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Dear all, We will be leaving on a self drive trip to kwazulu natal's elephant coast mid september and I was hoping to get a few tips from those of you who have visited the area before. To my surprise there is relatively little written on the area. Our lodges are booked, so our itinerary is set, but there are a few days where I'm not quite sure what to focus on. Any advice would be most welcome! I think our resident expert would be @Bugs, but I also saw a report by @pedro maia, by @Game Warden, I think @COSMIC RHINO planned a trip (but not sure if that took place?), and by @Uh_oh busted First for what is set: - arrival and overnight in Balito - 2 nights Hluhluwe river lodge - 2 nights Utshwayelo kosi mouth lodge/camp - 2n royal thonga lodge (tembe elephant park) - 4n thanda tented camp - 2n rhino rhidge safari lodge On day one (after our overnight in balito and going to Hluhluwe river lodge) I am a bit torn between the following alternatives: 1) Isimangaliso organised tour (pretty much a drive up to cape vidal along the scenic park roads with snorkling and a braai) - full day (until 4pm) 2) Isimangaliso organised tour but the short version (until 2pm) and then followed by a sunset boat tour on the lake (I am a sucker for sunset photography) 3) Self drive Isimangaliso and then followed by a sunset boat tour on the lake (I am a sucker for sunset photography) 4) whale watching from richard's bay and then on to isimangaliso self drive (I prefer the option from richard's bay because it's not a surf launch - I get terribly sick on a bouncy boat). 5) whale watching from richard's bay and then on to Hluhluwe imfolozi Things to keep in mind: we will need to drive up from balito which is about 2h from St lucia if I can believe google maps. We will also need to drive to Hluhluwe river lodge at the end of the day which is about 1h from St lucia and 30min from Hlhuhluwe NP memorial gate. Sunset is around 6pm. I don't know how comfortable you would be to drive in the dark in this area? (safety wise) I am not really concerned about the different price points of some of these alternatives, the best experience will get preference. Day two I plan a full day self drive into H-I to the imfolozi side (sontuli loop, etc). Is this doable time wise? Knowing we have to go in and out at memorial gate? It seems to me that with 12 hours that should be doable (though tiresome) Day three I am considering a guided 6h drive in the park, followed by a lunch and souvenir stop at Ilala weavers. Then on to Kosi mouth. I had considered a stop at Sodwana bay for this day but I am not a scuba diver so I came to the conclusion that some more time in H-I would be a better plan. Or are there any alternatives? From Hluhluwe river lodge to Utshwayelo lodge is about 2h15 according to google maps (via R22). I have read on the 4x4 community website that the area around Sibaya lake is better avoided and that one should be very careful when visiting the seclduded beaches around this stretch by yourself because there have been very many car jackings (these posts were recent). Now we don't have a 4x4, just an SUV but I don't really want to tempt my luck. So suggestions for this day or general advice on the area are most welcome! Day four will be our full day in kosi bay/kosi mouth so we will do the typical activities around here (snorkeling, canoeing, 3 lakes boat tour, etc). Day five we will continue the activities in kosi bay. From there we will continue on to Tembe elephant park where we will be staying at Royal thonga lodge. This lodge only offers morning game drives included. For a very small extra fee one can have a second drive, but for some reason this drive leaves at 2pm already so I don’t think this would be an option for this day. I think we would focus on a bit of relaxing around the beach/the lakes. Day six we would have a full day at Royal thonga and I booked the second game drive. If I’m not mistaken @stokeygirl would be the resident expert on Tembe As of day seven we would be in the traditional safari camps, first 4n in Thanda and then 2n in Rhino ridge lodge (Hluhluwe Imfolozi again) so activities are obvious: morning and evening game drive. Any and all tips and advice is most appreciated!
As an up-and-coming ecologist, I have always had a sense of adventure. My research has given me the privilege of visiting wilderness areas across South Africa, spending large portions of my MSc degree walking through the Greater Kruger National Park, encountering elephants, buffalo and white rhino on foot. Although I would like to think of myself as fairly competent when walking through a wilderness area, this was not always the case. Back in April 2011, as a young first year BSc student, I undertook my first trip on my own, visiting St Lucia in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province. Although the trip itself was incredible, a single event on my final day stole the headlines of my stay. Below is my diary entry from that day. http://www.news24.com/MyNews24/getting-lost-in-the-st-lucia-wilderness-20170503
Itinerary: 8th-22nd May 2015 8th Arrive Durban, overnight Pietermaritzburg. 9th-11th Indaba Durban, overnight 11th St. Lucia. 12-16th Primitive Trail, Hluhluwe–iMfolozi Park, overnight 16th in Hluhluwe. 17th Visit to Zimanga Private Game Reserve and then Mkhuze Game Reserve, overnight 17th at Mkhuze.. 18th Drive to Ndumo Game Reserve, overnight Ndumo. 19th Drive to Kosi Bay, overnight Kosi Bay. 20th Kosi Bay, overnight Kosi Bay. 21st Morning Tembe Elephant Park, then drive to St. Lucia and explore iSimangaliso Wetlands Park. Night Drive iSimangaliso, overnight St. Lucia. 22nd Drive to Durban, depart for home. At various times in this report, @@Bugs, @@Soukous and @@Peter Connan will be adding their thoughts and images. Some parts of the report will feature as seperate linked articles here on ST. Photos still to be edited, however, as an introduction, I will precede the report by saying what a fantastic trip this was, in accompany with great Safaritalkers, South Africa once again delivering a fantastic experience: meeting incredibly committed people working in conservation, privately and for Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and iSimangaliso Wetland Park, seeing real positives in South Africa and exploring an area which has incredible potential for Safari tourism and offering incredible value for money. Matt.
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