The Covid-19 pandemic with its world-wide lockdowns and travel restrictions has brought lifestyle sharply into focus as all have given up freedoms that have generally been taken for granted – travelling, visiting family and friends, open-air exercising and enjoying the beauty of nature –and this has ultimately forced all lodge and hotel owners to think outside of the box.
Thanda Safari – a 5-star safari property in a Private Game Reserve in the northern reaches of Zululand, KwaZulu Natal, is situated on what was one of the first proclaimed game reserves in Africa in 1895 by the then British Colonial Government of Natal, and what was once the ancient hunting grounds of Zulu Kings.
Thanda Safari has always been unique in that it arguably, has one of the smallest hospitality footprints, particularly when considering its size of 14,000 ha, as well as a large variety of wildlife, more than 400 different bird species and all of Africa’s Big Five.
With only 15 Luxury Tents, a nine-roomed Safari Lodge, and the owners’ private Villa available for guest bookings its current model has always taken into consideration that the operation of the hospitality and the reserve business was a stepping-stone towards its long-term vision of a bespoke limited offering of a land ownership opportunity, as part of a global exclusive lifestyle members club and hospitality expansion.
Looking forward into 2021 Thanda is now embarking on an innovative model that will enable it to provide additional value, exciting new and fun experiences for guests and most importantly, job protection for its staff.
February 2021 will see the launch of the Thanda Safari Starlight Productions (TSSP) which will comprise:
- special musicals, concerts and artists performing in the bush (“Covid-safe” natural open-air ventilation and social distancing)
- invited speakers covering a variety of topics
- special events (Black Tie Ball, Valentine’s Ball, Masked Ball, Great Gatsby Ball, Rat Race Ball etc)
All either by special invitation only, or available to select interest groups, or available to the public through special ticket sales and all out in the bush and open-air (weather permitting). Special activities with guest speakers / featured guests may also be attended by guests staying at the Safari Lodge and Villa iZulu. Guests will be able to socialise in a safe, protected, open-air “theatre” with limited numbers observing all the Covid-19 safety protocols.
The Thanda Tented Camp will be closing at the end of January 2021. It will reopen only for exclusive use with bookings of 10 tents or more as well as for use only during TSSP Special Events – all existing bookings at the Tented Camp will be given the opportunity to upgrade to the Safari Lodge. Outside of TSSP special events, only the Safari Lodge and Villa iZulu will be open to guests.
As part of its new direction, special Weekend Events are planned for February and beginning March 2021:
- Friday 12 to Sunday 14 February – Valentine’s Weekend of Romance – meaning ‘love’ in isiZulu, Thanda Safari is the perfect place where couples can experience the bush, the Big Five, romantic turn downs, Valentine sundowner cocktails, romantic meals and on the Saturday evening, a Valentine’s Masked Ball in the bush – Romance with a capital R!
- Friday 19 to Sunday 21 February – Pilates & Wellness Weekend with Tash B – popular Pilates instructor Tash B an international certified Pilates Instructor and owner of the successful studio Tash B. Pilates in Ballito, KZN is passionate about Pilates (a unique series of physical exercises designed by Joseph Pilates in the 1950s). This energetic yet patient teacher enjoys sharing her knowledge and her refreshing mind-body workouts have been taught across the globe including Morocco, London, Dubai, Salzburg and Hong Kong.
- Friday 26 to Sunday 28 February – Abingdon Wine Estate Weekend (Thanda Wine & Bush Experience) – a KZN synergy of Thanda Safari, Abingdon Wine Estate and the KZN School of Wine where you’ll get to discover and enjoy handpicked wines from the Thanda Cellar, hear the story of Abingdon – a pioneering family wine estate based in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands presented by the Smorthwaite family, explore the differences between the Italian Prosecco, French Champagne and the South African Methode Cap Classique in mini masterclasses in the bush and meet Moët & Chandon’s Best Young Sommelier of South Africa, Laurie Cooper and Thanda’s executive chef.
- Friday 12 to Sunday 14 March – A Weekend with Rob Caskie – celebrated storyteller – world-renowned Zulu historian. Rob Caskie lauded as a legend in his own lifetime, is a master storyteller who shares human stories which engage audiences and challenges the way they interact, work and lead their lives – “epic stories of human struggle and triumphs of the human spirit create fantastic canvasses by which modern situations may be measured”. And what better backdrop for these epic stories than an ancient land in the northern reaches of Zululand, deeply steeped in Zulu history, where Thanda Safari is situated? “If you have an opportunity to see this extraordinary man in action, don’t miss it!” John Fisher Burns – New York Times
These Weekend Packages from R6 500 per person sharing for a two-night (Friday and Saturday) stay at Thanda Tented Camp include:
- two night’s accommodation at the luxurious Thanda Tented Camp (spacious safari-style tents, each with private viewing deck and en-suite bathroom)
- four game drives with expert guide and tracker
- all meals and selected local beverages (soft drinks, house wines, spirits and beers)
Excluded is the conservation levy of R200 per person per stay, gratuities and all items of a personal nature.
Rates for Thanda Safari Lodge and Villa iZulu are available on request. Booking for all weekend packages is essential. Terms and conditions apply.
Thanda Safari is a proud member of The Leading Hotels of the World, a multiple winner of The World’s Leading Luxury Lodge award, ranked as one of the 20 Top Resorts in South Africa in the 2020 Conde Nast Traveller Awards, and more recently was winner at the 27th World Travel Awards for World’s Leading Luxury Private Villa 2020: Villa iZulu at Thanda Safari, South Africa and World’s Leading Safari Lodge 2020: Thanda Safari Lodge at Thanda Safari, South Africa.