Maphelane entrance road is not suitable for low-clearance vehicles

At present, the Maphelane entrance road is not suitable for visitors travelling in small vehicles (sedans) or low clearance vehicles, as it is very sandy and in very bad condition. If visitors get stuck, there is no rescue operation available to assist.


Gate entry fees – Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and iSimangaliso Wetland Park


Notification of Gate Tariff Increase

Effective 01 November 2014

Date: 20 April 2015

Gate Adult Children Levy per Person Vehicles 1 – 5 Vehicles 6 – 12 Vehicles 13 – 20 Vehicles 21+ Overnight Stay
Eastern Shores (Bhangazi Gate)  
















R5.00 per person per night 

uMkuze (Ophansi and eMshopi Gates)  




















Western Shores (Dukuduku & Nhlozi Gates)  





















Sodwana Bay



























False Bay













Coastal Forest
















Kosi Bay

















SOME GREAT SAVINGS – May and June 2015

(Terms and Conditions Apply) 


  • RHINO CLUB benefits to note:
    If your main destination is iSimangaliso, please remember that the expiry date for the current Rhino Card iSimangaliso benefits is 31 May 2015, until further notice.
  • You can purchase or renew your Rhino Gold card for a period of one year at a cost of R250 per person / R 230 per person over 60 yrs of age (valid from the date of payment)
  • To renew your Rhino Club membership CONTACT OUR HELPDESK ON 033 8451008/1009 or or via

IMPORTANT: All Terms and Conditions apply to LEATHERBACKS AND SPECIAL OFFERS, so make sure you ask the booking consultant about these when you make a reservation. NEW BOOKINGS ONLY. Dependent on AVAILABILITY. All offers EXCLUDE LONG WEEKENDS, PUBLIC HOLIDAYS and SCHOOL HOLIDAYS, EVENTS and COMPETITIONS, unless otherwise stated:-


NEW BOOKINGS ONLY – 40% DISCOUNT. The Leatherback Discounts will apply only to the ACCOMMODATION ie Breakfast will not be discounted. Leatherback Offers EXCLUDE Events AND Competitions. CONTACT OUR RESERVATIONS on 033 8451000 or

  1. a) APRIL: 2015–Valid from the 13th of April till the 23rd of April 2015

Midmar Dam (Chalets, cabins, camping), Wagendrift, Weenen, Ithala Bushcamps (Thalu, Mbizo, Mhlangeni), Kamberg, Injesuthi, Lotheni, Monks Cowl, Highmoor, Sodwana Bay, Kosi bay, Amatikulu, Maphelane (very rustic), St Lucia Campsites, Umlalazi cabins and camping, Oribi Gorge, Vernon Crookes, Mkhuze (Mantuma, Safari Camp, Nhlonhlela Bushcamp), and Ndumo.

  1. b) MAY and JUNE: 2015Valid from the 04 May until the 30 June 2015

Midmar Dam (Chalets, cabins, camping), Wagendrift, Weenen, Ithala Bushcamps (Thalu, Mbizo, Mhlangeni), Kamberg, Injesuthi, Lotheni, Monks Cowl, Highmoor, Sodwana Bay, Kosi bay, Amatikulu, Maphelane (very rustic), St Lucia Campsites, Umlalazi cabins and camping, Oribi Gorge, Vernon Crookes, Mkhuze (Mantuma, Safari Camp, Nhlonhlela Bushcamp), and Ndumo.


Please note: Dependent on AVAILABILITY. Gate times: strictly 06hoo to 18h00
Packages which include meals are discounted on accommodation only.

1. Ntshondwe Resort at Ithala Game Reserve

All chalets – 30% discount including BED and BREAKFAST – VALID from 13th of April till the 23rd of April 2015, then Valid from the 04 May until the 30 June 2015. Plus ALL Rhino Club members can enjoy a Game Drive for R100 per adult and R50 per child under 13 years – regret no children 3 years and under.

  • WOW!!! FANTASTIC NEW DBB/Game Drive Package: (dinner, bed, breakfast, one game drive per day) for only R725.00 per person sharing accommodation, or R 895.00 for single accommodation …what a bargain. this package is available from now until 31 October 2015

PLEASE NOTE: Minimum two night stay: This package is only offered in the Twin bedded Non-self-catering (Hotel rooms) chalets.

  • NTSHONDWE Sunday Lunch Buffet continues to be a bargain at R125.00 per person, after special discount is applied.
  • 10% discount to all Gold Rhino Club Members on standard priced meals, including all bar beverages – (Discounts not applicable on any other Special packages which may be advertised from time to time).

2. DIDIMA RESORT at Cathedral peak

All chalets – 30% discount including BED and BREAKFAST – VALID 13th of April till the 23rd of April 2015, then Valid from the 04 May until the 30 June 2015

3. GIANTS CASTLE – All chalets – 30% discount including BED and BREAKFAST – VALID from 13th of April till the 23rd of April 2015, then Valid from the 04 May until the 30 June 2015

4. HILLTOP RESORT (Hluhluwe Game Reserve) – All chalets – 20% discount including BED and BREAKFAST- VALID from 13th of April till the 23rd of April 2015, then Valid from the 04 May until the 30 June 2015

5.WILDERNESS TRAILS –– WILDERNESS TRAILS – Ask Lwazi and Mlu about their discounts. Note: Giants Cup Trail hut Mzimkulu has no mattresses.
Bookings: Trails Desk – tel 033 8451067 or fax 086 505 8884 or email

Trails offer to Gold Members: WOW!!! Wonderful new discounts for,
1. 30% discount – Base Camp, Explorer Trail, Extended Short Trail and Weekend Short Trail (Sunday).
2. 20% discount – The Primitive Trail and the Weekend Short Trail (Fiday).
3. 30% discount – The Giant’s Cup Trail.

1. FIVE LODGE GOLD SPECIAL: 15% discount
all year round (except Easter, Christmas and New Year) at Thendele Lodge, Rock Lodge (Giants), Ithala Lodge, Mtwazi and Masinda Lodges

2. Santa Lucia launch tour 25% Gold discountenquire at St Lucia Estuary Office tel 035 590 1340

3. Karkloof Canopy Tour  – Rhino Club Gold Members (excludes Easter) – The Karkloof Canopy Tour Team have offered a generous discount of R100 per person, if you wish to participate on the Karkloof Canopy Tour. It is widely regarded as one of the best eco-adventure activities in the world and is something for people of all ages with the youngest being 3 and the oldest 90 so far to do the tour. Bookings can be made directly with them on: Office: (+27) 33 3303415 OR Mobile: (+27) 836474595 or

4. Pentravel Gold Special Call into Pentravel PMB office and produce your valid Rhino Gold Card and claim R250 per booking discount on all International travel packages.(T’s and C’s apply). Contact Pentravel PMB on tel +27 033 3927910, fax +27 033 342 7835 or check out for their special packages on offer!!!

5. GROUNDCOVER FOOTWEAR is giving our Rhino Club Gold members, including Kids Club, a 10% discount on footwear! View the footwear on their website at .NB email them directly on (DO NOT ORDER ONLINE). Simply give your Rhino Card Number or a scan a copy of your card to OR YOU CAN VISIT THEM on the Midlands Meander (Curries Post Road) and make your purchase in person!

6. African Bird of Prey Sanctuary. Show your member card and get 20% Discount on your Entry ticket – Cell 0829253023. See the Aerial display and enjoy lunch at their Coffee Shop.

7. Kids Club Members – Free entry to Midmar for you, if you produce your valid Kids Club card!

ASK about the KIDDIES Menus at Hilltop, Giant’s, Didima and Ntshondwe Resorts We give them what they like!!!

FOR Information speak to your Rhino Club Consultants, Kay or Nomfundo on 033 8451008/1009/1011/1013

Plan your arrival at the Reserve – try to avoid travelling after 4pm (16h00) and give yourself time for unexpected delays en route. Check Gate closing times.
To renew your Rhino Club membership CONTACT OUR HELPDESK ON 033 8451008/1009 or

Visitors to All Parks are also reminded that while wildlife is often seen amongst the chalets and campsites in the protected areas, these animals are not tame and members of the public should not try to touch them or feed them.

Rhino Card access to iSimangaliso Wetland Park 2016



We are delighted to inform you that iSimangaliso Authority have generously confirmed that VALID Rhino Gold Card members will be granted free access through the iSimangaliso Wetland Park gates until 31 March 2016.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Remember that the Community and Conservation Levy of R 5 per person per day is a SEPARATE FEE ALTOGETHER AND IS NOT PART OF THE ENTRY FEE. All visitors including Rhino Club Gold members, must pay this fee (take CASH), which is collected at the entrance gates.

Umlalazi Nature Reserve Holiday Diary

Umlalazi Holiday Diary

Umlalazi Nature reserve is situated in the Siyaya Coastal Park, near Mtunzini on the KZN North Coast. This well-loved family destination with the beach, a Lagoon and coastal forest makes for a fun-filled outdoor holiday!

123 12522  6165 10 - Copy 4 - Copy 1 - Copy

Visitors have easy access to the beach or lagoon from the Log cabins and campsites.

The 4 bed Log Cabins are simply furnished and set in the coastal bush. Cost per extra adult per night (to 31 October 2015): R340/ per child R170.



Campsites are shady and spacious, with communal ablutions, tapped water and braai stands. Cost of Campsites (to 31 October 2015): R 270 for 3 people; R 90 per extra adult / R 45 per extra child.

117 73 7472 76 77 78


Canoeists enjoy the open water of the Lagoon, paddling past the Mangrove Swamp, while others water-ski, or swim in the shallows. Canoe Hire for three hours: refundable R100. Adults and children pay R 85 per person.


Water-skiing is allowed between sunrise and sunset and is controlled by the National small vessels Safety Regulations and the Conservation Ordinance Reserve and Resort Regulations.

At low tide, a small sandbank near the lagoon’s edge makes a perfect pool for young children to play, swim and “boogy” board! Parents set up their rods and fish for the favourite catch of the day – salmon! Braai fires are lit in anticipation of a “fish lunch”.

Three trails have been laid out in the reserve:

Three trails have been laid out in the reserve. There is an easy walk through one of the best examples of mangrove swamp forest in South Africa, where several different species of mangrove can be seen. The second trail leads though coastal dune forest where bush pig, bushbuck and red, grey and blue duiker may be seen. A third trail leads through coastal dune forest and mangrove swamp forest along the edge of the Umlalazi River. Wildflowers and a great variety of bird life can be seen. A trail map and a complete bird list is available from the office.

The Mangrove Trail lies opposite the Lagoon and starts at the boardwalk, entering a muddy but fascinating swamp, which is home to scuttling Mangrove crab, mudskippers, whelks clinging to the mangrove trees. This short educational walk through an excellent example of mangrove swamps is a must for nature lovers and those that intend on seeing one of the many dwindling ecosystems on the KwaZulu-Natal coast. The many different species of fauna and flora in this complex ecosystem provide the visitor with a unique example of interactions in nature.

11 - Copy5 - Copy6 - Copy7 - Copy9 - Copy14 - Copy64110119

Armadillo Centipedes are very hard to see and are not common in the coastal forests, but you may spot one as you walk along the pathway to the old-style, crystal blue swimming pool.



This short walk winds its way through one of the best examples of coastal dune forest on the KwaZulu-Natal coast. It is approximately 2, 5 km long, and is best attempted in the early morning, or late evening as the humidity can rise to uncomfortable levels during the day. If you do decide to walk in the evenings be aware of the possible presence of bush pig.

The walk is named after the Siyaya River which you cross just before you reach beach. Be sure to look out for the small forest-dwelling antelope, which are seen regularly along this trail.

75 82 83


This walk covers 8 km of diverse habitats ranging from coastal dune forest to estuarine, to beach habitat. As you walk along this trail you will notice how the vegetation changes from thick coastal dune forest to the more sparsely vegetated dunes closer to the sea. You also notice how the topsoil changes from the dark nutrient rich soil in the forest to the sandy nutrient poor soil on the dunes closer to the sea.

When you reach the river mouth you can either return the way you came or you walk back along the beach.

Red Forest Duiker feed on the large fibrous fruit of the Powder-Puff tree that grows in the coastal forest surrounding the Log Cabins and camping areas.

129 130 131 140 143

Before leaving the reserve, stop at the Market stall where they sell ethnic pots and other goods!

50 49 132


Midmar Dam – Midlands International Arts Festival 12 to 21 December 2014

The Midlands International Arts Festival is being held at Midmar Dam main Resort, from 12 December to 21 December 2014. There will be DJ’s playing loud music in the evenings. Visitors are warned that the noise level will be high during this period.

Information supplied by the Midmar Resort Hospitality Manager, Themba Mbuyazi

Contact details:

Tel:033 330 2067


Midmar_Jan2011 092

Photographing the flora and insects!

Photographing the flora and insects!

Admiring the wealth of flora to be found in the grasslands

Admiring the wealth of flora to be found in the grasslands

Zebra, Red Hartebees, Impala are some of the animals to be seen on your walk or drive round the area.

Zebra, Red Hartebees, Impala are some of the animals to be seen on your walk or drive round the area.

Cape and Yellow weavers were seen in this reedbed

Cape and Yellow weavers were seen in this reedbed


iSimangaliso Turtle Tour operators


Reseachers workking on an adult Loggerhead Turtle


An adult Leatherback Turtle nesting high up on the beach

Newly appointed iSimangaliso Turtle Tour operators

Operator Section Contact Person Contact Email
Phinda Sodwana Taryn Goetzsche 035 5624524
Ufudu Tours Sodwana Peter Jacobs 082 3911503
Thompsons Tours Eastern Shores Malcolm Organ 035 5901584 or 035 5623001
Shoreline Eastern Shores Mandy Muir 035 590 1555
(Walking tour) Kosi Bay Thembile Ngubane 073 2280 934 n/a
(Walking tour) Kosi Bay Simangaliso Mageba 072 7252 738 n/a
(Walking tour) Kosi Bay Shadrack Mathenjwa 082 6384 488 n/a
(Walking tour) Kosi Bay Sthembiso Mthembu 071 1546 623 n/a

Summary statistics for loggerhead and leatherback turtles nesting in iSimangaliso

Loggerheads Leatherbacks
Population size (number of females nesting per year) 700 females per season 70 females per season
Population Trend (is the number of turtles increasing or decreasing) Increasing Stable
Size (average shell length) 86 cm 160 cm
Diet of adult turtles Crabs, snails and starfish Jellyfish
Age to sexual maturity 36 years 12 years
Breeding frequency (number of years between nesting seasons) 3 years 3 years
Reproductive lifespan (number of years between first and last nesting) 18 years 16 years
Number of eggs per female over a nesting season 390 eggs 700 eggs
Emergence success (% eggs that produce viable hatchlings) 80% 70%
Number of hatchlings produced per female per season 300 hatchlings 480 hatchlings
Total hatchlings produced each year 63 000-144 000 36 000-52 000

Turtling in iSimangaliso – Kosi, Sodwana and Cape Vidal

Newsflash No.: 2014.11.16

Turtling in iSimangaliso

November in iSimangaliso Wetland Park heralds the beginning of one of the most special and awe-inspiring miracles of this world heritage site – the nesting of endangered turtles on the 220km golden shoreline. Annually, between the months of November and March, leatherback and loggerhead turtles haul their massive bodies out of the Indian Ocean and up to the base of the dunes, to lay their eggs. In this most ancient cycle of life, turtles return with almost magical accuracy to the very same beach where they hatched.

Of the seven species of marine turtles worldwide, iSimangaliso’s protected coastline has five species, and its pristine beaches comprise one of the last significant laying sites in Africa for loggerheads and leatherbacks. Turtle monitoring has been undertaken in the Park since the 1960’s, with turtles being measured and tagged. The turtles of iSimangaliso have received significant conservation attention, producing a noteworthy increase in the loggerhead turtle population.

“With less than 100 laying females coming ashore each year, iSimangaliso’s leatherback turtles, the most southern population in the world, are rarer than black rhino and critically endangered. This means they could go extinct in our lifetime. Having survived aeons and ice ages along with rhinos, and at a time when over 1000 biological species are going extinct globally every year, their future survival lies with all of us,” said iSimangaliso CEO Andrew Zaloumis. “As site managers, our challenge is that once they leave our shores and swim across the high seas, they undertake epic journeys, travelling as far as Australia and India. During these journeys, which occur between nesting periods, the leatherbacks spend their time foraging. They feed on pelagic (open ocean) invertebrates such as jellyfish and this makes them extremely vulnerable to threats such as long line fishing methods and pollution. Plastic bags are often mistaken for jellyfish by these feeding animals, ultimately killing the animals that ingest them.”


A better understanding of these populations is key to their survival, and iSimangaliso has authorised and supports ongoing scientific research projects. Current work includes the satellite tagging of individual turtles, and genetic testing to determine whether known iSimangaliso nesting turtles mate with males in other populations in the Indian or Atlantic Oceans.

There is also strong collaboration with Mozambique’s Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve (PPMR) – proclaimed in 2009 – bordering iSimangaliso’s northern border. Africa’s longest trans-frontier marine protected area now offers greater protection and hope for the preservation of these species, with much improved compliance and monitoring efforts across the border.

According to PPMR’s Park Manager, Miguel Goncalves: “Since 1994 a total of 5811 tracks from loggerheads and 410 from leatherbacks were recorded. An increase in the number of tracks recorded for both species in the last seven years is likely the result of a better coverage of the monitoring season, according to researchers. Since 2007, loggerheads have laid an average of 220 nests, while for leatherbacks 32 nests were recorded on average per season. The number of loggerhead turtles tagged per season has been steadily increasing, with a record 197 turtles tagged in 2013/14, with an average of 63.9 turtles tagged per season.”

As conservation efforts and scientific knowledge are freely shared between the two countries, the future looks more promising for at least two of the planet’s endangered species.


The gigantic leatherback turtle can weigh over 800 kg. It has a deep, narrow, barrel-shaped shell that lacks horny scutes (horny scales), but is instead covered with thick, smooth skin like vulcanised rubber. The flippers are long and clawless, and in the adults the shell and flippers are black, usually scattered with white spots. Leatherbacks can be found nesting from Maphelane in the south all the way along the coast of iSimangaliso into Mozambique. Most breeding occurs between Manzengwenya and Bhanga Nek in the Coastal Forest Reserve section of the Park.

Leatherbacks undertake long journeys and frequently enter colder currents to find food. They are adapted to conserve heat in cold water. They are the only living reptiles that are warm-blooded, generating their own heat. The adult turtles feed only on jellyfish, but the juveniles may also eat other floating organisms. They dive to feed and are able to reach depths of over 350 metres due to their flexible shells, and can stay under the water for up to 37 minutes. Long spines that project backwards cover the inside of the leatherback’s throat to stop slippery food from escaping.

A leatherback turtle becomes sexually mature at between three and five years old, when the carapace is approximately 1400 mm long. Mating between leatherbacks takes place at sea. Leatherback males never leave the water once they enter it, unlike the females, which crawl onto land to nest.


The loggerhead turtle is much smaller than the leatherback turtle. It weighs between 80 and 140 kg. The large head and carapace are uniformly red-brown in juveniles and adults and their extremely strong jaws are able to crush giant clams. In southern Africa they mainly breed along the sandy shores of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, with very small and isolated breeding patches along the coast of Mozambique. They come ashore every two to three years to lay about 500 eggs in batches of 100 to 120 every 15 days. This usually takes place at high tide during moonless nights. Both loggerhead and leatherback turtles nest in summer, generally at night. The female emerges from the surf and rests in the wash zone, looking out for danger. Then she moves above the high water mark to find a suitable site to lay her eggs. Around a thousand eggs are laid altogether during a breeding season, at nine to eleven day intervals. A high percentage (70-75%) hatch successfully.


After 60 to 70 days, the hatchlings emerge at night (usually) and make their way back to the sea. Up to 12% may be taken during this short journey by ghost crabs. For the first couple of months the tiny turtles are prey to many marine predators. It is estimated that out of every 1000 eggs only one or two hatchlings survive. Females breed every two to three years.


The green turtle is a large turtle, weighing between 125 and 200 kg. In the Atlantic, turtles of up to 300 kg have been recorded. In southern Africa they breed (in small numbers) on Bazaruto Island, Mozambique. They are found throughout the year along the coast of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. They can be seen from vantage points on the high, forested dunes, and from Black Rock and Dog Point in the Coastal Forest Reserve section of the Park. Snorkellers and scuba divers often encounter these turtles.

Hawksbill Turtle

This is a relatively small turtle, often weighing less than 50 kg. The beak is bird-like. In adults the upper section of the shell is translucent amber, beautifully patterned with irregular, radiating streaks of black, yellow and light red-brown. The curio trade has caused the decline of this species. The scutes are made into jewellery and sold on the black market. In countries like Singapore and the Philippines, it is estimated that up to 100 000 hatchlings are killed for the curio trade annually, highlighting the vital role that protected areas like iSimangaliso play in the conservation of such species.


The iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority has issued contracts to authorised operators to undertake turtle tours within the Park, either by vehicle or on foot. In the St Lucia and Sodwana Bay sections of the Park, vehicular tours are offered by two concession-holders in each respective destination, while community guides are licensed to take visitors on foot patrols from the Kosi Bay area. Often hailed as a ‘bucket-list’ experience, the attraction of witnessing nesting turtles has proven to be one of the highlights of most visitors’ trips to the Park, and one of the most poignant reminders of why it is so essential that this precious area is conserved in perpetuity. iSimangaliso restricts turtle trips to licensed operators who ensure that there is minimum interference with laying turtles, including the avoidance of camera flashes or spotlights while the turtle is moving up and down the beach to lay.



Rehabilitation of R74 expected to start soon

Didima_Giants_Thendele_Jun_2011 039 hockly_thendele3Didima_Giants_Thendele_Jun_2011 270The outer peaks of the Amphitheatre, seen from Upper chalets at Thendele, Royal Natal National Park. Reedbuck and Guinea Fowl greet you in the early morning sunshine, as you breakfast beneath the magnificent peaksThendele__Jun2010 007

Rehabilitation of R74 expected to start soon

13 Wed, Nov 2014

The Free State Department of Roads and Transport has announced it is in the process of appointing a contractor to rehabilitate the R74, viewed as the gateway to the Drakensberg Mountains.

This is welcome news and we hope the department will deliver on time.
Tourism establishments in the area have suffered desperately low occupancies during the past few years as a result of the exceptionally degraded state of the R74.
Spokesperson for the Roads Department, Hillary Mophete, told Tourism Update “that progress is being made and a tender to rehabilitate and reconstruct the R74 between Harrismith and Oliviershoek was officially published in October.” Subsequently, a consultant has been asked to appoint a contractor to start work on the road in the beginning of December provided that there are no delays caused by weather, such summer rainstorms.
Local tourism businessmen are optimistic that once the road is rehabilitated, a huge improvement in tourism to this diverse and scenic area would result.

Updated – contact numbers: Report Poaching or suspicious incidents

The illegal Trade in Reptiles, Amphibians, Insects, Birds, Wildlife, Wildlife items and Marine life in South Africa, is an ongoing concern of conservationists and the general public.

If you need to speak to someone about your concerns, report suspicious activity or to clarify rules and policies, contact:

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife:

Permits Office (Pietermaritzburg) – 033 845 1324 – to clarify rules and policies

Marine Poaching – 083 380 6298


Report Poaching or suspicious incidents to:



South African Police Service, Crimeline 08600 10111

South Africa Police Service, Skukuza (Kruger Park only) 079 891 5278– W.O. Coetz

Anti Poaching Intelligence Group, Rhino Poaching tips, 0822691364

SANParks, Environmental Crime Investigation +27 (0) 13 735-5109

E.W.T. Rhino Poaching Hotline 082 404 2128

Namibia, Rhino poaching Hotline (00264) 55555

Nashua Wildlife Conflict Management Helpline 082 802 6223

North West Parks Board014 555 1609

N.W.P.B. Steve Dell 083 233 0571

Environmental Affairs and Tourism Ethics line, Environmental crimes, 0800 205 005

View Post on Facebook<

« Older entries