There are various reasons to opt for a safari holiday in KwaZulu Natal instead of the usual Mpumalanga and Limpopo getaways. Tourism Update delves into why one should book a KwaZulu Natal safari.

According to Craig Rutherfoord, Managing Director of Ghost Mountain Inn, the tourism offering in northern KwaZulu Natal has grown rapidly in recent years in terms of variety, quantity and quality. The traditional game reserves include the Big Five reserves of uMkhuze and Hluhluwe, Tembe, which is home of Africa’s largest African elephants, Ndumo’s inland pans and birding, or the highlands of Itala.

There is also an increase in the variety of private reserves, including Phinda, Thanda and Manyoni.

The iSimangaliso Park is a major draw card as it includes a variety of coastal destinations, such as Sodwana Bay, which is a pull for diving enthusiasts, as well as Cape Vidal, St Lucia and Kosi Bay, all offering a variety of fishing, snorkelling, scuba diving, whale and turtle tours, and numerous other beach activities.

Rutherfoord says: “Combine this with cultural and historical offerings and we have a destination that offers great diversity of experiences, catering for a variety of affordability levels.”

KwaZulu Natal is unique compared with other more traditional safari destinations due to the relative proximity of all the diverse experiences. One need not venture out of the province to get the bush and beach experience, allowing visitors to base themselves in one spot and take day trips for various activities or sightseeing.

The Ghost Mountain Inn in KwaZulu Natal.

Rutherfoord says Ghost Mountain Inn is an ideal base for guests, as they can either explore the variety of offerings in the vicinity with a guide or self-drive; go birding the uMkhuze and Hluhluwe game reserves; opt for boat cruises and fishing on Lake Jozini; and enjoy authentic cultural experiences, homestead visits and numerous hiking options.

His tip to visitors is to allow time, as you need time to explore the diversity that the region offers. He says there are multiple packages available, especially from Ghost Mountain Inn, which also includes Mozambique in one itinerary.

Phinda Forest Lodge.

Northern KZN offers a variety of game reserves to choose from, such as Phinda Game Reserve, Thanda Game Reserve, AmaZulu Game Reserve, Mkuze Falls Game Reserve in Pongola, Zululand Rhino Reserve and Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve, which is open to the public and rhino sightings are almost guaranteed.

The game reserves in the region differ hugely from those in the Kruger region, and guests have a good chance of seeing cheetah on their visit.

Lodges in the area generally offer good value for money compared with the rest of South Africa, which has been highly marketed and commercialised.

General Manager of Business Development and Contracting for Tourvest DMC, Renier Friis, said guests looking at KwaZulu Natal on their second or third visit to SA, after already experiencing the Kruger National Park, tend to combine the safari portion of their KwaZulu Natal trip with other attractions such as the coast, Midlands, Drakensberg, and the Battlefields, as well as cultural experiences.