Top Choices: Thanda Safari
In the heart of Zululand. KwaZulu-Natal
It was a chilly, overcast morning on our last day at Thanda Safari. I was sitting inside the lounge of my beautiful villa at the lodge, catching up on emails. Suddenly, my little pool outside was filled with elephant trunks. These thirsty giants picked my private splash pool to quench their thirst, and this experience will go down as one of the most special memories from my media trip to Thanda Safari. You too can share in experiences like this!
The 14 000 hectare Thanda Safari in Northern Zululand in the KwaZulu-Natal Province of South Africa is special in so many ways. It is an award-winning Big Five destination, and it is not difficult to see why. They pay attention to the details and offer a luxurious experience with a touch of wilderness. You will go on guided game drives and sometimes walks in the bush, and the knowledgeable guides will share their wealth of knowledge with you.
We were lucky enough to see rhino, lion, plenty of elephants, buffalo, cheetah and so much more during our game drives. Due to the sheer size of the property, game drives never take place in the same area. Thanda Safari also offers walks, and this is something worth doing. I have been on a few morning walks, but the walk at Thanda Safari was a truly special experience. Apart from the small things and interesting titbits shared by our guides, we also had an interesting time trying to avoid a large herd of buffalo. The highlight of our walk was getting into close proximity to a couple of rhino. We also learned about trees and their cultural uses.
Conservation at Thanda Safari
We were fortunate enough to spot both cheetah and rhino. The cheetah at Thanda Safari form part of the Cheetah Metapopulation Project run by the Endangered Wildlife Trust. This project ensures a strong genetic diversity in South Africa’s (and beyond) cheetah population by swapping animals between fenced reserves. Thanda Safari has partnered with the World Wildlife Fund and all black rhino in the reserve form part of the Black Rhino Range Expansion Project. The project aims to increase the number of critically endangered black rhino by partnering with landowners that have suitable habitats for these animals. Also, in some instances, the conservation team might be busy with specific projects and invite guests to join in the experience. This experience will be at an additional cost.
Accommodation at Thanda Safari
There are several accommodation options at Thanda Safari. We stayed in the Thanda Safari Lodge, Thanda’s flagship property. These bush suites offer plenty of privacy due to the surrounding vegetation, and the sheer size. There is so much space that you are spoilt for choice when it comes to picking a spot to relax. Hang out on the circular sofa outside on the deck overlooking the unspoilt bush. I was fortunate to visit in summer and loved hanging out in the little splash pool while sipping on gin and tonic from the complimentary bar fridge. Planning a visit in winter? Luckily the units come with fireplaces, so the villas will be just as cosy in the cooler months.
Bath time is a real pamper at Thanda Safari. The bathtub is next to a giant glass window, so you can enjoy the bush views while taking a soak. There is a shower too if bathing is not your thing, and best of all, you can choose between doing it inside, or outside under the stars. The outside shower is a treat, especially when the weather allows, and it is difficult not to stare at the sky the entire time. The toiletries are made from natural products including rooibos and baobab extracts which shows Thanda’s promise to nature.
You will never starve, and chances of picking up weight are highly likely with food as good as prepared by their chefs. Dining at Thanda Safari was a highlight and took our taste buds on a culinary adventure. Breakfast offered plenty of choices, including the best homemade muesli I have ever tasted. Even if you plan on eating a hot breakfast, remember to save some space – you will not be disappointed.
Apart from relaxing in the lounge with an ice-cold drink, watching the nearby water hole, or having a read in the cosy library, you can get rid of any pent-up frustration by paying a visit to the spa. The therapists are well-qualified and know how to get rid of unruly knots and tension. They offer a variety of treatments ranging from facials to massages. Best of all, all of their products are completely natural, and you will leave completely invigorated.
The nearest international airport is in Durban, which is three hours by car. Richard’s Bay is only an hour and a half away and has a smaller airport. Driving from Johannesburg by car is just over seven hours.
Visit www.thandasafari.co.za for more details as well as information on some of the events hosted by Thanda Safari on weekends (Covid restrictions considered). These include birding weekends, talks by conservation experts, whiskey, and wine tastings, pilates and wellness weekends and so much more!