South Africa Tourism Awards Logo

South Africa Tourism Awards

Type: Accommodation – Lodge
Category: Unique Experience

Motivation for award: Thanda Safari offers an authentic South African wildlife experience with excellent game viewing all year round. It also has a sincere commitment to the Zulu culture and conservation of the environment. It is actively and passionately involved in conservation and wildlife research and works to uplift the local communities through ‘Star for Life’ and other projects. Thanda offers many special activities which include Rhino darting, genetic sampling and notching, and also monitoring the Rhino. Thanda’s guests are also able to work with the Thanda Wildlife Conservation team and assist them in their daily tasks. Thanda also has a wildlife photographer on site who will provide expert input and advice from the complimentary Wildlife Photography lesson, to a personalized photo shoot on Safari, to a Private Photography Safari.

Region: Kwazulu Natal / Zululand

Thanda Safari

Big 5 Private Game Reserve

Thanda Safari is a Big Five game reserve situated on 14 000 hectares in the heart of Zululand, KwaZulu-Natal, owned by Swedish philanthropists Christin and Dan Olofsson. It offers an authentic South African wildlife experience with excellent game viewing all year round and has a sincere commitment to the Zulu culture and conservation of the environment. It is actively involved in conservation and wildlife research and works to uplift the local communities through ‘Star for Life’ and other projects. Thanda Safari offers three different accommodation types, Thanda Safari Lodge, Villa iZulu and Thanda Tented Camp

Meaning ‘love’ in isiZulu, Thanda Safari is a proud member of The Leading Hotels of the World, a multiple winner of The World’s Leading Luxury Lodge award, ranked as one of the 20 Top Resorts in South Africa in the 2020 Condé Nast Traveller Awards, was winner at the 27th World Travel Awards for World’s Leading Luxury Private Villa 2020: Villa iZulu at Thanda Safari, South Africa and for World’s Leading Safari Lodge 2020: Thanda Safari Lodge at Thanda Safari, South Africa. More recently at the recent 28th World Travel Awards 2021, Villa iZulu at Thanda Safari again walked away with the award for Africa’s Leading Luxury Private Villa.

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avril Boonzaier – 22.03.2022
Absolutely the BEST!!

Ntokozo Makhathini – 21.03.2022
Best place to be in visited early this year and had a blast.

Peter Högberg – 17.03.2022
Thanda best lodge

Detlef Pappelbaum – 17.03.2022
It was our first stay at Thanda, but surely not our last!!

Stacey Peck – 17.03.2022
Thanda Safari is amazing

Mandy Pillay – 16.03.2022
My best experience in SA.. I recommend Thanda to everyone

Cara Keogh – 16.03.2022
Thanda is the most amazing place, we’ve been there 3 times and look forward to our next visit.

Devendra – 16.03.2022
The most beautiful Of places I have being in KZN. Its hard to find a fault when the guides were all friendly. The wiaters and bar man were friendly and jovial. The best for ne qas the view from the tented room.

Laura Smale – 15.03.2022
Very friendly staff, outstanding food, fantastic accommodation. Looking forward to having our wedding there this year

Robyn Pizzoni – 15.03.2022
Thanda is showcasing the best of SA hospitality service to the world

Gerrard – 15.03.2022
Thanda played an important part in keeping SA tourism going during covid through innovative and effective protection policies

Virginia Prouse – 15.03.2022
Absolutely loved being at Thanda in the tented experience. Everything about Thanda was wonderful.

Allen Pieterse – 15.03.2022
Thanda is the best Safari Lodge we have visited. 5 Star hospitality with the best game rides with knowledgeable guides and trackers. I definitely recommend a few days of time out at Tanda Safari Lodge.

Kerstin Sigfridson – 15.03.2022
Three of the best days in my life!

Chantal Geddes – 15.03.2022
Thanda Safari is amazing! Fantastic place with fantastic staff

Andrea Lowe – 15.03.2022
Amazing company to deal with, having had to re arrange our trip on two occasions due to Covid travel restrictions. Nothing too much trouble. So excited for our trip in September!

Chris Cooke – 15.03.2022
Absolutely fabulous in every respect. I look forward to visiting from the UK again in the future.

Thembelihle Mathenjwa – 15.03.2022
Best safari

Bronwyn Smith – 15.03.2022
Incredible property

Janice Marallich – 15.03.2022
Spent a few days at Thanda in 2019, absolutely loved and got some brilliant photo’s.

Dorianne Rose – 15.03.2022
The best safari experience in Africa. Even the tents were exceptional but the lodge was the highlight of my 50 years

Keith Marallich – 15.03.2022
This is from a blog I wrote in 2019 – minus the images!: A Focus on Thanda – May 2019 Last week I visited Thanda Game Reserve in the province of KwaZulu/Natal for a few nights – a wise move! I wanted to visit at this time of the year as I find that the summer months can be too hot on some of the days, especially out on an open safari vehicle. (On that note, and in my opinion, the two best months, weather-wise anywhere in South Africa are April and May). Thanda is a private game reserve that is situated some 260-odd kilometres north of Durban and has three lodge options: the Villa iZulu, the Thanda Tented Camp and then the venue that I stayed at, the Thanda Safari Lodge. How it works is this – you arrive at the entrance gate to Thanda and they then take care of you from there right up until your departure. A staff member collected us from the gate (oh, and your vehicle is kept in secure parking, safe from wildlife) and we were driven directly to the Safari Lodge. After completing the check-in formalities, we were shown to our suite. Each suite at Safari Lodge has a spacious lounge, master bedroom, double-sided fireplace, and an indulgent bathroom, with a beautiful bath, an indoor and an outdoor shower. Thanda Safari Lodge’s shared or communal areas include an inviting lounge, expansive deck and library overlooking a water feature, impressive wine cellar and the Thanda Safari Spa. Even though I did not stay here on this occasion (I had stayed here previously a long time ago), the Thanda Tented Lodge offers an authentic safari adventure with fifteen luxury safari tents in a bush setting, enhanced by flickering firelight and lanterns guiding your way at night. This is bush living as nature intended: open and inviting with unparalleled closeness to the bush – its sights, smells and sounds. Each of the tents has a private sun deck and en-suite canvas bathroom. The shared areas here include a large rim-flow pool, a spa tent, atmospheric Hemingway-style lounge and dining area. The sole-use Villa iZulu is a luxurious homestead that features five suites and includes a heated swimming pool, wine cellar, library, a games room and a spacious viewing deck overlooking a water hole. It’s the ultimate safari hideaway for guests needing total privacy or for families, friends and company getaways. Meals, well, what can I say? This little piece is not going to be an opinion of their culinary offerings – I am not qualified for that! What I will briefly touch on is the different meals… • Breakfast was really, really good – a selection of muesli, grains, cheeses, cold meats, fruit, yoghurts, jams, breads, rolls (need I go on) and then a hot selection off the menu, which in my opinion could be the envy of some fine restaurants in a city, never mind a game lodge far from the city. If my memory serves, the choices here were about eight different choices. What mostly impressed me was that one could also order a cappuchino or espresso which was excellent. • Lunches consisted of a platter with various dishes that changed daily and included selections of salads, starch, veggies, proteins, sauces and followed by dessert. • For dinners one has a choice of two dishes from each of soup, starters, mains and dessert – simply outstanding. Just something that warrants a mention is the staff – a more friendly group one could not wish for. They were very helpful and friendly, always willing to please. So, that is it for the accommodation and food – what about the main element (well for me, the main element), the wildlife! The game drives were very good and here special thanks must go to our guide, Peace (a very knowledgeable person, well-spoken, friendly and a very good driver) and our tracker, Zeblon, who had a good sense of humour coupled with an eagle eye. This pair worked so well together and afforded us some very good sightings out in the bush. Our game drives were the usual three-hour or so early morning and late afternoon drives, which has been proven repeatedly to be the best time to look for wildlife. I am not going to give a blow-by-blow account of every drive and what we saw – this small cross section of images will hopefully give you an idea. One occasion I do want to highlight though is when we went out looking for lion early one morning. Peace and Zeblon knew the general area where these animals were but finding them in very thick bush was no easy matter and the eagle eyes of Zeblon, following obscure tracks and Peace doing some serious off-road driving, brought us into contact with a pride of eleven lions that had killed a zebra during the night. This one image is an example of the steep incline we had to get up to find the lions, and then down again when some of the youngsters in the group decided to head for the open road (the vehicle in this image arrived after we had found the lions and we were the only two vehicles at the sighting for probably an hour or so). We had some close encounters with elephant, cheetah, jackal, birds, general plains game in abundance, hyenas and, and, and… Oh, and you may be interested to know that you don’t only have to go on a game drive to see wildlife. Here are also some images that were all taken at the lodge, either from or near my suite or from the central communal area – the elephants paid a visit to the water feature during lunch on one of the days. If ever you’re looking for a safari, you could do no worse than putting Thanda on your list, choosing between the budget friendly Tented Camp, the more luxurious Safari Lodge and if you’re with a group or extended family, the Villa Zulu is the one to choose – you will not be disappointed at any of these three options. Whilst the level of luxury and accommodation differs, the most important aspect, the game drives, are the same, no matter which lodge you’re staying at. Lastly, on this topic, there is no rush at any of the sightings to get to the next sighting or to make way for newcomers to get into the sighting – with all our high profile animal sightings, there was no limit on the time we could spend with the animals and I suspect that if I wanted to stay three hours at a particular sighting, this would not have been a problem – maybe the other couple on the vehicle may have objected, but I don’t know, this was never put to the test!

Kylie Hight – 15.03.2022
THANDA ♥️♥️♥️

Jenna Hight – 15.03.2022
Such amazing memories made at Thanda

Alexi Spiegler – 15.03.2022
Best luxury tented bush lodge I’ve ever stayed at!! Amazing staff, such knowledgeable rangers and trackers! The truest bush experience I have ever had!!!

Denver – 15.03.2022
Beautiful place, spent our 25th wedding anniversary here, would love to go back sometime

De Matos Jodi – 15.03.2022
One of the best places – accommodation, game drives, food, staff, views, facilities …. all excellent, such a pleasure being there experiencing the beauty & magic of it all – always leave wishing I could have stayed just a bit longer ….

Carol Fourie – 24.02.2022
Thandie is a great safari holiday. A real spoil and treat. The staff are amazing and go the extra mile

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