Review: Rhino River Lodge
Two of our contributors recently experienced a trip to Rhino River Lodge in Zululand.
Read more below:
“Almost 4 hours from Durban, we glide off the N2 and find ourselves in the home to the magnificent Big Five. Rushing to arrive in time – a hornbill swoops past us, we pass a herd of wildebeest, zebra, and impala. And Jason and I are yet to catch our first sunset game drive at Rhino River Lodge.
Rhino River Lodge is home to the glorious Big Five in Manyoni Private Game Reserve and is a relaxed family-orientated style game lodge right in the heart of Zululand. Rewarding us with an incredibly intimate wildlife experience, only to be had in Africa.
We descend from the game viewer, met with fresh towels, a friendly face and shots of sherry. We had just had the privilege of seeing a mother rhino and her inquisitive calf, who had walked up close to our vehicle, investigating a foreign object in her new domain.
We had the pleasure of spending a worthy moment, in awe of the two before trying to escape the blanket of dark clouds that suggested the welcoming of a storm.
Under the African sky
With lanterns illuminating the dining tables encircling a fire pit; here, we managed to enjoy our romantic moment and relish our starters and drinks before the clouds began to spit.
We were immediately relocated to the thatched area where we enjoyed the rest of our hearty-home-cooked South African meal of steak and vegetables, finished off by an Amarula tiramisu.
The night retired with an evening walk to our luxury thatched chalet. Decorated in a modern rustic style, a King sized bed lay, cascaded with a mosquito net canopy.
Sheets of lightning lit up our room while the thunder grumbled in the distance.
Rhino River Lodge offers three types of accommodation to suit their guests’ various needs. Guests can choose from double en-suite luxury rooms, family chalets or one of their two-bedroom private safari homes (the Cottage and the Homestead). Two 4 bed chalets for family groups which offers a kitchen, lounge area, full bathroom and two bedrooms. These chalets are also equipped with a private boma braai area for chilly winter nights where our guests can sit around a warm fire pit in the privacy of their own chalet, or gaze up at the stars on a warm summers evening.
The camp accommodates a maximum of 24 people at any time. Which creates an intimate, warm environment of a communal experience, yet still experiencing privacy. Guests come together during the daily meals served, as well as the game drives that go out each morning and evening, creating a friendly, social and relaxing environment.
We spent our afternoon cooling off in the swimming pool, where we were kept refreshed with drinks of our choice.
We rose at 5am to join the other guests (and a herd of Nyala) for a coffee or hot chocolate before our 5.30am game drive with Game Ranger Josh.
We embarked on our much anticipated 3 hour game drive (because why else wake up at 5am?). Here we found ourselves surrounded by a lioness and her pride of young. I say young, but don’t be fooled the size of these sub-adult lionesses. As they curiously circled the open game viewer vehicle and then proceeded to find a comfortable patch of earth and collapsed to the floor with a painful thud, we could hear their breaths. Or was it ours?
After witnessing 3 of Big 5 we found a spot in the savannah to delight in biscuits and a hot cup of coffee topped up with Africa’s finest… Amarula.
It is clearly evident that Rhino River lodge in the Manyoni Private Game reserve has become one of the premier wildlife-viewing destinations in Kwa-Zulu Natal. Featuring its beautiful varied landscapes from acacia thornveld to open savannah ,to riverine forest it is a haven for flora and fauna.
The lodge and chalets stretch through an area of thick riverine vegetation, with an array of bird and animal life. I found myself greatly amused by the family of warthogs which often frequented, along with impala, the lawn outside our chalet.
The young chasing each other and butting heads, energetically sprinting after each other whilst the mothers grazed kept me and my book (which I did not read) on the terrace entertained.
We enjoyed a taste of Africa’s finest, getting up-close and personal with animals I have never seen in their natural habitat. Well versed in the wild, Game Ranger Josh, keeping us entertained gave us enlightening information about the wildlife we encountered, which has certainly impressed my set of friends with “Fun Fact Friday.”
Sipping on wine and taking in the ambiance of the crackling camp fire, celebratory singing emerged from the kitchen. A cake lit with candles was followed by happy clapping members of the staff. “Oh! It’s somebody’s birthday!” Said Jason, not expecting them to be singing to him.
The lodge had baked a delicious chocolate cake for Jason’s birthday. Soon happy guests, surrounded Jason to wish him, and of course, receive a piece of cake.
Whether it be a family holiday, a romantic getaway, anniversary or birthday, Rhino River Lodge caters for all sorts of celebrations, making it a special occasion.
If you wish to experience a close encounter with Africa’s finest, whilst enjoying a relaxed and intimate lodge, run by friendly and warm stuff, I highly recommend Rhino River Lodge.”
To book your stay:
+27 (0) 83 781 4924