KZN (South Africa) Value Safari
A extraordinary 13 night safari to private lodges in a quiet part of South Africa. Exceptional value. Limited availability in 2023.
KwaZulu-Natal is little-known (outside Africa) as a safari destination in South Africa. It is slightly more difficult to get to than the greater Kruger area but the experiences are well worth the effort. We've chosen three different lodges for you to experience the variety of ecologies to be found in this province.
Day 1 - 2City Lodge OR Tambo Johannesburg
Based at Africas busiest airport, City Lodge Hotel at OR Tambo Airport will provide business and leisure travellers with home away from home accommodation that is ideal for those commuting to and from Johannesburg and perfect for those who require immediate access to the airport.
OR Tambo Airport offers a number of services from banking to a wide range of retailers, so whether its a good book or a scrumptious meal, the airports facilities have everything you need. The hotel boasts boardroom and conference facilities, a fitness room as well as a deck with a pool and a large commercial area with a coffee shop.
B&B: Bed and Breakfast
Upon arrival at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, you will pass through the "Foreigners - No Visa Required" lanes to have your passport stamped. Be prepared for a wait in the queue. Whilst there are dozens of booths for Immigration Officers, it seems they never deploy enough staff.
Look for baggage trolleys (if you need them) immediately after passing through Immigration, on your right. If they're not there, they'll be between the baggage carousels.
Look up at the display to find the carousel for your flight.
Collect your bags then follow the green line towards the Arrivals Hall. You will walk past some very stern-looking customs officials.
You will walk through sliding glass doors into the cavernous Arrivals Hall.
Right in front of you now there will be many people waiting for arrivals. Your Meet & Greet agent will be amongst them, holding a sign or iPad. That sign might have your name or Experiential Travel or even Into Africa. Look at every such sign. If in doubt, ask any uniformed agent. They're all very helpful.
Your Meet & Greet agent will now escort you to your hotel. It is a short walk, with no stairs to negotiate but there will be escalators or elevators.
NB: If you use one of the airport baggage trolleys, they are designed to travel on the escalators. This looks and feels unwieldy, even dangerous so I suggest you watch somebody else do this before you attempt it yourselves.
You will be tired after your long flights but it's important that you take note of your walking route because you will do this in reverse tomorrow without an escort. (Please advise us now if you also want an escort on the second day.)
Check in to your Hotel and catch up on sleep.
When you check in to your flight in Melbourne, ensure that your bags are tagged to Johannesburg ONLY. I have, on a couple of occasions, had the check-in agent assume that I was flying directly to the next destination. (In your case, it would be Richards Bay.) And they checked my bags to that destination, whereas I really needed them for my overnight in Johannesburg, as you will.
I have never been stopped by Customs in more than 30 flights into Johannesburg.
NB: Although they are officially banned, there are many touts in this airport. They can be pushy but they are mostly harmless people trying to make a living. Firmly decline their offers. There are plenty of uniformed staff to help you if you need it, including police and security guards.
We have recommended the three star City Lodge hotel at the airport. I have stayed here many times. It is clean, quiet and very convenient. The restaurant is quite basic. In fact, for dinner, I generally walk back to the airport if I am not too tired because there is a better choice of restaurants there. Spurs does a good steak. (If you leave the hotel for dinner, be sure to be back before dark.) Breakfast at City Lodge is a good spread and I always do that.
If you think you'd rather stay in a five-star hotel on this first night, then do let us know so that we can revise the booking to the Intercontinental, which is also within the airport.
There are plenty of opportunities to obtain local currency (Rand) in the airport. You will need this for tips. I usually use the ATMs. - Neville Jones
Day 2 - 6Bayala Game Lodge
Bayala Private Safari Lodges are a family orientated lodge situated 3 hour's drive north of Durban’s King Shaka airport. Bayala is nestled within a low-risk malaria area, Big 5 private conservancy of approximately 30,000 ha of unspoiled wilderness. View lion, elephant, leopard, buffalo and rhino amongst beautiful zebra, giraffe and various other plains game with one of our experienced rangers on an open safari vehicle. Bayala Safari Lodge and Founders Lodge are within walking distance from each other. Each have 24 thatch-roofed en-suite rooms decorated with neutral bushveld colors throughout. Both lodges boast beautiful and restful lounges, bars and relaxed, informal dining inside or outside, where our chefs produce a line-up of dining experiences. Enjoy a traditional “braai” under the stars or a boma dinner. Start your day with an early morning game drive followed by a delicious full English breakfast. A light lunch is served on request.
Check out of your hotel at least two hours before your departure flight.
The airport arrangements can be quite confusing, compounded by yet more touts offering assistance. Note that these touts often do NOT know where you should check-in, despite claiming to do so. Rely instead on the electronic boards overhead and official information officers.
You will likely need to check in yourself at a kiosk and obtain your boarding pass there. Then you will drop off your bags at the counter.
At Richards Bay you will be met by your driver who will escort you to their vehicle. Settle in for a couple of hours drive through this beautiful province.
Your first lodge is a three star lodge in a massive Big Five private safari and conservation park. Your safari adventure begins here!
Although they have very similar livery, Airlink is NOT the same as South African Airways so you need to go to the correct counter for your airline.
You will pass through security gates at the edge of the game reserve. Poaching is still a problem in South Africa and the two fundamental purposes of the security gates is to keep the animals in and the poachers out.
Once you pass through these gates it is very important that you never leave a vehicle for any reason without the permission of your driver/guide.
At each lodge you will be given an induction briefing that will talk about your safety and the lodge schedule. Again, you'll be tired but pay attention here. Your safety and enjoyment depend on you listening to this briefing. Some lodges are fully fenced and allow guests to walk around at night. Many lodges are not fenced and do not allow guests to move around at night without an escort. Don't be tempted to ignore these instructions. Elephants and especially buffaloes are very dangerous, unpredictable and almost impossible to see at night. (I know that's hard to imagine, especially for an elephant, but it's true.) Personally, I fear buffalo more than any other animal in the bush, including lions. (They are not water buffalo, which incredibly, is a much more docile species.) - Neville Jones
Breakfast, lunch, dinner and 2 game activities per day
Day 6 - 10Amakhosi Safari Lodge
AmaKhosi Safari Lodge located on the banks of the Mkuze river in KwaZulu-Natal. The main lodge offers a swimming pool, dining room, lounge, satellite television, library and curio shop. Six river suites, boast views of the Mkuze with air-conditioned lounge, bedroom, bathroom , separate shower and toilet, safe, bath robes, fully stocked mini-bar and a tea and coffee tray & Hammocks Two honeymoon suites a true seduction of pleasure, with a private splash pool and hammock overlooking the river.
Amakhosi also has a private house experience with the beautiful house called “IsiGodlo”, accommodating four guests. Amakhosi is a place of kings and with our Amakhosi River SPA, there is no better place to Relax, revitalise and rejuvenate your body, mind and soul in this unique romantic African surrounding.
Cuisine at the lodge is a combination of an African fusion style and European flair with attention to dietary requirements. Brunch and high tea are relaxed affairs whilst dinner is usually an elegant multi-course offering.
AmaKhosi teems with ‘Big Five’ & over 400 bird species. Safari options including game viewing safaris, walking & seasonal frogging safaris.
AmaKhosi Safari Lodge is an extraordinary destination where royal treatment is a part of each day.
FI: Fully Inclusive - Bed, All Meals, Fees and Activities DS: Tea, Coffee and Soft Drinks Included
Situated in northern KwaZulu Natal, the Amakhosi Private Game Reserve is comprised of 6000 hectares of spectacularly scenic wilderness characterised by riverine forest, savannah, rugged mountains and lush wetlands. Bordered by the magnificent Mkuze River, this unspoilt African landscape is home to abundant wildlife including the sought after ‘Big Five’ (elephant, buffalo, rhino, lion, and leopard) and over 400 bird species. Visitors to this pristine sanctuary can look forward to some excellent bird watching, game viewing safaris, guided bush walks and even seasonal frog safaris.
You have a private transfer to your next lodge, the five star, family owned and operated Amakhosi Lodge.
Some time during the afternoon or evening of your last day at Bayala, your guide lodge manager will tell you what time you will depart next day. If this information is not provided to you proactively then please follow up with them before you retire.
This is the normal routine. Schedules for ground transfers and charter flights are all locked in at about 4pm the prior day. This allows for late bookings and changes. The arrangements are then transmitted to each lodge and camp, who then inform the guests.
Amakhosi is one of my favourites. The first time I stayed here, I drove myself. After passing through the security gate I followed the verbal directions to the lodge. Driving along the dirt road, I had not really adjusted my sense of place to where I was. So as I rounded a bend in the road I should not have been surprised to find a lioness lounging on the road. We were both startled. It occurred to me that in Australia and many other countries, I would have passed many ugly signs warning me to "Stay in your vehicle". Not here. You're expected to have that common sense.
Note that the meal plan here is a little different from other properties. You will have tea or coffee and snacks in camp before your early morning game drive. After you return from your game drive you will have a substantial late morning brunch. You can then enjoy the spa (additional cost for treatments) or simply relax around the lodge before your afternoon game drive. Dinner will be served after you return from your game drive. - Neville Jones
Accommodation, brunch (Late breakfast), dinner, tea, coffee, game drive drinks & activites.
Day 10 - 14Thanda Tented Camp
Thanda Safari is a Big 5 private game reserve offering three very different properties, each with its own style, atmosphere and appeal.
Thanda Tented Camp, with its 14 grand tents and 1 grande deluxe tent, offers a truly relaxed and authentic safari experience. It comprises 14 spacious tents, each with a private sun deck and en-suite canvas bathroom. In addition, the 15th tent, the Jabula Tent, is particularly suited to bridal couples, honeymooners, families and those seeking extra beautiful accommodation for special occasions.
The camp is non-electrified, however, it does have limited solar and battery power with a back-up generator to power the tents for a few hours each day for guests to charge cameras and phones. As a deterrent to wild animals, there is a partial electrified fence along the perimeter of Thanda Tented Camp. Wifi is available in the public areas.
The camp’s shared areas include a reception area, a curio shop, a Hemingway-style lounge area, a dining area featuring authentic African curios, a large rim-flow pool surrounded by loungers and umbrellas, a waterhole to entice large and small game and a boma.
Thanda Tented Camp does not admit children under 6 years old.
FI: Fully Inclusive - Bed, All Meals, Fees and Activities
DLB: All Local Brands (Spirits, Wine and Beers) Included
Set in the heart of South Africa’s Zululand, on the scenic Elephant Coast, Thanda Safari Private Game Reserve is known for its conservation efforts and excellent safari experiences offering exclusive close encounters with Africa’s infamous Big Five. This reserve stretches over an impressive 14000 hectares boasting one of the world’s top luxury hotels. Visitors can jump on a day or night safari to spot abundant wildlife, visit a local village to learn about Zulu culture and enjoy a leisurely hippo and crocodile cruise. Commonly spotted species include: hyena, cheetah, warthog and wild dog. Visitors can enjoy excellent game viewing, luxury spa treatments, stargazing, and rhino tracking and this piece of paradise.
You have another private transfer to your next lodge, the beautiful Thanda Tented Camp.
Luxury accommodation, two game drives per day with professional guide and tracker, all meals and selected local beverages (soft drinks, house wines, local spirits and beers), bush walks with specialist walking guides, minibar, wifi and laundry.
A$5953 per person sharing
• Meet & Greet on arrival at Johannesburg airport
• Accommodation in Hotels, Lodges and Safari Camps in twin or double rooms
• All meals while staying in Lodges and Safari Camps
• Beverages (soft drinks, house wines, local spirits and beers) at Thanda Tented Camp
• Game drives in Safari Lodges and Camps
• Conservation levies
• B&B basis in city/airport Hotels
• All airport transfers
• All flights
• Some meals in city/airport hotels
• Drinks in all lodges except Thanda Tented Camp
• All items of a personal nature
• Travel Insurance (this is compulsory)
• Expenses related to your passports and visas
• Tips and gratuities
• Anything not mentioned in the itinerary
Share This Page