Spending Christmas and New Years in the bush has always been a firm favourite with locals and international travellers alike…and for good reason! It’s a dream come for those who want to escape the crowds and Christmas madness and just spend time with family and friends, surrounded by nature and wildlife, and having every need looked after by a team of dedicated staff while you spend Christmas in the KZN Wilderness.

For most safari lodges, this is the busiest time of the year, with bookings being snatched up several months in advance. By this time of the year, you would usually be hard-pressed to find an establishment with any space left. However, with all the uncertainty around when local travel bans would be lifted, as well as the restrictions on international travel still in place, there has not been the same booking rush as there usually would be.

However, now that we are able to travel freely within South Africa, it’s not too late to start planning a festive season safari. In fact, after the year we’ve had so far, some quiet time in the wilderness is probably exactly the escape that we all need to shake off the ‘2020 juju’ and welcome in 2021 with a renewed sense of purpose.

KwaZulu-Natal has so much to offer, but perhaps the best feature of this beautiful province, is the wonderful and vast wilderness areas that can be found in the north. Here are a few of the top-rated properties that we can recommend:

Rhino River Lodge:

Situated in the Manyoni Private Game Reserve, 30km north of Hluhluwe-iMfolozi, Rhino River Lodge is a family-friendly safari property offering a variety of accommodation options. Two-daily guided game drives afford guests the opportunity to experience world-class wildlife viewing, with scenic coffee stops and sundowners included every day.

Spend Christmas in the KZN Wilderness
Photo © Claire Birtwhistle/Rhino River Lodge

Enjoy hearty South African cuisine highlighting local ingredients, served under the stars around a campfire. The team at Rhino River Lodge welcomes guests with the same warmth that they would their own family, and the hospitality provided will make you feel like it is a home away from home. If you’re looking for unpretentious luxury and a wholesome family-friendly environment, this is the lodge for you.

Photo © Rhino River Lodge

Rhino Sands Safari Camp:

Rhino Sands is the sister camp to Rhino River Lodge and was opened in October 2017. Also situated in the Manyoni Private Game Reserve, this relatively new camp quickly established itself as one of the best luxury tented camps in the country and has even hosted numerous celebrities. The entire camp is set under canvas upon wooden platforms within the riverine forest and the accommodation consists of four individually appointed tented-suites that boast all the creature comforts of a 5-star resort.

Photo © Darren van Tonder/Rhino Sands Safari Camp

Hosting a maximum of eight guests at a time, the attention to detail and personalized service is unparalleled. Here you can also enjoy two daily guided game drives through the reserve, with all the bells and whistles. This camp comes with a price tag, but if you can afford to splurge a little extra this Christmas, Rhino Sands is the place to choose. It is a dream safari experience that you will cherish for the rest of your life.

Photo © Laura Grier/Rhino Sands Safari Camp

Ghost Mountain Inn:

Ghost Mountain Inn is the ideal option for people who want to spend time away this festive season experiencing the best of KZN but might have a slightly tighter budget to work with. Established in 1962, Ghost Mountain Inn has fine-tuned the experience on offer to perfection and has been dubbed ‘Zululand’s Finest Country Inn’, as well as being voted as one of the top 25 hotels in the country!

Photo © Ghost Mountain Inn

The inn provides numerous different accommodation options to suit the needs and budget of every guest, and there is also a large variety of activities on offer including guided safari drives through nearby game reserves (including Manyoni, Mkuze, and Hluhluwe), scenic drives through the Lebombo Mountains, boat cruises on Lake Jozini, visits to the local community to learn about the culture and traditions, and much more. There is also a spa on the property that provides a range of rejuvenating and relaxing treatments.

Photo © Ghost Mountain Inn

These are just a few of the wonderful options available for those looking to for a getaway this festive season. While there is still space available at many properties, we wouldn’t wait too long before booking as the closer we get to Christmas, the less availability you’ll find. So, go on, start planning your ‘Green Christmas’ today!


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