As lockdown is easing and inter-provincial travel is allowed, a visit to the bush may just be what you need to lift your spirits and make you fall in love with our beautiful country once again.
American author Jodi Picoult once wrote: ‘Africa – you can see a sunset and believe you have witnessed the hand of God. You watch the slope lope of a lioness and forget to breathe. You marvel at the tripod of a giraffe bent to water. In Africa, there are iridescent blues on the wings of birds that you do not see anywhere else in nature. In Africa, in the midday heart, you can see blisters in the atmosphere. When you are in Africa, you feel primordial, rocked in the cradle of the world.’ After visiting Zululand in KwaZulu-Natal, you may think that she had experienced the incredible wildlife and nature this area has to offer.
In the heat of a subtropical sun, this area is peaceful with green hills, waving grasslands, abundant wildlife and an unhurried lifestyle, and is home to many game reserves. However, few offer the authentic African wildlife experience all year round like Thanda Safari. With their commitment to Zulu culture, they are actively involved in conservation and wildlife research and work to uplift the local community through their ‘Star for Life’ and other projects.
‘Thanda’ means love in isiZulu, and this is what you will experience after a visit to this award-winning private game reserve situated just 32 km north of Hluhluhwe.
The reserve is steeped in Zulu history with the Mduna Royal Reserve, part-owned by the Zulu king, being part of the greater Thanda game reserve linking conservation, history and Zulu culture.
Upon your arrival, you will be met by your guide who will take you on morning and afternoon game drives for the duration of your stay. You can park your car in a safe place and hop on to the game-viewing vehicle for your first taste of wildlife in the reserve. And once you step off to receive the warmest of African welcomes, you can expect to be transported into the lap of African luxury and start to enjoy the sights, smells and sounds of the bush.
If you are lucky, you are greeted by the herd of resident elephants that quench their thirst at the waterhole adjacent to Thanda Safari Lodge.
There are many shared areas at the lodge including a lounge, expansive deck and library overlooking the waterhole, a private business area and an impressive wine cellar. As you quench your thirst and get acquainted with the team that will look after you, you might think you will spend your days lounging around enjoying the beautiful scenery at the lodge. That is until you see your suite …
The lodge has nine bush suites shaped like a traditional Zulu homestead and each has panoramic views of the reserve. And it has lots of space – with a lounge and majestic bedroom (with a double-sided fireplace to keep you warm on chilly evenings). The bathroom boasts his and her basins, an egg-shaped bath, an enclosed toilet, and indoor and outdoor showers. And when you step outside on to your private and spacious wooden deck, you can take a dip in your private plunge pool and admire the African sunset from the circular daybed atop your thatched private outdoor sala.
What makes Thanda renowned is their attention to detail and personalised service to their guests. And the food … the chef will discuss options for lunch and dinner with guests to ensure that they are catered for to their heart’s desire. Small wonder that Thanda has received numerous accolades and awards.
This is also an ideal place to introduce children to nature and wildlife and has activities specifically geared to children – including the Bucks & Bugs Club which ensures that while the adults are off enjoying themselves, the kids are, safely and under supervision, having the time of their lives. They get to spend time with one of the Thanda guides learning about game-tracking, spoor identification and the bird and plant life, after which they receive a junior rangers’ certificate.
Those who enjoy time away from the youngsters can be assured that there are strict child policies and child-related rules that have to be adhered to in order to ensure that all guests enjoy what the lodge has to offer.
The reserve boasts more than 400 different bird species and you can be sure that guide will point out as many species as possible. And they aim to involve all your senses during game drives: you will see, through nature’s eyes, everything that the area has to offer. You will learn how smell can guide you on the search for lions and hear the sounds of impala when they start to make an alarming call to warn others of an approaching predator or the breaking of branches that gives an elephant away. Feel the excitement as a heard of buffalo passes the game vehicle. And enjoy the taste of early-morning coffee and treats that are prepared with so much care by the chef.
Thanda also offers other accommodation types apart from the lodge. There is a tented camp with 15 colonial safari-style tents, each with its own viewing deck; en-suite bathroom; in- and outdoor showers.. And for a unique hideaway ideal for families, holidaymakers and wedding parties that seek privacy, the Villa iZulu is situated amidst lush green lawns and surrounded by expanses of wild bush. It can accommodate ten guests in five suites.
Thanda Safari is currently offering special SADC rates if you would like to enjoy the Big Five with them with 40% off listed rates to also experience a distinctive African safari with your family and friends.
For more information visit www.thandasafari.co.za.