From the Journal

A Durban Safari Experience at Thanda Safari


Travel Tips

Male lion spotted on evening game drive at Thanda Safari Lodge, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Photo credit | Marike Cronjé

Our Brand Manager, Marike Cronjé, recently traveled to Thanda Private Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal for a luxury Durban safari experience. As one of South Africa’s malaria-free safari destinations, KwaZulu-Natal is becoming increasingly appealing and offers travelers a unique wildlife safari in the heart of Zululand.


Giraffe
Giraffe's who welcomed us on arrival at the Thanda.

Getting there:


Thanda Game Reserve is located in South Africa’s southeastern province, KwaZulu-Natal. It is easily accessible by flying into King Shaka International Airport in Durban (via O.R Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg) followed by a 3-hour drive north to reach the entrance of the reserve. Clients who are short on time can also opt in to take a direct flight from either O.R Tambo International Airport or King Shaka International Airport to the Phinda Airstrip, which is located a short drive from Thanda Private Game Reserve. On arrival at the Phinda Airstrip, a Thanda representative will welcome you and transfer you to the lodge.

Oyster Box Ker Downey Africa

"We suggest spending one or more nights at the iconic Oyster Box Hotel in Umhlanga, before or after your Durban safari."

If you do have the time, we suggest spending one or more nights at the iconic Oyster Box Hotel in Umhlanga, before or after your Durban safari. This will give you a breather before embarking on your exciting safari experience at Thanda Private Game Reserve or a moment to unwind before your international journey home.


About Thanda Private Game Reserve:


Thanda Private Game Reserve boasts 14,900-hectares of wilderness and is home to the African Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and buffalo). At least 350 bird species can be found on the reserve of which 100 - 150 of them can be spotted regularly. The reserve has three unique properties namely Thanda Safari Lodge, Thanda Tented Camp and Villa iZulu. During our 2 night stay at Thanda we stayed at the Tented Camp, spotted 4 members of the Big Five (excluding the elusive leopard) and were lucky enough to spot impressive birdlife pointed out by our safari guide, Ephraim Mathe and our dedicated tracker, Siboniso Manukuza.

"Thanda Private Game Reserve boasts 14,900-hectares of wilderness and is home to the African Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and buffalo)."

Lion And Camea
Ephraim And Sibo
Our safari guide, Ephraim Mathe, and our dedicated tracker, Siboniso Manukuza.

Luxury Properties on Thanda Private Game Reserve:


As a member of The Leading Hotels of the World, you can expect the finest service and accommodation at each of the Thanda properties. Each has its own charm and appeal to different types of travelers.

Our tips on staying at Thanda Safari Lodge:


  • As Thanda’s flagship property, the Safari Lodge is best suited for the sophisticated traveler who prefers to have all their creature comforts when on safari. Each of the 9 bush suites is equipped with air-conditioning, a private plunge pool, boma and a sala (facilities which are not found at the Tented Camp).
  • The infrastructure of the lodge is better suited to older clients.
  • The bush villas are extremely spacious, with a floor size of 220 square metres! 
  • Extra facilities include a small gym, cable television in the entertainment room and a watering hole in front of the lodge frequented by herds of elephant.
  • The Thanda Safari Spa is also conveniently located at Thanda Safari Lodge. (Guests staying at Thanda Tented Camp or Villa iZulu will be transferred to the spa).
  • Other entertainment areas include a cigar bar and an impressive wine cellar.

"As Thanda’s flagship property, the Safari Lodge is best suited for the sophisticated traveler who prefers to have all their creature comforts when on safari."

Thanda Safari Lodge Ker Downey Africa
Thand Spa Large
The award winning spa at Thanda Safari Lodge.

Our tips on staying at Thanda Tented Camp:


  • Thanda Tented Camp is our recommended property for adventurous honeymooners or couples who would like to feel closer to nature, while simultaneously staying in the utmost luxury. 
  • The semi-permanent tented suites offer an authentic ‘Out of Africa’ ambiance created by the sounds of the bush around you, the flapping of the tent in the wind, hearing lions roar in the distance at night and sometimes, the sound of Vervet monkeys running on the roof of your tent!
  • Staying at Thanda Tented Camp is your eco-friendly option on the reserve. Expect the property to be lit by flickering firelight and lanterns at night and your air-conditioning to be swapped out with an overhead fan.
  • We highly recommend booking the romantic Jabula Honeymoon Tent when staying at the Tented Camp. The spacious tent features a king-sized bed, separate lounge, en-suite bathroom, a large outdoor deck with a plunge pool and daybeds, an outdoor shower and spectacular views of the reserve.
  • The tented camp features an infinity pool at the main lodge area.
Jabula Tent

"We highly recommend booking the romantic Jabula Honeymoon Tent when staying at the Tented Camp."

Jabula Tent At Night
The Jabula tent at night.

Our tips on staying at Villa iZulu:


  • Villa iZulu is the perfect accommodation option for families or friends visiting Thanda for a Durban safari experience. 
  • The villa sleeps 10 people in 5 safari suites and offers complete privacy. 
  • The property features a heated swimming pool, wine cellar, library, games room and a deck overlooking a water hole.
  • Additional accommodation is available for childminders and VIP security officers.
  • The villa has a private helicopter pad for exclusive fly-ins.

What to expect from your wildlife experience at Thanda Private Game Reserve:


During our 2 night stay at Thanda, we enjoyed 4 game drives - each of which proved to be very successful. We were lucky enough to have cheetah, lion, buffalo, elephant and rhino sightings during our visit and this was best explained by our guide Ephraim - “Right time, right place, right guide . . . right guest!”. Other sightings included giraffe, vultures, warthogs and a variety of impala. Ephraim was our dedicated safari guide for the duration of our stay and was supported by our tracker, Sibo, who could spot lion tracks from the safari vehicle when moving at 40km per hour! What we appreciated most about our guiding team was their dedication to delivering the best possible safari experience for their guests, while being respectful of nature and the personal space of the wildlife. As a keen birder, Ephraim also pointed out bird species which we had never seen before and patiently waited until everyone had captured their shots before moving along. The advantage of a Durban safari experience is also without a doubt the weather - it was a first to set out for a game drive without getting cold.

“Right time, right place, right guide . . . right guest!” - Ephraim, Thanda Safari Guide

Safari Thanda

Last but not least, our safari experience would not have been what it was without the people we met along the way - Stanley, who welcomed us at the main entrance to Thanda Private Game Reserve and treated us to ice-cold water, Lungelo who showed us to our tented suite and made sure that we had everything we needed, Siboniso who manned the bar and served us refreshing drinks throughout, Siboniso with his eagle eyes who is to thank for our incredible sightings and Ephraim, who educated us on the reserve, its animals and people.

Thanda Bush Breakfast
The Thanda team who surprised us with a bush breakfast on our last morning on the reserve.

Interested to visit Thanda?


If you are interested in experiencing a Thanda Safari with Ker & Downey® Africa, contact us to curate your bespoke Durban safari experience.


Marike
Written by
Marike Cronjé

Naturally, our Art Director Marike Cronjé, is at her happiest when she is surrounded by beautiful spaces, and once she finds these places, you'll read about them here. Solo traveling in Indonesia, scuba-diving with sharks, safaris in Africa and yoga is what she lives for. 


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