The heart of KZN: a truly authentic wildlife experience

One doesn’t always think of KwaZulu-Natal first when considering an African bushveld escape, but the province is home to some spectacular wilderness experiences that deserve to be explored.

A new one for safari enthusiasts – well, new in the sense that the lodge has been completely renovated and is under new management – is mFulaWozi Wilderness Private Game Reserve within the Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park, just two and a half hours from Durban. And what makes this Big Five reserve extra special is the incredible story behind the land and its people.  

The mFulaWozi initiative came about after a discussion back in 2010 between housing project developer Barry Theunissen and iNkosi Mthembu of the Mthembu community. Theunissen suggested that they establish a game reserve on the tribal land. The various Zulu chiefs of mFulaWozi, under the leadership of iNkosi Mthembu, agreed to unlock 16,000 hectares of bushveld, of which a total of 6,000 hectares have already been incorporated into the Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park. This increased the total size of this park to over 100,000 hectares. 

Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park is the oldest proclaimed game reserve on the continent, and the mFulaWozi initiative offers huge opportunities for socio-economic upliftment of the surrounding disadvantaged communities. It’s also a major boost for the tourism industry as it connects with one of the most important biospheres on our planet. As the fences have come down, the wildlife has been given the freedom to roam between the parks. 

It’s also unique thanks to the incredible Zulu culture and history. This is where we saw the Zulu nation take hold and the spirit lives on strongly. mFulaWozi is championing a sustainable model for socio-economic development within the local communities with various initiatives.  

The accommodation options at the private game reserve include Mthembu Lodge and Biyela Lodge, which were both completely refurbished in 2021. Mthembu Lodge, named after the Mthembu tribe, is located on the banks of the White iMfolozi River. It’s configured on the circle, and just as a circle has no beginning or end, it represents life and the notions of wholeness and perfection. The seven private suites and two-family units (children over the age of 10 are welcome) have immersive views of the river and game from your private deck. 

The accommodation options at the mFulaWozi Wilderness Private Game Reserve include Mthembu Lodge and Biyela Lodge, which were both completely refurbished in 2021.

Biyela Lodge is named after local chief, Phiwayinkosi Biyela, a descendent of King Shaka. The 12 luxury standalone suites, all with their own private deck and most with their own private pool, are built into the hillside, with views of the plains below for amazing game viewing as the wildlife journeys down to the river daily.  

The mFulaWozi and the surrounding areas are steeped in history, and are home to many significant historical sites. Many of the guides grew up in the surrounding regions, so can offer a wealth of information on the history and culture of the Zulu people, which adds a fascinating angle to the safari experience.  

In terms of wildlife, in addition to the Big Five (all of which have very stable numbers due to sustainable conservation efforts), guests may see the endangered African wild dog, cheetah honey badger, the spotted and brown hyena, aardwolf, aardvark, and even the African rock python. There are over 400 bird species, among them a number of species that are rare in the rest of South Africa. Globally and regionally threatened, they are frequently seen in the area. 

In addition to the Big Five, guests at the mFulaWozi Wilderness Private Game Reserve may see the endangered African wild dog, cheetah honey badger, the spotted and brown hyena, aardwolf, aardvark, and even the African rock python.

An oasis of privacy and eco-luxury, this is a special part of the country. As the reserve brochure states: “When you visit mFulaWozi, you go on more than a safari, you contribute to the growth and development of the communities, their culture, and wildlife.” 

For reservations and enquiries,  email or call : +27-(0)79-474-1817.