First of all let me start my review by noting that I purchased the Zulu Nyala (ZN) at a silent auction like most of the guests who were at the property. We were a little apprehensive about this trip having never heard of ZN and also never having visited South Africa or even the continent of Africa before. So first let me state that overall we had an excellent experience at both ZN and in Johannesburg where we stayed for 2 nights prior to traveling to ZN,
So that is why I gave our overall experience at ZN and South Africa 5 stars. I read a lot of reviews about other peoples experiences prior to coming. I think it is best to address that negative things I read first and provide a comment about our experience:
- "ZN is too small and gets boring after awhile"- We did not find this to be the case at all. We did almost every game drive that our driver arranged and we saw something new and different every time. We looked forward to every trip because our guide, Erika was very knowledgeable and knew what she was talking about. We also were teamed up with a nice group so we had a lot of fun. We did a few side trips and those were very good. I'll provide some more details later.
- "The food was terrible"- We did not find this to be true at all. First of all the food appears to be very safe, fresh and nutritious. We had no problems at all and never heard one complaint about the food from other guests. ZN has especially great breakfasts with an omelet stations that was outstanding. And you get a great value on all wine, beer and mixed drinks. They had some nice wines priced around $US15. Beers were about $2 a bottle. They also provide each guest with a liter of bottled water everyday which was very nice.
- "Rooms are not that great"- Our room was very nice. We stayed at the Heritage lodge the 7 days, 6 nights we were there and had not problems. The room was plenty large and had a very large bathroom with two sinks and a large shower. The AC worked well and cleaning service was very good.
- "Unfriendly Staff"- Not true at all in case. We found the staff at the Heritage Lodge to be extremely customer service oriented. They tried to do everything they could to make our stay enjoyable. Lloyd and Valentine were at the front most of the time and they couldn't have been more helpful.
I'll share a few things that we did or heard about that made the trip more enjoyable:
-- Get a picked up at airport when you arrive. We flew into Johannesburg and had a driver meet us and drove us straight to the hotel we were staying at in Sandton. We arranged that through the hotel. It cost about $US 40 total. It makes your arrival all that much easier rather than trying to find the train or a taxi. When we left Jo-burg to fly to Richards Bay, we took the train to the airport as we knew how that worked by then. That was about $US 8.00 each.
-- We rented a car in Richards Bay. You have to drive on the left side of the road but did not find it to be a problem. The roads were very good but you will see people and livestock walking right next to the road so be very attentive. Having a car made it much easier to get around and see things near ZN.
-- Side Trips from ZN. We did Phinda which is the large game reserve next to ZN. Our guide arranged that for us and it was outstanding. They have everything there including lions. We did the Elephant interaction tour which again was outstanding. Also, we went to St. Lucia which took a whole day which was OK but not that great. Finally, we drove to Hluhluwe game reserve which is only about 15 miles from ZN. This is the oldest park in South Africa and is a self drive. It was outstanding as we saw a lot of wildlife including two male elephants who were right next to our car.
-- Research, Research, Research-- Read as much as you can on Trip Advisor and other travel cites about ZN. You will find a lot of useful information that will help you plan your trip. Also, I used Skype to call the various places we were visiting to ask questions before hand which helped.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Heritage Safari Lodge was originally built in the 1940’s as a hotel and was a landmark pit-stop for weary travelers between Maputo and Durban. Acquired in 1996, the gracious building was lovingly restored to its original colonial grandeur, enhanced with new accommodation, and tastefully themed to highlight Zululand’s unique cultural heritage.With buffet-style meals in our restaurant, the wide, welcoming veranda and our ‘human watering hole’ - the pub or thatched boma, warm and relaxing atmosphere is conducive to shared good times and conviviality. The sparkling pool is always inviting, and you’re sure to enjoy browsing our beautifully stocked curio shop for a few authentic African mementos. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Zulu Nyala Heritage Safari Hotel Hluhluwe