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REVIEW: Karkloof Safari Spa, Midlands

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Imagine a hidden paradise, with only a stone’s throw away from the city, rolling green hills and valleys adorned with waterfalls and lush vegetation. welcome to, Karkloof Safari Spa.

The Durbanite team were recently invited to experience Karkloof Safari Spa, where we got to stay overnight at Karkloof Safari Villas – a 5 star lodge.

Here’s what we had to say about their visit:

After getting lost along the way because we didn’t check the directions properly beforehand, we were finally at Karkloof Safari Spa. From the minute we drove in the main gate, we knew we were in paradise.

We drove up to the entrance where we were greeted by a friendly staff member. We filled in an arrival form and headed back to our car, only to find a game vehicle parked with all of our bags already packed in! My husband and I jumped in, and we were soon off to the main lodge.

Along the short drive to the lodge, I was ecstatic to spot a few animals roaming freely around us. I whipped out my phone to snap a few shots of zebra and warthogs!

We arrived at the main reception at the lodge where we were greeted by staff and taken on a short tour. With a wrap-around exterior deck for lounging that overlooks the breathtaking valley and cosy couches near the fireplace, we knew this would be a favourite spot of ours.

Linked to the lodge, were these wooden walkways which led you to your room for the night. We were escorted to our accommodation and walked in for the first time. I was blown away by how beautiful the place was! We had a luxurious king-sized bed, a connecting lounge, two bathrooms and a massive viewing deck with a breath-taking view.

Next up was the highlight of the day, our full day spa package. Karkloof Safari Spa is one of Africa’s largest and best spas, with 17 treatment rooms, saunas, steam rooms, indoor and outdoor Jacuzzis and Roman baths.

We opted for the Silk Package which is known for using pure organic ingredients that are blended with the healing properties of botanicals. We started off with a yummy continental breakfast before starting our spa experience. After we had eaten, we headed off to start the day. First up was a ceremonial foot bath cleanse and salt scrub followed by a 90 minute herbal thai poultice massage. After that, we had an incredible 75 minute authentic aromatic facial.

I’ve never felt so at peace and relaxed – I loved the different take on the massage, and had the most amazing Thai lady who made every effort to ensure I was comfortable!

We had a short break where we ate lunch and chatted over a delicious smoothie before continuing with the rest of our treatment.

What’s great about the spa is that with any package you choose, you get a light lunch,  a luxury gown, full usage of the hydro area, unlimited smoothies, coffee, and tea. Oh, and let’s not forget the complimentary cake when you’re celebrating a special occasion! (A great idea for birthdays or anniversaries, that’s for sure!)

The Karkloof Spa area includes saunas, steam rooms, an open-air jacuzzi, an indoor roman bath and kneipp pools! Sounds like heaven, right?

Check out their full spa menu here.

Our spa day ended off with a 60 minute lanna hot oil hair and scalp massage, before heading back to shower and get ready for our next adventure: A game drive!

We hopped into a private game drive vehicle and were whisked away on what was truly the best game drive I’ve ever been on. I was surprised at the fact that Karkloof Safari Spa has over 3,000 hectares of terrain. Never would I have expected such a massive place to be situated in the Midlands!

The animals we spotted were, white rhino, giraffe, buffalo, wildebeest, zebra, hippo, eland, nyala, biesbok, warthog, jackal, caracal and bushpig. My husband was so trigger-happy as he snapped photo after photo of everything we passed.

My favourite part of the game drive was when we stopped near a lake where the hippos were. Our game driver got out some snacks and drinks, and we were able to take in the views, with the sounds of the hippos in the background. It was truly an “this is Africa” moment. I’ve never felt so happy!

After the game drive, we had dinner. Not just any dinner though, but a 3-course meal where we were served prawn cocktails, biesbok steak followed by a chocolate fondant.

We headed back to our room with happy hearts and full tummies. We set our alarms for the morning to wake us up in time before our hike to the waterfall.

SUNDAY MORNING
We woke up and got ready for the hike – where we met our game driver at the lodge. He drove us for about 20 mins until we arrived at the spot where we would be hiking from. Now, I’m not much of a hiker and dread any form of exercise, but this hike was absolutely perfect for novice hikers!

We climbed up beautiful wooden walkways for about 25 minutes until we reached the top where a gigantic waterfall was. We took a few moments to take it all in and snapped a few shots before heading back.

As we headed back, our driver stopped on the side of the road, and again, whipped out some snacks for us to enjoy while we had a beautiful view of the valley.

When we arrived back at the lodge, we were escorted to our breakfast table where we were served a yummy meal – all while a few buck made an appearance in the foreground!

We raised our glasses filled with orange juice and saluted Mother Nature -what a beautiful country we live in!

After our breakfast, we decided to take one more trip to the spa to make use of their heated pools – and what a treat that was!

For more information, visit www.karkloofsafarispa.co.za 
Cell: +27 33 569 1321

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Accomodation

REVIEW: Hilton Hotel Umhlanga Arch

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Hilton Garden Inn is the first of its kind in South Africa, situated at the new Umhlanga Arch, welcoming both local and international guests. Durbanite recently experienced first hand what they have to offer.

From the moment you walk in, you experience a relaxed environment, making you feel right at home. The Hilton Garden Inn Umhlanga Arch is a technologically advanced hotel, allowing guests to check in, select and unlock your room, as well as access the guest lift, easily from your mobile phone. The hotel boasts a fitness centre, outdoor swimming pool with a great view of the upcoming developments in the area as well as the stunning sea Durban has to offer, as well as a laundry room and currency exchange for international guests.

The staff at the Hilton Garden Inn Umhlanga Arch are friendly and extremely helpful and have adopted a “Brightheartered Hospitality” approach.

“It was amazing, the staff remember your name, they learn more about why you are visiting and really go out of their way to make your experience a memorable one.” Commented Bianca Hauser, Durbanite contributor.

There are 203 rooms kitted out with coffee and tea brewers, a flat screen HDTV, a hairdryer, iron and ironing board (perfect for out of town guests), along with a mini refrigerator. Hilton Garden Inn Umhlanga Arch ensure to adhere to Covid-19 safety regulations by cleaning rooms before check in as well as after check out. They are currently participating in the Hilton CleanStay Program with Lysol Protection to deliver an even cleaner and safer experience for guests.

“I really felt comfortable during these times, as once staff clean a room, they have the Hilton CleanStay Room Seal that indicates to us that a room has not been accessed since it was cleaned and disinfected.”

The hotel ensures sufficient spacing in the dining hall and hand sanitizers can be found throughout the hotel. Guests are encouraged to use disposable gloves provided when dishing up salad for the meals and the Chefs are responsible for dishing up dinner, limiting exposure.

Together & Co aims to bring people together, “one meal, coffee and conversation at a time”. Those who are not guests at the hotel are also welcome to dine at the restaurant or have a drink at the bar. Hilton Garden Inn Umhlanga Arch also boasts a 24-hour self-service retail space, “The Shop”, which offers snacks, locally sourced food and beverages as well as essential personal items, should guests need anything.

To book your stay, visit their website.

Address:
1 Ncondo Place, Umhlanga Ridge Umhlanga

Durban, 4320, South Africa

+27-031-0070775

 

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REVIEW: Enticing Emdoneni Lodge Escape, Cat Tour & River Cruise!

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If you are looking for a local getaway but not sure where to go, a 2h40 hr drive from Durban central is all it takes to transport you from the hustle and bustle of city life into nature at its best. We want to tell you about a little gem called Emdoneni Lodge in Hluhluwe as well as our experiences of the incredible Cat Tour and River Cruise in St. Lucia – to view cats, crocs and hippo – so be sure to read (or scroll) through to the end for all the information you need to book your next trip!

 

(Editors note: The Emdoneni Lodge is a short 25 min drive to the Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park Memorial Gate entrance. If you are keen to try your luck at spotting the Big 5, this is a great days activity for the whole family!)

Catching some Zzz’s  <<Accommodation>>

Our room at Emdoneni was comfortable and intimate – with air conditioning. The décor was modern and simple with fresh crisp linen – just the way I like it! The en-suite bathroom was spacious and tidy, with a walk-in shower worth mention.  The only thing we missed (for a beat) was a TV but we must admit we did appreciate the opportunity to break away from our day to day life.

Emdoneni Lodge Bedroom and Bathroom

DinDins & Breakie <<Food>>

3 course meals were prepared for us nightly. The starters on both nights were worth writing home about, the tomato and mushroom soups were especially hearty and delicious. Main course was your choice between two proteins and a vegetarian option – the Dorado and Beef Curry get a special mention here. Dessert pleased the palate – tasty and decadent – the perfect way to end a day of good eating and adventure.

Breakfast was offered as buffet with your usual cereals, yogurt, fruits, tea and coffee available. The hot breakfast options prepared to order. Bacon and eggs done to your liking with various options but we would recommend the Emdoneni Tower Omelette if you are undecided!

Editors note: We could write about the food in much more, lengthy detail but instead will leave you with some photos below and allow you to let your eyes do the judging!

Emdoneni Lodge Food

Round About <<Common Areas>>

If you do decide to book at Emdoneni Lodge especially with the family or friends we can assure you the kids will be well entertained from sunrise to sunset; leaving you with time to sit back and relax. The games area has a ton of well, games as well as a pool table and a small jungle gym for the little ones.

We can imagine hours would be spent lazing by or swimming in the pool. The lush green gardens are perfect for a game of catches or hide-and-go-seek.

The comfy lounging areas overlook the gardens are the perfect spot to unwind and sip on an ice cold one from the bar. Come 6pm, it’s time to take a seat under the African stars alongside the bonfire. Open a bottle of red and chat about your days adventures!

Emdoneni Lodge Lounge

Emdoneni Lodge Pool and Bonfire

Emdoneni Lodge Garden Jungle Gym

Self-Love <<The Emdoneni Spa>>

While holidaying at Emdoneni, you will naturally be taking time to unwind. We couldn’t think of a better way than to book yourself (and your partner) for a morning of self-love and pampering. Various treatments are available at the Emdoneni Spa, click here to find out more.

Sadly we didn’t have enough time to indulge but this is definitely on our ‘To Do’ when we visit again.

Emdoneni Rooms from outside and resident cats

Emdoneni rooms from outside and resident cats

Meow <<Zululand Cat Conservation Project>>

This gem on the north coast is a must see for both young and old and is open to general public – not just those staying at Emdoneni Lodge.

We thoroughly enjoyed our experience and can safely say that it was the highlight of our trip!

The aim of this incredible project is to create a wildlife awareness and education centre which focuses on conservation and the sustainability of the cats which they home. The cats have come to the project, orphaned or injured and in need of care and rehabilitation.

We were lucky enough to go on a Cat Tour where we got up close and personal (but not too personal) with these majestic creatures. Along with our informative tour guide we had the opportunity to stand a few (safe) meters away from Caracal, Serval, Cheetah and the less intimidating but cutest, African Wildcat!

If you are a cat lover, you may want to consider their ‘Adopt a Cat’ initiative. It is a fantastic way to support the project either for yourself, or in the name of your nature-loving, cat-loving friends. To read up more, click here.

Zululand Cat Conservation Project

I’m on a Boat! <<Heritage Tours & Safaris>>

Keen to see some Hippo in their natural habitat? We would highly recommend booking a river cruise of the St Lucia Estuary though Heritage Tours & Safari!

Dennis was our tour guide; his knowledge of the Estuary and all its creatures (big and small) was extensive. Unlike some of other cruise operators on the Estuary this boat takes up to 15 people – which I preferred – it is perfect for a group of friends or family or if you just prefer a more intimate, quiet setting for your cruise.

We were lucky enough to spot some incredible bird life on the water’s edge, a one-horned Water Buck, some mean looking crocs soaking rays on the river bank and of course, the Hippo going about their daily Hippo business.

Did you know that the Hippo is the 3rd largest land mammals, after elephants and the white rhino? 

It truly was incredible to be so close to these enormous mammals, but of course observing from a safe distance – I was thankful I was on a boat and not in the water with them!

For more information you can visit their website by clicking here.

Heritage Tours & Safaris

That’s a Wrap <<The End>>

We thoroughly enjoyed our weekend getaway. Our only complaint is that we should have booked in for a 3rd night – there is just so much to see and do nearby that it is impossible to fit everything we wanted to do in.

A special thank you to Nondumiso Myeni for our warm welcome and making us feel right at home.

Slindile Ngema, thank you for your fantastic service and compliments to Chef Sindi Masinga for some delicious, hearty meals.

We cannot wait to come back!

Email info@emdonenilodge.com or whatsapp them on +27(0) 82 7133 686 for more information and visit them on Instagram for latest photos and news.

REVIEW: Enticing Emdoneni Lodge Escape, Cat Tour & River Cruise!
Location
9.7
Service
9.6
Food
9
Ambiance
9.1
Value
8.9
9.3
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Accomodation

REVIEW: Lidiko Lodge, St Lucia

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9.9

Lidiko Lodge is a 4 STAR lodge situated in St Lucia, surrounded by the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park (“iSimangaliso Wetland Park”), an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

With 16 garden lodges available, Lidiko Lodge is the ultimate getaway for families and couples alike.

An interesting fact about this place is that the main building of the lodge is one of the first buildings that was erected in St Lucia. Oozing an Old World Zululand charm with its thatch built structure. 
The lodge has a reception area, guest lounge, a library as well as a dining deck where we ate breakfast each morning.

Lidiko Lodge is a tropical oasis. I felt as if I was on a remote island, away from the craziness of today’s world. It was absolutely perfect and oh so relaxing.

—————–

“Upon arrival, we were graciously greeted by the owners and shown to our beautiful room for the next two nights.

All the rooms are garden rooms, en-suite, fully air conditioned and spacious with a private patio and entrance. The rooms are fitted with either single or King size base set beds. Each room has a TV, chairs, bar fridge, hair dryer, a safe and complimentary tea & coffee.

In view of the fact that Lidiko Lodge is within 5 minutes’ walking distance of all the restaurants in the village, dinner is only done by prior arrangement. We had a quick dinner in the village before heading off for a much well deserved good night’s sleep.

Feeling refreshed, we headed to the dining deck where our table had been perfectly decorated with flowers from the garden and two divine fruit cups placed for us to enjoy. We ordered our customised hot breakfast while we had the chance to meet Lyzette, one of the friendly owners of Lidiko Lodge.

We made use of the day to visit iSimangaliso Wetland Park, which was only about a 5 minute drive away. A must visit if you’re ever in St Lucia!
Note: Be sure to pack your own drinks/food as there isn’t much available inside the park.

After an incredible day out spotting animals, relaxing on beaches and taking every 4×4 loop in the park, we headed back to Lidiko Lodge. We grabbed some drinks from their fully stocked honesty bar and drove down to Sunset Jetty to watch the sunset. (You could walk this distance as we didn’t realise how close it was to Lidiko!)

Dinner was enjoyed at one of St Lucia’s many restaurants on offer and again, we headed back for another good night’s rest.
Sunday was our last breakfast at the incredible Lidiko Lodge. With heavy hearts, we were sad to be packing up to head back to our home in Durban.

Lidiko Lodge truly felt like our home away from home and we will definitely be back!”


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Lidiko Lodge is currently running a special where you can get 20% off your stay if you book directly with them.

To book your stay:
www.lidikolodge.co.za

REVIEW: Lidiko Lodge, St Lucia
Location
10
Service
9.9
Food
9.8
Ambiance
9.7
Value
10
9.9
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