IT WAS A GOOD SIGN " TWO CHEETAHS PADDING NONCHALANTLY ALONG A GAME FENCE IN NORTHERN KWAZULU#NATAL. THIS WAS BEFORE WE EVEN GOT THROUGH THE RESERVE’S ENTRANCE.
The ‘overseas family’ should be in for a treat. Gathering from the four corners of the world for an octogenarian birthday, the first SKYPEd stipulation is for an African game reserve experience. It’s a tall order fulfilling everyone’s wish list, however Rhino River Lodge in the Zululand Rhino Reserve fits the bill perfectly.
Zululand Rhino Reserve was born out of the passion to conserve these magnificent creatures. Inspired by the WWF Black Rhino Range Expansion Project, in 2004 seventeen landowners dropped their internal fences to create a Big 5, endangered species reserve. By 2005 the first population of black rhino had been released into their new home. Today, the sight of a helicopter on the horizon flying systematically over the Zululand reserves, along with the terrifying anti-poaching signs en route, are indicators of reserve owners’ passion in preserving these endangered species. Zululand Rhino Reserve is also home to over 70 other mammal species including lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard, cheetah and hippo – this is definitely Big 5 territory. Situated within the Msunduzi valley in northern Zululand, the area falls under the Mkuze Valley Lowveld vegetation type, varying from open Savanna thornveld, bushveld to riverine woodland with acacia and marula trees. For our overseas guests who might not be interested in the reserve’s exceptional diversity of birdlife or fauna, the drive to Rhino River Lodge’s reception has already been rewarding.
After being warmly received by our hosts and browsing around the curio shop, our clan is escorted to the lodge. Stone and thatch buildings fringe an expansive lawn dotted with magnificent trees. Rhino River Lodge has plenty space for the children in our group to expend energy, fulfilling another SKYPEd request.