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Beneath the African Skies

Beneath the African Skies: A night time safari experience at Rhino Sands As the game drive departs the lodge in the late afternoon, the wildlife viewing commences. It’s a seamless transition from the human-made to the natural world, where every turn and trail brings discovery. The evening game drive is unlike any other, offering a unique opportunity to witness the nocturnal wildlife come to life under the vast, starlit skies.     As the drive progresses, a special moment awaits—sundowners in the wilderness. This cherished safari tradition involves stopping in a picturesque location to enjoy drinks and snacks as you watch the sun cascade in a breathtaking display of colours across the sky. The immense beauty of the sunset, with silhouettes of some of the animals visible in the distance, provides a perfect backdrop for reflection and admiration of the day’s end in the African bush. The air cools, and the sounds of the day give way to the more mysterious noises of the night, adding an element of excitement and unpredictability to your safari experience.  A day in the reserve As the sun begins to dip below the horizon, casting a golden glow across the African bush, your adventure at Rhino Sands truly begins. Your guide, with their in-depth knowledge of the area and its inhabitants, navigates the rugged terrain with ease. Their expertise not only ensures a safe journey through the wilderness but also enriches the experience with fascinating insights about the behaviours and habitats of the nocturnal animals you encounter. Equipped with spotlights, the vehicle illuminates the darkness, revealing the glowing eyes of creatures hidden in the shadows. It’s a thrilling experience to spot a herd of elephants on the move or even the rare sight of a lion pride on the move under the cover of darkness.    As the drive continues, you’re enveloped in the beauty and tranquillity of the African night. The guide occasionally stops, allowing you to listen to the symphony of sounds – from the distant roar of a lion to the soft chirping of crickets and the rustle of leaves as animals move stealthily through the bush. These moments of stillness are profound, reminding you of your place in the natural world and the privilege of witnessing these wild spaces as they have existed for millennia.     Upon returning to Rhino Sands, the magic of the safari doesn’t end. You’re welcomed back to the camp with warm, ambient lighting leading you to a beautifully set table under the stars. The dinner you pre-selected awaits, each course a culinary delight that complements the day’s experiences. Dining outdoors, surrounded by the night sounds and under the African sky, is the perfect way to reflect on the day’s adventures and the beauty of the wilderness that surrounds you.    After dinner, the evening can be spent relaxing by the fire pit, sharing stories of the day’s sightings with fellow guests, or simply gazing up at the stars, contemplating the vastness of the universe and the timeless beauty of the African bush. The luxurious, yet eco-friendly accommodations at Rhino Sands ensure a comfortable sleep, with the sounds of the wild serving as a natural lullaby.    A nighttime safari at Rhino Sands is more than just a game drive; it’s an immersive experience that connects you deeply with nature. It’s about feeling the heartbeat of the African wilderness, understanding the importance of conservation, and leaving with a renewed sense of wonder for the natural world. As dawn breaks and a new day begins, you’re left with unforgettable memories of the night’s mysteries and the enduring beauty of Africa. 

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.

Safari Chic: Unveiling the Art of Stylish Adventure with The Safari Gals

A practical and fashion-forward guide to curating your safari chic wardrobe. Embarking on an African safari is an adventure like no other, where the breathtaking landscapes and majestic wildlife create unforgettable memories. As experienced safari travellers, The Safari Gals are here to share top tips on safari style, helping you make confident decisions on what to wear while exploring the wonders of South Africa. We hope you enjoy this guide to creating a chic and ‘somewhat’ practical wardrobe for your safari adventure. Safari Neutrals: Colours & Fabrics When it comes to safari, think neutral earthy tones like khaki, olive, and sandy hues. These colours seamlessly blend with the natural surroundings and offer a timeless and classic safari look. Opt for breathable fabrics such as linen and cotton to stay comfortable in the African heat while exuding effortless elegance.  Have a look at Taeve Africa (we are huge fans!). Their collection offers a range of garments designed specifically for the safari experience, ensuring you can explore with comfort and grace. Remember, luxury safari travel often presents opportunities for stunning photographs, so let your style shine and create Instagram-worthy moments. Bold Prints: Embrace Contrast & Drama  While neutrals might make up the bulk of your safari chic wardrobe, don’t be afraid of making bold statements. Go out of your way to embrace prints that contrast with the safari environment and wear vibrant patterns that create dramatic and beautiful images from your holiday. While on a safari vehicle animals take very little notice of colour and pattern (however, this is not the case if you are going on a walking safari). Focus on choosing breathable fabrics and practical cuts that allow freedom of movement. Express your individuality and wear whatever makes you feel happy and confident. Safari-Inspired Animal Prints Animal prints have long been associated with safari-inspired fashion. While mixing multiple animal prints can be overwhelming, incorporating a pop of animal print into your outfit adds a touch of timeless chic. A leopard print scarf or a zebra print accessory can effortlessly elevate your safari style without overpowering the natural beauty of the surroundings. Embrace Practicality & Romance Let’s face it – this might just be the most romantic experience you will ever have – so dress for it! Embrace the inherent romance of a safari holiday with a flowing cotton dress. As before, always opt for breathable fabrics, consider the fit for ease of movement, and ensure it can withstand the adventures of the day. A well-chosen cotton dress allows you to immerse yourself in the safari experience while looking effortlessly elegant. When it comes to making a statement on your safari, explore the exquisite designs of Harlow & Summer offering romantic summer dresses with beautiful prints that evoke a sense of whimsy and elegance. Or take a look at Swing Cape Town. Their magnificent dresses, skirts and tops are unashamedly romantic, very beautiful and come in a range of neutral colours. Diving into Serene Waters Many safari destinations boast picturesque pool locations and offer year-round swimming opportunities. Pack your favourite swimsuit to take a refreshing dip in these serene waters, or just lounge poolside with a fabulous cocktail. Whether it’s a secluded lodge pool or a private plunge pool, enjoy the blissful moments of relaxation surrounded by nature’s wonders.  The Safari Gals recommend the gorgeous swimwear from Gabrielle Swimwear and Granadilla Swim, two South African brands that blend style and functionality, allowing you to make a splash while feeling confident and chic. Headgear: Sun & Wind Protection Protect yourself from the elements with stylish headgear. Hats and scarves are essentials on game drives, where the sun and wind can be intense. Opt for wide-brimmed hats to shield your face and neck from the sun’s rays and select lightweight scarves to add a touch of elegance while keeping your hair in place.  Complete your safari look with silk scarves and jewellery from Asatsi. Their exquisite silk scarves not only add a touch of glamour but also serve as fashionable head coverings, protecting you from the sun and adding a chic element to your ensemble. Accessories: Complete Your Safari Look Elevate your safari style with carefully chosen accessories. Don a pair of chic sunglasses to protect your eyes while adding a touch of glamour. Consider copper jewellery, which not only complements earthy tones but also reflects the rich cultural heritage of Southern Africa.  Discover the unique jewellery pieces crafted by Down 2 the Wire. They transform animal snares, once used by poachers as objects of torture and death, into stunning pieces of jewellery. By supporting their cause, you can wear a beautiful accessory while contributing to conservation efforts. Footwear: Every Girl’s Best Friend Let your footwear strike a balance between practicality and fashion, whether it’s veldskoens, boots, sandals, or flip-flops. Pointed heels are generally to be avoided on safari as even in camp there is often a lot of natural terrain like sand, rocks, and natural pathways. Remember, comfort is key during your safari adventure.  Veldskoen are known for their iconic South African shoes. They offer a range of traditional and durable options that are perfect for safari adventures. Also take a look at their locally made flip-flops – plakkies, which we absolutely love. For exquisite handmade boots, look no further than ROF-Style handcrafted in Cape Town, their designs are a true testament to South African craftsmanship, adding a touch of luxury to your safari attire. Dress for Dinner: Celebrate Special Occasions While many safari-goers opt for casual attire throughout their stay, there’s something magical about dressing up for a special dinner. Celebrate these unforgettable moments and milestones by donning elegant attire, whether it’s a romantic evening with a loved one or a celebratory gathering with friends. Kingsley Heath offers a range of items suitable for safari travel, including sophisticated dresses, tailored separates, and elegant accessories. Their collection allows you to celebrate special moments in style, adding an extra touch of glamour to your safari experience. Weather Considerations: Always Be Prepared  Before embarking on your safari, research the average temperatures and rainfall during your

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.

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Experiences that define the ultimate luxury South African safari

Safaris differ widely so if you are the discerning traveller that wants the ultimate luxury South African safari, these are the experiences to look out for. It should be filled with moments that are curated around your personal tastes and expectations to help you connect with nature deeply. Because a safari is much more than being able to tick a certain destination, animal or activity off your bucket-list. It has the potential to be a fulfilling and even transformative experience, one that will live with you long after you’ve left the bush. These five experiences are what a luxury safari in South Africa is all about! Small, intimate lodgings Sometimes less really is more, particularly when staying in a safari camp that prioritises intimacy and privacy. There is something indulgent in knowing that you share a camp with just a handful of other guests. Imagine, a spacious tented suite with bedroom, lounge and bathroom, that opens out onto a private deck with plunge pool and views of the bush that are only yours to enjoy. While the focus of a safari is around game drives and meal times, each day is interspersed with moments that make it a little different to the one before. And, as part of a personal and authentic experience, you should always be able to choose how much or how little you do each day. Exclusive safari destination In a private game reserve, you won’t have to share special moments on safari with a crowd of other visitors. There are fewer lodges in an independently-owned reserve in order to maintain less human traffic to ensure low-impact tourism and a better guest experience. The guides on private reserves also share sightings with their colleagues by radio which increases the possibility of seeing rarer species such as rhino, leopard and cheetah. A government-owned national park, on the other hand, offers lower entrance fees, day visits and self-drives, and more accommodation options, which means greater chance of interruptions from other rumbling of vehicle engines and their chattering passengers. Immersive bush experiences A big drawcard of a luxury South African safari are those added – and sometimes surprise – guest experiences that allow you to truly connect with the wonder and magic of the bush. Just before heading back to camp for dinner, your guide might drive up to a hilltop where a table is laden with gourmet snacks and drinks to be enjoyed at sundown. The morning’s bush stop might be overlooking a watering hole, so you can watch the hippos and crocodiles wake up while you drink your first cup of coffee. A romantic dinner under the stars on your suite’s private deck, a welcome note on arrival and turndown service each night, a bubble bath sprinkled with flower petals – these are some of things that make it luxury. Warm and attentive service One of the highlights of a luxury safari is the professional and personalised service. In a small camp, each guest is an individual that staff get to know and often make friends with. The same guide will look after you throughout your stay, and they will go above and beyond to make your safari your best holiday yet. Guides at smaller camps are highly-trained and personable with plenty of experience working in the bush. You’ll learn and see the world around you through highly skilled eyes. And their local knowledge of the terrain and in-depth understanding of wildlife behaviour means the chance of great sightings is significantly increased. Eco-friendly luxury A luxury safari in South Africa should be underpinned by an eco-friendly ethos and practice. Regulating and coordinating game drives from the properties on the reserve reduces stress on the bush and wildlife. Smaller camps that are raised on stilts above the ground and built to maximise natural airflow and to run off solar-powered electricity are all part of enjoying an unforgettable safari that has minimal disruption to the surrounding environment. A luxury South African safari celebrates the privacy and tranquillity of wilderness camping, while incorporating the creature comforts of modern life and some extra luxurious touches.

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.

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Summer special: Beach and bush safari holiday in KZN

A beach and bush safari holiday in KwaZulu-Natal is the classic combination getaway in South Africa. That’s why we are treating you to a summer special that gives you the best of both worlds for less and just a three-hour drive between them. We have partnered with our friends at Sala Beach House, a gorgeous new seaside escape in Thompson’s Bay, a three-hour drive south-east of Manyoni Private Game Reserve. Book a minimum of two nights at Sala and two nights with us at Rhino Sands, and enjoy a 10% discount on each property’s all-inclusive rates. This special is valid for travel from now until 28 February 2023; block out dates apply from 16 December 2022 to 8 January 2023. South Africans enjoy a double special as our resident rates still apply. (If you already know this is the holiday for you, then you can skip the details below and head over to complete our online enquiry form. Or contact Reservations on or +27 (0) 87 004 4027.) Why we love Sala for a beach and bush safari holiday in KZN Sala Beach House welcomes guests to experience barefoot beachside luxury away from the crowds and noise of the city. The main house perches on the seafront, and features four guest rooms and three suites that each sleep two guests and a private beach villa for a group of six. Here are just some of the reasons to fall in love with Sala like we have: Relax in several elegant spaces, like the dining room, outdoor terrace, and two swimming pools. Watch the sun rise over the Indian Ocean and often spot pods of dolphins gracefully moving through the water. Head down via private access to to a protected tidal pool, swimming beach and secluded coves. Indulge in exquisite dining, sundowner canapés around the firepit and a cocktail of the day. Treat yourself to a healing message and therapeutic treatment at the on-site wellness spa. Enjoy other activities in the area as well, including deep sea fishing, golf, surfing and micro-lighting. What to expect on your luxury safari with us As a boutique hotel on the KwaZulu-Natal coast, Sala is the perfect complement to a bespoke tented safari experience with Rhino Sands. If you haven’t visited Rhino Sands yet, here are some of best parts that you can expect during your safari with us: Connect with nature from a private tented suite raised above a riverbed and surrounded by lush forest. Enjoy amazing Big 5 and wildlife sightings in Manyoni, one of Zululand’s premier game reserves. Experience the bush on guided morning and afternoon game drives, that include morning coffee stops and sundowners with a spectacular view. Dine beneath the stars around the boma fire on culinary delights that match each guest’s preferences. Stay in an eco-friendly safari camp that operates off-grid and with minimal disruption to the surrounding environment. Become part of the Rhino Sands family, as our camp staff and guides make you feel at home, always. For those flying into Durban for your beach and bush safari holiday in KZN, Sala is a 20-minute drive from King Shaka International Airport. If you decide to visit Rhino Sands first, your drive from the airport will be about three-hours. If you are driving from Johannesburg, Manyoni is about six hours away and Sala is about nine hours away. When you are ready to enquire or book your perfect summer getaway with Rhino Sands and Sala Beach House, you can complete our online form or contact Reservations on or +27 (0) 87 004 4027.

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Eco safari camp: Building Rhino Sands ‘green’ from the bottom up

From even the earliest days of our imagining, we were absolutely certain that Rhino Sands would be an eco safari camp. By putting the environment first from the very start, we transformed our dream into a reality that we get to share with like-minded, eco-conscious travellers. Inspired by our careers in conservation, we fell in love with the Zululand bush many years ago and it still amazes us every day. As an eco-friendly safari camp, we do our best to limit our impact on the natural environment and gently encourage our guests to be aware of their consumption of resources. By caring for nature in this way, we hope that our team and our guests get to connect with it more deeply and take this thoughtfulness home with them to implement in their day to day life. Purpose-built eco-friendly safari camp Sustainable design and building principles guided construction of the camp so that it continues today to preserve the riverine forest that surrounds it and the wildlife that thrive in this habitat. Each structure of the camp, from the camp itself to the staff accommodation,  was painstakingly located with minimal impact on the surrounding forest. The forest itself largely dictated the layout you observe with the camp today. In fact, you will see many places throughout the camp where the trees themselves remain intact and the camp and decking has been built around them. Unlike the design of so many safari lodges today, Rhino Sands was designed to complement the natural surroundings rather than dominate them. The camp is tucked into the forest, and in fact when viewed from above at a distance, the only visible structure is the solar panels. Powered by the sun Zululand basks in sunshine for most days of the year, which is not only great for the safari experience but also means that running Rhino Sands using solar energy was an easy choice. The camp is entirely off-grid, all heating elements (which require the most electricity) are run off of natural gas, and we do our best to conserve electricity when and where possible. This significantly reduces our – and by extension your – carbon footprint. Environmentally-friendly safari operations Many of the smaller details around the camp have been sourced specifically because of their eco-friendly nature. Our towels, for example, are made from locally grown cotton, woven in a design that minimizes the amount of water and electricity it takes for us to wash them. The toiletries provided in the tents are organic and biodegradable. In order to reduce singe-use plastic in the camp, each guest gets a stainless steel drinking bottle to use throughout their stay. All the printing we do in camp is done on recycled paper. These are all examples of conscious choices that we make in the day to day running of the camp aimed at minimizing our impact on the environment, and our hope is that sharing these choices with our guests encourages them to start making similar decisions at home as well. From the delicious cup of coffee you have around the campfire before the morning game drive to the wine you enjoy with dinner, we have sourced local and environmentally friendly wherever possible.  You will find that the time of the year is reflected not only when you look out into the bush, but also when you look down at your plate. This is because we create our menus based on local and seasonal fresh produce to reduce our carbon footprint from transporting food. Are you itching to get into the bush? And in an eco-conscious way? Then come and experience it on safari with us. Please contact us or enquire and book using our easy to use online form.

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A South African guest’s guide to birding in Manyoni

Brian Roberts recently got to add some real beauties to his ever-growing bird life-list during his second safari at Rhino Sands. We asked him six questions about his experience birding in Manyoni, tips and tricks for beginner birders and photographers, and of course what have been his favourite sightings while in Manyoni. Please give us a brief background about who you are. I am a born and bred KZN North Coaster. I attended Umhlali Primary School from 1973 to 1979, my wife is also a graduate of Umhlali Primary School but she finished MANY years after me! I work in the corporate property world and spent the 12 years prior to Covid commuting to Johannesburg for three days a week. If there is a positive to come out of the dreadful pandemic, it’s that it introduced the world to virtual meetings, and this has greatly reduced travelling for me and given me so much more time with my Luelle (my wife), Josh and Meg (kids). How did you get interested in birding? On the 23rd of March 2020 we were locked down as a country. I am a bit ADD so there is no way I could just sit around doing nothing. I decided then and there that we live in a fantastic eco-friendly estate, and I was going to make it my mission to see how many bird species I could see from our front veranda. I am colour blind and decided that it would make sense to take photographs of the birds that I saw so that I could identify them post the sighting without having to remember distinguishing features. I had always had a camera but had also always only shot on auto. I did a photography course in lockdown to help me take better photos of the birds I saw. Both my birding and photography hobbies are a direct result of being forced to sit on my veranda for those six months or so. Once we were allowed out, I just continued to add birds to my list but could now walk around the estate and as the rules were relaxed, I could continue adding to my list at wonderful places like Rhino Sands that catered for us locals in the midst of the pandemic. What do you think birding adds to the safari experience? Birding enhances your awareness of the surroundings. There are over 400 bird species in Manyoni; if you add the cheetah, the pangolin and a few of the other beautiful species to the famous Big 5, there are probably 15 to 20 animals that the average safari guest will be looking for. As fantastic as the rangers are, it is often completely out of their control as to whether you see the animals. Birds, on the other hand, are always there. Birding adds an entirely new dimension to the experience. There is ALWAYS something to see. I liken birding to fishing, I am a keen fisherman explain to people fishing is the experience of being outdoors, catching a fish whilst fishing is a bonus. It’s the anticipation of the catch that is so thrilling and appealing. Birding to me is walking around my estate or driving around the reserve, you are constantly aware of your surroundings; be it grassland, sand forest, watering holes, whatever the environment, there is always the possibility of seeing a bird. Birding is what I love, seeing a bird is the bonus. What are the most remarkable birds (or simply your favourite) you’ve seen while staying with us? There are so many remarkable birds at Manyoni so I will make it easier for myself and limit my answer to the remarkable birds we have seen at the Rhino Camp site itself. We have seen pink-throated twinspots; a female narina trogan who came to watch us eat lunch; I watched a grey-headed bushshrike pluck a chameleon off a tree in front of our room; we have seen an orange-breasted bushshrike as well. One of my favourites was a very good sighting of a female black buckooshrike – the black cuckooshrike is one of the few species where (IMHO) the female is so much more attractive than the male. There is an abundance of birdlife around the lodge, it is difficult to make a ‘short’ list of the great birds. What tips would you have for the beginning birder? Birding goes from “there is a bird”, to “there is a yellow bird”, to “there is a village weaver”, to “there is a juvenile male village weaver in non-breeding plumage”. Everyone starts at “there is a bird”. Persevere! Birding is all about practice. Do not be scared to ask silly questions, I am yet to meet a birder that knows everything. Birders crave new information and birders love to share knowledge. Try your hardest to ID a bird from the many books and many apps. It is the awareness of the distinguishing features that help you learn. If you’re always asking someone else for ID help you are not teaching yourself to pick up those small distinguishing features. Any gear or equipment recommendations for the first-time safari goer? Binoculars, a camera (it doesn’t have to be a fancy one), a bird book or app, and of course a place to record your bird list. They say that everyone likes to collect things, a bird list is a collection of birds you have seen. A life list (what birders call their list of birds) and a trip list add that little bit of competitiveness to the hobby, not necessarily to compete with others, simply to compete with yourself. I also find it increases the enthusiasm of the younger generation! Any photography tips for guests on safari? I am a birder first and a photographer second. There is nothing more satisfying than a great shot of a rare bird but the opportunities to get these shots are rare. I have tried to train myself to look first, take an ID shot second,

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