Book Your Safari

The allure of KwaZulu-Natal: How to have a South African holiday in one province

When daydreaming about an all-encompassing South African holiday, there is one province that offers it all – KwaZulu-Natal. Don’t believe us? We promise we will have you convinced by the end of this post. KwaZulu-Natal is the epitome of a diverse and balanced vacation experience, blending the allure of pristine beaches with the thrill of wild bush adventures. Nestled along the gloriously warm Indian Ocean on South Africa’s south-eastern coastline, it offers a fusion of culture, natural beauty, captivating wildlife encounters, and an effortless combination of beach and bush experiences. The best of all worlds KwaZulu-Natal presents a remarkable contrast of landscapes, featuring both a sprawling coastline and expansive bushveld. This combination allows travelers to savour two different natural worlds within the a single holiday package. Picture yourself lazing on the golden sands found at beaches all along the north coast one day, and venturing into the heart of the Zululand wilderness the next, ready to witness Africa’s iconic Big Five on a game drive. A big drawcard is KwaZulu-Natal’s subtropical climate ensures that your beach and bush adventure can unfold throughout the year. With over 600 kilometers of coastline, KwaZulu-Natal boasts an array of breathtaking beaches catering to relaxation and adventure enthusiasts alike. Those north of Durban, like Thompson’s Bay near the popular beach town of Ballito, offer a laidback atmosphere for surfing, swimming and sunbathing while still close enough to the main city attractions. This oasis of serenity complements the exhilarating bush experiences that lie just three hours away. The heart of Zululand is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts. Here you will find wild beauty in Big 5 game reserves like Manyoni, that offer exclusive access to some of Africa’s most iconic animal and bird life. Imagine embarking on a guided safari, tracking lions and elephants against the backdrop of lush bushveld and the Drakensburg mountain range. At 23,000 hectares reserve, Manyoni Private Game Reserve is one of the largest privately-owned reserves in Kwazulu-Natal and is committed to protecting environmental biodiversity and endangered species like cheetah and rhino (black and white). A culmination of cultures and culinary delights The cultural fusion in KwaZulu-Natal offers an enriching and truly South African experience. Immerse yourself in Zulu heritage while visiting rural communities, learning about local traditions and sampling hearty home-made cuisine. Don’t miss the chance to enjoy freshly caught seafood while overlooking the shimmering Indian Ocean. And of course, indulge in the vibrant Indian influences found in delectable curries that speak to centuries of history. The province’s rich history and diverse cultural tapestry enhance the depth of your combined beach and bush journey. Ultimately, KwaZulu-Natal stands as a testament to the remarkable beauty of uniting several worlds, crafting an extraordinary South African holiday with the highlight of a beach and safari combination, each place being just a few hours drive away. Have we convinced you of the magic of KwaZulu-Natal? We have a fantastic Beach and Safari combination package special with Sala Beach House. Please contact our Reservations Team for more information.

The Power of Local Community Support for Manyoni

Game reserves, like Manyoni, are not just patches of wilderness dedicated to wildlife conservation; they are vital ecosystems that contribute to biodiversity preservation and environmental education of those that come from far to visit them and those that are right at their doorstep. While the efforts of dedicated conservationists and organizations play a significant role, the importance of community involvement in game reserves cannot be overstated. Recognising this, Manyoni led by the Zululand Conservation Trust engages with and supports neighbouring communities through various initiatives. This ensures the best outcomes for all – people, wildlife and the environment. Zululand Conservation Trust The mission of the Zululand Conservation Trust is a commitment to the conservation of endangered species whilst maintaining and supporting partnerships with neighbouring communities. The Trust recognises the fundamental need to involve, empower, educate and support local communities, in order to achieve effective and lasting conservation. Like much of rural South Africa, Zululand has high rates of poverty and unemployment, which are further exacerbated by low levels of basic education. The ZCT aims to bridge the major education, skill and poverty gap between these outlying communities and the rest of the province through a series of projects aimed at poverty relief, holistic education and learner support, basic household necessities resourcing, and food security. Below we have highlighted a few of the many community upliftment projects the ZCT supports. Projects for positive impact Creche support: ZCT currently provides ongoing support to three crèches, two of which the Trust built, in neighbouring communities. Each crèche receives support in the form of monthly food supplies, donations and general maintenance of the facilities. These facilities provide a safe space for local children to play, learn and enjoy a warm, nutritious daily meal. Food security: The Mandlakazi Food Security Project is a donor-funded project that provides schools with a 10m x 15m food garden. Hardy vegetables such as spinach, cabbage, tomatoes, onions, sweet potatoes, peppers are planted in each garden. This is to improve diets and provide the necessary nutrients needed by young growing children. Matric learner support: ZCT assists the principal of Mandlakazi High School with the running costs of her annual Matric Camp, which provides Grade 12 learners a safe and quiet space to study together, receive extra lessons, and enjoy three meals a day. Looking ahead At the same time, ZCT endeavours to grow within local people the same understanding and love for conservation that their team has. Long-term, ZCT hopes to have their communities more likely to support initiatives aimed at safeguarding wilderness areas, becoming the guardians of their natural heritage, ensuring that the reserves remain safe havens for wildlife. And, for the tourism associated with these reserves to create direct job and small business opportunities and greater economic growth for the region. Each guest’s nightly conservation levy goes directly to supporting the Zululand Conservation Trust, including its many community projects.

The pangolins of Manyoni: A conservation success story

We can say with certainty that seeing one of the pangolins of Manyoni Private Game Reserve will be one of the most unforgettable experiences of your life. In just three years, the adult Temminck’s ground pangolins of Manyoni now total 14 and, to the absolute joy and pride of all, four pango-pups were born on the reserve last year. It is a huge triumph for pangolin conservation in Zululand, where the species has been locally extinct for almost 70 years. Accounting for about 20% of the entire illegal wildlife trade, pangolins are now the most trafficked mammals in the world. They are highly sought after for their meat and scales, which are made of keratin – the same material as your finger and toe nails. Rehabilitating and rewilding the pangolins of Manyoni The team at Manyoni work closely with the Zululand Conservation Trust, African Pangolin Working Group and the Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital to establish a viable population of pangolins in the reserve. With the help of the South African Police Service (SAPS), the pangolins are confiscated from the illegal wildlife trade, arriving at the veterinary hospital in poor health due to the stress, dehydration and malnutrition suffered while with poachers. Once they have made a full recovery under the intensive care and nursing by the dedicated vet team, the pangolins begin a ‘soft-release program’ in Manyoni and other designated reserves. Each day, their dedicated ‘pangolin shepherd’ takes them out into a part of the reserve most suitable for them to explore and encounter ant and termite mounds. If necessary, their shepherd will show them how to break into the mounds, where they will then use their long (up to 70cm), sticky tongues to slurp up the juicy ants. During this first phase, the pangolins are monitored intensively to ensure they acclimatize, are able to find suitable food and gain enough weight before they are released fully. The soft release also provides an important and unique opportunity for research as little is known about these intriguing creatures. It takes two months on average for pangolins to be ready for the ‘hard release’ when they will go into the reserve equipped with a tracking device to allow the team to monitor and protect them. The pangolin walking experience This ground-breaking conservation program is resulting in a thriving – and growing – population of pangolins in Manyoni. It is providing a second chance for previously poached pangolins and contributing to the survival of the species. The pangolin program is financed solely from donor funding through the Zululand Conservation Trust. The tags, telemetry equipment, veterinary costs, vehicles and fuel, and salaries for the pangolin monitoring team are all vital but extremely costly. You can help give rescued Temminck’s ground pangolins another chance at a happy life by booking a pangolin walking experience. This is an amazing opportunity to see a pangolin first-hand as you walk with a pangolin and its shepherd during a monitoring session. Please note that this activity costs R1000 and is subject to availability. If you would like to add the pangolin walking experience to your stay with us, we suggest booking it in advance to make sure you don’t miss out. Enquire further with our Reservations Team when booking your Rhino Sands safari or book directly with the Zululand Conservation Trust here.

When is the best time to visit South Africa on safari?

We are fortunate to live in a country that is a true year-round holiday destination, which means any time is the best time to visit South Africa on safari. In KwaZulu-Natal, every season has its charms. The long, hot days of summer are great for basking by the pool and the seasonal rainfall transforms the bush into a lush, green playground for wildlife. Winters are dry with early mornings and evenings spent cosy around the campfire, and there are regular opportunities for excellent animal sighting during game drives. There isn’t any one time of the year that is better than another for a safari. It depends on what kind of wilderness experience you dream of having. If it’s your first safari, you might want to have the classic wildlife safari experience  commonly associated with the winter months. Whereas an old-hand safari-goer or avid birder, might like the promise of migratory bird sightings that summer brings. Each season offers a different experience from the one that came before it. This is what makes the bush such a captivating place throughout the year! Visiting South Africa on safari in summer Months: October/November to March/April Temperature range: October & November ~ minimum of 16°C (61°F) and maximum of 26°C (79°F); December to February ~ min 19°C (66°F) and max 29°C (84°F); March & April ~ min 17°C (63°F) and max 27°C (81°F). Rainfall: January tops the wettest month with an average 130mm (5.1in) of rainfall; although rainfall patterns have become quite inconsistent in recent years. Known as the green or wet season, a summer safari in Manyoni Private Game Reserve  Manyoni Private Game Reserve brings its own special delights. This is the time when the bush turns into something of a maternity ward. Zebra, impala, giraffe and other game animals give birth to adorable newborns that are up and wobbling about on their gangly legs within half an hour of dropping. This incredible feat is crucial for their survival. If they can’t stand and gallop away, they are completely at the mercy of predators. As Manyoni is the isiZulu word for ‘Place of the Birds’, the reserve is renowned for its abundance of birds throughout the year. Summer does bring an extra colour and flair though, as European and African migrant species fly in to enjoy the warmer temperatures. Visitors to the reserve can include various bee-eaters, Eurasian golden oriole, common and wood sandpipers, icterine and willow warbler, and the red-backed and lesser grey shrike. For photographers, a summer safari in South Africa offers beautiful natural lighting at dawn and dusk, the times that our game drives are scheduled. Following the usual afternoon thundershowers, the air is washed crisp and clear by the rain, things cool down, and a rainbow is a common sight against the blue sky. The cloud-stacked sunrises and sunsets are sublime. Along with these opportunities for gorgeous landscape photography, there is plenty of animal and birding action to capture. Extended holiday idea: Pair this with fine beach weather along the KwaZulu-Natal coastline and you have the makings of the ultimate bush and beach holiday in South Africa. Visiting South Africa on safari in winter Months: May/June to August/September Temperature range: May ~ minimum of 13°C (55°F) and maximum of 24°C (75°F); June to August ~ min 11°C (52°F) and max 23°C (73°F); September ~ min 14°C (57°F) and max 25°C (77°F) Rainfall: June is the driest month with an average rainfall of 38mm (1.5in); although rainfall patterns have become quite inconsistent in recent years. Come winter and the bush shakes off its layers of thick greenery, giving way to bare trees and shades of brown. Without the rain to wash them away, dust particles hang in the air in the late afternoon and create intense colours across the sky at sunset. This then usually gives way to a cloudless night sky, perfect for stargazing back at camp. Read more: Find out all there is know and love about a South African safari in winter. We are true believers that the best time to visit South Africa on safari is whenever you can! Contact us or enquire and book using our easy to use online form.

What we love about a South African safari in winter

A South African safari taken between May and July is a comfortable and enjoyable one, as long as you come prepared. Because these are the dry months of the year, the bush shakes off its greenery, making the reserve look quite different to the wet summer season. Without the rain to wash them away, dust particles hang in the air in the late afternoon and create intense colours across the sky at sunset. This then usually gives way to a cloudless night sky, perfect for stargazing back at camp. We don’t believe that any one time of the year is better than another for a safari, as each season offers a different experience from the one that came before it. For now, since the cooler months are here, we are sharing some of the reasons we love winter safaris: Game sightings can get extra wild The colder months of the year are also the driest, which is ideal for spotting wildlife. The scarce rainfall means the bush thins out so animals are easier to track and spot. The cooler temperatures also mean they can stay in the open longer into the day and congregate around the few water sources available. But taking a drink from a waterhole or river puts animals in an incredibly vulnerable position and leaves them open to attack. Crocodiles lurk in the water below and big cats wait in the surrounding bushes for the perfect moment to strike. Indulgent food enjoyed in snug places One of our favourite parts of every safari is the food. There is something though about winter that gives us all a good excuse to indulge. Chef Dion and his talented team in the kitchen will make you warm from the inside out with hearty stews, rich soups and homemade bread, and warm, seasonal desserts. After dinner, you’ll fall asleep in your tent with a full, happy stomach, and wake up with all the energy you need for your dawn game drive. These comforting meals are paired with the perfect cosy setting, like dinner around the boma campfire or breakfast from the warmth and privacy of your tent. Cosy up beside the campfire  The first cup of coffee for the day tastes so much sweeter while getting cosy next to the crackling campfire. It’s what gives you all the warmth and energy to head out into the bush on your dawn game drive to find those sightings that make the early wake-up so worth it! Then, it’s rusks and coffee with a splash of Amarula when you stop in the bush, perhaps after watching young lions hunt a warthog or elephants drinking from a watering hole. The afternoon game drive ends watching a spectacular winter sunset with a spread of savoury treats and a glass of something delicious – you can’t go wrong with a glass of red wine in winter. Comfortable weather with warm days and cool nights It’s all about layers when you’re in the bush during winter. Early mornings and late afternoons can be chilly, so we recommend packing winter jackets, gloves, scarves and a beanie, which you can gradually peel off or cover up with during game drives. To make sure you are completely warm and comfortable, we provide you with blankets and hot water bottles on our vehicles. Bring fleece pajamas and warm slippers to stay cosy in your tent, and electric blankets on your bed will keep you snug throughout the night. Once the sun comes up, the bush becomes bathed in lovely warm sunshine, perfect for landscape and wildlife photography. By midday it warms up nicely and is the perfect time to relax with a good book on the sun lounger by your private pool. Our team of camp staff and rangers are looking forward to showing you the best of the reserve, no matter what time of the year you decide to make your South African safari. Please contact us or enquire and book using our easy to use online form.

Welcome to the Rhino Sands Family

Rhino Sands is the result of a love for family, safari and indulgence, which is why we make you feel part of our family while curating a luxury experience in this magnificent wilderness we call home.

Your Safari

Safari Camp  |  Experience Reserve Activities

About Us

Our Family  |  Our Reserve  |  Our Purpose

Plan Your Trip

Logistics  |  Helpful Hints

Book Your Safari

Rates  |  Contact  |  Book Now