We kicked off this adventure in style by travelling business class on the British Airways Dreamliner. The full flat bed, incredible food and service was such a treat.
On arrival to Durban International my colleagues and I were met by our Partner Destination Management Company who have been taking great care of our clients for many years in South Africa and it was a pleasure to explore the Kwazulu-Natal location with this special company.
Mkhuze Game Reserve was our first port of call. Located just under 3 hours from Durban we settled into the Ghost Mountain Inn, a beautiful property located at the foot of the legendary Ghost Mountain, a perfect setting which to explore the dramatic landscapes, exceptional bird life and cultural tribal villages. We were so lucky to be invited into the home of a Zulu family to experienced firsthand their everyday way of life, traditions and culture.
Early the next morning we enjoyed a Sunrise cruise on Lake Josini. The spectacular views combined with sightings of hippos and crocodiles was a sight for sore eyes. Our next port of call was Hluhluwe-Imfolozi park, the oldest game reserve in South Africa. En-route we were invited to view the incredible accommodations at Thanda Safari Private Game Reserve and we were greeted by some impalas, giraffe & buffalo. The accommodation here was just breath-taking with individual luxury rented accommodation or luxury pool suites. A couple of cheeky elephants decided to help themselves to some water from one of the plunge pools much to the guests delight. This was a very special property and I would highly recommend especially for a honeymoon or a special occasion trip. Thanda offers game viewing of the “big 5”.
Onwards to what I can only describe of a “little piece of heaven” we settled into the 5 Star Rhino Ridge Safari Lodge. This lodge is the only Safari lodge in the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi National Park. The lodge is strategically located in an elevated position and commands majestic views over the reserve. Guests can explore the reserve by jeep or organised walking tours. There is a wonderful spa and outdoor pool area where guests can relax after their early morning game drive. We experienced 2 game drives and were lucky to see rhino, giraffe, elephant, impalas & buffalo.
We were very sad indeed to be leaving Rhino Ridge Lodge but another lovely surprise was in store, the Makakatana Bay Lodge at the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. This luxury rustic style lodge on the banks of Lake St Lucia was very much "at one with nature" which I loved. Only 12 rooms, each with a private decking area and outdoor tropical shower and bath. One can enjoy early and evening game drives, private safaris, boat safaris and a full day beach Safari. Our ranger Jaco was a true expert, his enthusiasm and passion for the animals, insects and bird life was a joy to experience first-hand. As you lay in bed at night you can hear the hippo feeding off the property’s foliage which is pretty surreal.
The final leg of this wonderful trip and no better way to finish off than a relaxing beachfront location. Umhlanga is a seaside resort town located just outside Durban. Umhlanga and it’s surrounds feature golden sand beaches for 200 kilometres, endless sugarcane fields and rolling hills. We checked into the infamous Oyster Box Resort offering colonial charm and nostalgia of a bygone era but with all the modern comforts and amenities. Stunning gardens, beachfront pool and terrace, delicious restaurants and bars. Incredible spa and a lavish daily high tea with piano accompaniment. A perfect end to a perfect trip.
Having already visited Cape Town and it’s surrounds I am delighted to have now experienced what the east coast of South Africa has to offer. With a year round warm climate this location is an ideal combination with the likes of Cape Town, J’Burg, Victoria Falls or perhaps the island of Mauritius. The world is your oyster and the incredible value for money, service and unique experiences that this amazing country has to offer is hard to beat.