Situated 23-kilometres north of Hluhluwe in Zululand, South Africa, Thanda Game Reserve is a celebration of the Zulu nation and their vibrant cultural tapestry. Located in the heart of the Elephant Coast, Thanda offers guests the Big Seven game experience encasing the illustrious Big Five within its 6800 hectare borders. Its close proximity to the Indian Ocean ensures a balmy climate throughout the year and safely establishes Thanda Game Reserve as a utopian bush and beach luxury travel destination. Thanda, meaning ‘love’ in Zulu, embraces the philosophy ‘for the love of nature, wildlife and dear ones’. The only private game reserve to hold exclusive membership with The Leading Hotels of the World, Thanda’s superlative facilities include a decadent main lodge, authentic safari-style tented camp and award-winning wellness centre.
The main lodge at Thanda Game Reserve encompasses nine luxury bush villas which offer guests the epitome of self-contained privacy. Circular in structure and reminiscent of a traditional homestead against a hill, each of the villas boasts an extraordinary view of the surrounding game reserve. 220 m2 in size, each villa has its own spacious lounge area and master bedroom with inter-leading fireplace. A thatched outdoor game-viewing deck (sala) and infinity pool offer refreshing solace from the summer heat. Each of the villas has a full en-suite bathroom complete with an enormous oval shaped bath and indoor and outdoor showers. The villas are all equipped with private bomas for an intimate dining experience.
Should the urge arise to venture beyond your private retreat, the lodge’s public areas include a library, business centre, finely-stocked wine cellar and cigar bar, as well as a choice between romantic dining venues in the heart of the African bush.
The non-electrified tented camp has been built in colonial safari-style structure best suited for guests who are searching for an authentic safari experience. The four beautifully furnished tents have four-poster beds, en-suite canvas bathrooms and magnificent views of the game reserve. Public facilities include an intimate dining tent, dramatic outdoor boma, stylish outdoor lounge and plunge pool for cool relief on hot summer days.
Children under the age of 16 are not permitted to stay in the tented camp at Thanda Game Reserve for safety reasons as the camp is unfenced. The tented camp is suggested for the guest in search of a more authentic bush experience.
Thanda’ means love in Zulu and embraces the ethos ‘For the love of nature, wildlife and dear ones’, paying tribute to the cultural landscape to which it owes its creation, merging its ethnic roots with the mystical beauty that permeates it. Thanda is an idyllic setting to nurture or rediscover romance, offering romantic turndowns, bush dinners and magical foam baths by candlelight.
An exquisite venue for honeymoons, bush weddings and proposals, each of the luxury bush villas offers guests the epitome of self-contained privacy; each villa has its own private boma, infinity pool and sundeck, private sala as well as indoor and outdoor showers that can be used in the magical African night.
Thanda Game Reserve is proud to offer its guests a variety of dining venues to enhance the African experience. The drama of the boma, in front of the setting sun and behind the flames of a roaring fire is an image synonymous with the safari experience, but only one of the dining options afforded guests.
Head chef Richard Phiri prides his ability to offer versatile, mouthwatering dishes that appeal to guests of all cultures and nationalities. South African cuisine is only one flavour in Richard’s potjie as he enjoys experimenting with the flavours he encountered during his training years spent in Milan, The United States, Malawi and Mauritius. Seasonal game meat is always on the menu for the more adventurous eaters, but partaking is entirely optional. The maintenance of a herb garden at the owners’ private villa ensures a constant supply of fresh ingredients. Despite the mélange of tastes he offers, he still is very traditional when it comes to etiquette and values the art of fine dining. Intimate discussions with clients ensure that their dietary requirements are respected and maintains Thanda’s exceptional standards. Guests are highly recommended to advise of any dietary requirements and/or allergies at reservations stage.
Excellent wines are the perfect accompaniment to fine food and Thanda Game Reserve boasts a superbly stocked wine cellar and cigar bar for the discerning guest.
Game Viewing at Thanda Game Reserve
Since the lodge’s inception, Thanda’s aim has been to restore natural balance to the area by bringing species which were endemic to the area back. Originally purchased as degraded cattle farms, rife with alien plant species, Thanda’s wildlife management has concentrated on an extensive rehabilitation project which included reintroducing the Big Five. Thanda Game Reserve was also the first private game reserve in Kwa Zulu-Natal to have successfully reintroduced a breeding pack of wild dog into its borders.
Star gazing Knowledgeable game rangers introduce guests to the world of star gazing and the solar system. The natural, unpolluted air ensures a clear view of the magical African sky.
Bush breakfast A fantastic way to round an exciting morning game drive off is with a hearty breakfast served in the heart of the bush- rangers will keep an eye out for the wilder inhabitants of Thanda!
Bush dinner Guests can get close to nature and enjoy a decadent African bush dinner lit by paraffin lanterns and candlelight- perfect for a romantic surprise or a special occasion.
Bush walk Our game rangers, trackers and field guides have extensive knowledge of both the fauna and flora in Thanda’s ecosystems. During bush walks guests have the opportunity to learn about all the fascinating uses of plant sin the area and to identify animal spoor. Guests may also track specific animals with a ranger’s assistance on request.
Night walk A night walk is perfect when the full moon illuminates the course, instead of having to rely on nightlights and torches. This is a very special experience and highly recommended for guests who are more adventurous at heart.
Game drive The best time for game drives is first thing in the morning or late afternoon as animals are more active during the cooler hours of the day. Game drives are conducted in open-topped Land Rovers, with a maximum of six guests per vehicle.
Wildlife lectures/ Junior Ranger Programmes Guests who are interested in specific wildlife and/or conservation topics will enjoy the lectures conducted by senior rangers and field guides. Thanda’s younger guests can participate in the Junior Ranger programme, a wonderful introduction to the bush.
Being so close to the Indian Ocean Thanda is able to offer a world-class bush and beach breakaway with trips to nearby Isimangaliso, formerly known as St. Lucia, (a World Heritage Site) an essential part of your holiday.
Horse riding on the beach, cultural excursions, whale watching, diving packages and snorkel safaris are just some of the options that Thanda Game Reserve has on offer. Being this close to the warmth of the Indian Ocean you’ll understand where the phrase ‘sunny South Africa’ was coined.