Ntshondwe Camp is nestled at the base of breathtaking Ngotshe mountain and Ntshondwe Camp offers visitors a unique opportunity to experience unrivalled beauty and luxury. Blending seamlessly into its rustic backdrop with cleverly concealed designs, this remarkable destination boasts three consecutive AA Travel Guides & SAA Resort of the Year awards for good reason - offering guests stunning vistas framed by towering pink-and-russet sandstone contours offset against jagged dolerite spires where raptors soar high above in an impressive display.
Ntshondwe Camp offers a unique accommodation experience, with 39 sophisticated thatched chalets situated in stunning natural surroundings of acacias, wild figs, cabbage trees and other indigenous flora. Visitors can choose from an array of self-catering options boasting two to six beds each - some self catering chalets for those who require extra accessibility measures. 28 tour group/conference delegate non self catering chalets are also available without the convenience of onsite self catering cooking facilities.
Visiting this destination is truly a unique experience. Guests can look forward to the fully licensed restaurant, bar, and open game viewing deck on site - all overlooking an impressive panorama! Plus, take time for some R&R by splashing around in the swimming pool built into rock formations or holding meetings at their well-equipped conference centre. Remember to stock up through their imaginatively stocked curio shop carrying essential provisions too!
Ntshondwe Lodge provides an exclusive, luxurious retreat in spectacular surroundings. Ideal for six people seeking a private getaway with comfortable bedrooms, each having their own en-suite bathroom – all serviced daily to guarantee comfort throughout your stay! Relax by the small swimming pool and soak up some sun on the spacious deck while admiring the captivating valley scenery below. A fully equipped self catering kitchen is included.
At Mhlangeni bush camp, the beauty of nature is within reach. Guests can experience a unique stay among wild and picturesque surroundings that provide unparalleled views thanks to its rocky outcrop setting overlooking an enchanting stream. This bush camp is self catering with a fully equipped kitchen and five two-bed units capable of accommodating up to ten people while also housing gas lighting and daily servicing, as well as sun decks in every lounge area for complete relaxation under the stars.
Mbizo bush camp offers a breathtaking natural setting, nestled between the confluence of two rivers and their adjacent rapids and pools. Mbizo Busk Camp provides self catering accommodation for up to eight guests in its rustic chalets crafted from reed, wood and thatch - each with their own lounge and fully equipped kitchen plus private viewing deck - this camping experience includes daily services as well as gas lighting.
Tucked away just off the Thalu River, a world of tranquility awaits at Thalu Bush Camp. From its picturesque barbecue area with stunning views. This rustic self catering bush camp accommodation has four guests in two connected bedrooms and is an idyllic spot to get back to nature and reconnect with loved ones. Daily service keeps things running smoothly while gas lighting adds more charm to your stay - leaving you free from everyday worries and stress-free bliss!
Ithala is an ever-changing paradise, rich in seasonal beauty. From the warthogs of spring to the vibrant "Pride of De Kaap" wildflowers and sprawling aloes come winter - this rugged reserve offers a diverse range for nature lovers! Its perennial streams and rivers, along with cliffs and rockfaces, offer refuge for an abundance of birds, making Ihtala the perfect destination for wildlife enthusiasts alike.
Ithala offers an incredible array of wildlife, with its big game species representing the height of adventure and excitement. Visitors can expect to see white and black rhino, elephant, and buffalo (which features prominently as their logo) and numerous giraffes on their travels. Plus a plethora of antelope such as impala, oribi, red hartebeest, eland, kudu, waterbuck, tsessebe, common reedbuck, mountain reedbuck, steenbok and grey duiker for added variety! Bird life is equally impressive - Black Eagles, Lappet-faced vultures, White-backed Vulture, Ostriches, and Secretary Birds may all be seen stalking across Ithalas spectacular velds.
Ithala is home to an impressive range of ecospheres, allowing for unique and diverse wildlife. Boasting a variety of climates from hot summer days with thunderstorms to frosty winter mornings, the reserve spans 15km altitude-wise, ranging from 480m at its lowest point (the Pongola River in the north) up to 1400m high on Ngothe Mountain!
Ithala's undulating landscape offers spectacular geological features and a vast range of habitats that accommodate diverse wildlife. Ngotse Mountain is among the most captivating sights and was formed by cooled molten lava beneath the surface sandstones and shales gradually eroding over time. Visitors are likely to be graced with sightings of black eagles, bald ibis, or klipspringer looking for their next meal within this unique habitat found only at Ithala!
Nestled in the shadows of magnificent cliffs lies a unique ecosystem characterised by candelabra, fig-trees, and lush woodland. The vlei areas at the base are home to wetland sedges, grasses, and other flora, which act as natural sponges that keep nearby rivers free-flowing during times of rain. This critical habitat serves as an oasis for many animals, including reedbuck, buffalo, and elephant, who rely on it for sustenance throughout their lifecycles.
Several rivers start in or near the reserve, flowing to create a stunning northern border of cascading waterfalls and deep gorges surrounded by lush thickets and riverine forests.
Ithala Game Reserve, located in KwaZulu-Natal, offers a unique landscape of charming open thornveld – enriched with an array of acacia fragrances. Home to various species such as kudu, giraffes and impalas, the reserve also provides habitats for different grazers, including white rhinos, zebras, and hartebeests - each occupying their own individual niche within the environment.
A creative plan has been devised to simulate predator activity to bring equilibrium to the Ithala nature reserve's animal population. By culling and depositing carrion equal to what predators would have left had they been present - two wildebeest per week, one of which is placed on-site at Ntshondwe camp - scavenger species such as hyena and vultures are re-emerging due to their excellent food source. Despite inadequate fencing preventing large predators from returning henceforth, this simulation strategy promises lasting balance for all wildlife within the reserve's habitat.
The program designed to reintroduce vultures in northern Zululand is proving a major success! When the initiative began over three years ago, there were few of these scavengers around. But now, White-backed Vultures, Lappet-faced, and Cape varieties have all been spotted happily feasting on carcasses - sometimes with up to 150 White Backs flocking together at once!
Ithala Game Reserve has recently become home to a unique phenomenon - the sighting of an uncommon congregation of Lappet-faced vultures, rarely seen in groups beyond pairs. Even rarer still are the sightings that have taken place since then: Whitehead Vulture and unconfirmed sightings of Hooded Vulture up above! To top it all off, two more feathered visitors can be spotted now, too; tawny eagles and bateleurs soaring around Ithala's grounds, making us hope they'll decide to stay awhile longer by nesting there.
Through careful monitoring, it has been determined that a variety of creatures have benefitted from this program. From tiny insects to larger carnivores, scavengers such as hyenas and jackals, mongoose, genets, African wildcats, honey badgers and even the nomadic Cape wild dog are making use of these carcasses for sustenance.
Reintroducing lions and wild dogs will play a significant role in protecting this reserve’s natural beauty. Ithala's leopard population is on the rise. However, two key species still need to be reintroduced for its conservation management program to achieve long-term sustainability.
Giraffes are an iconic species, and their presence in Ithala Game Reserve is no different. Here they dwell in loose herds amongst the bushveld areas of this reserve - usually consisting only of females and juveniles since males can often be seen alone. Both sexes have horns that differ; females are smaller with inward curls, while males are more significant, sturdier versions for infighting incidences when necessary. As these animals age, their brown patchwork pattern markings seem to darken on male specimens especially. No matter how long its neck may look, it has just the same number of vertebrae as all mammals! With great adaptations such as this one, giraffe continually triumphs amidst treetops where food lies ready after browsing activities by day or night alike.
Ithala Game Reserve in South Africa is home to a recovering population of 97 red-billed oxpeckers, an iconic bird that was nearly extinct from the area until its reintroduction in 1994. Surveys were conducted to ensure these birds and other wildlife could thrive in their new habitat while protecting neighbouring farms with environmentally friendly cattle dips and poisons. The success story continues each year as visitors can monitor sightings by filling out forms when they visit Ithala and self catering results report 14 immature birds recorded by 1995, followed by breeding confirmed just one year later due to available tree holes for nesting & roosting, a testament to conservation efforts leading towards wildlife sustainability!
Within the reserve, a plethora of wildlife is benefiting from its protected status; data shows that birds use an array of animals, from giant elephants to small impalas.
Ithala Game Reserve's fascinating past stretches back to the Middle Stone Age. This stunning region was home to early smelting operations and provided resources such as iron ore and wild olive wood for these purposes. In addition, rock art left behind by San hunters can be found amidst the beauty of the eastern part of Ithala - a beautiful reminder of its rich history.
Shaka's Zulu wars and reign ushered in a period where many sought refuge from the conflict, leading to traces of occupation still being found today. Subsequently, more than 1.1 million hectares were granted by King Dinizulu in 1884 as recognition for 115 Boers who provided fighting services - earning it the name “Nieuwe Republiek” before its proclamation as Ithala Game Reserve some 88 years later.
Before the European settlers arrived in South Africa, the game was plentiful in Zululand. Unfortunately, their intense hunting practices and an epidemic of Rinderpest drastically thinned these populations. To make matters worse, a campaign to eradicate tsetse flies from 1919 - 1950 resulted in thousands of animals being shot.
The early 1900s marked a historic turning point for the area near Pongola River, with gold discovered in 1905 at Wonder Mine. Although it was sporadically mined until 1933, the production proved minimal - only 147kg of precious metal was yielded from operations there. Not all hope was lost, however; 3km southeast on Vergelegen farm, more reefs were uncovered in 1911, and mining began shortly after that as Eureka Mines. This new venture met slightly better success producing 129kg before closing due to World War I difficulties but re-opened many years later as the Ngotshe Mine 1943 and operated intermittently until 1967 though sadly bringing fewer results than desired - just 8.3 kg harvested that time round.
Ithala Game Reserve originally encompassed 8,000 hectares and was proclaimed in response to the severe overgrazing of livestock which had been decimating its soil erosion. Conservationists in South Africa saw great value within this area due to the multitude of varying habitats, requiring rehabilitation before introducing game species; detailed records from previously established Pongola Reserve offered insight into animals that flourished throughout the Ithala Game Reserve landscape before their extinction.
By 1982, Ithala Game Reserve has since grown to a staggering 30 000 hectares of land and become one of Zululand's premier wildlife vacation destinations. Today, the reserve is home to an array of animals ranging from white rhinos to elephants. In addition, 23 Mammal species have been reintroduced into its ecosystem for visitors' viewing pleasure, including buffalo, kudu, tsessebe, and more!
Ntshondwe Camp shop and supply store
A fully equipped shop selling curios and a range of supplies.
The nearest town with a full range of services is Vryheid which is 69 km away.
How to get Ithala Game Reserve
Ithala Game Reserve is situated near Louwsburg in northern KwaZulu-Natal.
From Durban, it is best reached via Eshowe and Melmoth to Vryheid.
From the Gauteng area, the best approach is via Standerton, Volksrust, and Utrecht to Vryheid.
From the north coast, go via Pongola and Magudu.
From Pietermaritzburg travel via Ladysmith, Dundee, and Vryheid.
Provisions have been made for people with disabilities in the accommodation and other facilities at Ntshondwe Camp.