I have recently been asked a question in a popular travel forum. “Why bother to fly into King Shaka International Airport and drive north when you can fly from Johannesburg into Richards Bay instead?” The question related to it being a boring drive with nothing to see. Well apart from the obvious high price of flying and lack of hourly flights I really enjoy the drive north from either Durban or the airport. For a tourist or traveller like me I like to take in all my surroundings. My wife Melanie will tell me off for looking at scenery or a bird hovering when I should be watching the road. Being English it is also a rare treat to drive on a relatively quiet motorway, under the hot sun, surrounded by rolling hills covered in sugarcane.
The time saving from the driving point of view is almost irrelevant. What is important is that you will miss so many places you could have stayed at or at least visited. Places slightly off the beaten track that you would normally just fly passed or even over. When I was invited to stay at Chantilly Resort I had to Google directions and realised instantly this was a place I would have normally just driven passed. I also realised how well placed it was to at least break a journey up when either flying in or out of Durban.
I mentioned to my wife and her cousin Greg, both originally from KwaZulu Natal, over lunch just before our departure to South Africa that I would be staying near to somewhere called Zinkwazi Beach. I expected them both to just smile and nod and carry on eating. However they looked at each other and the conversation flowed. It turns out that the two families had spent several holidays at Zinkwazi. They had sunbathed on the white beach, swam in the warm Indian Ocean surf and water-skied on the lagoon.
So here I was, following in the footsteps of family, and just in-land from Zinkwazi Beach surrounded by sugar cane staying at Chantilly Resort. From the motorway it is an incredibly quiet place and I did not see a car from the slip road to arriving at the resort gates. The tropical green garden, with strelitzias in flower, was a warm welcome into the modern lodge. The main area consists of a bar with lounge and indoor dining room. There is a thatched outdoor dining area surrounded by huge mature trees that I was told the lodge was constructed around.
I sat under the thatch enjoying a cup of tea, and as pointed out at the time to me, a typically English thing to do. A few feet away there was a wedding planning meeting going and at the far end of the garden an Italian style chapel was under construction. The surroundings lend the lodge and its gardens to an ideal wedding venue. In the garden as rain began to fall thousands of flying ants emerged. Firstly it was hadada birds who flew into feed on them. Then it was vervet monkeys who kept me entertained. They ran upright like a toddler who has just learnt to walk, arms thrown up and out to steady themselves. These monkeys though were plucking flying ants from the air and feasting on them.
My room had everything I needed including a small kitchen for those who wish to self cater. There is an outside braai or barbecue plus a fire pit just beyond the sun loungers and deck. I also had a friend who seemed to love my room nearly as much as me. Hugo the lodge cat followed me round the gardens as I explored, then curled up on my bed to sleep.
I ate in the outdoor dining area where chef Alson introduced himself and ran through the options for the night. I decided on medallion fillet steak, which was cooked to perfection, served with pan fried seasonal vegetables, cauliflower cheese and twice fried potato wedges. Alson even had his own secret recipe sauce as an accompaniment to a wonderful evening meal. On the food theme breakfast was also an occasion, again under the watchful eye of chef Alson. He ensured I left feeling satisfied and extremely well fed.
Chantilly Resort is a modern lodge with immaculate rooms and great food. It may be ideally located for a stop over when flying in and out of Durban but it should be considered for a longer stay. It is quiet and ideal for just relaxing and getting away from things. It is also only a short drive to Zinkwazi Beach and the Dolphin Coast.