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It’s rare that we uncover a contemporary bushveld hideaway that is so perfectly positioned in a Big Five game reserve, and this one’s in the heart of historic Zululand. Just over three hours’ drive from King Shaka airport and six hours from Joburg, it’s set in iconic Acacia bushveld on a 23 000ha reserve. Designed by award-winning architect Richard Stretton who was chosen by the owners for his touch-the-earth-lightly philosophy, every aspect is intended to make you feel close to the bush. And it succeeds.

Floor-to-ceiling glass affords views over the deck and pool to the waterhole below and even Ghost Mountain can be seen through the canopy of trees from your bed in the main suite. Part of the Lebombo mountain range in the distance, it’s a mesmerizing horizon in the late-afternoon light as dusk begins to fall. At dawn, sunlight steams into the living areas, making it a wonderfully cocooning space in winter. ‘I wanted to feel like I was sleeping under the stars in the bush so that’s why the whole place can open up,’ says the owner, who used to sleep with the doors open before the lion population increased! Stretton calls it ‘formalised camping’ but we can assure you that it’s nothing of the sort – this is the most comfortable bush home. We love the fact that local artisans crafted the stone walls, and even the Tamboti pillars were upcycled from a dairy farm in Bela Bela.

Manyoni Private Game Reserve is one of the largest privately owned reserves in KwaZulu-Natal with 17 dedicated landowners who dropped their fences in 2004 to create one protected wildlife reserve which then became the focus of the World Wildlife Fund Black Rhino Range Expansion Project. All passionate conservationists, the reserve has seen historic species return and thrive. Today, if you sit quietly on the deck for long enough, the waterhole is likely to be visited by impala, nyala, wildebeest, kudu, zebra, buffalo, and giraffe… and if you’re really lucky, you will be visited by lion, white rhino, black rhino, elephant, cheetah, and leopard.

Expect to find extraordinary diversity here, with a mix of riverine woodland and savannah interspersed with hilly regions. Distinctive Umbrella Thorn Acacias, striking candelabra Euphorbias, massive Marulas, Weeping Boer Bean, Bush Willow, and Tamboti trees dot the reserve along with Knobthorn Acacia forest, all of which is home to over 455 bird species at last count – it’s no surprise then that Manyoni means ‘Place of Birds’ in Zulu.

What we love:

  • Thuleni Homestead is unfenced (apart from a single-strand elephant fence), making this an authentic game experience – even lion and cheetah have been seen near the deck
  • It’s an easy drive from Joburg and Durban, but also close enough to the coast to do a beach and bush combo holiday – especially in July when the coastal temperatures are so much warmer than the chilly Cape
  • That this is a home-away-from-home with all the comforts – good signal but no wifi … but there is DSTV for those who want it on extended stays
  • The fact that King Shaka International Airport is now a non-stop, direct flight away from London Heathrow (Terminal 5) on the new British Airways flights to Durban, starting 29 October 2018. This is the first time Durban has had a non-stop flight to Europe in more than 20 years and there are three flights weekly

What you need to know:

  • The Manyoni Private Game Reserve gate is opposite Mkuze and it’s a half hour game drive to the house
  • Ideally, the house sleeps 8 adults and 2 children, or 6 adults and 4 children. There are more beds, but they are there to serve configurations of different families and ages (and especially small children who need to sleep with parents)
  • Two game drives are included per day. Game vehicles seat 10 guests
  • Conservation levy is additional. It is currently R165 per person per night and R85 for children under 12 per child per day
  • From time to time, we hear about a rise in the number of snake and scorpion sightings at some of our game farms and lodges, as well as an increased gathering of bees around water during dry seasons. If you plan to go walking we recommend ensuring you bring good walking shoes and socks, especially important for little ones, as well as long trousers for ticks and antihistamine tablets.

Reviewed by Michelle Snaddon


  • 1 x Bedroom (2 bunks & single)
  • 1 x Bedroom (king & single)
  • 2 x Bedrooms (king)
  • 4 x Bathrooms (ensuite)
  • BBQ (Built in)
  • Dishwasher
  • DSTV
  • Fireplace
  • Microwave
  • Nespresso machine
  • No Wifi
  • Pool (not heated & no net)
  • Serviced (daily)
  • Tumble dryer
  • TV
  • Washing machine

0 / 10

Based on 1 reviews

Guest reviews are written by our customers after their stay at Thuleni Homestead.


Guest reviews

  • Guest

    Thuleni House was just magnificent in every way, I cannot fault a thing with the service, the housekeeper and everything from ambience to bedding to space was just beyond perfect!!!!! The game drives were also perfect and well planned!


R18 000 per night for all weekend bookings, school holiday bookings and peak dates - 1 Dec to 30 Jan. For off-peak weeknights (Mon to Thurs) bookings only - R15 000 per night.

This includes two game drives per day.
Clients must be aware that they have to pay a conservation levy R165 per day (adults), R85 for children per day.