Everyone loves a little bush getaway now and then. Couple that with an up-close-and-personal wild cat experience, a long walk along a pristine beach to visit a bat cave and a sunset cruise with hippos and crocs . . . and you’ve got a holiday worth remembering.
1. Ideal location
With the big five Hluhluwe/iMfolozi Game Reserve and South Africa’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, just a stone’s throw away, Emdoneni Lodge couldn’t be more perfectly positioned for a wilderness and adventure-filled holiday. After just a short two-and-a-half-hour drive from the King Shaka International Airport, visitors can completely immerse themselves in a haven of natural beauty unlike anywhere else in the world.
2. Smiles, song and creature comforts
The rooms are quaint and cosy, the food wholesome and comforting and the staff full of smiles at Emdoneni Lodge. The privately-owned, three-star lodge’s accommodation options include standard or deluxe chalets, African-style rondavels or the private Windfall Cottage. Dinners are either in the restaurant or alongside a bonfire in the beautiful outdoor boma area where you can sip a good glass of red wine as you tuck into a yummy dinner and enjoy being serenaded by the multi-talented kitchen and bar staff. Breakfasts are a treat with all the trimmings, including delectable home-made croissants
3. Close up with the cats
There are few times in one’s life when you can stand right next to two cheetahs as they laze and roll about, gently gnawing on each other’s ears. One of the main drawcards for visitors to the lodge is, of course, the on-site Emdoneni Cat project (now called Zululand Cat Conservation), which has been in operation for more than 25 years. Guests visiting the project are given a guided tour of the facility and invited to get up-close-and-personal with the cheetahs, African wild cats, caracals and servals on the property. No petting is allowed and, since its inception, more than 40 cats have been successfully released back into the wild.
4. Delicious home-grown spoils
Nothing beats delicious, sweet home-grown treats. Emdoneni (and Hluhluwe) are the source of two amazing natural spoils – honey and pineapples. Bee-autiful Honey (all-natural, hand-extracted honey made by busy bees living in the surrounding bush at Emdoneni) and Mama Annanas pineapple products (including a to-die-for spicy pineapple relish, dried pineapples and pineapple juice) are definite musts!
5. Wilderness adventures
The small coastal town of St Lucia, less than an hour’s drive from Emdoneni, is a treasure trove of natural beauty and protected wilderness. It is not uncommon here to see hippos strolling down the street or spot rare and endangered birdlife in the surrounding coastal forest. The town borders the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, home to four of the big five and 220km of protected coastline. A walk along Mission Rocks beach is a must. Clamber over the rugged boulders as you head north along the pristine beach towards the sea caves that are home to thousands of fruit-eating bats. Enjoy lunch at a Cape Vidal picnic spot under the trees before diving in for a swim or snorkel in the warm Indian Ocean. Then what better way to end the day than with a sunset cruise along Lake St Lucia, sipping a G&T as you watch a family of hippo frolicking, half-submerged in the water before they slowly emerge to graze at dusk? Sheer African paradise.
Details: Emdoneni Lodge: 035-562-7000/7001, [email protected], emdonenilodge.com; Heritage Tours & Safaris (for tours and safaris in Hluhluwe, St Lucia and iSimangaliso): 035-590-1555, heritagetoursandsafaris.com; Bee-autiful Honey: FB – bee-autifulhoney and Mamma Annanas: FB – MamaAnnanas