Join me on safari to a little piece of African paradise
and let’s go see the big 5 …
There is no better experience than driving through the African bushveld, in an open-air Land Rover at full speed, under the glare of the African sun, looking for wild animals. You are miles away from the concrete jungle that is the bustling city. It is just you and nature. When this experience encompasses a luxury bush lodge as your home base, you know you’re in for a truly African wildlife safari experience.
Thanda Safari …
… is situated in a 14 000 hectare private game reserve, just 23 km’s north of Hlhuhlwe, in Kwa-Zulu Natal.
The private game reserve is home to the Big Five, as well as cheetah, hyena, warthog and the elusive wild dog. Thanda, meaning ‘love’ in Zulu, unites romance and exclusivity, with Zulu culture and wildlife. Thanda Safari comprises of three very different accommodation types: the Safari Lodge, a Villa IsiZulu and the Thanda Tented Camps.
After a 3 hour drive from Durban Airport we arrived at the gates to this African dream destination. We parked our vehicle and waited a little while before our ranger and guide came to collect us. Together with our luggage, we are driven up in an open-air Land Rover to the Tented Camps. Along the way we spot a few lanky giraffes in the distance. So picturesque, the scene looked almost like an animated, intricate painting of the African bush from an artists impression.
We are welcomed at reception with hand towels to freshen up and a refreshing welcome drink.
We were then briefed on what to expect at Thanda Safari. The itinerary and forecast for the weekend ahead was 2 game drives a day, a temperature of 35 degrees, total relaxation and utter African bliss. Alongside all of this we would be indulging in lavish brunches, tranquil high teas and delicious dinners in the boma.
With a 14h00 arrival, high tea at 15h30 and a game drive departure at 16h30, we were shown to our tent for a quick freshening up. We walked along the pathway, through the beautiful trees with the birds flickering above us. Along the way, a few buck also gave us a warm welcome. Although the camp has a partial electrified fence, some of the friendly animals managed to sneak in.
We arrived at our tent, which was quite a distance away from the main reception area, as well as the other 14 tents. As we walked in, our breath was taken away. The tent was spacious and ultra luxurious, with a private sun deck, an en suite canvas bathroom and an outdoor shower. There was candles, a paraffin lantern and a walkie-talkie in case we needed to get hold of reception.
Our tent was hidden, private and secluded, and using the outdoor shower, at any time of the day, was totally permissible.
This was definitely the bush as nature intended and we knew we were in for a real safari experience.
A typical day at Thanda unfolds like this:
4h30 – wake up call;
5h00 – morning game drive with tea/coffee and snacks;
8h00 – arrive back for breakfast;
13h00 – lunch is served;
14h30 – tea time;
16h30 – afternoon game drive with drinks and snacks;
20h00 – arrive back for dinner;
All in all, your day revolves around game viewing and eating, with more than enough time to fit in a siesta, some reading, swimming or a treatment at the Spa.
A true African safari goes hand in hand with thrill of a game drive and the excitement of searching for the Big Five. Each game drive was more exciting than the next. On one of the morning drives, the guides showed us the fresh tracks of a cheetah. And on an afternoon drive, we spotted fresh blood in grass close to where lions recently did a kill.
It feels like we owned the game reserve. It was just us, on our game drive vehicle, in search of the animals.
We saw some amazing sightings. From lions sleeping in the grass, to a big herd of buffalo with calves. As well as two cheetahs so upclose that if I stretched out my arm, I could have patted their back. Elephants, rhino, giraffes and zebra too. If you had to ask me what my favourite sighting was, it would definitely be elephants swimming in the dam and a poor lioness trying to get to the water for a drink. The closer she got, the more the elephants trumpeted to chase her away. In all my years of going to game reserves, I have never captured a herd of elephant and single lioness in one photograph and at Thanda, I did.
Thanda Tented Camps are perched on a little mountain top that overlooks the beautiful rolling hills of Zululand. If we weren’t on our game drives, we were lapping up the breathtaking view from our room or we were hanging out at the boma by the waterhole and enjoying the view from there. With a book in hand, waiting for the elephants to come drink at the waterhole, its all about the relaxation and listening to the sounds of nature.
At night, it was us, the clear skies, the calls of the laughing hyena and the roars of the hungry lion.
Thanda Safari can definitely be considered one of my absolute favourite safari experiences. The wildlife encounters were especially up close and the game viewing was rich and fulfilling. The whole experience is enhanced by the highly experienced game rangers as well as the hospitality of all the staff that do their utmost.
The tented camp also ensured a unique African experience like no other.
Thanda Safari is a five star private game reserve that exudes amazing service, excellent food, intimacy and privacy, together with the Big Five and the peacefulness of the bush veld.
I cannot wait to return.
For more information on Thanda Safari, click here.