There’s nothing quite as peaceful as the bush (for me), and sharing it with some of Africa’s most beautiful wildlife is my favourite way to unwind…

Emdoneni Lodge: a truly special place for a magical holiday in the KZN bush

Situated near Hluhluwe on the north coast of KZN, Emdoneni Lodge (& Zululand Cat Conservation) is a two and a half hour drive from Durban. This three-star lodge is an oasis of calm just off the N2 and is home to a wide variety of antelope and bird life, as well as their famous Zululand Cat Conservation formerly known as Cat Conservation Project.

Because there are no predators roaming the property, it’s completely safe to take long walks at Emdoneni, between lounging at the pool or treating yourself to a massage at the spa. St Lucia is about 60kms away and a boat trip to see the hippos with Heritage Tours & Safaris is a must-do during your stay.

But more about Emdoneni…

We stayed in one of the spacious chalets – the decor is modern with a touch of Africa and features air conditioning, a king-size bed and and a walk-in shower in the en-suite bathroom. Tea and coffee making facilities (with plunger) are in every room and the turn down at night includes a locally made treat and a printed traditional Zulu folklore story. Beds can be booked as two singles or a king size and two bedroom family accommodation is available.

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There’s a games room for children (the adults even got to play some table tennis) and a gorgeous lounge with stack doors that open onto the garden, filled with comfortable squashy sofas and lots of magazines – perfect for whiling away the hours on a relaxing afternoon – after all, isn’t that what holidays are for?

Breakfast and dinner are served in the adjoining dining room – and both service and presentation are superb.

During our two-night stay, we feasted on mushroom soup, prawns, lamb curry, yellowtail and steak, while the vegetarian in our party was catered for with veggie lasagna and butternut and feta tagine, served on cous cous and bulgur wheat. Cheesecake and chocolate were on the dessert menu but you have to try the fruit platter served with the MOST delicious Bulgarian yoghurt and honey! The vegetarian Eggs Benedict breakfast option is worth a mention too – a brinjal and tomato stack – topped with a poached egg.

The spa at Emdoneni is a beautiful experience

We were treated to full body massages during our stay – and the therapists at Emdoneni are REALLY good at their jobs. Massive windows overlook the bush, and subtle scents of citrus filled the air as all the knots and tension of a busy year were kneaded from my back, neck, shoulders – and even my hands.

An afternoon drive to St Lucia to see the hippos and crocodiles was on our itinerary for the afternoon. Shoreline Boats & Walking Safaris had a knowledgeable guide who knew where to find wallowing groups of hippos and also pointed out some of the 500+ species of bird life on the estuary during our two hour boat trip on South Africa’s first World Heritage Site.

A tour of Emdoneni’s Cheetah Project was the highlight of my trip

The lodge has a cat sanctuary on the property and educational tours are a must when staying at Emdoneni. The sanctuary’s motto is breed and release and they are doing their part to increase the previously declining cheetah population. (In fact SA is the only country in the world where the cheetah population is increasing.)

Not just for cats who are being rehabilitated or bred to be released into the wild, the sanctuary is also home to those who have been injured or born with birth defects and cannot survive on their own. We were allowed into the enclosures to see caracals, African wild cats, servals, and of course the magnificent cheetah. Moya let us pose for pics near him – close but not too close. Animal petting and cuddling is not allowed at Emdoneni, so we admired him and his mates and siblings from a distance.

Whether you want to relax with a book at the pool, or look for the big five at nearby Phinda or Bayala, spot crocs and hippos or dive at St Lucia, Emdoneni Lodge is perfectly positioned for a bush break in beautiful Zululand.

Book your getaway to the bush here: //www.emdonenilodge.com/

Sasha Wyatt-Minter was a guest at Emdoneni for the purpose of this review.

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