Tag Archives: big five

Beaches, battlefields and bateleurs – KwaZulu Natal is small but mighty

The Western Cape’s Garden Route is rightly a well-trodden path for international visitors to South Africa, while Kruger is known worldwide as an iconic safari destination. But for those wishing to escape ‘well trodden’ and to really get under the skin of South Africa, then we recommend looking east to the tiny province of KwaZulu Natal.

KwaZulu Natal may be South Africa’s third smallest province but this doesn’t stop it packing a punch as far as experiences are concerned with two World Heritage sites, fabulous beaches, the Big Five, historic battlefields and a colourful Zulu culture.

Our new KwaZulu Natal in Luxury itinerary, brings together the very best of KwaZulu Natal to showcase what can be done in a two week holiday.

KwaZulu Natal in Luxury, 15 days from £3,770 per person including international flights, accommodation and car hire.

Here are five reasons why KwaZulu Natal should be on your wish list:

CULTURE

This historic Zulu kingdom is steeped in history and culture, from ancient San Bushmen rock art sites in the UNESCO World Heritage uKhahlamba-Drakensberg mountain range, South Africa’s highest mountain range, to a living museum in Hluhluwe where traditional Zulu dancing and craftwork are demonstrated. The remnants of the British colonial era blend with Zulu, Indian and Afrikaans traditions to give this province a rich cultural diversity.

BEACHES

Beautiful beaches stretch every which way from the gateway city of Durban and being on the Indian Ocean coast, the added benefit is that the water is actually warm while shark nets and lifeguards ensure that time in the water surfing and swimming is spent safely. Alluring cafes and sophisticated restaurants line the stylish Umhlanga Rocks area near Durban, perfect for downtime after a long international flight.

WILDLIFE

Abundant wildlife can be experienced along the Elephant Coast to the north of Durban. Within iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a 328,000 hectare UNESCO World Heritage Site benefiting from beautiful beach and reef habitats of the Indian Ocean on one side and steamy tropical lake, forest and wetland habitats on the other, visitors can canoe, trek, fish and wander along stunning beaches in search of leatherback turtles, dolphins and whales. Inland at Phinda, a private game reserve, you can stay in luxurious safari camps and see all the Big Five as well as a host of other wildlife including wild dogs. This area is known for its thriving black and white rhino population, following concerted conservation efforts.

FOOD & WINE

Take the Midlands Meander, a food and wine trail where farm stalls like Piggly Wiggly, cafes and restaurants beckon. Viticulture is in its first decade of development but there are already notable labels including Abingdon and Lion’s River to sample along the way. Finish the Meander with a stay at Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse, a gourmet retreat set in a remote valley on a lake where seven course dinners, mountain walks and roaring log fires are the order of the day.

BATTLEFIELDS

No trip to KwaZulu Natal would be complete without a stay in the Battlefields. An area made famous by the Anglo-Boer Wars. The quiet hills now ring with the voices of expert guides who tell visitors of South Africa’s bloodiest chapter in history, of the struggle at Isandlwana where the British were defeated by the Zulu in 1879 and then just days later how the British defended Rorke’s Drift so gallantly.

To find out more about the lodges we offer in KwaZulu Natal, like historic Fugitives’ Drift, or to receive a tailor-made itinerary for South Africa then please do get in touch with us on 01603 283 517.

By Sara White

 

 

The Safari Big 5 in photos

The so-called safari big five is made up of the lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo. These are the animals that most travellers want to see when on their safari. It is actually a throw-back to the days of Big Game hunting and the five most dangerous species to hunt.

One of our directors Robert selects his own big five, choosing the photos he’s taken on his trips to Africa that he likes the most for varying reasons.

Rhino

Rhinos at Lake Nakuru
Rhinos grazing on the shores of Lake Nakuru.

 

This was taken several years ago at Lake Nakuru in Kenya. Nakuru is a great place to spot rhino as its home to both the black and white species, the white rhinos emerge in the morning to graze the grass on the shores of the lake.

I was with Sammy, one of our most experienced guides, and we’d only just arrived when we saw these two rhino feeding. It has that warm morning light and the flamingos in the background give it a great fringe of colour.

Leopard

Leopard in the Masai Mara, Kenya
Leopard watching hyenas, Masai Mara, Kenya

 

Photographing leopards is tricky. They are shy creatures, keeping themselves hidden in the undergrowth, and are often only seen in fleeting glimpses that doesn’t give much time for getting the camera out and focused. They do like sleeping in trees, but are usually facing the wrong way or in deep shadow.

I like this photo as the leopard is so alert and elegantly moving, framed by the tall grasses that surround it. I was with Lorna, a guide from the Karen Blixen Camp in the Mara North Conservancy, and the leopard had a kill in a nearby tree and was watching some approaching hyenas.

Lion

Lioness looking straight at the camera
An old lioness resting in the Masai Mara, Kenya.

 

I chose this picture as its sums up lions! The face of this lioness shows what a tough life she’s had. Lionesses do must of the hunting, and the prey they stalk all has horns and hooves that can do a lot of damage. Add to this the need to maintain her position in the pride and defend her young, you can see that she’s been through a few fights in her time.

It’s taken in the Mara in Kenya, and we’d been watching her for a couple of minutes. A few seconds after I took this photo she stood up and walked towards us, her eyes fixed on my daughter who was sitting in the seat before mine. She stopped a few metres from our vehicle and sniffed the air, before casually walking behind us and joining three younger lionesses who were preparing to hunt.

Buffalo

Old Bull buffalo looking at the camera
An old male buffalo in Tarangire National Park, Tanzania.

 

The largest herd of buffalo’s I’ve ever seen was a couple of years ago in Tarangire National Park in Tanzania. It was during the dry season and they were dropping down towards the river bed to drink from one of the large pools that remained in the otherwise dry river bed. There was well over 100 of them.

We stopped to let them cross the rack in front of us, and they stopped to check us out by watching and sniffing the air. This huge bull was at the front and stood watching us for several minutes before leading the herd on. Just by looking at him you can see how solid and strong he is.

 

Elephant

baby elephants playing
Baby elephants playing at the Sheldrick Trust, Nairobi

 

I’ve plenty of photos of elephants, from small calves to solitary bulls. I’ve got them bathing, eating, drinking and even cleaning beneath their toe-nails with a stick! This is my favourite however. It’s taken at the Sheldrick Trust in Nairobi, just after the baby elephants have finished their milk bottle feed in front of the daily visitors and are on their way out to spend the rest of the day browsing through the vegetation in Nairobi National Park.

As a supporter we were allowed to walk with them for 30 minutes. They were fascinated by our children, sniffing them with their trunks and gently prodding them as if daring them to come and play (something the kids were happy to do if not held back by boring parents.) They then started playing with each other, rolling each other in the dust and chasing each other around. After all these orphans have been through it was a wonderful sight and a memorable experience.