A comfortable drive from the Midlands into the bush is our family’s ultimate spoil and preferred “breathing space”! During this weekend trip, we stayed at Thanda Tented Camp at Thanda Safari and absolutely loved it! From the moment we arrived, the staff were super attentive and friendly.
The Game Drives
Our weekend started with a quick but very delicious late lunch. We then left for our first game drive of the trip, with reasonably low expectations (as we have done many safaris and, at times, seen almost no animals). We go on the drives for the experience, but we are always hopeful of seeing something cool.
How pleasantly surprised we were as our guide, Peace Nyawo, and our tracker, Sichivolo Myeni, worked really hard at making every drive an experience. I have to admit, Thanda delivered what I can only explain as some of the most unique animal encounters we have ever had on a safari so far.
We sat and watched lions sleep out in the sun, while the younger lions showed their playful side, trying to wake up the older crowd. It was so special to watch real cat family dynamics right in front of us. We also saw very young cheetahs (still fluffy and rather un-coordinated) try their hand at stalking birds while mom kept an eye on them from afar. It was by far the cutest thing we have ever seen in the bush! We got close to elephants multiple times – so close we could see their skin texture and hear the mighty crunch as they ate.
The guide-and-tracker duo was truly amazing. Even on our last day, during the drive back to our car, they stopped twice for us to see rhinos wallowing in the mud and the impressive elephants just one more time. We experienced some incredible sightings and there were many ‘safari firsts’ for us, which is always a bonus!
As always, the midway sunup or sundowner stops were fabulous. We were amazed when we had one unexpected, close-up elephant viewing as we stood, very still and in awe, as he walked right past us while we sipped on Amarula and watched the sun go down.
The Luxury Tents were exactly that. These romantic safari suites are the ultimate in luxury camping. They are super comfy and all your needs are covered and met, with the option of a bath or shower in your tent to add to your preferred experience (the additional outdoor shower was also a big win!).
The Meru-style tents, which feature wooden floors and are decorated with classic Victorian furniture and finishings, are such a wonderful surprise. Each tent has a large bedroom, private sundeck and en-suite bathroom. Two days were not enough to enjoy this area, and I would happily book three nights away to fully relish in the vast patio, with its stunning bush views, having a relaxed coffee.
The Lazy Areas
We spent a lot of time just relaxing, enjoying the fire pit area and singing around the fire at night. Even though the pool was cold (this was a winter trip), we lazed around the rim-flow pool surrounded by sun loungers with cocktails in hand. It was the perfect spot to soak up the warm African sun and go for a quick dip. These areas are made for relaxing between food and game drives!
One word: exceptional. At every sitting, the menu offered was fantastic – so much so that we had trouble deciding what to choose! To avoid food envy, we decided the best course of action was to order a variety of dishes and indulge in food sharing. The restaurant staff were so accommodating and easy-going. The chef came out at every meal to tell us a bit more about what was on his menu, which was such a nice touch and we appreciated getting his input. When asked, “What is good?”, his fabulous response was simply “Everything” (and he was right too!).
Every meal is an occasion and we loved the bush banquet in the boma area. Traditionally dressed Zulu tribesmen performed customary dances, adding to the evening’s festivities. The experience was very special. What is better than a true South African braai, pap and sous with all the bells and whistles enjoyed under the African stars? Perfection.
Thanda Safari, you truly exceeded all our expectations. We will be back for sure. If you’re interested in visiting Thanda Safari, check out their website. SADC rates are available on request.
Words by Lorinda Scott
Photos by Thanda Safari