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KwaZulu Natal offers a great mix of ‘first class’ reserves, breath-taking scenery, and a gem when it comes to wildlife.

Follow the coast at your own pace, and explore some of the finest game reserves, well known for their strong conservation commitment and support to the local community. The diversity of wildlife to be experienced away from the crowd is stunning; including various endangered species such as black rhino, leatherback turtle, African elephant, side-striped jackal, cheetah and wild dog.

Suggested itinerary

  1. Day 1: Depart UK

  2. Day 2: Arrive Durban, collect your vehicle and drive to Umdloti coastal village, 1-night beach house. Vehicle safaris

    Today, after collecting your vehicle you stay on the coast of Durban in the charming coastal village of Umdloti, with its lovely beach and windy shore; from the coast, you can regularly spot humpback whales and bottlenose dolphins. You spend the night in the charming Fairlight Beach House.

  3. Day 3: Drive to Thula Thula Reserve, 1-night lodge. Vehicle safaris

    Thula Thula, the land of the ‘elephant whisperer’ was made famous by the lovely tales from Lawrence Anthony as he rescued this herd of troublesome elephants that became part of his family. On your bush walks and game drives, you will have the chance to see, besides these gentle giants, a great diversity of mammals such as black, and white rhino, Burchell’s zebra, giraffe, leopard, nyala, and buffalo. Very committed to wildlife conservation, Thula Thula Reserve is also supporting the local community and you will get a chance if you wish, to experience an authentic rural Zulu village, including a unique encounter with the Inyanga or medicine man, learning about medicinal plants.

  4. Day 4: Morning game drive, then head to the prestigious Phinda Private Game Reserve, 1-night lodge. Vehicle safaris

    In this award winning private game reserve, you will experience a sundowner game drive and an early morning bush walk, and learn about all the conservation work of the reserve, notably the black rhino reintroduction programme. Enjoy an exclusive wildlife safari in Phinda with a great chance to see lion, leopard, black, and white rhino, wild dog, elephant, and hippo. Phinda Forest Lodge makes for a very comfortable stay in a sumptuous ‘glass house’ suite with a private deck and swimming pool.

  5. Day 5: Drive along the coast to Rocktail Bay, 1-night lodge. Vehicle safaris

    This morning, after a walking safari you depart and drive along the coast for approximately one and half hours through the wonderful region of iSimangaliso (Greater St Lucia) Wetland Park. Along the way, you may wish to visit Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park

    Rocktail Bay is part of the Maputaland Marine Reserve and you stay in a tree-house chalet tucked into the forest, and near the shores of the Indian Ocean.

    In summer (December to February) the beach is used as a breeding ground for leatherback and loggerhead turtles which come ashore to lay their eggs. Here there are some great opportunities for diving and snorkelling, birding walks or horse ride safari.

    Note: To explore the remote Tembe Elephant Park along the border with Mozambique, you may wish to extend your stay at Rocktail Bay.

  6. Days 6-7 : Drive across Swaziland to the Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, 2-nights lodge. Vehicle safaris

    This morning, you drive 280 kilometres (roughly 4.5 hours including border control) to the
    Royal Kingdom of Swaziland, a less travelled country, famous for its unique biodiversity, and Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary. Your two nights at Reilly’s Rock Lodge will give you plenty of time to self-explore the area. There are some delightful nature walks on marked trails to see protected endangered species, a visit to the Royal Botanical Garden is also a must, and you are welcome to self drive around the reserve. As there aren’t any main predators in the area, walks are safe and the most enchanting way to have a close encounter with the wildlife. For the horse riders there are also plenty of horse-ride safaris available, taking you over some stunningly beautiful scenery.

  7. Days 8-9 : Drive to Southern Kruger National Park, 2-nights tented camp. Vehicle safaris

    This morning you head north, exiting Swaziland and entering Kruger National Park, en route to Manyeleti. The drive can take up to five hours depending on the border crossing.

    The great highlight of your stay in the privately own Rhino Walking Camp, located within Kruger, is the opportunity for full day or even multi-days walking safaris.

    Your comfortable two nights stay in this small and exclusive luxury tented camp (maximum 8 guests), will add to your wilderness experience of Kruger as you enjoy the unrivalled diversity of wildlife roaming the biggest national park in Africa.

  8. Day 10: Drive to Johannesburg airport and depart

    Today you head to Johannesburg and OR Tambo International Airport, partly game driving through Kruger National Park. The drive will take you approximately 6 hours. Please ensure you leave sufficient time to drop off your hire vehicle before checking in for the overnight flight to London.

  9. Day 11: Arrive UK

Key info

Our trip ideas are offered to inspire you and can be tailored to suit your requirements.
  • Duration and price including flights from/to UK: 11 days from £3,095 pp
  • Duration and price excluding international flights: 9 days from £2,145 pp
  • When to go: Jan-Dec
  • Activities available:
    • Boat trip
    • Camping
    • Culture
    • Horse riding
    • Mountaineering
    • Nature drive
    • Photography
    • Scuba diving
    • Sea kayaking
    • Walking
Featured locations:

Phinda Private Game Reserve

Phinda Private Game Reserve is an award winning private game reserve with a strong focus on wildlife conservation and community involvement. Located along the coast of KwaZulu Natal, it is home to seven unique eco-systems with palm savannah and mountain bush to rare sand forest and dense thornveld.

  • Where: KwaZulu Natal
  • Ideal for viewing: black rhino, leopard, spotted hyena, African elephant, South African giraffe
  • Excellent for: Self-drive

Kosi Bay

Kosi Bay is located on the remote KwaZulu Natal North coast, and part of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. The Bay is formed by four interconnected lakes and is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its palm-fringed reed channels, beautiful beaches and lush vegetation; a pristine wealth of beauty.

  • Where: Northern Coast of KwaZulu Natal
  • Ideal for viewing: loggerhead turtle, hippo, palmnut vulture, Nile crocodile, Cape clawless otter
  • Excellent for: Self-drive

Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park

Hluhluwe–iMfolozi Park is the oldest proclaimed natural park in Africa. Covering some 96,000 hectares, and supporting an exciting diversity of fauna, it is also known for its conservation efforts. The park is the only state-run park in KwaZulu Natal where all the major predators can be found.

  • Where: KwaZulu Natal
  • Ideal for viewing: black rhino, cheetah, lion, spotted hyena, klipspringer
  • Excellent for: Self-drive

iSimangaliso Wetland Park

iSimangaliso Wetland Park (previously known as the Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park) is the jewel in the Maputaland crown. It is one of the outstanding natural wetland and coastal sites of Africa, and includes a wide range of pristine marine, coastal and wetland environments which are naturally beautiful and untouched.

  • Where: East Coast KwaZulu Natal
  • Ideal for viewing: hippo, Nile crocodile, loggerhead turtle, leopard, white rhino
  • Excellent for: Self-drive

Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary

Mlilwane, Swaziland’s pioneer conservation area, is a beautiful, secluded sanctuary situated in the Ezulwini Valley, between Mbabane and Manzini. The southern section is predominately open grassland plains with middleveld vegetation, stretching up onto Nyonyane Mountain with its exposed granite peak.

  • Where: Ezulwini Valley
  • Ideal for viewing: brown hyena, leopard, Cape clawless otter, black-backed jackal, greater galago
  • Excellent for: Self-drive

Kruger National Park

Established in 1898 to protect the wildlife of the South African Low Veld, Kruger is today unrivalled in the diversity of its wildlife and a world leader in environmental management techniques. With great road infrastructures, waterholes, and hides, it ensures a maximum exposure to its incredible biodiversity.

  • Where: Mpumalanga
  • Ideal for viewing: African elephant, white rhino, lion, wild dog, leopard
  • Excellent for: Self-drive

Tembe Elephant Park

The remote Tembe Elephant Park, lies in Northern Tongaland, on the border of Mozambique, deep in an area of sand forests, pans and wetlands. The park is situated within the sand veld ecological zone, with a great diversity of habitat and offers a spectacular wildlife density in this subtropical region.

  • Where: Northern Tongaland
  • Ideal for viewing: African elephant, lion, white rhino, Cape buffalo, suni
  • Excellent for: Self-drive
Suggested accommodation options are shown below. Please contact us for further recommendations.

Fairlight Beach House

Nestled in the village of Umdloti, only a few metres from a lovely swimming beach, this delightful homestead offers a warm welcome and personal hospitality alongside the comfort and sophistication of a 4-star hotel. Each of its ten rooms is unique, with a refined design and sea view.

Hill Top Camp Hluhluwe

This camp has commanding views of the surrounding Hluhluwe/Umfolozi Game Reserve, noted for its wonderful variety of birds and mammals including both black and white rhino, lion, leopard and elephant. Accommodation ranges from self-catered rondavels and self contained chalets to luxury lodge rooms.

Kosi Forest Lodge

Accommodating up to 16 guests in thatched bush suites, this lodge is set in a beautiful forest on the banks of Kosi Lake. Rooms are raised on a wooden deck and carefully positioned for privacy and intimacy, and the swimming pool offers an outstanding view of Lake Shengeza.

Phinda Forest Lodge

Phinda Forest Lodge is a sumptuous property located within the 22,000 hectares Phinda Private Game Reserve in northern KwaZulu-Natal. Its 16 spacious, glass encased, stilted suites all have private viewing decks and personal bars, with luxurious en-suite bathrooms.

Reilly’s Rock Hilltop Lodge

Located in the heart of Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary, this historic colonial lodge is surrounded by the Royal Botanical Gardens. It offers six luxury en-suite rooms, as well as a large self-catering cottage, and there are several hillside trails and horse riding opportunities on the wildlife-studded plains.

Rhino Walking Camp

With the serenity of a 19th century naturalist retreat, the luxury Rhino Walking Camp is situated in the heart of a 12,000 hectare concession, overlooking a waterhole. Accommodating a maximum of eight guests in Meru-style tents, the camp is unique in offering a tailored walking experience.

Rocktail Bay Lodge

This is an intimate lodge tucked away in the northern reaches of iSimangaliso Wetland Park. 11 tree-house chalets are nestled under the forest canopy, each with private balcony and outdoor shower. From the lodge you can enjoy walks along unspoilt white sandy beaches and snorkelling in the marine reserve.

Thonga Beach Lodge

This lodge is set above a secluded bay on the Maputaland Coast, nestled amongst coastal dune forest with sweeping views of the beach below. Thatched bush suites provide privacy and have been constructed to ensure minimal environment impact, and the nearby waters offer some of South Africa’s best snorkelling.