After a hectic few days travelling around Durban and the South coast meeting friends and family for the first part of our holiday, we had arranged via booking.com to stay at Amazulu Lodge in St Lucia, Kwa-Zulu Natal and in the Greater St Lucia Wetland Heritage park, called now iSimangaliso Wetland Park.
Before arriving I had emailed and Dianne, had also given me information literally within 5 minutes of my request about a possible trip I had been thinking of booking before we went to the Huwlwe Park since we only had three full days and four nights…in the event too little time, too much to do!
The journey from Durban along the North Coast was easy driving on the toll road and quite relaxing on a sunny Tuesday afternoon and we found the lodge in Mackensize Street The man and first street you come across after cross the only bridge very easily.
On arrival, we were warmly welcomed by Robyn on reception, who whilst we checked-in informed us of the Riverboat Hippo and Croc cruise and that we could make the 4 pm cruise. Only a 150 yard walk from the Hotel to the Jetty! This turned out to be great advice and along with the rest of the tourists we cruised the river seeing many of the Hippo and other animals on the edge of the riverbank with a relaxed and authorities guide….a few of his more witty and interesting observations about the lifestyle of the hippos we have repeated to everyone we meet.
The Lodge itself was lovely and had lovely African feel with the rooms being spacious and large bath to relax in. Our room was close to the large open breakfast area built in the shape of a Rondaal. A lot of thought has gone into the whole authentic, but modern look of the lodge. The breakfast and staff were very friendly and helpful and most importantly were cheerful without being overly intrusive, even such that the gardener doing his daily work would avoid being anywhere near you if you were about to drift off overlooking the pool!
Each evening , again after Robyns advice, we drove over to the Deep Sea fishing Club to have Sundowner after a short 6 minute drive (we had tried to walk it and then realised on first day it was a lot further than we were expecting). Having sundowners outside the club, which overlooked the estuary meant we could watch the sunset and listened and occasionally see hippos out in the river….very African and enjoyable…
Every restaurant in St Lucia we went to was good value and the with the Rand at a low point against the pound (approx.. 17 SA Rand/£) compared to the rate of last year of 12, we found we treated ourselves and never needed to skimp!
Meals includes starter for two great main courses, beer and bottle of wine, finished off (as it became a habit ) with Irish coffee and Dom Pedros (icecream and alcohol!) , all of which came to more often than not less than £30. One night we splashed out and it came with tip nearer to £40..wow for two!
For the shopper, there are quite a few shops and we found one good African shop near the Sand and Dune restaurant, who were helpful and negotiated, albeit they successfully up-sold me to the more expensive book on Zulu culture
St Lucia was a lovely place and you could walk to the restaurants from the lodge, it took 5 or 7 minutes to walk the main area from the Lodge. You could also walk back, but beware late at night for wandering Hippos! We never saw any, but suspect they wouldn’t be around until very late at night, luckily for us. The rule of thumb is “Give way to Hippos and avoid”!
Regrets, well for the Lodge I wished the internet which was available easily in the nice reception, extended to our room. However, we have emailed this and I’m sure this is easily rectifiable with a booster of some sort (although there are also at least two internet cafes we saw, but didn’t need).
As for St Lucia, we will definitely be going back trying to spend a bit more time, since whilst we crammed a lot in with a snorkelling visit to Cape Vidal and the Wetland park where we saw zebra, antelope, plenty of monkeys and buck, but no big game on our one journey through.
Dianne put me in touch with the horse safari trip and I did a beach hack, which went around lake looking for crocs (they move away from the horses I’m told!), with coincidentally Dianne’s son, who was a great lad full of interesting stories.
My only regret, is that I did this on the last day, and after speak to Dee, I would have loved to go on the longer horse safari amongst the game…. Definitely going back to SA next year and St Lucia is high on the return list, although we will spend more time there at Amazulu and next time aim to get to the big 5 park ( Wetland doesn’t have all big 5, more a Big 4!) at Hluhluwe).
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