Directly translated, Thula Thula means “peace and tranquillity” in Zulu. This private game reserve certainly lives up to its namesake, offering visitors an unrivalled safari experience in one of KwaZulu-Natal’s oldest game reserves. Thula Thula Private Game Reserve is best known for its famous elephant population, documented by author Lawrence Anthony.
Located in the heart of Zululand, this small malaria-free reserve encompasses 45 square kilometres of dramatic bushveld framed by the Enseleni River. The traverse supports a variety of game such as elephant, rhino, leopard, and buffalo. Famed for its contribution to conservation and rehabilitating injured and orphaned wildlife, Thula Thula is a major drawcard for budding conservationists and fans of Lawrence Anthony.
Thula Thula is an easily accessible reserve and is located two hours from King Shaka International Airport and a 45-minute drive from Richards Bay Airport.
Lawrence Anthony introduced rogue elephants onto his reserve, and there are now dense populations of elephants scattered throughout. Conservation has always been at the heart of Thula Thula, and many simultaneous conservation projects run at once. There is a rhino orphanage on-site that rehabilitates orphaned rhinos.
In addition to the abundant elephant populations, there is a wide variety of other animals. Species include leopard, buffalo, hyena, white rhino, kudu, crocodile, giraffe, nyala, and zebra. There are plenty of smaller mammals in the reserve, as well as a plethora of reptiles and amphibians.
There are over 350 species of bird in the area, including waterfowl, raptors, and passerines. The area hosts a breeding population of white-backed vultures.
Safari season is during the wintertime, which is from May to August. The bushveld thins out during this dry season, making it easier to spot game. KwaZulu-Natal Province is a tropical region, which means long, rainy summers. This summer season is from October to February.
Thula Thula Private Game Reserve offers a varied safari experience, where the focus is on conservation and introducing visitors to the complexity of the wilderness. Daily game drives, one in the morning and one in the evening, are included in lodge stays. Passionate field guides delve into the history of the reserve while out on a drive and educate visitors about the significance of the elephants in the area.
Indulging in boma dining with traditional dancing is an absolute highlight of staying at Thula Thula. It’s a fun and entertaining way of feeling part of the Thula Thula family. Champagne picnics add a romantic touch to the safari experience and include a set-up in a secluded section of the reserve.
Visits to local attractions such as Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park for boat cruises can also be arranged. Horse riding, whale watching, and visits to the historical Battlefields are also of interest to visitors.
There are only two lodges in the reserve, each of which has a stylish atmosphere. One of the camps offers exclusive accommodation with gourmet fare, and the other offers a typical African bush experience.