most famous part, the Amphitheatre escarpment. Their guests enjoy this spectacular scenery in the comfort of their private individual garden suites.
Moorcroft Manor is located in the foothills on the Drakensberg Mountains and is the perfect base for exploring the beautiful rural settings, rich in natural splendour and steeped in history. The accommodation at Moorcroft Manor comprises elegantly furnished rooms, all with bathrooms en-suite. Choose from standard double rooms, a junior suite and two executive suites. Their rooms and bathrooms have under-floor heating to keep away the winter chill and are provided with wireless internet access, DSTV, ceiling fan, hair dryer, bath robes and tea/coffee .
Each room has its own adjoining private patio leading onto the lawns and the rock pool with an uninterrupted view towards Hodgsons Peaks and the sometimes snow-covered mountain tops of the Lesotho Kingdom.
The food they serve is always freshly prepared, and wherever possible they use locally-produced ingredients and herbs from their garden. Their menu offers an interesting variety of, starters, main courses and desserts. They cater for vegetarians and are happy to comply with dietary requirements. Here you may enjoy your meal in the dining room with a view of the wine cellar, the terrace or the spectacular Drakensberg.
Their intimate restaurant (with under-floor heating and log fireplace) is renowned for sumptuous local cuisine with innovative menus. In summer you may eat outside on the Phumleni with the Amphitheatre view enhancing the delicious meals.
Stretching over 15, 000 hectares, Nkomazi is a place where guests can experience tranquillity, witness the free-roaming wildlife and admire the landscapes of scenic beauty under the African sky. The reserve represents a kaleidoscope of Africa’s habitats in its ability to support both high and lowveld game species on the high-lying grassland and the low-lying bushveld areas therefore supporting an ecological balance.
Nkomazi boasts luxury tents at Komati Tented Lodge. These tents are specially positioned to blend into the landscape and linked by walkways and paths through the bush. All tents are furnished with luxury campaign style furniture, creating a traditional “Out of Africa” feel with all the added comforts and luxuries of 5-star accommodation.
Situated on the banks of the Komati River, surrounded by towering mountains, broad river valleys and impressive grasslands, Nkomazi offers unique safari based activities to allow for a complete tailor-made experience.
Located within Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, the Reilly's Rock Hilltop Lodge is surrounded by the Royal Botanical Gardens featuring aloes, threatened and endangered antelope and abundant birdlife. Reilly's Rock is steeped in history and features an up-market lodge offering en-suite rooms. Reilly's Rock is not only famous for its Botanical Gardens, resident bush babies and birding, but also for its cuisine. Delicious home-prepared dinners and breakfasts always have guests coming back for more.
Wander the hillside trails, view the game which includes Blue Duiker and Suni, or relax on the terraced lawns and take in the spectacular views. Begin the day with a pre-adventure breakfast on the sun deck before hiking or driving down to make use of the many activities available at Mlilwane Rest Camp. In the evening, share stories and sundowners around the campfire, followed by a dinner prepared and served by friend Swazi hosts and don't forget to say hello to their resident Bushbabies.
Shakaland is a living museum of the life and times of the Zulu monarch, Shaka and you can re-live the excitement and romance of the days of Shaka, King of the Zulus, in this authentic re-creation of the Great Kraal overlooking the Phobane Lake. Experience the sight of assegaai-wielding warriors, share the fascinating secrets of the Sangomas and witness traditional customs such as tribal dancing, spear making and the beer-drinking ceremonies.
This cultural village is a unique resort built amid thorn trees and aloes, comprising a traditional Zulu "Umuzi” or homestead, where the Zulu people reside. This unique village was built and developed on the site of a film set, when the movies King Shaka and John Ross were produced.
Zimanga is the first reserve in Africa to be designed specifically to satisfy the needs of wildlife photographic enthusiasts as well as safari clients who have a deeper appreciation for “the bush”, as both of these groupings crave an unhurried and exclusive experience. Spread over more than 6000 hectares of bushveld, fever tree forests and rolling hills, Zimanga is bisected by the Mkuze River and is home to a variety of animals and birds. From leopards to wild dogs and elephants to cheetah, nearly every sought-after sighting is accounted for. For the birding enthusiast, there are over 400 bird species recorded at the reserve.
Game drives at Zimanga are in an open safari vehicle with three rows of seats behind the driver. As a rule the game drives on Zimanga limit the number of clients to only two people per row. This allows for more room for kit as well as the ability to “shoot” from both sides of the vehicle without anybody sitting directly next to you. This is ideal for photographers and non-photographers alike who enjoy a bit more space and freedom of movement. As a reserve Zimanga encourages clients to spend as much time as they like at any particular sighting. Due to the very low number of vehicles on the property at any one time you will never have to abandon a sighting to “make room” for another vehicle. The guides are all experienced as well as accomplished photographers in their own right so they will be able to position the vehicle in the best light as well as anticipating any action that is about to occur. Should a subject be inaccessible from one of the tracks then Zimanga vehicles are permitted to go off-road to get you into that perfect shooting position.
Whilst the game drives at Zimanga are top-notch, the truly memorable experience at Zimanga is their two hides that are currently in use. Both of the hides have been designed and built by the owners of Zimanga and Bence Mate, who is not only a former winner of the coveted BBC wildlife photographer of the year award in 2010 but is a world authority in hide design, construction and photography. The photographers are invisible to their subjects behind specially imported one-way glass so as not to startle the subject with any movements or sounds.
Photographers are seated on comfortable executive-style chairs, which glide effortlessly and quietly across the wood laminate flooring. A solar-powered air conditioning unit situated in the roof of the hide controls the temperature and humidity within. These two hides can accommodate a maximum of four persons and are soundproofed with carpeting on the walls to muffle the sound. The carpets themselves are inlaid with a fine silver thread to eliminate mildew growth in such close proximity to a water source. These hides allow photographers a non-intrusive method of wildlife photography and although the subjects are free-roaming, and hence no sighting is guaranteed, the hides tip the balance heavily in favour of the photographer to get that amazing shot.
There are plans in place to construct and open up more hides at Zimanga, including, but not limited to, the following, with the construction of the Lagoon Hide well advanced:
• The Large Mammal Hide: For capturing animals such as giraffe, buffalo, rhino and elephant from ground level as they drink from and occupy a waterhole.
• The Vulture Restaurant: Situated in an area of high vulture density, this hide should attract over 100 birds at a time when carrion is present.
• The Lagoon Hide: Positioned offshore in the largest of Zimanga’s three lakes this hide will be similar to Bence’s Theatre Hide in Hungary, attracting animals like hippos and crocodiles as well as a huge variety of water birds and raptors. This hide is due to open on the 1st June 2015.
Zimanga has a diverse range of wildlife including four of the “Big Five” and also including cheetah and wild dogs . The reserve has plenty to offer in terms of unbelievable sightings, from the smallest shrew to the largest of all African mammals, the elephant and over 400-plus recorded bird species.
So, who should visit Zimanga?
(1) Well, for starters, serious NATURE/WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHERS of course. One just has to have a look at some of the photos from this reserve to see the quality of the images produced by advanced wildlife photographers.
(2) Just ORDINARY PHOTOGRAPHERS as well. The ease with which one is able to photograph from the two hides means that any person with a camera has the opportunity to get close to small birds, something that is very difficult under normal circumstances.
(3) BIRDERS, well yes, of course birders. There are just so many different birds that visit in a fairly short period that one cannot but tick that elusive twin-spot!
(4) NATURE ENTHUSIASTS – those people who have a deeper appreciation for “the bush”, and who crave an unhurried and exclusive experience, whether in the hides or on a game drive - people who don’t mind watching a particular animal for the sheer joy of it.