Tag Archives: Ntshondwe Resort

Our 2018 in pictures

Taking a look back at all the wonderful places we stayed at while exploring South Africa’s wild destinations in 2018.

We hope that 2019 will be kind to all our friends here at de Wets Wild, and that we’ll continue to share in each others adventures!

 

High time we went back to Ithala!

This past Women’s Day long weekend afforded us the opportunity to make a long overdue return visit to one of our favourite South African wild places – the Ithala Game Reserve in northern Kwazulu-Natal. We’ve been singing the praises of this little known yet exceptionally scenic reserve for as long as this blog’s been running and if you’d like to see all our posts about Ithala and learn more about it please follow this link.

While the weekend’s weather ranged from cold, wet and blustery to glorious sunshine, that didn’t curtail our explorations in the least. How could it, when the majestic scenery is so rewarding!?

And, when the sun came out, so did the butterflies and various kinds of reptiles!

Ithala has a rich variety of bird species and many of them are easily seen and photographed in Ntshondwe, the reserve’s main camp.

And of course, what would a “game reserve” be without a rich assortment of large animals? Ithala never disappoints in its variety of mammals, and especially the giraffes (Ithala’s emblem) were out in force!

We spent three nights at Ithala, staying in comfort in Ntshondwe’s chalet #20. Ithala’s a relaxed 6 hour drive on good tarred roads from our home in Pretoria.

Ntshondwe Chalet #20, Ithala Game Reserve, August 2018

Pretoria to Ithala
(drawn with Google Maps)

Our 2016 in pictures

Looking back on another year of¬†enjoying¬†South Africa’s beautiful wild places!

Landscape

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge, Landscape, seems the perfect excuse to post this panoramic view of Ntshondwe, the main accommodation facility in Ithala Game Reserve, the subject of our weekly feature.

(You may have to click on the image and then enlarge it further to fully appreciate the resort’s magnificent setting)

Ntshondwe Landscape

 

Back to Ithala

Our regular followers and friends here at de Wets Wild will know that Ithala Game Reserve, in the north of Kwazulu-Natal Province between the towns of Vryheid and Pongola, is one of our favourite wild destinations. This lesser known conservation area has an amazing diversity of fauna and flora, dramatic scenery, great accommodation facilities, lovely picnic sites and a most hospitable staff compliment. Our latest visit in March 2016 came just six months after our previous visit in September 2015, and by now we’ve probably told you all we know about Ithala in earlier posts.

In this post we’ll only be sharing a few photos from our latest visit and let the pictures do most of the talking.

The stately giraffe is Ithala’s emblem…

… and they share the reserve with a multitude of other wildlife

Not all of them are always peaceful…

…And some are downright scary!

While out walking on one of the trails…

…be sure to keep a look out for the smaller fry…

… if you don’t find the grand scenery too distracting!

The comfortable accommodation almost goes to waste as you spend so much time enjoying the wonders of Ithala outdoors!

Pretoria to Ithala (drawn with Google Maps)

Pretoria to Ithala
(drawn with Google Maps)

Our 2015 in pictures

Looking back at the marvelous places we stayed at while exploring South Africa’s wild places in 2015 ūüėÄ

 

> Glen Reenen, Golden Gate Highlands National Park, January 2015

> Forever Resorts Loskop Dam, Loskop Dam Nature Reserve, April 2015

> Glen Reenen, Golden Gate Highlands National Park, April 2015

> Kamberg Nature Reserve, uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park, May 2015

> Kgaswane Mountain Reserve, May 2015

> Cape Vidal, iSimangaliso Wetland Park, June 2015

> Mpila, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, July 2015

> Lower Sabie, Kruger National Park, July 2015

> Sweni Wilderness Trail, Kruger National Park, July 2015

> Thendele, Royal Natal National Park, uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park, August 2015

> Ntshondwe, Ithala Game Reserve, September 2015

> Mopani Rest Camp, Kruger National Park, October 2015

> Pafuri Border Camp, Kruger National Park, October 2015

> Lower Sabie, Olifants and Shingwedzi, Kruger National Park, December 2015 (trip reports to follow soon!)

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We’ve entered the categories for “Best Travel Blog” and “Best Environmental Blog”, and you are allowed to vote for us in both. Clicking on the badge below will bring you to the voting site.

SA Blog Awards Badge

Thank you very much for your support!

The joys of spring at Ithala

We’ve been singing Ithala Game Reserve‘s praises on this blog for a long time and our recent Heritage Day long weekend visit to this South African treasure further cemented our belief that Ithala¬†is one of our country’s prime conservation areas.

Colourful spring flower displays were in evidence all over the reserve, despite not receiving much rainfall yet. With over 900 plant species at Ithala, including some extreme rarities like the pepper-bark tree and Lebombo cycad, Ithala is a botanist’s delight. Unfortunately we don’t know the names of most, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t enjoy the show just the same!

The giraffe is Ithala’s emblem, and we were lucky to enjoy several encounters with these curious animals.

Most large game species were eradicated from the area before the reserve was proclaimed in 1972, and Ithala therefore had to be restocked. Today it is home to all the species that occurred here historically, with the exception of lion, and all-in-all provides sanctuary to 83 mammal species.

Ithala’s a bird-watcher’s paradise, with a list of 318 species recorded in the reserve. While we didn’t tick quite that many species during our visit – most of the summer migrants have not yet arrived – we were very thrilled with our close-up sighting of a pair of blue cranes shortly after arriving. Being South Africa’s national bird, it seemed a particularly special treat for Heritage Day!

Ithala’s not only about the big and obvious birds and animals, and closer inspection will reveal a multitude of insects, arachnids, amphibians and reptiles. We even encountered three of the reserve’s 41 snake species while walking around Ntshondwe Camp; they pose no¬†danger¬†as long as you don’t threaten them and true to form all three moved away very quickly and quietly.

Talking about Ntshondwe, we just have to mention again how beautifully the accommodation units are placed into the natural vegetation, offering privacy and a really intimate nature experience.

INtshondwe Unit 15, Ithala Game Reserve, September 2015

Ntshondwe Unit 15, Ithala Game Reserve, September 2015

Its faunal and floral diversity aside, Ithala¬†is richly blessed with amazingly diverse scenery. The reserve extends over 30,000 hectares, its area ranging in altitude between the 1,450m¬†peak of Ngotshe Mountain to 400m above sea level along the Pongola River. The reserve’s vegetation ranges from grasslands to woodlands to dense riverine forest.

We’re already making plans for our next visit to Ithala in early 2016, and you can probably see why!

Ithala Game Reserve is managed by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, and lies a 500km drive to the South-East of Pretoria.

Pretoria to Ithala (drawn with Google Maps)

Pretoria to Ithala
(drawn with Google Maps)

 

Summer at Ithala

There’s just something so very special about Ithala Game Reserve that causes us to return year after year. Maybe it is the spectacular scenery or the amazingly diverse wildlife. Maybe it’s the friendly, hospitable¬†staff members that makes us feel so welcome. Whatever the reason (and we suppose it has to be the entire package), there was no way we couldn’t include Ithala in the¬†itinerary of our “summer in the bush” December holidays.

Ithala_December2014 (12)

Ithala’s only 197km from Chelmsford Nature Reserve, and we arrived in the morning of the 15th of December under heavily laden skies. In fact, we’d see very little sunshine during our three night stay in comfortable Ntshondwe, Ithala’s award-winning resort.

Ntshondwe, Ithala, December 2014

Ntshondwe, Ithala, December 2014

The reserve¬†has a good network of all-weather gravel roads, and the rain did not interfere with our game-viewing to any large degree, although we weren’t able to enjoy quite as many picnics as we had hoped to.¬†While we didn’t have any sightings of the predators that roam Ithala’s diverse habitats¬†(mostly at night) on this trip, the¬†numerous¬†herds of large herbivores were a sight to behold.

The elephants at Ithala are shy and seldomly seen, so we count ourselves very lucky to have had two sightings of them on this trip. One sighting was of a big herd near Ngubhu Picnic Site, moving along a drainage line some distance away. The second sighting however was a thrilling affair as we happened upon two young bulls right in the road, near gate closing time, around a bend between the Ngulumbeni Loop and camp. One of the bulls hightailed it deep into the bush as soon as we appeared around the corner, but his companion decided to give us a good show for quite a while, not prepared to relinquish his spot on the road to let us pass.

Ithala 16122014

Whenever there was a break in the rain, we’d undertake¬†short walks around Ntshondwe, enjoying the opportunity to get closer to some of Ithala’s smaller and more delicate inhabitants.

Ithala in summer is a bird-watcher’s delight, and even us, relatively novice “twitchers”, managed to seek out and identify a wide variety of the reserve’s feathered denizens, despite the mostly inclement weather.

Before leaving Ithala for uMkhuze Game Reserve, we took a short, final early morning drive towards the gate and Onverwacht Loop, and were rewarded for our effort by a herd of giraffe moving serenely along the horizon, dark clouds and the sun struggling to break through providing a dramatic background to the scene.

Reason enough to return to Ithala? Absolutely! Not that we need an excuse, this place has had us under its spell for so long we won’t be able to stay away.