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Self Drive Adventure to Bushwillow Lodge  
Seized by the adventurous travel bug once again, my family and I escaped from the Cape Town rat race to spend some time exploring the opposite end of our country – Kwa Zulu Natal province, east coast South Africa. Being avid lovers of the bush and of our African wildlife we chose a game lodge on a private game reserve near the world renowned Hluhluwe Game Reserve as our base from which to explore the surrounding area.


Lake St Lucia

We arrived at Bushwillow Lodge in the Kuleni Game Park with relatively high expectations of its quality and value for money, which were based on a number of comments made by previous visitors to the lodge on the TripAdvisor.com website. Well, it was magical! Bushwillow Lodge by far exceeded our expectations. With only 3 beautifully appointed ensuite rooms, we had sole use of the lodge. The rooms lead off from the main living area along raised wooden walkways. The kitchen, dining and lounge area opened to a large wooden deck sheltered by indigenous bushwillow trees. The deck included an outside dining area and a small splash pool and overlooked a small watering hole frequented by various wildlife species. The lodge offers a choice of a catered or self-catering option of which we chose the self-catering option.


Bushwillow Lodge

The reserve itself, 150 hectares of indigenous sand forest, is home to a number of wildlife species such as giraffe, blue wildebeest, zebra, warthog, numerous antelope species and a delightfully colourful, melodious and diverse bird habitation. None of the Big 5 (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo) are present allowing visitors the freedom to safely enjoy the plentiful walking trails throughout the reserve.


Hippo Yawn - copyright to Claire Dinnie

Natal north coast offers a wonderful selection of fun outdoor activities. Game viewing is definitely a highlight with Hluhluwe Game Reserve being Africa’s oldest game reserve offering a diverse wildlife experience including spotting the Big 5. Mkuze Game Reserve and various Private Game Reserves complement it. Snorkeling and scuba diving to explore the magical coral reefs at Sodwana Bay less than 1 hour’s drive away are a definite must! Ocean safaris include whale and dolphin sightings. Boat cruises and kayaking on Lake St Lucia are a wonderful way to explore this beautiful estuary and its inhabitants. The pristine golden beaches, lapped by the warm Indian Ocean and a subtropical climate can be enjoyed on those lazy summer days. Dumazulu Cultural Village offers an in-depth insight into the Zulu culture.


Giraffe Greeting - copyright to Claire Dinnie

Much of the north coast in fact forms part of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, South Africa’s first World Heritage Site. The 332 000 hectare Park consists of three major lake systems, eight interconnected ecosystems, 700 year old fishing traditions, most of South Africa’s remaining swamp forests, Africa’s largest estuarine system, 526 bird species and 25 000 year-old coastal dunes – some of the highest in the world. The name iSimangaliso means miracle and wonder, which appropriately describes this exceptional destination.

Sadly, September 2010 marks the Kwa Zulu Natal Province’s seventh year of water shortages. With fond memories of Natal’s tall abundant sugar cane fields and lush green vegetation, it was heartbreaking for me to see how dry and barren the land has become. Lake St Lucia is the lowest I’ve ever seen it, Mkuze and Hluhluwe Game Reserves closely resemble dust bowls. This I believe forms part of a global challenge that we face at the moment with floods, droughts, earthquakes and other natural disasters happening all over the world. We need to stand together as a human race and with compassion and love, help one another.

Bushwillow Lodge found a place in our hearts and we will certainly be returning some day soon to again be surrounded by peace and quiet, lulled to sleep by the beautiful call of the Firey-necked Nightjar and Thick-tailed Bushbabies and then awoken by the melodious song of Natal Robins and Gorgeous Bushshrikes.

Brought to you by Africa Tamed .
Your Southern Africa Travel specialist!

For other Kwa Zulu Natal self drive options check out an Authentic Bush and Beach Safari at Makakatana Bay Lodge .



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