KwaZulu Natal

KwaZulu Natal
I like this area for the variety of habitat for wildlife - forests, plains, mountains, wetlands - and it's close to unspoilt beaches for a safari & beach combo. Downside is reserves are smaller, so the herds are smaller, and denser vegetation can make sightings more difficult. Camps are very comfortable, with pools, a/c and the lux trimmings. Malaria is on the decline here and some reserves are malaria free. South Africa.
Best time: Mild and dry April to October, from September to March it's hotter with rain.
Access: Charter flight from Joburg (2 hrs) or drive from Durban (3 hrs) or Richards Bay (1 hr)
Combine with: Kruger, Madikwe

I recommend these camps

&Beyond Phinda Forest (16 suites) Suites built like glass boxes in the sand forest – this is a remarkable place, peaceful and tranquil in the dappled light. Phinda Private Game Reserve, South Africa. Member of &Beyond. Child friendly. $$$$. Read more.
&Beyond Phinda Rock (6 suites) Recently re-opened, big suites are dramatically perched on the cliff face with cosy earthy grey interiors, plunge pools and outdoor showers looking out over the valley. And Phinda’s diverse ecosystems to explore. A magnificent camp. Phinda Private Game Reserve, South Africa. Member of &Beyond. $$$$. Read more.
&Beyond Phinda Vlei (6 suites) An intimate lodge opening out onto savannah which is good for game viewing, spacious rooms with plunge pools from which the elephants drink regularly. Phinda Private Game Reserve, South Africa. Member of &Beyond. Child friendly. $$$$. Read more.
&Beyond Phinda Zuka (4 suites) An older, more traditional style game lodge, exclusive use central area and separate suites all looking onto a water hole which attracts game. Phinda Private Game Reserve, South Africa. Member of &Beyond. Private villa. Child friendly. $$$$. Read more.
Thanda Safari (9 suites) Vast 700 sq foot suites with double sided fireplaces, plunge pools, sala and all sorts of extravagant OTTness. Fabulous spa and a private villa. Thanda Private Game Reserve, South Africa. Member of Leading Hotels of the World. Private villa. Child friendly. $$$$.
&Beyond Phinda Homestead (4 suites) Elegant and relaxed exclusive villa contained in one building, currently closed for rebuild. Phinda Private Game Reserve, South Africa. Member of &Beyond. Private villa. Child friendly. $$$$. Read more.
Amakhosi Safari (10 suites) Suites and villa on the verdant Mkuze River, excellent birding and good game viewing, great food and treatments. Amakhosi Private Game Reserve, South Africa. Private villa. Child friendly. $$$.
Leopard Mountain (9 suites) Friendly, owner-run lodge on the edge of a cliff, plunge pools, endangered species including wild dog and black rhino. Zululand Rhino Private Game Reserve, South Africa. $$$.
Makakatana Bay (8 suites) The only private lodge on Lake St Lucia in this coastal World Heritage Site – not Big 5 but an amazing variety of habitats for wildlife – forest, marine estuary & coastline. Explore by vehicle or boat. Fresh and airy styling. Great to combine with a more traditional inland reserve. iSimangaliso Wetland Park World Heritage Site, South Africa. Private villa. Child friendly. $$$.
Thanda Villa iZulu (5 suites) Magnificent private homestead set on lovely grounds – grassed with a great pool, a relaxed base with private chef & team. Thanda Private Game Reserve, South Africa. Member of Leading Hotels of the World. Private villa. Child friendly. $$$$.
White Elephant Safari (8 tents-en-suite) On a lake where there’s tiger fishing and boat safaris. Track black rhino on foot. Not all the Big 5. Nostalgic colonial style camp with deep verandahs and lux tents. Pongola Private Game Reserve, South Africa. Child friendly. $$$.
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