Things to do near
*Distances are shown as the crow flies and not necessarily the actual travelling
Phongolo Game Reserve (24.2 km from Jozini)
Stretching from the Lebombo Mountains down across the Phongolopoort Dam, Phongolo Game Reserve has much to offer visitors.
From a conservation perspective, the reserve contains a large number of special ecosystems and habitats with the unique Golela veld providing an important breeding habitat for rare Suni antelope. Other habitats are the species-rich Lobombo Mountain forests and the Themeda grassveld scattered with knobthorn and maroela trees.
Phongolo Game Reserve is home to over 300 bird species and a range of plains game including white rhino, giraffe, blue wildebeest, kudu, impala, nyala, warthog, waterbuck, common and mountain reedbuck and zebra.
The dam has large families of hippos, crocodiles as well as numerous fish species. One of these is the tiger fish, a highly desirable catch at fishing competitions taking place here throughout the year. Facilities offer two boat launch sites, a campsite with cold showers, flush toilets and an adjacent picnic site for day trippers.
Phongolo Game Reserve lies within a malaria area and visitors are advised to take precautions. Swimming is prohibited in the dam because of crocodiles and hippos.
+27 (0) 34 435 1012
Gate Entry Times:
Summer 05:00 – 19:00
Winter 06:00 – 18:00.
Mkhuze Game Reserve (32.8 km from Jozini)
Renowned as a place of great beauty and high contrasts, Mkhuze Game Reserve is also known for its rich birdlife. Situated in northern Zululand, the park forms the north western point of the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Boasting more than 420 recorded bird species, it is a popular spot for birdwatchers.
Two magnificent pans are home to families of hippo, crocodile, pink-backed and white pelicans, as well as numerous waterbirds. The Mkhuze River forms the reserve's northern and eastern borders and supports a lovely stretch of fig forest along its banks. Fish eagles can regularly be seen swooping to catch fish over the pans.
Visitors have the chance of spotting black and white rhino, elephant, giraffe, leopard, buffalo, nyala, blue wildebeest, warthog, impala, kudu and smaller antelope. Look out for rare sightings of cheetah, hyena and tiny suni antelope. There is excellent bird and animal viewing opportunities from three hides. A trip to the Zulu cultural village inside the reserve offers an interesting view of the lifestyle and crafts of the KwaJobe community.
Ndumo Game Reserve (64.1 km from Jozini)
Situated near Tembe Elephant Park on the Mozambique border, Ndumo Game Reserve is celebrated for its magnificent bird life and is home to a staggering 430 bird species.
Not only does Ndumo boast the highest bird count in South Africa, the reserve has a variety of habitats with many beautiful pans fringed by yellow fever trees, vast wetlands, acacia savannah and unique sand forest. The Pongola River flows through it to the confluence with the Usuthu River on the park’s northern boundary.
Birders should keep a keen lookout for Pell's fishing owl, the broadbill, southern banded snake eagle and a variety of tropical East African birds at the southernmost limit of their range. The wetlands are home to an astonishing range of waterbirds including pelicans, black egrets and pygmy geese.
Suni antelope, nyala, bushbuck, impala, red duiker, black and white rhino, hippo and crocodile are regularly spotted. Entomologists find Ndumo particularly exciting with a fascinating array of insects including 66 recorded species of mosquito!
Guided day walks or morning and afternoon drive tours can be arranged at the reception office. Certain areas of the reserve can be explored by visitors in their own vehicles.
Sodwana Bay (68.6 km from Jozini)
Sodwana Bay offers an incredibly long stretch of pristine beach to explore and walk. During December and January, thousands of Gautengers come here for their summer holiday, so keep this in mind if you’re seeking a quiet break.
Scuba diving is very popular, and dive boats launch daily to the outlying coral reefs. There's great horse riding on the beach and in the reserve.
Bird watchers and hikers have the option of a 5 km walking trail through the coastal forests and sand dunes. Summer nights see Loggerhead and Leatherback Turtles coming in to nest on this sandy beach.
Greater St Lucia Wetland Park (68.7 km from Jozini)
False Bay Park is situated along the western shore of False Bay, Lake St Lucia. It lies within the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, South Africa's third-largest protected area, spanning an incredible 280 km stretch of coastline.
Tembe Elephant Park (70.5 km from Jozini)
Situated in an area that was once the ancient ‘Ivory Route' linking Mozambique and Zululand, Tembe Elephant Park is renowned for having the largest elephants in Africa – and the planet!
The park is remote, lying deep in the sand forests and wetlands in northern Tongaland, right on the border between KwaZulu-Natal and Mozambique. You will need a 4WD vehicle to negotiate the sand tacks and only ten vehicles are allowed into the park daily, but it’s definitely worth the effort. This is where you can meet over 220 of these elephants thriving in their ancestral birthplace.
Along with seeing these gentle giants, you can also spot the rest of the Big Five – lion, leopard, black and white rhino and buffalo. There is also the tiniest antelope, the Suni, and a spectacular variety of animals and over 340 bird species. The park consists mainly of closed woodland but offers a great diversity of vegetation, lying within a transition area between tropical and sub-tropical forms.
Mabibi (74.3 km from Jozini)
One of the last pristine and undeveloped wilderness beaches left on the African coastline, Mabibi Beach is a sub-tropical paradise and perfect playground. This magical sandy Maputaland beach is hidden in a sheltered bay surrounded by coastal forest. The crystal clear, warm water offers tranquil swimming, awesome snorkelling on coral reefs and exclusive offshore scuba diving. Situated in the heart of iSimangaliso Wetland Park (formerly Greater St Lucia Wetland Park), a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mabibi is just 25 km north of Sodwana Bay in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
Hluhluwe (77.3 km from Jozini)
Established in 1895, wildlife viewing has always been the prime attraction at Hluhluwe, close range sightings made all the more exciting with viewing hides conveniently overlooking waterholes.
Today the reserve is part of the greater Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park covering 96 000 hectares and containing an immense diversity of animals, birds and plant life.
Home once more to the Big Five, Hluhluwe Game Reserve is also the headquarters of Operation Rhino and is internationally renowned for its white rhino conservation.
Hluhluwe makes up the northern section of the park, characterised by undulating hills of savannah vegetation and woodlands. Along with game-viewing drives, there are two self-guided drive routes which give insight into the management and natural history of the park. Highly recommended are the early morning and late afternoon guided walks.
Hluhluwe (78.8 km from Jozini)
Check out the coolest of Africa's cats Just outside Hluhluwe is the only wild cat rehabilitation facility in Zululand, situated on Emdoneni Lodge and Game Farm, a private game reserve with sand forest vegetation. Emdoneni Cat Rehabilitation Centre offers twice-daily educational tours, with informative talks by an experienced guide and feeding during the afternoon. Orphaned or injured wild cheetah, serval, African wildcats and lynx are rehabilitated for release back into their natural habitat where possible.Funding for the project comes from tour fees or an ‘adoption’ programme which allows visitors to contribute to the centre. These funds go directly to veterinary care, feeding, camp and fence maintenance, as well as workers’ salaries. By implementing a system based on donations, it is hoped to improve each cat’s stay at the centre.The aim of the project is to keep as few cats as possible in captivity. Once their numbers increase, suitable animals are released back into the wild.
Louwsburg (83 km from Jozini)
Offering four of the Big Five, prolific birdlife and spectacular mountain scenery, Ithala Game Reserve is definitely worth a visit. The park is run by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and features self-guided walking and auto trails, picnic sites, braai facilities, a shop and the award-winning Ntshondwe Camp.
Elephant, giraffe, buffalo, white and black rhino can easily be seen in Ithala. Other wildlife to spot includes zebra, mountain reedbuck, blue wildebeest, tsessebe, eland, red hartebeest and smaller antelope. A fantastic way to see the birds, plants and animals is to go on a self-guided walk on any of the routes through the wooded mountainside above Ntshondwe Camp.
Ithala is also renowned as the setting for many historic events, including the reign of Shaka, his successive Zulu kings and early gold mining enterprises. Stone Age spears and axe heads dating back 20 000 years have been found here. There is also evidence of a thriving iron industry dating back a few hundred years with numerous smelting sites situated adjacent to deposits of banded ironstone.
Four By Four Trails
Bivane (85.3 km from Jozini)
Bivane 4x4 Trail is located in the Ithala Game Reserve and the nearest town is Vryheid, 67 km away. The route takes you through the reserve with fantastic views. Be aware that there are no escape tracks on this route and it can be quite treacherous during the rainy seasons.
The Bivane 4x4 Trail is 17 km in length and takes about 5 hours to complete. The trail is graded between 3 and 5 and low range, high clearance vehicles are required. This is a self-drive route. Please call in advance for weather checks and fees.
Four By Four Trails
Louwsburg (85.3 km from Jozini)
Ithala Game Reserve 4x4 Trails is not well-known for 4x4ing but unknown to many, they offer two trails. The Bivane Trail offers more of a challenge and requires a low range vehicle. This trail has easy stream crossings. The Nce Nce Trail is a more scenic route with a bit more emphasis on game viewing. A 4x2 vehicle can be used on this trail. High clearance vehicles are required for both. The trails are 18 km and 34 km and take about 4 to 6 hours to complete. The difficulty grading is from 2 to 4. Please call for further information.
Hluhluwe (88.3 km from Jozini)
If you like wild more than mild wilderness hiking, spend three or four nights backpacking and sleeping under the stars in Big Five territory. Hluhluwe-Imfolozi’s Primitive Trail provides equipment and food but without tents or permanent campsites. Their strict ‘no trace’ ethic means bathing is done in the river. Although walking distances are not tough, this is not for slackers and you will carry your own food and gear. Primitive Trails are open from March to November.
Duration: 3 – 4 days
Kosi Bay (88.4 km from Jozini)
The guided slack packing trail at Kosi Bay offers terrain ranging from beach and mangrove forests, grasslands to mysterious waterways. Evenings are spent in comfort at various lodges so you don’t have to carry heavy packs.
Hiking in this spectacular wild paradise offers the chance of spotting humpback whales, dolphins, hippos, leatherback and loggerhead turtles, tiny Suni antelope; Pel’s fishing owls, palmnut vultures and numerous sub-tropical species of birds.
Hikes are tailored to suit each group and you can choose to walk for two or three days, over distances ranging from 8 km to 15 km a day. Find out more about guided hiking trails and other awesome activities when you make an enquiry at one of the Kosi Bay lodges – Maputaland Horse Safaris & Bush Camp, Amangwane Camp and Kosi Forest Lodge.
Kosi Bay is in a malaria region. If you are planning to travel to iSimangaliso Wetland Park and Kosi Bay please consult your doctor or travel clinic for advice and refer to our article on malaria.