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Affordable Family Vaycay: Your Gooderson Adventure Awaits

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We all know money is tight and holidays aren’t something many of us can splurge on but Gooderson Leisure – operating since 1957 – is run on the ethos of good value, good fun. Our recent trip to the Gooderson Bushlands Game Lodge and the Gooderson DumaZulu Lodge in Hluhluwe was just that.

Both lodges are nestled in the heart of Zululand and are a 20 minute drive from the Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserve – home to the Big 5! On our game drive, we were treated to a magnificent elephant sighting as they treated themselves to a mud-bath.

Gooderson Bushlands Game Drive

The Gooderson Bushlands Game Lodge

Overall, this lodge offers guests’ cosy outdoor, rustic vibes with sandy roads and wooden walkways weaving through thick bush and tall trees. The accommodation offered varies to your travelling need. Book yourself into one of the newly renovated double rooms with en-suite bathrooms or a twin room on a dinner, bed and breakfast basis. We like this, because when on holiday mom needs a night(s) off too!

We stayed in a self-catering two-bedroom chalet. It was clean, cosy and had everything it should for a comfortable stay in the heart of the bush (including aircon). These chalets were set a little further away from the reception and restaurant area which gave us more privacy as well as prestinely manicured gardens, a swimming pool and jungle gym for the kids to play.

Gooderson Bushlands Chalet Accommodation

Gooderson Bushlands Chalet Accommodation

After a day of game drives and adventuring, it’s time to wind down before dinner and Gooderson Bushlands seems to have been built for the ‘perfect sundowner’. The undercover viewing deck overlooking the watering hole is the perfect spot to sit back, relax and catch a sighting of some Zebra or Giraffe. The boma offers guests the opportunity to soak up the last bit of the day under the stars next to a roaring fire.

The restaurant opens onto a wooden deck overlooking a second swimming pool which is surrounded by lush greens. Meals are served buffet style and were found to be fresh and delicious. Naturally I had to try a bit of everything – the roast potatoes in particular deserve a tasty mention!

And on a special night, if you are lucky enough you may have the opportunity to spot the resident family of bush baby. On occasion they pop round for a bite to eat. Don’t get too close though, they are quite private and shy little creatures.

Gooderson Bushlands

Gooderson DumaZulu Lodge

The Gooderson DumaZulu Lodge is a 5-10 minute drive from Gooderson Bushlands. It sports a newly built Wozani Restaurant, Jabula Bar and entertainment area with great flow and an impressive boma.

Like the Gooderson Bushlands, meals are served buffet style. Again, the kitchen did not disappoint us. The food was tasty, hearty and filling! The Lodge is also home to the popular Traditional Zulu Village, Reptile Park and curio shop which along with the restaurant are open to the public daily.

Gooderson DumaZulu

Gooderson DumaZulu

Gooderson DumaZulu Wozani Restaurant, Jabula Bar and entertainment area

Before we go any further, let’s take a moment to talk about the accommodation. It really is an experience in itself.

31 unique and gorgeously designed rounded ethnic huts surround the crystal blue swimming pool, perfect for cooling off on a hot Zululand day. Each hut is designed to reflect the different tribes of Southern Africa – Zulu, Swazi, North Sotho, Xhosa, Venda, Tsonga and Ndebele. The inside is cosy, with rustic warm finishes to the bedroom. En-suite bathroom and kitchenette for the bigger units. Each room comes with the usual comforts including aircon!

Gooderson DumaZulu Accommodation

Gooderson DumaZulu Accommodation

The Traditional Zulu Village

The Traditional Zulu Village runs tours 3 times a day, for prices click here. As you step inside the village, visitors (both young and old) are transported back in time and treated to an exhilarating, entertaining and energetic song and dance performance. You are also shown how the locals made spears, shields, baskets and clay pots back in the day. And if you are daring enough, you can taste their traditional beer called Umqombothi.

The Gooderson Reptile and Bird Park

While you are in the area, you should also pop into the Gooderson Reptile and Bird Park. It is open daily from 8am to 4.30pm, for prices click here.

The highlight for me was the reptile park which houses various exotic and indigenous snakes.  We were lucky enough to handle two of the snakes which was both an exciting and harrowing experience for some in our group.

Gooderson DumaZulu Reptile

Gooderson DumaZulu Reptile

We would like to thank Gooderson Leisure for taking us on an incredible adventure. Teaching us about nature, tradition and especially for the good food!

A special thanks to CK Travel and Tour who chauffeured us to and from the Lodges in a comfortable, air-conditioned bus. If you are looking for reliable transport for your next school / church / corporate / conference / tour, hit them up.

If you enjoyed this review, check out our recent review of the Gooderson Natal Spa Hot Springs & Leisure Resort.

 

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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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