Zulu Nyala was everything we had hoped it would be and more. We were there in early February. We saw many animals, cheetah, elephant, hippos, rhinos, impala, buffalo, giraffe, zebra, monkeys, nyala, warthogs, crocodile, eagles, vultures, and many beautiful birds, bugs, and chameleons. This particular private reserve is 5,000 acres and so it it too small for lion - there are plenty of options though to see lion including the adjacent 60,000 Phinda game reserve. One bonus of going in early February is that they weren't very busy - many of our outings were private with our ranger going at our pace. Our ranger Rohan was fantastic. My wife and I truly believe that we had such an amazing experience because of his knowledge of the bush - he knew where the cheetah would be hanging out or where the elephants would be. Another bonus of early February is that all of the animals had just had babies. We saw mini-me's of all of the animals described above. The cheetah had 4 cubs, we saw baby rhino and baby hippos. The zebra and giraffe had babies - it was amazing. I know that this is not the busy time of year to go but we would highly recommend this time of year because seeing the animals with their new born offspring was very special. We are from the Boston, MA USA area and we did not think the weather was too hot. It was generally around 27c - 32c with the nights becoming quite comfortable. In fact, since the game runs are early am or late afternoon the temperatures were always a bit cooler than at the hottest point of the day. We had no rain at all.
The accommodations were very very good. We ended up staying at the Heritage Hotel section in the tent for all 6 nights. As others have said here, animals are right outside your doorstep and we rather liked this. The rooms were very comfortable and clean - bathrooms were very nice. Even though they call these tents, they are actually concrete structured buildings with tarp roofs and screen/mesh windows (no glass). Another reason for staying in the tents is that the game lodge is about 20 minutes away by car through the reserve and up unpaved hilly roads. Lots of rental cars make this trip all the time so it can be done, I just though you should know about this. One other thing, mosquitos weren't bad at all. We did apply some bug spray and had some wipes with us just in case - they just weren't an issue for us.
The food and service was wonderful. Again, because of when we were there many of our meals were prepared just for the two of us. For these meals we would be given a couple of food choices however they told us they would prepare whatever we wanted if those two options weren't acceptable. The staff at Zulu Nyala never made us feel like we were inconveniencing them as the only two guests. There were other people there on a couple of days and a couple of tour groups that passed through for dinners - on these nights buffet food would be put out which is more typical of what Zulu Nyala does. The food was always terrific and always local. We enjoyed this about South Africa - all of the food is locally grown. The fish is locally caught, we had lots of pineapple which you see growing across the land here, and other meats and vegetables are prepared locally. I ate a ton of food on this trip yet was able to maintain my weight! You will love the food at Zulu Nyala. The Manager Robert loves his job and this shows through his generous spirit and his hospitality.
We did a few daily excursions. Zulu Nyala can coordinate these for you and offer these as an added cost. Most all of these trips can be done for considerably less money on your own if you rent a car. We rented a car at Richard's Bay airport and drove to Zulu Nyala. We visited St. Lucia on two days (about an hour away), on the first we went to a beach there and went into the Indian Ocean for the first time - this water was very warm compared to the Atlantic Ocean that we later experienced in Cape Town. On our second trip to St. Lucia we did a boat tour at the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. We saw 100's of hippos along both sides of the estuary, again with their babies. We also saw eagles and crocodiles and many other birds in this area. This park is on the UNESCO world heritage list because of the diversity of ecosystems contained in one area. I wish we had more time to explore this area - you shouldn't miss it.
Much closer (about 20 - 30 minutes) to Zulu Nyala is the Emdomeni Lodge Animal Care and Rehab Centre. This is there "the cat project" is and where you are very likely to pet a cheetah (yes you read that right). The visit starts at 4:30 because that is the feeding time for the animals. We saw caracal, serval, cheetah, and african wild cat during our unforgettable visit.
Our last daily excursion was the Hluhluwe Park which was about a 40 minute drive from ZN. You basically drive your car through the park at your own pace. This park is stunning, especially if you drive all the way up to the hilltop camp for lunch and breathtaking views. Hluhluwe has the big five and so this is another option for lions (we didn't see them here).
We are already talking about going back to Zulu Nyala. The warmth of the staff and the knowledge of the rangers is so good that we just know that we will have an equally great time. This is one of the best vacations we have ever had.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Heritage Safari Lodge was originally built in the 1940’s as a hotel and was a landmark pit-stop for weary travelers between Maputo and Durban. Acquired in 1996, the gracious building was lovingly restored to its original colonial grandeur, enhanced with new accommodation, and tastefully themed to highlight Zululand’s unique cultural heritage.With buffet-style meals in our restaurant, the wide, welcoming veranda and our ‘human watering hole’ - the pub or thatched boma, warm and relaxing atmosphere is conducive to shared good times and conviviality. The sparkling pool is always inviting, and you’re sure to enjoy browsing our beautifully stocked curio shop for a few authentic African mementos. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Zulu Nyala Heritage Safari Hotel Hluhluwe
- Zulu Nyala Heritage Safari Lodge Hluhluwe, South Africa - Zululand