Earlier this year, I got to experience two magical nights at the marvellous Thanda Safari Private Game Reserve. Thanda is a member of The Leading Hotels of the World, so I had high expectations of what was ahead and I was not disappointed. Here, I share the experience of my stay at this wonderful place.
After a 3-hour drive from Durban, we arrived at the gates of the beautiful Thanda Safari Private Game Reserve in the heart of Zululand South Africa. We were advised to leave our car there, and we were soon being transported to the entrance of the lodge. Our stay was in the main lodge and it certainly had the wow factor right from the outset.
As we arrived, we were greeted with a very warm welcome from the staff and shown around the communal areas, which were stunning. After a delicious three-course lunch, we were taken to our Bush Suite. There are 9 Bush Suites that are set far apart to give that feeling of exclusivity. On entering the suite, I was completely blown away by how magnificent it was! It was huge and so stylishly decorated. Outdoors, it also had a beautiful private plunge pool, sala and shower.
A Magical Thanda Zulu Evening
Unfortunately, we had arrived to a pretty ferocious storm, so for safety reasons, we could not go out for our afternoon game drive. Instead, we were able to relax in the comfort of our Bush Suite and enjoy a gin and tonic with the sound of the storm in the background.
Just before dinner we were invited for a drink in the bar and were treated to a lovely surprise - a local Zulu tribe appeared singing and dancing for us, it was magical! We then had a delicious dinner with a wine that we were able to pick from the cellar. An early night was then on order as we were going to be up early the next day for our first game drive. That was not before a little Amarula night-cap that was waiting for us in our suite when we got back there.
The Thanda Wildlife Experience
After an early morning coffee and muffin, we set off with our ranger for our first game drive. We were treated to some fantastic wildlife spotting including a Pride of Lions with two adorable cubs, Cheetah, Rhinos, Elephants, Impala, Kudu, Giraffe, a rather loud Jackall, Zebra, including some of their very cute babies, and several different birds. We were so busy wildlife spotting that we decided to forego a coffee stop and continue on until breakfast. We were thrilled with what we had been able to see in just one game drive!
After breakfast back at the lodge, we enjoyed a relaxing day in our Bush Suite. The plunge pool was heated, so it was wonderful having a dip with a glass of sparkling wine in hand from the complimentary minibar. Lunch was another delicious affair and before we knew it, we were soon heading back out for our afternoon game drive. We had more fantastic sightings and enjoyed some sundowners in a beautiful setting overlooking a large part of the Thanda Private Game Reserve.
Our final night was spent with good food and conversation. We met Christian Sperka, the resident Photographer and I loved hearing about his experiences working at Thanda. He told us that he could offer photography game drives in a particular vehicle that is set up for specialist photography, so I’d already decided at that point that one day I’ll return to Thanda to make that trip with him.
After another good sleep we were woken and soon off for our last Game Drive. This was my favourite of them all as we got to see a huge Pride of Lions! I lost count, but I think there were at least 10! We spent a lot of time with these Lions watching their behaviour and I got to take some great photos. We returned to the lodge happy and ready to enjoy a final breakfast.
Thanda Private Game Reserve – a wonderful place to stay
Overall, my stay at Thanda Safari Private Game Reserve was terrific. Thanda means ‘Love’ in Zulu, and I can see why it has been named this. There is so much love and attention that has been put into creating this beautiful place. The staff also seemed very passionate about working at Thanda and what the place stood for. I’ll definitely be back, and next time I will be trying out the spa and take a photography trip too. Thank you Thanda for a five-star stay.