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In subtropical KwaZulu-Natal province, scout for the Big Five and snorkel with dolphins in the same day. If you've chosen a stay at Phinda, a 57,000-acre private reserve comprising seven different habitats, prepare for astonishing wildlife drives, guided safari walks, river cruises, horseback rides and scuba dives. At Rocktail Bay, bird-watch in world-class wetlands, wander pristine beaches beneath forested dunes, and observe nesting sea turtles during the summer.
The Safari Experience
Phinda is extraordinary for its seven distinct habitats sprawling over 56,800 acres. The reserve includes grasslands, woodland, wetland and forest, within which mountain ranges, marshes, pans and rivers are carved. The accessibility to pristine beaches and reefs at Sodwana Bay for scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing, and seasonal whale watching make this one of South Africa’s most diverse destinations. Enjoy day and night wildlife drives, interpretive nature walks, specialist on-foot rhino tracking adventures, horseback riding, scenic flights, Zulu cultural activities and river boating or canoeing. Rocktail Bay features 25 miles of unspoiled coastline within the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a World Heritage Site and a globally significant nesting spot for loggerhead and leatherback turtles. Exclusive access to 15 reefs within the Maputaland Marine Reserve makes Rocktail one of Africa’s most rewarding scuba diving and snorkeling locations.
Phinda’s biodiversity supports great wildlife populations. Cheetah are considered one of the best cat prospects for spotting in Phinda. Endangered black rhino and white rhino populations are very strong, while lion, leopard, buffalo and elephant are on view alongside 415 bird species. Specialist subtropical birding tours are a treat. The reserve features one of the highest densities of the graceful nyala antelope, and herds of elephant forage through the fever tree forests. Also available are predator and rhino tracking activities done on foot through the reserve’s varied ecosystems. In addition to sea turtle encounters on Rocktail’s untouched beaches, whales and undersea life abound. Back on land, trail walks reveal coastal forest birds, and hippos are on display in freshwater lakes. Reedbuck and red duiker are frequently sighted near camp. Subtropical bird species often seen include green twinspot, African emerald cuckoo and rosy-throated longclaw.
How to Include Zululand in Your Safari Itinerary
Recommended Number of Nights
Nature Travelers: 3-4 nights to experience the great variety found here
Photographers: 3-4 nights for very exclusive and diverse wildlife viewing
Families: 4 nights to fit in all the activities, as these are great locations for kids to explore
Active Travelers: 4 nights to experience a wide variety of activities on offer
Other Regions to Include
Zululand has such an assorted biodiversity of plants and wildlife that it stands alone as a safari destination quite well, or beautifully complements a classic safari destination, such as Kruger Park or Sabi Sand, where one will experience the more traditional lowveld woodlands and some slightly different species occurring in this flatter ecosystem, as well as plentiful lion and leopard. From Zululand, heading west toward the Eastern Cape offers another safari experience replete with large mammals, predators, beautiful landscapes and birdlife en route to Cape Town. On to Cape Town, enjoy more marine wildlife, from whales and great white sharks to penguins and Cape fur seals, along with the history, culture, fine food and wine of the Cape Winelands and Cape Coast areas. Seasonal great white shark cage-diving and whale watching along with the Cape Floristic region complement Phinda or Rocktail’s unique ecosystems and climate, offering something equally diverse and yet completely different.