Mantis Biyela Lodge. A place in the heavens, face to face with rocky cliffs where vultures launch to the skies. This is one of few the places in the world where you can still see these scavenging birds of prey thrive. Another endangered species to look for from the sprawling lodge decks and private balconies is the African Wild Dog; there is a thriving population in this newly formed concession to the Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park.
Come to the heart of Zululand to coexist with nature as it was intended to be. Encounter the Big Five, hear tales of old and historical personalities around the fire as drum beats and song of Zulu youth usher in the night. Elevated above the valley and cocooned in luxury; you’ll be lulled into a deep rest by the sound of the river, and nocturnal sounds of the African bush.
Wake up with the sun to find your encounters with the wild. Look around – everything sun touches is the Chiefdom of the Biyela clan; you are their guest and their land is now home to a conservation model that has increased grazing territory for the wildlife of the Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park. With a vested interest in your satisfaction; the men and women of Biyela tend to your Villa with pide. They prepare each dish with love and serve you joyfully; knowing that you will share your experience with the world and their community’s legacy will be a success.
A large villa that flows from a lounge to a bedroom area with a dressing room behind the bed, on to a full bathroom with a walk-in double shower and bath with set against a large window. Each villa has a private balcony that runs down the full length of the villa and features an outdoor shower, and either a plunge pool or day bed.
Culture is an ever-evolving celebration of life, and what you experience at uMfolozi Game Reserve is just that – a celebration of contemporary Zulu life as experienced in the villages around the reserve. Various traditional dances and singing that warriors and maidens use to express emotion and to communicate rites of passage, and daily rituals.
You will meet warriors clad in skins, shoulder coverings called ‘imbata’ and aural ornaments that create rhythmic sounds as the young men canter and kick. Their dances vary, including a dance called ‘ushameni’ which tells tales of boy herders performed with no drums and the men to wear shin coverings made of the hair from cows’ tails called ‘ishoba’. Young warriors also perform ‘indlamu’, which is performed to the beat of drums and the men wear sheepskin adornments.
Traverse over the hills and valleys of old, right here where King Shaka of the Zulu hunted for need long before conservation was a buzz word. uMfolozi Big Five game drives are a wilderness safari for the soul; an immersion into nature as it was intended to be. Enjoy being a guest as the wild plays by its own rules. Here in the oldest proclaimed protected wilderness in Africa, the game drives are respectful of the habitat and the animals.
There are many rarities to be seen in this place where Dr Ian Player started Operation Rhino over five decades ago. The DNA of every White Rhino alive today can be traced back here. Conservation is a way of life here, and it is evident in the thriving species of wild dogs, vultures and Black Rhino.