Most guests to Umkhumbi Lodge in Hluhluwe are travelling on a route between Johannesburg and Durban that includes Kruger National Park and Eswatini (Swaziland). It’s a great route to experience much of what makes South Africa so special; highlights include the Panoramic Route, the world-renowned Kruger National Park for Big 5 safaris, Eswatini for Swazi culture, Hluhluwe and St Lucia in KwaZulu-Natal for great Rhino and Hippo sightings, and the vibrant coastal city of Durban with its Golden Mile of superb beaches and the excellent aquarium: Ushaka Marine World. Whether you are visiting South Africa for the first time, or you are returning for the 4th time because you love it as much as we do, it’s always good to get travel advice from specialists. Read more for information and travel advice if you are planning a tour or holiday to South Africa.
Umkhumbi Lodge is owned by Anton and Emma Roberts, who have been in the travel industry since the turn of the century, running a successful tour operation and helping thousands of people to plan and enjoy their holiday to South Africa and surrounding countries. KwaZulu-Natal has so much to offer to travellers and holiday-makers yet remains relatively unknown as an international destination due to being poorly marketed. As such, it is a hidden gem, and because it is not on the main tourist route prices have remained affordable.
Here we have put together a basic guide to travelling and safaris in the eastern parts of South Africa, including suggestions on where to stay and the best places to visit to get the most of your time.
Suggested tour itinerary:
Most international flights arrive early morning, which gives you time to pick up your hire car and head towards Hazyview for your first night’s stay. Or if you want to rest from your journey, spend the night in Jo’burg. Contact us if you would like some accommodation suggestions. We can book your hire car too.
Hazyview and the Panoramic Route
From Hazyview drive a lazy scenic tour of the Panoramic Route, taking in Blyde River Canyon, Bourke’s Luck Potholes and God’s Window for an enjoyable introduction to South Africa’s beautiful landscapes.
Kruger National Park
South Africa’s premier safari destination, Kruger National Park is renowned for its abundant wildlife. Kruger Park covers an area approximately 2 million hectares and is home to the Big 5 (Elephant, Lion, Leopard, Rhino and Buffalo) as well as most of the iconic African wildlife including giraffes, zebras, wildebeest, hippo, wild dogs and cheetahs. Bird life is prolific. Guests can stay inside or just outside the Park, and can drive on their own or book game drives with a guide and safari vehicle. If it’s your first time on safari, we recommend booking some game drives, as it will leave your hands free to use your binoculars and camera, and your guide can inform you about the animals you see.
We recommend at least 2 days in the game reserve. Accommodation ranges in price and facilities offered. Beware when booking as distances between camps can be deceptively long. You don’t want to find yourself struggling to get to your destination in the dark. Northern camps generally have more availability, but game viewing can be tougher. We can help with travel advice and accommodation bookings if you are unsure where to start.
Eswatini / Swaziland
From Kruger National Park head into Eswatini (used to be named Swaziland). Your car hire company will provide a cross-border letter if you advise them that you will be travelling through Swaziland. It is a totally separate country to South Africa, but the currencies are linked. You can spend Rand in Eswatini but you will receive change in Emalangenis (spend change before you leave Eswatini as you will not be able to use it in South Africa). English is widely spoken.
Stay for a night or two en route to KwaZulu Natal. There are a few nice places to stay, from B&B’s to Swaziland’s national parks. Contact us if you would like suggestions on where to stay, or we can make accommodation reservations for you.
Umkhumbi Lodge is a bush lodge on a small private game reserve, Kuleni Game Park, close to Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park. Comfortable air-conditioned chalets are nestled in the woodland, there is a bar and restaurant and a network of walking trails on site where you can get closer to some of the abundant wildlife (species include giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, warthogs, impala, nyala and the occasional visiting leopard). It’s a really great feeling to get out of the car by this time and walk amongst the animals. See our rooms here.
Umkhumbi Lodge is centrally located in KZN and there is so much to do in the Hluhluwe area. Click here to see what activities are available. Day trips should include a safari in Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park to see any wildlife you may have missed in Kruger National Park. Hluhluwe is the best place to see rhinos. St Lucia makes for a good day trip to see hippos and crocodiles on a lake boat cruise as well as whale watching out at sea during June-November. Sodwana Bay is just an hour away and has a beautiful uncrowded beach with snorkelling and world class scuba diving on offer as well as turtle tours from November to February.
With the recent upgrade of the road to Maputo and the new bridge over Maputo Harbour, Mozambique is now very accessible from KZN and just 2 hours’ drive from Umkhumbi Lodge. Why not add-on to your holiday and make your own 3-countries tour. We can advise on destinations and accommodation ranging from budget to luxury.
Umkhumbi Lodge to Durban is just 3 hours drive on excellent roads. Durban is a vibrant city on the coast of the Indian Ocean. The warm waters of Durban’s Golden Mile beach front promenade makes for great swimming and surfing. Ushaka Marine World is a world class aquarium and has a fun wet ‘n wild for the kids and the young at heart.
Fly out of Durban’s King Shaka International Airport and home or on to your next destination, perhaps Cape Town or Victoria Falls.
Emma and Anton would be happy to help you arrange your holiday to South Africa. Drop us an email if you would like to chat over the options available and together we can create a fantastic tour itinerary for you and a holiday you won’t forget.
Email us on firstname.lastname@example.org