We had family out from the USA over Christmas so arranged to spend two nights at Bonamanzi Game Park … on safari! I will be the first to admit that I’m not a big fan of the bush; I appreciate the beauty of it but let’s face it, the bush in mid summer when its 30 degrees at 5 in the morning is just not pleasant. It’s especially not pleasant when the camp you are staying at does not have a swimming pool or air conditioning!
Bonamanzi however, is a breath of fresh air…
Located in Hluhluwe in the heart of Zululand, Bonamanzi is recognised as one of the best birding destinations in Southern Africa and although filled with game, the 4000 ha is not home to any predators, which enables guests to explore the bush safely. There are various marked walks or you could hire a trained field guide to point out what makes the bush so special.
We stayed at the Tree Lodge – although strictly speaking not in the trees the Lodge is built on stilts giving a wonderful view over the veld. The Lodge is made up of three double rooms each with bathroom en suite, a separate lounge / dining / kitchen area with a large deck overlooking a small waterhole. There is also a braai area situated on the ground ‘level’. Best of all is the air conditioning and it doesn’t end there, Tree Lodge is also equipped with DStv! What more could a girl ask for on vacation?!
We had booked various activities which were all very reasonably priced. On our first evening we went on a night drive but to be completely honest I fell asleep after 5 minutes in the Landie (must have been the fresh night air!). Next on the agenda was the hour long horseback ride through the bush. This I loved – my horse, Mr Brown was as calm as could be and just clopped along serenely. Again, I’m not a big fan of the bush WALKS but I loved the view from Mr Browns back! We had a guide with us and it really was just so different seeing the bush and game from a slightly higher level than normal.
Of course a trip to the bush would not be the same without the sunset booze cruise. We were the only group to climb on board with a cooler box full of alcohol but it was the Silly Season after all! This was a wonderful excursion – we started off with an hour long drive in the Landie and our guide, Bernie took her time stopping at various trees and plants to explain anything interesting about them. The boat trip up the river was just as enjoyable – there is nothing better than sipping on an ice cold V&T while cruising up a river and appreciating how beautiful Zululand and the bush is!
I would highly recommend Bonamanzi – it just seemed to have the few added extras that other parks I’ve been too don’t have. Although Tree Lodge didn’t have a swimming pool there was a lovely large pool nearby, complete with a number of picnic tables and a shaded area. So we packed a few sandwiches and headed down to the pool for lunch – this makes a huge difference when it is so hot during the summer days and I guess with the park not having any predators and only a handful of elephant one is safe to explore and swim in peace!
If its Big 5 viewing you are after then the famous Hluhluwe Imfolozi National Park is only a short drive away. We actually spent a few hours driving through this park before we arrived at Bonamanzi and saw a lot of game … and could then check in to Bonamanzi with its aircon and DStv luxury.
I might just like the bush after all!!
Bonamanzi Game Park
Address: Bushlands Road, Hluhluwe, KwaZulu Natal
Telephone: +27 (0)35 562-0181 or +27 (0)82 872-2174