For two wonderful days, we explored game ranger Louise Isaacs’ favourite haunts in the Zululand Rhino Reserve together, but within the first afternoon on this 23,000 hectare reserve we’d seen an impressive four of the Big Five, which included a moving elephant interaction that morning. By late afternoon, the elephants were heading back across the plains below Bayete Zulu, a rambling family friendly, farm-style homestead with magnificent 180-degree views out over the waterhole and bushveld below. With a welcoming boma fire and visiting Nyala slowly making their way across the lawn, it struck me as a setting that would be hard to beat anywhere in Africa today.
Need to know:
There are 17 different lodges in Zululand Rhino Reserve. In addition to Bayete Zulu that sleeps 28 and is ideal for family get-togethers, weddings and special occasions, we would highly recommend the four-star Leopard Mountain lodge, with its personalised, family-run ethos and spectacular setting above the Msunduzi river. And if you’re wanting to do a walking trail in Big Five country, this is the place to do it because the spectacularly mixed terrain of Zululand Rhino Reserve offers such diverse experiences.
We drove in a 4×4 hired from Avis Safari Rental to Zululand Rhino Reserve (two hours’ drive from the airport) but you can do the last 9km of gravel road in a sedan. If heavy rains have fallen, however, call the lodge and they will meet you at the N2, arrange safe parking for your vehicle and drive you in.
An elephant interaction. There couldn’t be a more approriate time to learn more about the plight of the African elephant. Spend time with handlers Maxwell Mlauzi and Norman Musekwa who outline the history of their three habituated orphan elephants: Rambo (a 4,000kg bull), Rachel and Jabulani. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime privilege for both adults and kids, as you get to feel the warmth of Rambo’s heart by placing your hands on his chest, touch his trunk (and tongue!) while feeding him and learn more about this majestic creature. Booking is essential.
Experience it for yourself:
035 595 8089
Words: Michelle Snaddon
Images: Michelle Snaddon; Liam Snaddon & Supplied