5 of my favourite places to stay in Zululand

Posted by Leigh Eggers on 13 March 2013

Zululand is in my blood. It’s a picturesque part of KwaZulu-Natal that has significantly contributed to my love of wildlife. I haven’t visited all game reserves in Zululand or stayed at every lodge, so this list isn’t exhaustive. It’s a list of five of the best camps and lodges that I have enjoyed staying at when I get the chance to explore the area that I have the privilege of calling home.

1. Cape Vidal, iSimangaliso Wetland Park

Cape Vidal is a scenic bay on the north coast of KwaZulu-Natal within the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. Better known for its fishing and beach, the reserve is also home to a wide variety of wildlife.

In 2008, I first heard of a leopard kill in the reserve and it jumped to the top of my wishlist of places to visit. Within a few weeks, a crew of equally bush-crazy friends and I were on our way to search for the elusive animal and our diligent efforts were rewarded more than once. It’s arguably the best location to see leopard in Zululand which is why it tops my list of where to stay.

I normally choose to stay at the Group Cabins for affordability but if you’d prefer something slightly more up-market, opt for the Log Cabins near the beach. Campsites are also available and all have electrical points and most are well-shaded.

You enter the park from St Lucia and this is where you’ll have to stock up on your food and drinks and fill up your fuel tank. There is a very limited shop in Cape Vidal, but don’t rely on this for much other than ice cream and cold drinks. The reserve is a popular destination so if it is fully booked you can look for accommodation in St Lucia.

Visit Ezemvelo KwaZulu-­Natal Wildlife’s website for more information on Cape Vidal

Click here to find accommodation in St Lucia

Male leopard, Cape Vidal

 

2. Mpila Camp, Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park

There’s a rawness about Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park that appeals to me and with Mpila Camp being unfenced, a stay there is that much more exciting. The reserve has all the big game and is fantastic for birding.

Hyenas are almost always seen roaming the camp after dark, searching for scraps from the braai. Please don’t feed them though as this could lead to them ultimately having to be killed. They are dangerous animals so be alert and do not approach them under any circumstances.

The chalets are self-catering and en suite and each has a private veranda. The safari tents are another comfortable option, also equipped with a kitchen and bathroom. There are no campsites.

Fuel is available but again the shop is limited. There are no major food stores in close proximity so buy everything you need before arriving in the park.

Visit Ezemvelo KwaZulu-­Natal Wildlife’s website for information on Mpila Camp

Click here to find more accommodation at Hluhluwe-iMfolozi

Braaing, Mpila Camp

 

3. Nselweni Bush Lodge, Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park

If you want something more luxurious in Hluhluwe Umfolozi, Nselweni Bush Lodge is a good choice. This lodge has been built as a joint venture with members of the surrounding community. I love that my stay contributes towards uplifting the local area.

The units have been tastefully decorated and each has its own kitchen, bathroom and large veranda. The lodge is set along the Black uMfolozi River and if the grass isn’t too long, you should get good views over it.

Warning: You may be tempted to spend less time in the bush and more time lounging around when staying here!

Vist Ezemvelo KwaZulu-­Natal Wildlife’s website for more information on Nselweni Bush Lodge

Click here to find more accommodation at Hluhluwe-iMfolozi

View from unit, Nselweni Bush Lodge

 

4. Nhlonhlela Bush Lodge, uMkhuze

uMkhuze is another North Coast game reserve worth visiting. It’s a top birding destination with over 450 species and has all the big game except lion. Some of my best wild dog sightings have been in this park.

Nhlonhlela Bush Lodge sleeps eight people in four separate bamboo units and needs to be booked as a whole. Each unit has two single beds, en suite shower and toilet and a private veranda. There is a separate kitchen and a dining room and large deck overlooking a small dam.

The great part is the lodge provides a chef who will cook the food that you provide. So you can relax on the deck enjoying refreshments while the animals gather at the water below. The cost of accommodation also includes a daily guided activity.

The main camp, Mantuma has fuel but the shop is basic and the nearest town is over 20 kilometres away so make sure you take all food supplies with you.

Visit Ezemvelo KwaZulu-­Natal Wildlife’s website for more information on Nhlonhlela Bush Lodge

Viewing Deck, Nhlonhlela Bush Lodge

 

5. Mountain Lodge, Phinda Private Game Reserve

For the ultimate in luxury, it’s hard to beat Phinda. These guys know how to take care of their guests. With lavish accommodation, delicious meals and expertly guided drives, this is a memorable getaway where you’ll come away feeling recharged and fully satisfied. It’s a Big 5 reserve and in my opinion, one of the best reserves in Zululand to see cheetah.

Mountain Lodge is wrapped around the crest of a small mountain, so the views from the suites are breathtaking. Each has its own seating area, elegant bathroom and private veranda with plunge pool and outdoor shower.

Visit Phinda’s website for more information on Mountain Lodge

Private Veranda, Mountain Lodge

 

When it comes to wildlife, Zululand has a lot to offer with many reserves and a variety of accommodation options to suit any budget. I’ll be doing more exploring and will keep you posted on other lodges that I discover.

In the meantime, leave a comment and let me know your favourite places to stay in Zululand.

Click here to find other accommodation in Zululand






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