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Zulu Nyala Heritage Safari Lodge
Ranked #1 of 7 Hotels in Hluhluwe
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 17 September 2016

I bought this 6 night package from a silent auction like most others, and I am SO glad that I did. This was a dream trip for my husband and me (we are in our early thirties), and the most memorable part of our 2 weeks in South Africa for me was our time at Zulu Nyala on safari. What a beautiful, peaceful, untouched portion of the country. Because I wanted to stay in all 3 properties at Zulu Nyala while there, we spent four nights in the tented camps and our last night at the Heritage Safari Lodge (first night at Game Lodge...see that review under its name). We are adventurous and loved the tented camps (such an authentic, uniquely-safari experience), but I will say that they are not for everyone. They are well appointed, spacious, with large bathrooms (separate shower and large tub) and are very clean. The downsides were 1) that ours did not have AC, so it got warm at times and 2) that on the last night it was very, very windy outside, which made the canvas roof and side walls slam pretty loudly against the tent, causing loud noises throughout the night. Because this was only during the last night, we didn't mind, but I would recommend ear plugs in case you need them. That would have solved the problem completely...again, we are so glad we chose the tents because we wanted to feel a true safari experience. The heritage lodge was also great (and actually did have a TV), but I won't take up space talking about it. Jenine/Jeneane was our guide, and she was AMAZING...could not have asked or hoped for a better guide. Request her because you will NOT be sorry. (I may have misspelled her name). She cares so much for her group and for making sure that every single one of us has fun and gets the shots he/she is looking for. She is so knowledgeable and also loves her job, which is evident and refreshing. The off-site excursions offered are not to be missed also! We had a rental car, which I would highly recommend because it allowed us to take the excursions on our own (not through Zulu), which saved us LOTS of money, since the price of admission at these places is much less than what Zulu prices the trips at. The drive from Durban airport is VERY easy...one highway, straight shot 3 hours north. We are from the US, but getting used to left-side driving was a breeze (we were nervous about that going in). Feel free to message me about specific excursions. The only one we did through Zulu was the Mbonise Village and School visit (can't be done w/o Zulu), and I am SO glad we did!!!! You must do this. Lastly, the food - I don't see why some people I these reviews complain (though some people will complain about anything). It is buffet-style, but it is great! You are on a safari, not staying at a culinary establishment. Food should be great, but not the main focus. Still, we always found it varied, fresh, and we loved that there were always authentic South African options on offer. Feel free to contact me with questions, but if, like me, you've "won" this at silent auction b/c it's always been a bucket list destination but you didn't really do any research on this place in particular prior to bidding and are now nervous, don't be! That was exactly how we felt, and we are SOOOO glad that we had this opportunity. I'll be glad to share our itinerary, as we spent 2 weeks in South Africa total, drove around the country lots, and visited many areas w/in the country. It's a beautiful place! Oh, and 1) take a good camera - the photo ops (both during safari and otherwise) are INCREDIBLE and 2) make sure to take enough Rand to be able to tip your guide generously for a job well done! You will no doubt see that he/she deserves!

Room Tip: We had tent #7, and it's one of the older, smaller ones. Some are larger and more modern with a...
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  • Stayed: September 2016, travelled as a couple
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23  Thank Kristi W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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55 - 59 of 423 reviews

Reviewed 1 August 2016

I stayed at Zulu Nyala with my 17 year old son in July 2016. There is not much I can say that already hasn't been covered in the other reviews. We had a wonderful time and I would definitely recommend this as an introduction to African safari. We spent 3 nights at the Heritage Safari Lodge in the tented camp, and 3 nights at the Game Lodge. Although the Game Lodge seems a bit more "luxurious", we preferred the staff, ambiance (and food), at the Heritage. We rented a car in Durban and drove the 2-3 hours to Zulu Nyala. Once you get the hang of driving on the left side of the road, it's really not very difficult. Most of the drive is on highway and with the help pf GPS is very easy. It was nice to have the flexibility of our own transportation, although we did do some of the day excursions with the rest of the group. Our guide for the week was Christiaan. Chris was very knowledgeable, kind and friendly. He went out of his way to try to enable us to see as much as possible. As previously reviewed in winter, the drives are quite cold in the early mornings-- do bring a hat and gloves and wear layers. As previously reviewed, this is a very small (in comparison) game reserve. The advantage to this is that the guides are very familiar with the animals' habits, and thus can get you quite up close and personal with a number of the animals. This makes for excellent photo ops. There are countless types of safaris, and the possibilities are almost endless. I would highly recommend this experience as an introduction to southern African wildlife. It is the perfect way to begin learning about this incredibly vast continent and it's enormous quantity of species.

  • Stayed: July 2016, travelled with family
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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3  Thank Nathalie B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 July 2016

After reading some other reviews, I was apprehensive about our stay. The worry was for nothing as it turned out to be a very nice facility. We ended up staying at the Game Lodge as well. Both are very nice in their own way. Heritage is more spread out and zebra graze right by the tents. At both locations we had Nyala and warthogs right by our rooms. The room and food were good. The service was excellent. There is an outdoor lounging area at Heritage that was very pleasant for a meal or drink. Our guides' name was Peace and he was superb! He was an excellent driver and tracker, we saw so many amazing animals. Do yourself a favor and get to know the people, they are so lovely! We booked a sidetrip to Hluluwe Umfolozi and I would HIGHLY recommend going there. We tried to go to Phindi, but they were already full on the first day. We took Zulu Nyalas' shuttle and booked excursions through them. I had thought about trying to rent a car, but so glad I spent the money and had a worry free and SAFE vacation. Aside from the safety factor of driving yourself, if you do some excursions on your own you won't see anywhere near what you could with a tracker!

  • Stayed: August 2015, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Cleanliness
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5  Thank Kathy R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 13 July 2016 via mobile

I visited Zulu Nyala in July 2016 and we had the time of our lives! The accommodations were better than we had expected. Nice clean room and huge bathroom with a large shower and an old style tub and two separate sinks.

The game reserve itself is very nice, but small and after a few days it gets old. That being said, there are many excursions that can be booked at the hotel at reasonable cost. We did the cheetah outing where you get to pet cheetah and play with cubs, the elephant outing where you get to feed elephants, and the larger reserve next door (Phinda) that has a greater diversity of animals, including lions.

The best part of Zulu Nyala is the staff. Everyone is very welcoming and friendly. The safari guides are knowledgable, funny and ensure you have a wonderful experience.

All of our meals were included in our package, which I believe is their standard practice. I have to admit I'm very parochial in my tastes, so a lot of the food was not attractive to me. That being said, there was always something available that I liked, and some of the food was amazing. The beer and wine list was very good, and they have the usual variety of spirits.

If you are looking for a Four Seasons or Ritz-Carlton experience, Zulu Nyala is not for you. That being said, I would not hesitate to recommend this trip to a friend and I will be returning. Budget maybe an extra $1000 for drinks the available excursions while you are there and you'll love it!

Stayed: July 2016, travelled with family
6  Thank Dan S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 July 2016 via mobile

There are two locations about 8 km apart. The first one is the Game Lodge, which is the older of the two and sits up overlooking the reserve. The second area is the Heritage Lodge, which is at the bottom, newer, and seems to have more to do (two swimming pools, near to the Zulu Cultural Village, outdoor eating area, more varied accommodations such as tents). We stayed at the Heritage, though visited the Game Lodge for lunch and a diamond viewing. Security is very tight and the lodges are both very secure and safe. There is a high awareness of security because of rhino poaching.

First of all, most of the guests won this trip through an auction, as we did. It is a great value (we paid $1500 for a couple for 6 nights). Airfare is not included, but all meals are included. Alcohol is extra, but very reasonably priced (about 145R per bottle of wine, which is about $10 at a 14.5 exchange rate). If you do win this through an auction and want to invite other guests, call Zulu Nyala directly for the best rate - do not try to go through the travel agent who will sponsor the auction or you will be up charged dramatically.

Fly into Durban or Richard's Bay. We stayed at Umhlanga for a few days before and after, near the beach. I strongly recommend renting a car to save big on excursions. You will get bored on the reserve and definitely want to venture out. Without a car, expect to spend more than $200 per person per day for organized, group excursions. The car rental was about $300 for the week. However, it's left side driving and a little chaotic on the main highway to the reserve (drivers passing, speeding, livestock and pedestrians wandering around the side of the highway). Be sure to get a GPS.

The accommodations are quite nice. We stayed in Room 22, which is "Mr. Shaw's" room (Trevor Shaw, jewelry guy, is the owner of Zulu Nyala). It was spacious, beautiful, and very comfortable with a giant TV, which is apparently unique to that room. Three buffet style meals are provided per day, and unfortunately, this is the low point. There were a few decent dishes and a pretty large selection. I wouldn't say it is terrible, but it is not great. Zulu Nyala would do well to open a reservations-based specialty restaurant to complement the buffet choices. There are no local restaurants in the area that we could find. We ventured to the Hluhluwe Protea Hotel (Marriott property) for some drinks and a change of scenery, but couldn't find anything else.

The Zulu Nyala staff are wonderful. They are very friendly, go out of their way to accommodate, and seem genuinely kind and interested in the guests. Wifi is slow, and available only in the restaurant/bar areas. While we were there, though, they were building a pavilion/lounge for Wifi users, so there may be some plan to increase the speed and access. Also, tipping is encouraged and expected, but they weren't pushy about it in our experience. We did do the diamond and jewelry viewing with Veena Joory, who was fabulous. We didn't feel pressured and got to privately view a beautiful selection of diamonds, other stones, and jewelry designs from Shaw's collection.

For activities, you will go out on two 2-hour game drives per day with an assigned ranger and the same group of 6-8 people (early morning around 6am and then at about 3pm in winter). Keep in mind that if you go during the regional winter months, it gets quite cold in the mornings and evenings (50s F at night and 70s F during the day) and the trucks are open air. Our ranger, Philamond, was great. He is very knowledgeable about the animals, informative, very punctual, and patient. You will see elephants, black and white rhinos, tons of nyala, warthogs, buffalo, giraffe, zebras, monkeys, hippos, and the cheetah.

There are no lions at Zulu Nyala, so you'll definitely want to do a trip to nearby Phinda to see the lions. Phinda was a pricey game drive, but well worth it as we got to see lion cubs, as well as a pride feeding on a hippo carcass. The Cheetah Rehab Center at Emdoneni Lodge is a nice side trip if you want to pet cheetahs. It is a breed and release facility, but the cheetahs you can pet are the few that will spend their whole lives there in captivity.... Not a pleasant thought, but they seem to be well loved and taken care of.

Another activity worth doing is going on a day trip to Saint Lucia, which has an expansive, beautiful, unspoiled beach. There are hippo viewing and whale watching cruises, which we didn't do, but many people highly recommend. There are some nice restaurants in town to try, such as Braza and Ocean Basket.

For trinket shopping, near to the reserve is the Ilala Weavers, which is a nice visit with reasonable prices. The best value and super large selection of crafts is at Zamampilo, which is about 15 km from the reserve. Local crafts are weaving, wood carving, and bracelet/necklace beading. This is where we found the best selection and prices.

Overall, this was a great value, and a perfect first safari experience. Would highly recommend!

Stayed: July 2016, travelled as a couple
13  Thank MPuzziferro
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Zulu Nyala Heritage Safari Lodge

Address: 45 Bree Street Cradock 1969 | PO Box 247, Hluhluwe 3960, South Africa
Region: South Africa > KwaZulu-Natal > Zululand > Hluhluwe
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 7 Hotels in Hluhluwe
Price Range: R3 910 - R4 112 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Zulu Nyala Heritage Safari Lodge 4*
Number of rooms: 57
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

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