A self-drive tour that takes in some of the best highlights South Africa has to offer: the famous Kruger National Park; the forests and waterways of Isimangaliso (Greater St Lucia) Wetlands World Heritage Site; pristine, untouched beaches; absorbing the Zulu culture and impressive history of the KwaZulu-Natal battlefields. This trip can also be shortened to 9 days by excluding the battlefields. We recommend doing this on a self-drive basis but transfers can be arranged.
- 3 Nights exploring Kruger National Park
- 1 Night in eSwatini (Swaziland)
- 2 Nights at Kosi Forest Lodge
- 2 Nights at Thonga Beach Lodge
- 2 Nights at Isibindi Zulu Lodge
- Excellent game viewing and birdwatching in a variety of biomes
- Sundowners and night drives within Kruger
- Loggerhead turtle walks and drives at night (seasonal)
- Guided snorkelling and scuba diving in pristine, sub-tropical waters
- Ocean boats for dolphin and whale watching (seasonal and optional extra)
- Exploring the waterways of Kosi Lakes by canoe
- Anglo-Zulu War Battlefields Tours
- Zulu Homestead and cultural village tours
- Self-drive between destinations is recommended
- Guided transfers can be arranged at additional cost
This 11 Day Kruger and Beach Tour is a classic bush, beach and battlefields safari and is recommended as a self-drive tour. The roads are good and it is easy to self-drive between destinations. Directions will be provided. If you don't wish to drive yourself, road transfers can also be arranged but this will add significantly to the cost of this tour. You can start this tour in Nelspruit or Skukuza, or even in Johannesburg.
Day 1 – Day 3: Rhino Post, Kruger National Park
Arrive early afternoon at Rhino Post Safari Lodge and relax before you enjoy a delicious high tea, after which you’ll depart on your first game drive, exploring this 12,000-hectare private concession inside the Kruger National Park. Rhino Post is not far from Skukuza Rest Camp and it shares a boundary with Mala Mala in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve. There are no fences and game can move freely within this game rich, diverse area.
Rhino Post is on the banks of a dry riverbed and is made from natural local materials like stone, wood, thatch and canvas. The units are en-suite with a romantic outdoor shower. Raised walkways linking the units to the main lodge and animals often move about freely underneath.
Situated on a private concession, Rhino Post game drives can extend into the evenings, stopping for sundowners along the way.
You’ll spend your days up early for coffee/tea and muffins before heading out on an early game drive. Then back to the lodge for a hearty brunch and some leisure time - swim, watch the game come down to the waterhole, read some books or enjoy a siesta.
After high tea, you’ll set out for the afternoon/evening game drive, returning to enjoy dinner under the stars and chat about the day’s events.
Day 4: Reilly’s Rock, Swaziland
After breakfast, you’ll leave Rhino Post and drive south through Kruger Park, game driving all the way.
Exiting the park at Malelane, you’ll cross into eSwatini (Swaziland) to Reilly’s Rock, a historic homestead situated on a hill within Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary.
The lodge offers breath-taking views of the valley below and you’re likely to spot herds of wildebeest, impala, zebra and blesbok. It’s a tranquil space with lovely secluded gardens, ideal to rest before embarking on the next leg of your journey.
Day 5 - 6: Kosi Forest Lodge, Isimangaliso Wetland Park
Following an early breakfast, you’ll continue south through Swaziland, re-entering South Africa and passing Jozini Dam to the small town of Manguzi. Here, you’ll leave your vehicle and be met by a representative who will take you to Kosi Forest Lodge in a 4x4 vehicle.
This 16-bed wilderness lodge offers you the unique opportunity to explore the pristine forests and wetland environment by vehicle, on foot, guided canoe or by boat. Birdlife is prolific and you’ll wake to the sounds of their calls.
Armed with the daily weather report, you’ll be able to decide your day’s adventures over a hearty breakfast. One of the many highlights is a forest walk combined with a canoe trip on the lakes, which is best done in the morning and lasts around three hours, taking in some of the beautiful, tranquil surrounds.
Returning to the lodge for a delicious lunch and siesta, you’ll set out later for your afternoon activity, for example, a guided nature walk through the magnificent Raffia Palms -the tallest in the world! If you’re lucky, you might spot the palm-nut vulture and Pel’s fishing owl.
When you get back to the lodge, you’ll have time to freshen up before enjoying a sumptuous dinner either on the main deck or under the night skies. At night, the lodge and its pathways are lit by romantic lanterns (there’s no electricity) which adds to the charm of Kosi.
You might also choose to stay out all day for a longer full day activity. The Kosi Lakes are a series of interconnected lakes which stretch over some 18km. The best way to experience them is by boat. A full-day excursion takes you through its myriad estuarine waterways. Guides will stop to explain the traditional fishing traps and cultures of the local Tsonga community. You’ll enjoy a picnic lunch on the beach and have time to swim in the warm, azure waters. This full day excursion will cost extra and is not included in the price.
Days 7 - 8: Thonga Beach Lodge, Isimangaliso Wetland Park
After your morning activity, you’ll leave Kosi and be returned to Manguzi.
Driving south for an hour will bring you to the Coastal Forest Reserve and Cashew Factory where you’ll park your car and be met by a Thonga representative, who’ll transfer you to Thonga Beach Lodge, another hour’s drive on a 4x4 track to a remote beach.
Thonga is set in the secluded Mabibi Bay, in the heart of the Isimangaliso (formerly Greater St Lucia) Wetland Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This hideaway lodge is perfect for exploring the unspoiled, undeveloped pristine beaches of Mabibi. There are tranquil swimming bays with sandy beaches and warm, semi-tropical waters; snorkelling reefs; coastal forests; sprawling grasslands and natural bushveld, lakes and river systems.
There’s also superb off-shore scuba diving and you can do both refresher and full diving courses at the lodge (additional charge), as well as hire full scuba equipment. The lodge has its own diving center.
The 12 suites are island-style with en-suite bathrooms and both indoor and outdoor showers. They sit gently on the surrounding coastal dunes with minimal impact on this eco-sensitive area. Some have limited sea views, some have forest views.
You’ll spend the next few days enjoying sundowners and meals served on the shady deck. Dune climbs, beach walks and forest walks, guided snorkelling, seasonal turtle drives and walks, and kayaking trips to Lake Sibaya are all included activity options. Not included but available at extra cost are scuba diving - courses are offered and all levels are catered for, from beginners to experts; ocean boat trips for dolphin and whale watching; Tsonga cultural tours.
Or you can just simply relax and enjoy some of the superb spa treatments on offer. Thonga is place to unwind, and if you find that 2 nights is going to be too short (it only gives you one full day) you can extend your stay here. One popular option is to spend day 9 and 10 at Thonga as well, and leave out Isibindi Zulu Lodge, but this will cost more because the accommodation at Thonga costs more than at Isibindi Zulu Lodge.
Days 9 - 10: Isibindi Zulu Lodge, Battlefields, KwaZulu Natal
After an early breakfast, you’ll return to the collection point to start your journey to iSibindi Zulu Lodge. The trip will take most part of the day, especially if you do a detour via Hluhluwe-iMfolosi National Park.
You should arrive at iSibindi Zulu late afternoon, where you’ll enjoy a traditional welcome and home-cooked meal in the cosy farmhouse before retiring for the day.
The next day, you can choose to enjoy a Battlefields Tour to the Anglo-Zulu sites of Isandlwana & Rorke’s Drift with a local historian or be taken on a Zulu Homestead visit to enjoy an authentic Zulu cultural experience.
Or you can simply relax at the lodge and go for a game walk or drive on the eco-reserve. If the weather is warm, you can take a picnic lunch to enjoy on the banks of the iSibindi River.
There’s abundant plains game (zebra, giraffe, wildebeest, many varieties of buck) on the reserve and morning and evening game drives are offered. As there are no large predators, it’s safe to take a walk through this scenic reserve.
There are only 6 units (12 beds) in this peaceful bushveld retreat. The accommodation is modelled on traditional Zulu beehive huts and the area is rich with local Zulu culture. At night, you’ll enjoy drumming, singing and traditional dancing mixed with storytelling – often a profound experience.
Day 11: Tour ends
Sadly, after a hearty breakfast, it’s time to say farewell and continue on your travels; leaving with memories and new experiences and hopefully, new friendships that you’ll treasure for life. The closest major airport is Durban (3-4 hours by road), but you can also drive back to Johannesburg from here (5 hours by road).
This tour is based on self-drive between the lodges but road transfers may be arranged at an additional cost.
The itinerary is flexible. Please talk to us about your particular preferences and which activities you'd like to include and we'll give you a comprehensive, fully-detailed quotation. There are no hidden extras or unexpected surprises. Our quotations are surprisingly detailed and let you know exactly what's involved.
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|2019 - Estimated price pp sharing||
The above rate is intended as an estimate only. The actual price will depend on your date of travel, number of people in your group, choice of rental car, room type you choose at each lodge, choice of activities included, and so on. Should you prefer guided transfers throughout rather than self-driving, the price will be more.
All rates on our website are provided to give a price estimate only and should not be seen as a firm quote. Likewise, our currency converter will give you a rough idea of the price in another currency, but should not be seen as a firm quote. It is only intended as a guideline, based on the daily interbank exchange rate. Please contact us to receive an accurate, free quote with no obligation.
- Rhino Post Safari Lodge – 3 nights’ accommodation, all meals, teas & coffees, 2 game drives daily
- Reilly’s Rock - 1 night’s accommodation, dinner & breakfast only
- Kosi Forest Lodge -2 nights’ accommodation, all meals, teas & coffees, guided walk in raffia forest, guided canoe trip, Kosi sunset experience.
- Thonga Beach Lodge -2 nights’ accommodation in forest view room, all meals, teas & coffees, use of snorkelling equipment, guided walks, cultural tours, kayaking and sundowners on Lake Sibaya, nightly turtle walks (in season).
- Isibindi Zulu Lodge - 2 nights’ accommodation, all meals, teas & coffees, one game walk or drive daily, Zulu Boma dinner
- 11 Days Car Rental - group C (Toyota Corolla or similar) - daily rate only
- Fuel and tolls for rental car
- Rental car one way fee and contract fee, additional driver fee
- Flights, visas and border crossing costs
- All drinks at lodges
- Any additional activities
- Thonga: spa treatments, scuba diving, Open Ocean experience, dive equipment hire, turtle tracking by vehicle.
- Kosi: full day boat trip, Kosi mouth trip.
- Isibindi: Battlefield Tour, Homestead visit
- Items of a personal nature
- All park fees (will be outlined in your quote)
- Guided road transfers (if you don't wish to drive yourself)
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Thonga Beach Lodge is a luxurious lodge set on the pristine shores of the Maputuland coast in northern KwaZulu-Natal, on South Africa's east coast. Private, exclusive and remote, with only 12 spacious thatched suites, the lodge is metres from the unspoilt wilderness beaches of Mabibi, with easy access to some of the best snorkelling and scuba diving in southern Africa.