When I attended a gala dinner celebrating the hundredth anniversary of the girl scouts the furthest thing from my mind was ending up on safari in South Africa. But there on the silent auction table sat an opportunity for adventure and somehow my daughter talked me into placing a bid. The result was serendipitous. We had a fantastic time.
We started our journey in May, just after my daughter's spring semester ended. We first spent three days in Cape Town where the weather fully cooperated and we enjoyed some breathtaking views of the Cape from the top of Table Mountain, and enjoyed a guided tour of the cape. More on that part of the trip in a different review.
When we arrived at Zulu Nyala it took a few minutes to clear up a mix-up regarding our reservations. Make sure you get confirmation of any changes you make to your original reservations. Soon we were enjoying a stunning sunset from the restaurant.
Ronnie was our guide for the week. We learned a lot about how he was tracking the animals and enjoyed each of the drives with him, but a big part of the overall experience are the side trips:
Bayete Zulu Elephant Interaction - Definite yes on the attraction. We went in the ZN van, Other than meeting some new people, it provided no advantage over going in our own car.
Phinda - Don't miss this one. It can only be arranged by ZN. The lions are worth it.
St. Lucia Boat Cruise and Horse Riding. My daughter is president of her college equestrian team. We couldn't miss out on the riding and we enjoyed that part of the trip. The boat ride had some great views of the crocs and fish eagles, but it was mostly just eyes for the hippos. We got better hippo viewing on site at ZN.
Emdoneni Cat Rehabilitation Centre - We went on our own for the morning tour. It's only a short drive away. The tour was just us and another couple. Getting in the enclosures with these wonderful cats was a thrill and a highlight of the week.
Scuba Diving in Sodwana Bay - We did this as our own side trip. The reef is healthy and the diving was fantastic. If my daughter had more interest in diving I would have booked into Sodwana Bay Lodge for a few days between leaving Cape Town and arriving at ZN.
Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park - Nearby and easy to drive through on your own, which we did. We got some good pictures, especially of birds, but I think we missed a lot as well since we didn't have a guide.
For the ZN part of the trip we flew in and out of Durban and used a rental car. I was initially apprehensive about the drive, but the main highway is a good road and it was not difficult at all. In short, this trip wasn't on my bucket list - but it should have been!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- An entrancing experience in a unique wilderness area. Zulu Nyala Private Game Reserve provides a unique bush experience in the heart of one of South Africa’s most diverse conservation regions. Nestled between the wilderness reserves of Mkuze, Hluhluwe and St Lucia, this lush stretch of paradise is home to a wide variety of game, from the majestic elephant to rhino, buffalo, hippo, giraffe, the shy and beautiful Nyala buck that is endemic to the region and the secretive leopard. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Zulu Nyala Game Hotel Hluhluwe