Thanda Big 5 Safari KZN

An exclusive experience of the African bush and understated luxury

Thanda Big 5 Safari is a proud member of The Leading Hotels of the World, a multiple winner of The World’s Leading Luxury Lodge award, ranked as one of the 20 Top Resorts in South Africa in the 2020 Conde Nast Traveller Awards, and more recently was winner at the 27th World Travel Awards for World’s Leading Luxury Private Villa 2020: Villa iZulu at Thanda Safari, South Africa
and World’s Leading Safari Lodge 2020: Thanda Safari Lodge at Thanda Safari, South Africa.

Thanda Big 5 Safari is a celebrated Big Five private game reserve situated in the soulful wilderness of northern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. It is world-renowned for its exclusive experience of the African bush and understated luxury, matched with its celebration of Zulu culture and passionate conservation of the environment.

This is a world of wilderness and wildlife, matched with a deep commitment to Zulu culture and environmental conservation at Thanda Big 5 Safari. Thanda means ‘Love’ in the language of the Zulu people, and Thanda Safari lives this ethos in the management of its 14 000-hectare reserve, its three unique properties, and its community partnerships. Experience the ultimate safari and game lodge experience with Thanda Safari, which has repeatdly been named the World’s Leading Luxury Lodge.

A luxury private game reserve, Thanda Big 5 Safari has three distinct accommodation options: Thanda Safari Lodge offers 9 exquisite bush suites; Villa iZulu is a completely private and exclusive bush retreat, ideal for celebrities, small groups and families. Thanda Tented Camp has 15 luxury safari tents for an evocative experience of the wild.

Thanda Safari’s ethos is based on people, wildlife and the environment coming together to conserve the region’s wild, natural surroundings and to partner in socio-economic upliftment, job creation, education and skills development in the region.

Guests can drive directly to the reserve or fly to the Phinda Airstrip, the local airport at nearby Richards Bay or to King Shaka International Airport in Durban. Our guides will meet you and drive you to Thanda Safari.



1 MAY – 31 AUGUST 21


11 JAN – 30 APRIL 21

01 SEP – 17 DEC 21

Per person sharing per night  R      4 995,00  R      6 731,00
Single per night  R      6 245,00  R     10 096,00
Per child 2 – 16 years of age sharing with 2 full paying adults  R      2 498,00  R       3 365,00
Exclusive Use (1 – 10 guests)  R   55 000,00  R   68 250,00
Tents (14) – Per person sharing per night  R      2 995,00  R      3 599,00
Single pppn  R      3 745,00  R      5 399,00
Per child 6 – 16 years of age sharing with two full paying adults  R      1 498,00  R      1 800,00
Jabula Tent (1) – Per person sharing per night  R      3 555,00  R      4 413,00
Single per night  R      4 445,00  R      6 619,00
Per child 6 – 16 years of age sharing with two full paying adults  R      1 778,00  R      2 206,00

Proof of residency will be required to be eligible for SADC pricing. Prices subject to change without prior notice. Subject to Availability. Terms & Conditions Apply.


THANDA SAFARI LODGE: Luxury accommodation, two game drives per day with professional guide and tracker, all meals and selected local beverages (soft drinks, house wines, local spirits and beers), bush walks with specialist walking guides, in-room minibar, WiFi and laundry.

VILLA IZULU: Private bush residence including Villa iZulu host, service team, chef, guide, tracker, all meals and selected local beverages, (soft drinks, house wines, local spirits and beers), bush walks with specialist walking guides, WiFi and laundry.

THANDA TENTED CAMP: Tented accommodation, two game drives per day with professional guide and tracker, all meals and selected local beverages (soft drinks, house wines, local spirits and beers), WiFi in public areas.


Spa treatments; Cellar wines, champagnes, all imported spirits and beers; Transfers to/from Thanda Safari; Laundry at Thanda Tented Camp; Gratuities, curios & telephone calls; Guided bush walks with specialist walking guides at Thanda Tented Camp; R 200 Conservation Levy per person per stay; Additional activities (cultural tour; conservation activities; rhino tracking, rhino darting, Zulu blessing)

Please note: Prices are subject to change without prior notice.

Subject to Availability. T&C’s apply.


Thanda Photography weekend


Join Thanda’s Resident Wildlife Photographer, Christian Sperka, as well as the Thanda Wildlife Team, and learn how to take better photographs – all while making a difference. Thanda is home to a number of endangered species including black and white rhino as well as cheetah. Photographs of endangered species taken during the weekend will be collected and analysed, helping to individually identify the various animals and thereby supporting the efforts of the Thanda Wildlife Team.

R2995 per person sharing includes 2 game drives daily, accommodation, all meals, selected local beverages (soft drinks, house wines, spirits & beers)

Thanda Bird Ringing

Join James Rawdon on Saturday and Sunday morning for Thanda’s second Bird Ringing exercise. Each guest will get to spend time with James and the Thanda Wildlife Team during this fascinating and fun activity.

R2995 per person sharing includes 2 game drives daily, accommodation, all meals, selected local beverages (soft drinks, house wines, spirits & beers)



Thanda Big 5 - Thanda Safari Lodge

Step out onto your wooden deck. Take a dip in your heated plunge pool. Enjoy dinner served in your own private boma. Or admire the African sunset from the circular daybed atop your thatched outdoor sala. Thanda Safari Lodge is known for its 9 beautiful bush suites – each self-contained for absolute privacy.

Shaped like a traditional Zulu homestead, the 220m² suites have panoramic views of the surrounding game reserve. Each suite is a tribute to abundance, Africa-style – with a spacious lounge and majestic master bedroom and double-sided fireplace. The bathroom has a vanity, his-and-hers basins, egg-shaped bath, enclosed toilet as well as indoor and outdoor showers. Use your suite as a secret hideaway for relaxation, romance or reflection – or as the base from which you head out to enjoy one of our many magnificent experiences.

Thanda Safari Lodge’s public areas are colourful and drenched in light, with touches of beading, welcoming leather and authentic wood. They include an inviting library overlooking a waterhole that is favoured by elephant and other game, a private business area, a cigar bar and an impressively stocked wine cellar.

There’s also the lounge: our guests’ starting point for the steaming coffee and biscuits and delectable high tea that herald every game drive. Featuring African art, huge windows, fascinating books on African legends, plush sofas and dark wooden accents – brightened by rich hues – our lounge epitomises African hospitality.

Guests of Thanda Safari Lodge and Villa iZulu enjoy exclusive access to the Thanda Spa, which is located in a lush yet hidden corner of the lodge property. It offers a glorious menu of treatments including reflexology; aromatherapy; hydrating; exfoliating and detox body treatments; facials; African massages; hand and feet treatments; hydrotherapy baths; hot and cold Kneipp therapy pools.

Thanda Big 5 Thanda Tented Camp


Within Thanda Tented Camp you will encounter minimal lighting and no artifice, with beautiful nature and jaw-dropping scenery enhanced by flickering firelight from the boma and warm paraffin lanterns to guide your feet along the walkway.

This is the bush as nature intended: open, inviting, unconstrained. So if you’re the kind of traveller who values the genuine over the glorified; reality over richness, this is where you want to be. You will encounter unparalleled closeness to the bush and its sounds; unspoilt views of the night’s millions of stars; and absolute authenticity.

Thanda Tented Camp offers a relaxed and real safari experience. It comprises 14 spacious tents, each with a private sun deck and en-suite canvas bathroom. In addition the 15th tent, the Jabula Tent, is particularly suited to bridal couples, honeymooners, families and those seeking extra beautiful accommodation for special occasions.

To add to the genuine bush atmosphere, the camp is non-electrified. However, it does have limited solar and battery power with a back-up generator to power the tents for a few hours each day. To deter wild animals, there is a partial electrified fence along the perimeter of Thanda Tented Camp.

The camp’s shared areas include a reception area, a curio shop, a recently refurbished Hemingway-style lounge area, a dining area featuring authentic African curios, a large rim-flow pool surrounded by loungers and umbrellas, a new waterhole to entice large and small game, and a new boma – all decorated in rustic natural shades and complemented by the rich, warm hues of the African sunset.

Thanda Tented Camp does not admit children under 8 years old.
Amenities: Personal Bar; In-Room Safe; Sun Deck; Outdoor Shower; Double Vanity; Ceiling Fan

Thanda Villa iZulu

Villa iZulu was voted Africa’s Leading Luxury Villa at the World Travel Awards. This luxurious Afro-chic homestead features five beautiful suites and includes a heated swimming pool, wine cellar, library, games room and a spacious viewing deck overlooking a water hole.

It’s the ultimate safari hideaway for guests needing total privacy or for families, friends and meetings. Villa iZulu has its own helicopter pad and separate accommodation for childminders and VIP security officers. The homestead was designed and created for Thanda Safari’s owners, Christin and Dan Olofsson.

Villa iZulu has 5 suites: two of which are twin suites, three of which are double suites.

Thanda Big 5 Safari Wildlife Experiences

An African safari is a life dream for so many, and Thanda Big 5 Safari makes sure you have an up-close, life-changing safari in our Big Five, South African private game reserve, including spending time with our conservation team. For those who want to experience the bush on foot, we offer exclusive guided walks. And because we are part of our Zulu community, we offer a range of Zulu cultural and community experiences in our neighbouring villages.

A truly African experience goes beyond the five senses. It’s felt. An early morning or late afternoon safari is the best way to absorb the sights, smells and sounds of Africa. Encounter the Big Five (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo): the animals that inspire a long-lasting connection with the continent. And, once you’ve found them, go looking for Africa’s other famous five – the Little Five (elephant shrew, rhino beetle, leopard tortoise, ant lion and buffalo weaver).

Our guides and trackers are experts in the circle of life, and how it spins both slowly and frenetically in the African bush. They will offer you wildlife lessons from their own cultures and knowledge and tell stories and share anecdotes. They will explain, inform, educate and then sit back and let you fall in love with the wild in your own way.

With 14 000 hectares to explore, you’ll see diverse wildlife including cheetah, hyena, warthog and the occasional wild dog, as well as abundant bird and plant life.  What is more, it’s all exclusively yours. Thanda is a private game reserve and our dedicated staff members are the only people you’ll encounter on the roads while you’re here.


All photography services at Thanda Big 5 Safari are provided by Christian Sperka Photography. Christian is the resident wildlife photographer at Thanda Safari. He works as a Specialist Photography and Field Guide and also teaches wildlife photography at the reserve.

Christian teaches according to his “Basic Rules of Wildlife/Motion Photography” under the motto ‘Keep it Simple’. He has travelled the world photographing animals in game reserves of South Africa and Namibia, the jungles of Costa Rica, in Yellowstone National Park in the USA, as well as zoos in Europe and the United States. His work has been featured in wildlife magazines, books and many publications.


Your African safari will reveal the most incredible sightings that you will want to keep alive in your memory. What better way to do this than with your own magnificent photographs. To help you capture your time at Thanda, we offer a complimentary photography lesson to teach you more about the art of catching the perfect wildlife moment. During the lesson, Christian Sperka will teach you how to set up your digital camera or smartphone, introduce you to the basic rules of wildlife photography and the art of motion photography.


Thanda Safari and Christian Sperka Photography now also offer a luxury photography game viewing vehicle, called the Green Mamba 1. A Land Rover Defender was converted into the ultimate wildlife safari vehicle which can take two photographers, with an additional three guests, in ultimate comfort. Some of the speciality features include a Marine sound system for playing bird sounds, a 12.9″ Apple iPad Pro with various nature apps, a Nespresso coffee machine and a Thanda-style bush bar.


After a complimentary 90-minute wildlife photography lesson or professoinal discussion, you head out on a 3-hour evening game drive in a private safari vehicle to put into practice what you have learned during your lesson, or to hone your skills without being rushed. Wildlife photography takes skill and patience and what better way to practice than to go in your own time on your own private vehicle.


Thanda offers you to have your own private bush photo shoot. Whether you are getting married, are on honeymoon or on safari with your friends, we offer you the opportunity to have your very own photo shoot at any of our properties or a variety of exciting locations in the wild. Christian will take professional portraits of you, which will forever remind you of this special time and experience in the African bush. This can be arranged between game drives, but you can also opt to have your photos taken on a private three-hour game drive.


This wonderful offering for birders and non-birders alike allows you to choose between a half-day and a full-day excursion to the nearby Mkhuze Game Reserve, which features some of the most active hides in South Africa, visited by hundreds of animals and a large number of bird species.


Witnessing your kids experiencing and discovering the Big Five and all the other creatures in the bush for the first time is an incredible, once-in-a-lifetime feeling. To add to this, Thanda offers something special just for kids – the Bucks & Bugs Club – where your children have the time of their lives, while you enjoy time out in the bush or relaxing at your lodge, camp or spa.


While you’re staying with us, your kids can join our Junior Rangers Course and spend time with one of our guides, learning the ways of the wild. They’ll learn about game tracking, game spotting, spoor identification as well as bird and plant life. At the end of their stay, they will receive a Junior Ranger Certificate from Thanda Safari.


We strive to be a dream destination for little nature-lovers as well as big ones. Thanda has a special menu just for kids, and we will go out of our way to produce favourite meals and to make the dining experience as exciting for your children as it is for you. Please advise us of any dietary requirements ahead of your visit.

  • Thanda’s nannies are all wonderful mothers themselves. While you are out on a game drive or taking time out, they will take care of your children (all ages) and treat them as part of the Thanda family.
  • Children of all ages are welcome. Children under 2 years stay free of charge. 2–16 pay 50% off when sharing a suite with 2 full paying adults.
  • Two children aged 16 and younger can be accommodated with 2 parents.
  • Cots are available for children up to the age of 2; Children aged 3-16 sleep on individual single beds.
  • 17 year olds and older will be charged standard rates.
  • No children under the age of 3 will be permitted on open game drive vehicles. For children under the age of 3, a ‘Bush Bumble’ in a closed vehicle can be organised between the morning and afternoon game drives. Childminders are available at a nominal extra rate and must be booked on arrival.
  • Children aged 3-6 may participate in game drives if a private game drive vehicle is booked or if there are six guests in the group who will be seated on the same game drive vehicle; 6 years and older children may participate in game drives.
  • No dining in the boma, dining room or on decks for children under 3 years. A private boma experience may be arranged for families travelling with children under the age of 3. Alternatively, room service dinner and a childminder can be arranged.
  • Thanda Safari Lodge is unfenced and wild animals can roam between the suites and main lodge area. Each suite has a private unfenced plunge pool.
  • Villa iZulu is fenced to provide safety from wildlife.


The word Zulu means ‘Heaven’, the Zulu people, amaZulu, are ‘The People of Heaven’, and their home KwaZulu is ‘The Place of Heaven’. At Thanda Safari, where most of our team members are Zulu, we offer you a special introduction to the Zulu people in our community who generously share their living culture, ancient traditions and stories of their founding monarch, the legendary King Shaka Zulu. Experience a traditional Zulu homestead, visit a traditional Zulu healer or Sangoma, and experience spellbinding Zulu singing and war dancing.


The Zulu village is a great circle, made up of a spherical homestead, umuzi, which is a cluster of beehive-shaped huts arranged around a cattle kraal, isibaya. Each homestead is a self-contained economic and legal unit with its own cattle and crops, ruled by the umnumzana or homestead head.

Cattle are an integral part of the spiritual, social and aesthetic lives of the Zulu people, and are named accordingly – after birds, animals, plants, fruit, stones, sand, food or natural phenomena. They are killed for food only with great reluctance.


In Zulu culture, no marriage is considered complete until a child is born. It is believed that a family does not raise a child; an entire village raises it. For this reason, every child grows up with a free life and few restrictions, but begins contributing to the community at an early age.

Today, if you ask a Zulu what it means to be Zulu, they will reply that they have a strong sense of coming from something; of belonging; of understanding their origins. They will express an abiding connection to and respect for their elders and ancestors – nourished by a clear identity, fervent pride and African passion.


King Zwelithini Goodwill kaBhekuzulu is the reigning king of the Zulu nation and provincial head of state of KwaZulu Natal. His Majesty was installed as the eighth monarch of the Zulus in 1971 and is greatly beloved by his people.

As the protector of the Zulu nation, he has revived cultural events and also travelled extensively to promote peace, goodwill, local agriculture and tourism, and is a global ambassador for the continent, the country, Thanda and the Zulu nation.

His Majesty officially opened Thanda Safari in May 2004.


In our two, beautifully appointed, restful Spas at Thanda Safari Lodge and Thanda Tented Camp our therapists offer a wide range of treatments, including a combination of western techniques and ancient Zulu holistic practices – learnt from traditional Zulu women. Our therapists use beautiful, non-allergenic products and are expertly trained. In their care, you’ll relinquish all responsibility for a while, and emerge refreshed, radiant and revitalized.


Situated in a secluded enclave within Thanda Safari Lodge, the spa emerges from a bed of stone and rock, leading out to a relaxation deck and swimming pool. Treatments can be enjoyed in our tranquil therapy rooms or outside in the sala space with beautiful views of the reserve. In-suite treatments can also be booked on request.


For our guests at Thanda Tented Camp, the setting is a sumptuous safari tent with an open-air deck overlooking the Royal Zulu Mountains where Thanda’s wild animals roam. Our therapists use a range of non-allergenic aromatherapy and massage oils, herbs and essences for a sensory experience you will never forget.

Weddings & Honeymoons the Thanda way


Meaning ‘Love’ in isiZulu, Thanda represents the heart and soul of passion; the spirit of togetherness. Imagine Zulu dancers leading you down the aisle; picture yourself exchanging your vows in a sheltered bush location under the ancient marula trees, followed by a safari-style reception in a star-lit boma or breathtaking venue overlooking the African bush. There is no better place than Thanda Safari in which to celebrate romance, marriage and life so consider and trust us for your special day. Our wedding packages are also offered for vow renewals or special celebrations.

Subject to Availability.  T&C’s Apply. E&OE.

See more stunning SA destinations – click on this link:  South Africa South Africa – Africa Memories Travel

Visit our Facebook page for regular specials: