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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: 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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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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Accomodation

Review: Penwarn Farm Lodge

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Due to its natural beauty, stillness and wide open farm lands, Underberg is an exciting and peaceful place to escape to.
One of our contributors, Bianca recently visited Underberg and stayed at the beautiful, Penwarn Farm Lodge.

Situated 25km from the little town of Underberg, one can find Penwarn Farm Lodge.
Penwarn farm is an up and coming accommodation venue,  ready and waiting to provide guests with a truly unforgettable getaway experience.

The farm lodge is over 3400 hectares and is surrounded by lakes and an exquisite valley where cattle and sheep are raised and maize and potatoes are grown. The farm is also home to Zebra, Hartebeest and Blesbok and a range of birdlife, including Cranes and Wild Geese that can be spotted from the comfort of the lodges.

Penwarn Farm Lodge offers a range of accommodation options that suit couples, friends and families alike. The accommodation, lawns and facilities are beautifully well-kept and provide a feeling of relaxed luxury.

“Every morning we were greeted with beauty and tranquility. We would sit outside and have our coffee and rusks kindly provided to us, and just enjoy the peace. We had no cellphone signal at the cottage we were in, and this was perfect because we got to enjoy each other’s company and switch off from the world. Allowing us to rejuvenate and relax.”

After taking up new ownership, the farm lodge is currently undergoing renovations, and have started with the self-service cottages. “We are in the process of renovating the 7 rooms inside the main lodge. We are however open for functions such as weddings and parties. Our bar “Bull and Ewe” is operational and we have recently updated the reception/function area to a more modern look. Penwarn has always been known for its rustic farm vibe and we have people coming back annually to experience it.” commented Katie, one of the new owners.

There are a range of activities on the farm that can be enjoyed, including hiking on the farm or surrounding areas, pre-booking for horseback riding, canoeing, swimming in the rock pool, river or dams, as well as fishing, and visiting the waterfall where guests can see the Bushman paintings. There are life jackets and canoes made available to guests upon request, free of charge, at reception.

Penwarn Farm Lodge are also looking into developing a beautiful mountain bike trail, but in the meantime, guests are welcome to bring bikes along to try out on the many farm roads through Penwarn Farm and onto Highlands farm.

There are five main self-service lodges on the farm, each with a fully fitted kitchen and utensils that would be necessary during your stay. Each cottage has been kitted with emergency lights in the case of loadshedding and braai facilities are provided, with charcoal/wood and firelighters.

Bianca added; “Penwarn Farm has so much potential and we expect to see it flourish in time to come. I love coming to Underberg because it is beautiful and peaceful, but I have not felt so relaxed and re-energized as I did at Penwarn Farm. From laying on the grass looking at the stars, to exploring the river while canoeing, this was an amazing place to switch off at.”

To all future and potential guests of Penwarn Farm Lodge, Katie has the following message:

“If you are looking for an outdoor family or couples getaway then Penwarn is a perfect spot. We have stunning cottages which are isolated and private for you to enjoy. We encourage families to bring along their bikes and a healthy attitude and enjoy the beauty around them. We like to think that the people that come here can disconnect from life and go home feeling refreshed. We have so many outdoor activities for you to enjoy and stunning views for the perfect sundowners to end off your day. Cottages have been renovated to a more modern yet rustic interior and we have kitted out our cottages with everything you need, a home away from home. We also add that special touch when you arrive and are on call if you need any information or help.”

To book your next stay:
www.penwarn.com
072 109 0283

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