I went on a two day tour with Zulu Safaris. Day One started with an early pickup by Sotiri who took me on an ever-changing drive through rural Zululand to St Lucia, a look around the markets and then a relaxing boat ride to see loads of hippos in the estuary.
From there it was on to Hluhluwe. Even though it was baking hot and we were expecting most animals to be resting in the shade, out of sight, we saw loads from the start. Elephant, rhinos, giraffes, zebras. Every time we arrived somewhere, Sotiri was greeted like an old friend by staff and rangers. He's obviously well known and respected in the industry.
Accommodation was in a permanent tent the size of a cottage, with monkeys, impala, warthogs and nyala wandering through camp.
We did a sunset guided tour in an open vehicle with a terrific local guide and went spotlighting (more elephants and rhinos), then shared stories over a tipple on the deck with a fire crackling while a friendly bush pig paid a visit.
The beds in my tent were super comfortable with crisp fresh linen and fluffy towels. We had an early breakfast and were off through the game reserve again not long after dawn. We spotted plenty more of Africa's finest and had a memorable encounter with a cranky old water buffalo and his mate, who planted themselves in the middle of the road with a sheer drop on one side. It was a good waiting game.
Sotiri knew his stuff, whether it was the history of the area on the drive, politics, culture, the structure of Zulu houses, details and background about all the animals. Great company and good fun.
We finished up with a visit to the Cheetah rehabilitation project where we were warmly greeted and given a personal tour to meet the cats.
I also did the Day Tour to Durban with Sotiri a couple of days prior and it was great with the right mix of history (Ghandi's house, the Apartheid Museum), sightseeing (beaches), shopping (markets) etc. The golf cart ride around Botannic Gardens was my favourite part of the day.
And most importantly.... Sotiri knows where to find the good coffee. :) :)