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Durban - The Bay of Plenty

Pietermaritzburg, founded in 1839, is the capital and second largest city of the province of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. Its "purist" Zulu name is umGungundlovu meaning - The Secret Place of the Elephant. Notable city attractions are the Natal Museum, Tatham Art Gallery, City Hall and SANBI Botanical Gardens. Outdoor natural attractions and adventure can be had at close by Albert Falls Nature Reserve, Howick Falls, Midmar Public Nature Reserve, Queens Elizabeth Park and World's View.

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Pietermaritzburg - The Capital City

Pietermaritzburg, founded in 1839, is the capital and second largest city of the province of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. Its "purist" Zulu name is umGungundlovu meaning - The Secret Place of the Elephant. Notable city attractions are the Natal Museum, Tatham Art Gallery, City Hall and SANBI Botanical Gardens. Outdoor natural attractions and adventure can be had at close by Albert Falls Nature Reserve, Howick Falls, Midmar Public Nature Reserve, Queens Elizabeth Park and World's View.

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Magical Midlands Meander

The Midlands Meander in the heart of KwaZulu-Natal, is a collection of arranged routes that offer visitors hospitality in truly beautiful surroundings, outstanding accommodation, conference and wedding facilities, fascinating local events, fabulous restaurants, revitalising outdoor activities and over-the-top adventure sports, historic landmarks, wildlife conservation, and best of all "shop-till-you-drop" unique arts and crafts.

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Battlefields of Natal

Rorke's Drift, Colenso, Isandlwana, Spioenkop, Dundee, Ladysmith, Blood River - once blood-soaked battle sites are visited by pilgrims and enthusiasts recalling the secrets and sacrifice of the past. Walk with the leaders of days gone by - King Shaka, Cetshwayo, General Louis Botha, the Boer commandos, Winston Churchill and Mahatma Gandhi. Visit the towns, monuments, museums, forts and white-rocked graveyards of the internationally renowned battlefields of KwaZulu-Natal.

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uKhuhlamba Drakensberg

South Africa's best in Adventure, Biological and Cultural diversity

The uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park, one of South Africa's prime ecotourist destinations and a World Heritage Site. In this awesome mountain range you can savour the ultimate freedom of great open spaces in a world of gigantic peaks and buttresses, of towering sandstone cliffs and hidden valleys, virgin forests and crystal clear rivers.

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White Elephant Bush Lodge

The bush lodge consists of a central dining area under thatch, a fully equipped kitchen, swimming pool for those seriously soaring temperatures found here, a further two lounges, and seven en-suite chalets dotted around well-kept gardens frequented by warthogs. One of these chalets sleeps four people, the rest two people. There is also a self-contained cottage with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, open plan kitchen and lounge within walking distance. The chalets are well appointed with linen, towels, and overhead fans. The price works out to roughly R500 per person per night sharing, is self-catering, and game drives and fishing are extra. If you are booking out the entire place and it’s not during peak periods ask about specials.

Although the bush lodge is self-catering, there are a options that will lighten your load which includes paying for a cook, and if you like you can email the lodge your grocery list so everything is there neatly packed away in the kitchen for when you arrive.

The Pongola Private Game Reserve is 10 000ha in size with nine owners on this property where, although there are no lion, is unique as the bush is rimmed by Lake Jozini. Activities are aligned to this environment, so one can go tiger fishing in the morning and game driving in the afternoon.  White Elephant, owned by the Kohrs family who have been there for almost as long as the mountains, is in the South of the Pongola Game Reserve which is situated near the Swaziland borer and easily accessible from the N2  from Durban or Johannesburg.

Whenever I read about a reserve that has leopard but not lion, I feel as though my chances of seeing cats are practically zero so was pleasantly surprised that we encountered a female leopard on a game drive here. It was a rare sighting most certainly and we had all but given up before the elusive cat made a brief appearance. There are buffalo, elephant, rhino, hyena, giraffe, wildebeest, zebra, warthog, 12 different antelope species, and more than 350 bird species. Although we saw antelope, rhino, and giraffe, the elephants were clear on the other side of the reserve and we didn’t have the opportunity to see them. The animals were not prolific, and there were long stages of driving through the bush without seeing too much, but in this vast area, it is not always easy to spot game. Our ranger ensured that every minute of the game drive was fascinating as he gave us all sorts of good information about the animals that enhanced the trip.

We drove down to the water’s edge of the lake and here it seemed the warthogs and antelope were having the time of their lives darting around. There were ostrich on the shores in the midst of a mating ritual which was somewhat spectacular although an unusual sighting in a game reserve. The beautiful sunset set the sky alight in all shades of orange and pink imaginable bringing our first day’s adventure to a close as we headed back to the camp to spend the evening around the fire singing, imitating the sounds of animals - with some of us better than others - and deciding how one really should pronounce ‘duiker’.

The following morning some of our party woke up before sunrise to head to the lake with the guide for tiger fishing, while the rest of us decided to have a late start, laze about the pool and look onto the bushveld watching birds and even enjoying the sighting of a shy duiker that came into the lodge gardens. Game drives, bush walks, and boat cruises
are available making your stay one as active or as relaxed as you choose.

Dr Heinz and Mrs Debbie Kohrs, owners of the lodge, are the founding Trustees of Space for Elephants (www.space4elephants.org), which speaks to their passion for the bush as well as commitment to conservation. It was in the early 1950’s that Heinz’s father known as Kallie Khors, bought the farm Leeuwspoor here. Primarily a cattle farmer, he was also a great naturalist, preserving and carefully managing the little remaining game species on the farm. As early as 1963, when conservation of wildlife on private farmland made no economic sense, as there was no demand for hunting or tourism, Kallie Kohrs was awarded the Natal Parks Board Conservationist of the Year trophy. It was during this period, when Ian Player was chief warden of Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Reserve, that Kallie Kohrs made the request of 10 warthog for re-introduction on to Leeuwspoor which was granted and the ‘Return of the Wilderness’ commenced.

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Rockwood Forest Lodge

Forests are secret places. They just beckon exploration. It has something to do with one never having vast open views, rather a feeling of being cocooned in dappled light and shifting glimpses of moss on partially revealed tree trunks. Paths disappear around leafy corners and tempt further investigation. We have that growing sense of anticipation as we travel through Karkloof Nature Reserve. The 4x4 rounds a bend in the road and jiggles its way into a clearing. In the centre of a grassy glade, Rockwood Forest Lodge is a delightful surprise.


Guests can only access Rockwood Forest Lodge’s remote location using an off-road vehicle. Rockwood’s hosts happily provide a transfer ride from reception. However, once the staff has left, you have the lodge all to yourselves. With its secluded setting, the hosts have thoughtfully provided extras. There is a welcoming bottle of wine on the dining table, braai briquettes, spices on the kitchen shelves and sugar in a bowl, just in case you forgot. A woven basket with towels, ready for swimming, is placed alongside double glass doors leading out to the large deck.


The rich indigenous environment is home to many endemic or near endemic species. Shy duiker and samango monkeys conceal themselves in the dense foliage. Birders have an opportunity to see the Cape Parrot, Crested Guinea Fowl and the Crowned Eagle. As we ventured along the trail leading off the lodge’s lawn, we were lucky enough to see an elusive Narina Trogon.

Guests of Rockwood have full and exclusive access to the reserve to explore marked trails and discover the reserve’s several waterfalls. We found forest walks were a total immersion in tranquility with each step revealing yet another fascinating moss. The greater Karkloof area is also excellent mountain biking country. Those into fishing can backtrack along the road to the Godwini Dam and indulge in catching trout and bass. If your passion is trees then Rockwood Forest Lodge is ideal. A wide range of trees surrounding the lodge is marked in case your identification skills are rusty. Outeniqua yellowwood (Afrocarpus falcatus) and real yellowwood (Podocarpus latifolius) grow right outside the lodge’s kitchen door. They are a reminder of how important Karkloof Nature Reserve is in preserving our indigenous natural heritage.

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Kgalagadi Road Tripping

Nothing warms my heart more than the thought of road tripping into the Kgalagadi.  Scanning the road sides near Upington for the first sign of sociable weaver’s nests, and stopping off at farm stalls to buy quirky crafts and the best game biltong, set the tone for what was to become an incredible trip.
It’s here in the Kgalagadi that you feel the genuine African Wilderness and it’s something of an adventure just being there. It is a place of astonishing beauty, unlike any other South African park.  It’s also a park of contrasts including punishing weather as the sun bakes the earth, or rare rain showers. It has an intense beauty, unique animal sightings and remoteness.  The combination creates experiences that are etched into your memory for eternity.

The size of the park itself speaks to this dramatic aspect as the Transfontier Park is 38 000km2, which makes it one of the largest conservation areas in the world. The main concentration of wildlife in the park is found along the two dried up but well treed and grassed river beds, the Nossob (east) and the Auob (west).

Both rivers are ephemeral rivers - they only flow for a short period during a very good rain season. A portion of the Auob River is said to flow approximately once every 11 years. And Nossob flows twice every 100 years. The Nossob River last flooded in 1963.

Our stay was divided between wilderness camps, chalets, camping and the eco trail as we attempted to have an allround experience and explore as much as we could of what the Kgalagadi had to offer. It goes without saying that a park this size means that you’d need to do many trips to truly uncover all the different aspects.

COMFORTABLE CHALETS TO START

We spent our first two nights in a comfortable chalet fully equipped at Twee Rivieren. We found the campsite far too busy so we changed our last night booking to chalet number 1, which was far from the madding crowds and bordering the fence line just where we wanted to be.

The Urikaruus Wilderness Camp was our next destination situated on the banks of Auob River, surrounded by camel thorn trees. This lofted camp, overlooks a water hole in the river bed. Being unfenced makes one feel at one with the Kgalagadi and its magnificent surrounds, an absolute dream for nature lovers. For your protection the camp has an armed ranger on site.

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Far away in Africa

The morning sun glinted off the band of smooth black mountains that rose abruptly from folds of verdant earth that was otherwise flat, vast and dry. A misty haze contradicted the blistering heat we were soon to experience as we touched down on a dirt runway in the remote interior of Northern Mozambique bordering Tanzania. Niassa Game Reserve.
The black mountains - monadnocks, or inselbergs – German for ‘island mountain’ are unexpected in this flat African landscape that has a wild, unusual and desolate beauty. Tall lime green chestnut trees stretch up into the sky in a vain attempt to compete with these mountains and large stocky baobabs stand their ancient ground.  Miombo woodland and swathes of open golden grasslands give the reserve relief from the sometimes blackened landscape charred by annual fires.


The amount of game and birdlife is equally unexpected in what, at first, seems an inhospitable environment. There are lion, leopard, elephant, wild dog, hyena, jackal, zebra, hippopotamus, and antelopes, including kudu, eland, sable and Lichtenstein’s hartebeest. More than 350 species of birds have been recorded here including the globally threatened species, such as the taita falcon, southern banded snake eagle, African skimmer and Stierling’s woodpecker.

PHOTOGRAPHIC SAFARI LODGE – LUGENDA

We were staying at the only photographic safari lodge in the reserve, Lugenda, part of the Rani group. The relevance of the statement is when you consider the size of Niassa - 42,000 square kilometres – which is double the size of Kruger. Lugenda is well positioned on the banks of the river of the same name, but as our visit was before the rains, the river bed was a sandy golden beach. When the rains do arrive, the camp closes because the river near bursts at the seams and floods occur from time to time.

Lugenda is a place for those who have acquired a taste for the wilderness and not for those whom expect to wrap up sightings of the big 5 before
lunchtime. Here, at Lugenda, a significant part of your experience is being deep in Africa, separated from the busy world. With accessibility to the reserve costly and time consuming, and no cell phone signal or wi-fi at Lugenda, it underlines the remote location. There are a few secret spots to get signal, but not at the lodge, and it was relaxing to switch off, literally and figuratively.

Although the offering is about being in the wilderness, it is not to say that you don’t see game. Elephant were seen frequently from the lodge and on game drives, a leopard was seen on a night drive as was a herd of buffalo during our two day stay. We came across three male buffalo during one of the afternoon game drives, but like the Niassa wildebeest we saw, the animals prefer you to keep your distance. We saw numerous antelope including sable. The area has three endemic species - the Niassa wildebeest, Boehm’s zebra, and Johnston’s impala.

Twitchers, being people who are committed bird-watchers who travel long distances to see a species, find Lugenda ideal. A guest from Wales, a serious twitcher, was enthralled with the numerous special sightings at Lugenda. The noteworthy birds we saw were the black eagle, African skimmer, and the Stierling’s woodpecker. The reserve interestingly is bigger than Wales, so the bird sightings were indeed special as the area covered during a short stay here is but a speck on the map of the reserve.

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