Kwa Zulu Natal
Thanda Private Game Reserve

Steeped in Zulu history, Thanda is located in 14,000 ha of private reserve, home to the Big Five and many other fascinating animals. Expect atmospheric game-drives from rangers whose knowledge and passion for the incredible local wildlife will add a very special dimension to your safari experience.

It’s not just about the game-viewing and fascinating local culture though. With warm, discreet and understated service, your every need will be anticipated by the friendly lodge staff. If your safari aspirations include Big Five game-viewing from your private deck pool (Safari Lodge), it definitely fits the bill.

Facilities & Activities

As well as impressive spa facilities Thanda Safari Lodge offers a reception area, lounge, dining area, boma, wine cellar, curio shop and cigar-bar as well as a library overlooking a waterhole popular with elephants. A highlight for many staying at Thanda Safari Lodge is the complimentary 1.5 hour safari photography lesson (book in advance).

Meanwhile, the Thanda Tented Camp enjoys a communal space that houses the reception, shop, bar and guest lounge as well as a dining tent, 5 x 10m rim-flow pool, viewing deck and outside dining. Spa treatments can be enjoyed in the privacy of your tent or at the spa tent.

Guests staying at Villa iZulu are in for a treat with a generous private plunge pool to the master suite, ping-pong table, fully-fenced garden and private vehicle, chef and villa attendant. Oh and electric guitars – yes, you did read that correctly!

Wi-Fi is available at Thanda Safari Lodge and Villa iZulu as well as the communal areas at Thanda Tented Camp.

Whatever your accommodation choice, the main attraction is of course the wildlife, the fascinating local culture. Thanda makes sure you have an up-close, life-changing safari. You can experience and participate in every aspect of wildlife conservation, including spending time with specialist rhino monitors. For a supplement you can participate in rhino tracking, rhino identity darting by helicopter, cheetah tracking or exploring beyond the reserve on a guided boat tour to experience hippos and crocodiles in the nearby iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a World Heritage Site. For those who want to experience the bush on foot, they offer exclusive guided bush walks (free to Safari Lodge and Villa iZulu guests, supplement payable for Tented Camp guests), and because they are part of the Zulu community, they offer a range of Zulu cultural and community experiences in neighbouring villages. Experience a traditional Zulu homestead, visit a traditional Zulu healer or Sangoma, and experience spellbinding Zulu singing and war dancing.

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Coffee and biscuits are the order of the day at sunrise and post game-drive you’ll return to a veritable breakfast feast, with a wide selection of hot and cold dishes to choose from.  Top-notch dining continues with a sophisticated and mouth-watering lunch menu but the big attraction for most is the opportunity to experience a traditional braai in the outdoor boma or an atmospheric bush dinner out whilst listening to the sounds of the wildlife in the reserve. With an apparently endless offering of exquisitely marinated barbecued meats, there’s often an authentic, local Zulu culture dance display by firelight before dessert is served – you’re sure to retire with a smile on your face.


Thanda Safari Lodge has 9 beautiful Zulu-style villas, each with a private plunge pool, outdoor shower, a thatched outdoor game-viewing deck and sala (outdoor day-bed). All enjoy the use of a private boma. Each suite has a traditional fireplace for cooler evenings, a basket of classic board games and – wait for it – a free minibar, crammed with tempting snacks, and a selection of spirits. Amarula anyone? Bathrooms offer a shower and roll-top bath.

Surrounded by lush green gardens, Villa Izulu sleeps up to 10 guests in 5 luxuriously appointed suites with some flexibility to add extra beds – perfect for sole-use for larger families or groups. It benefits from a private boma, library and wine cellar as well as a games room, heated pool, jacuzzi and a magnificent viewing deck overlooking a waterhole often visited by the Big Five. Oh and it even has a grand piano for the musically inclined and a private helicopter pad should you decide to arrive in style!

Thanda Tented Camp satisfies the cravings of any wannabee explorer looking for that under-canvas safari experience. It contains 15 tents, one of which is the Jabula (Happiness Tent). Each has a private viewing deck and en-suite canvas bathroom. The Jabula Tent has a private splash pool, separate lounge and a larger deck area as well as an oval bath, double sink and both inside and outside showers.

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Thanda Safari Lodge and Villa iZula – Children of all ages are welcome at Thanda. Little ones under 2 years stay free of charge and children aged 2-16 pay 50% of rack rates when sharing a suite with 2 full-paying adults (two children aged 16 and under can be accommodated with 2 parents). Cots are available for infants, and children up to age 16 sleep on individual single beds.

Thanda Tented Camp – Children aged 6+ are welcome here and up to age 16 they pay 50% of the rack rate when sharing with 2 full paying adults (sleeping on individual single stretcher beds). The tents can accommodate one extra bed per tent so families with 2 or more children will need additional accommodation.

Both invite younger guests to complete The Junior Rangers Course, where they learn about different mammals, birds, trees, spoors and even stars and children aged 6+ will love the game-drives. Children aged 3-6 years can take part in a game-drive at the ranger’s discretion when a private vehicle is booked. Under 3s are not allowed on game-drives but a child-minder can be booked at a nominal extra rate on arrival. Special bush walks in the vicinity of the accommodation will be arranged for younger children.

Under 3s may not dine in the boma, dining room or on decks. A private boma experience may be arranged for families who are travelling with under 3s. Alternatively, room service dinner and a child-minder can be arranged.


Passionate about linking conservation with local culture., Thanda actively works with local communities and encourages guests to join in with conservation efforts. We love the fact that The Thanda Foundation Trust currently supports up to 100,000 children, from the three tribal communities surrounding the reserve, through it’s ’Star for Life’ programme.


Thanda Safari is located in the heart of Zululand, KwaZulu Natal (KZN), blessed by its close proximity to the warm Indian Ocean. It has one of the country’s most enviable sub-tropical climates and plentiful Big Five game-viewing. There is excellent game-viewing year-round but the best time to visit is in the cooler months, ideally May – October. There is rainfall between October and March which peaks in January. With easy road access to Mozambique it makes for a great bush/ beach combo although please note that KZN is classified as a low-risk malarial area. Thanda itself has been declared 99% malaria-free by the World Health Organisation.

The Lodge is 23km north of Hluhluwe on the N2, towards Mkuze, approx.. 220km north of Durban. The reserve is easily accessible from the N2 by gravel road (no 4WD required).

Richards Bay Airport is just under two hours’ drive on a well-kept, signposted main road and the closest International Airport is King Shaka International Airport in Durban, 3-hours away. Mkuze Airfield – used for chartered flights – is 20-munutes drive from Thanda by car.

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