We arrived at Johannesburg Airport on Saturday Evening 7/5 from the US and stayed right at the Airport at City Lodge Hotel. We then flew out to Durban Sunday Morning. We initially were renting a vehicle and driving up but decided to use the Nyala Zulu transfers since there were 6 people in our party and the transfer fee was the same as renting a van. We are all in agreement this was a much better decision. You don't just drive on the left hand side of the road, you also have to get used to how they pass each other, the wondering cows and goats on the road and the people that walk along the shoulder. Nothing is "close" by to drive too and try to navigate. The ride to the Lodge took about 4 hours. I thing if we had to do it again we would fly into Richards Bay which is a shorter drive.
We checked in at the Heritage and dropped our things off at the tents (T32-T34) and went on an afternoon game drive - 2:45 to about 5:00. Janine was our driver for the entire week. I cannot say enough good things about her. She was both very patient, we had an elderly person with us, and extremely knowledgeable about the animals, plants, birds and South Africa. She served us coffee in the morning for our game drives which started at 5:45 am - 8:00 and stopped for pictures as people requested. She is extremely passionate about her work and the animals! Bring warm clothes for the game drives and unexpected drop in temperature! We brought the packable jackets from Lands End which were perfect, but you definitely need a scarf or hoody jacket with a hat because of the cold wind your ears and face get wind burned. Also gloves were needed and long pants.
I stayed in the T34 Tent for 3 days and loved every minute of it. The room was very spacious, with a dresser to unpack your suitcase in. The bathroom only had a cloth curtain separating the bedroom from the bathroom, which was no big deal to me, but one of the people in our group didn't like that. The bathroom was very big with plenty of shelves to store all your items. The tent does not have heat or is not sound proof. You can hear talking from your neighbors but not really make out what they are saying. The front porch is where we spent our late evenings star gazing and watching the zebras and nyala's walk by. The frogs croaking in the background made you feel like you were out in the middle of nowhere.
We all loved the staff at the Heritage Lodge! They were very engaging and always helpful. Everyone smiles! They even taught us some Zulu.
Food was ok. Breakfast was pretty much a typical American breakfast. They had a person cooking eggs to order which was nice, cereal, muffins, potatoes, cheese, etc. It was served 7-9:30. We were only around for lunch 1 day and had a sandwich with "chips" which were french fries (which were very good). Dinner served 7:00 - 9:00 buffet style you could always find something to eat. It was ok. I am not sure what we were expecting thought maybe SA food was different then we eat in the States. Beer was only $2.00 a bottle = good value. Also you can bring your water from the room down to the meals with you versus ordering one.
We went on 4 excursions, trying to pack as much into our week as possible.
Tempe Elephant Park. It was a 2 hour drive away. Saw lots of elephants which was cool. We enjoyed going here because we have been watching the live camera feed at a watering hole on africam.com and went to the spot where the camera is.
Hhulwe Park - All day. We were hoping to see lions. It was a long day driving around with no luck. We tried to get into Phinda but they were booked up. Probably would skip this one.
St. Lucia. - Nice hour long drive here. The boat ride through the Estuary was fun. Saw lots of hippos, birds, cobra snake. Lunch was delicious and the beach was beautiful. Worth the money.
School and culture village - This was the highlight of our trip. It touched my heart seeing how the Zulu live. We stopped at a store prior to going and bought some fruit. I wish we would have brought more then just 3 bags of apples. We also brought pencils and toothbrushes from home. We visited the 12th grade Tour Class and they sang us the most beautiful song I have ever heard. The kids were delightful and engaging. The village was a learning experience on how the day to day life is for the Zulu. Fascinating!
After 3 days we moved up to the Game Lodge which is about 15 minute drive away. I didn't care for the room at all. They were small and no place to unpack our suitcase. The grounds were nice but didn't see any animals up close. The staff was unpleasant and not very engaging compared to the Heritage Area. The dining room was actually nicer and food seemed to taste a little better. I was disturbed by the way a supervisor talked and belittled his staff at the bar area while I stood there waiting to place my order. Another person in our party saw him doing it to another employee a short time later. The entire time I wished I was back in the tented area.
Some things I was disappointed in with our stay: I requested 3 different times to view the diamonds, there were a few of us wanting to make a purchase and was told Mr. Shaw was too busy with guests and they would get back with us. They never did. We never saw a Zulu Dancing Show. We were told they were performing on July 11th in the dining room but they never showed. Really would have like to seen this. I also would have loved a sheet of the animals I would be viewing with some facts. A flashlight for the night game drive to assist in looking for animals would be a nice touch or recommend us bring one from home.
All in all I am glad we went. South Africa is such a lovely place. I can't wait to return.
- 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