Follow the Sun

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Cowrie Cottage on our beautiful northern KwaZulu-Natal coastline is an undiscovered seaside gem to rent: ideal to combine with a safari holiday
Perfect Hideaways, South Africa, Cowrie Cottage, Westbrook Beach, Ballito, north of Durban1
Cowrie Cottage on our beautiful northern KwaZulu-Natal coastline is an undiscovered seaside gem to rent: ideal to combine with a safari holiday

Did you know that the very best time of year for soaking up the sunshine along KwaZulu-Natal’s northern Elephant Coast and Mozambique is during June and July? Not only does this mean that you avoid the blistering heat (and tourist beat) of mid-summer, it’s also the perfect opportunity to sneak in a bush break en route during the prime game-viewing months of winter.

Perfect Hideaways, Mozambique, Sanctuary, Azulik
Mozambique at its best: from the cool waters of the pool at Azulik on the Sanctuary, a short boat ride from Vilanculos
Perfect Hideaways, Mozambique, Sanctuary, Azulik
Mozambique at its best: from the cool waters of the pool at Azulik on the Sanctuary, a short boat ride from Vilanculos

The Perfect Hideaways team spends a large part of every year scouring southern Africa for the very best hidden havens. This requires that we drive to every single gem in our portfolio – and so who better to suggest the very best itinerary ideas than our veteran road-tripping specialists? Here are our team’s expert opinions…

Road Trip # 1: Durban to Mozambique

While you could put foot and shoot north across the Kosi Bay/Ponta do Ouro border gate to the Mozambique South Coast in a mere 5½ hours (the distance is just 425 km), we’d have to ask you one question: Why would you?

KwaZulu-Natal’s Elephant Coast is one of the world’s most glorious surprises, with exquisite beachfront villas and lodges in sublime eco-sensitive surroundings. This untouched coastline with its incredible marine and estuarine reserves – including the World Heritage Site of iSimangaliso Wetland Park – is the ocean-safari road trip of a lifetime.

Perfect Hideaways, South Africa, Kosi Bay, Thonga Beach Lodge
The idyllic northern coastline of KwaZulu-Natal has some of best dive sites in South Africa and is a vital breeding ground for endangered turtles
Perfect Hideaways, South Africa, Kosi Bay, Thonga Beach Lodge
The idyllic northern coastline of KwaZulu-Natal has some of best dive sites in South Africa and is a vital breeding ground for endangered turtles

First stop

Fly in to Durban and then unwind and acclimatise for a couple of days at Cowrie Cottage or Zinkwazi Laguna – from where you can practically dip your toes into azure lagoon waters. Each of these prime water’s-edge homes has its own private path to the beach, making them the very height of exclusivity. Now that you have your bearings and have slowed down to a suitably laid-back holiday pace, take a slow drive north. 

Perfect Hideaways, South Africa, Westbrook Beach, Ballito, north of Durban, Cowrie Cottage
An African beach house on the tropical north coast, Cowrie Cottage is on Westbrook Beach near Ballito, just over half an hour from the airport: the perfect first-stop on a north coast road trip
Perfect Hideaways, South Africa, Westbrook Beach, Ballito, north of Durban, Cowrie Cottage
An African beach house on the tropical north coast, Cowrie Cottage is on Westbrook Beach near Ballito, just over half an hour from the airport: the perfect first-stop on a north coast road trip

Cowrie Cottage is an enchanting thatched beach house set on Westbrook Beach, just south of Ballito. Zinkwazi Laguna is a little further north up the coast but both are wonderful beach houses to enjoy at the start or end of a trip as both are under 45 minutes’ drive from King Shaka International Airport.

The beauty of flying into Durban is that the airport is small and car hire is easy. The airport is located north of Durban itself, so setting off on a road trip is a breeze: you literally access the highway north in a matter of minutes. 

Perfect Hideaways, South Africa, Zinkwazi Laguna, Zinkwazi, north of Durban
Overlooking the peaceful lagoon but a short walk to the beach, Zinkwazi Laguna offers the best of both worlds
Perfect Hideaways, South Africa, Zinkwazi Laguna, Zinkwazi, north of Durban
Overlooking the peaceful lagoon but a short walk to the beach, Zinkwazi Laguna offers the best of both worlds

Kosi Bay

The pristine Elephant Coast in northern KwaZulu-Natal is an astonishingly diverse tropical jewel. If you are looking for balmy waters and utterly unspoilt beaches, a four-and-a-half hour road trip from Durban will take you to Thonga Beach Lodge in Kosi Bay. Kosi Bay is a tropical paradise, with four pristine interlinked lakes that form part of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). These estuaries are a hotbed of biodiversity and an important turtle breeding ground. 

Looking for luxury accommodation near Kosi Bay? Thonga Beach Lodge is a favourite for its location and comfort

Perfect Hideaways, South Africa, Kosi Bay, Thonga Beach Lodge
Looking for luxury accommodation near Kosi Bay? Thonga Beach Lodge is a favourite for its location and comfort

Set in the lush dune forest of a secluded bay, Thonga’s thatched beach suites are strung along the crest of a dune within five minutes’ walk of the beach. Here a wonderfully laid-back beach vibe is the order of the day – you’ll find yourself taking most of your meals in your swimsuit and kikoi, deigning only to dress for dinner. Ocean safaris rule supreme: boat trips give you a glimpse of the teeming marine life, from dolphins and turtles to bright reef fish and visiting humpback whales.

Perfect Hideaways, South Africa, Manyoni Private Game Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal, Ingwe Lodge
Contemporary interiors complement spectacular bushveld views at Ingwe Lodge
Perfect Hideaways, South Africa, Manyoni Private Game Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal, Ingwe Lodge
Contemporary interiors complement spectacular bushveld views at Ingwe Lodge

Bush bonus

If (like us) you need no excuse for a bush break, take a left turn and wend your way to Kosi Bay and Mozambique’s exquisite south coast by way of Ingwe Lodge or Thuleni Homestead. Adding a few days at Thuleni or Ingwe is the perfect way to transform your road trip into a bush-and-beach getaway par excellence.

These contemporary bushveld hideaways are in the heart of the Big Five Manyoni Private Game Reserve, just over three hours’ drive from Durban’s King Shaka International Airport. Unfenced African wilderness surrounds you on all sides: if you sit quietly on the deck for long enough, you are likely to see impala, wildebeest, zebra, buffalo and giraffe taking their turn at the waterhole – or, if you’re lucky, lion, rhino, elephant, cheetah, and leopard.

Both are ideal multigenerational safari hideaways where you can be completely private and experience the bush together in your own time: drives are flexible and you can relax completely as a family or as a group of friends. The reserve itself is renowned for its biodiversity, with mature woodlands bringing an astonishing variety of birds in addition to Big Five sightings.

From Manyoni Private Game Reserve, it takes under three hours to do the beautiful scenic drive up to Thonga Beach Lodge. This is one of South Africa’s most exciting and least-known combinations of beach and bush, especially as this unspoilt tropical coastline also has beautiful inland estuaries to explore by boat, with opportunities to dive and snorkel along at world-renowned sites up and down the coast.

Mozambique’s south coast

Add a sexy stamp to your passport by nipping across the border at the Kosi Bay/Ponta do Oura border gate (open daily from 8am to 5pm). Your destination? Tropical heaven at Colina Verde, north of the border in the Machangulo Reserve but this route is for experienced 4×4 drivers as a good deal of it is on sand roads through the Maputo National Park with limited cell phone coverage.

Mozambique’s South Coast is a sublime tropical beach holiday spot, and the beautiful Colina Verde – a dreamy villa overlooking a never-ending white sand beach and a marine reserve that is teeming with sea life – is an idyllic escape where you can play Robinson Crusoe with your family.

Perfect Hideaways, Mozambique, Machangulo Peninsula, Colina Verde
Colina Verde, on the pristine 10 000ha Machangulo Reserve in Mozambique is only reachable by experienced 4x4 drivers, helicopter or boat. Heaven!
Perfect Hideaways, Mozambique, Machangulo Peninsula, Colina Verde
Colina Verde, on the pristine 10 000ha Machangulo Reserve in Mozambique is only reachable by experienced 4x4 drivers, helicopter or boat. Heaven!

Colina Verde set high on a hill in the 10 000ha Machangulo Reserve with 20 km of coastline and was built to surround a circular pool and hot tub. This  protected peninsula is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a diverse range of activities such as snorkelling, fishing, kayaking, and even wildlife safaris. Ocean safaris offer you the chance to dive rich and vibrant coral reefs, and if you’re lucky you might even see turtles breeding during season along these pristine shores.

Perfect Hideaways, Mozambique, Machangulo Peninsula, Colina Verde
Quintessential Mozambique: sailing a traditional dhow at sunset with a G&T in hand. Does life get any better?
Perfect Hideaways, Mozambique, Machangulo Peninsula, Colina Verde
Quintessential Mozambique: sailing a traditional dhow at sunset with a G&T in hand. Does life get any better?

Road Trip # 2: Joburg to Mozambique

You have a few options if you are planning to drive to Mozambique’s South Coast from Jozi. The new Maputo-Catembe bridge, Africa’s longest suspension bridge, cuts down travel time significantly, however we still love the slow pleasure of blissful breaks along the way for a bush-and-beach road trip to remember. If you are looking for a slightly shorter itinerary, drive via game-rich Malelane, cross the border early at Komatipoort and end up at Colina Verde, on the Machangulo Peninsula on the edge of the tropical Indian Ocean. Unless you are an experienced 4×4 driver, it’s best to either park in Maputo and be transferred by boat (with wonderful views of Inhaca along the way) or take a spectacularly scenic helicopter trip directly to the villa.

Perfect Hideaways, Mozambique, Machangulo Peninsula, Colina Verde
The romance of Colina Verde, one of Mozambique’s most beautiful beach villas, set on the remote Machangulo Peninsula, south east of Maputo
Perfect Hideaways, Mozambique, Machangulo Peninsula, Colina Verde
The romance of Colina Verde, one of Mozambique’s most beautiful beach villas, set on the remote Machangulo Peninsula, south east of Maputo

If you have more time for exploring, we highly recommend skirting the southern Swaziland border en route to Kosi Bay via Manyoni Private Game Reserve before heading north over the Mozambique border. Once over the border, the route to Colina Verde is best navigated only by experienced 4×4 drivers.

Jozi to Moz, Route 1:

Perfect Hideaways, South Africa, Mjejane Private Game Reserve, Star Chestnut
Star Chestnut’s boma, deck and roof terrace overlooks the upper section of the Crocodile River dividing Mjejane from the banks of Kruger Park: excellent game viewing right from your lounger!
Perfect Hideaways, South Africa, Mjejane Private Game Reserve, Star Chestnut
Star Chestnut’s boma, deck and roof terrace overlooks the upper section of the Crocodile River dividing Mjejane from the banks of Kruger Park: excellent game viewing right from your lounger!

First the bush…

If you are planning a slightly shorter break, we suggest a couple of nights at any one of our lodges in Mjejane Private Game Reserve (near Kruger National Park’s Malelane Gate, about 400km from Joburg and 90 minutes’ drive from Nelspruit (where you should stock up on fresh groceries). 

Perfect Hideaways, South Africa, Mjejane Private Game Reserve, Ukuthula House
Ukuthula House in Mjejane has unbeatable views of the Crocodile River with endless action from elephants along the water’s edge
Perfect Hideaways, South Africa, Mjejane Private Game Reserve, Ukuthula House
Ukuthula House in Mjejane has unbeatable views of the Crocodile River with endless action from elephants along the water’s edge

Our beautiful self-catering lodges in Mjejane make an excellent bush stop-over, offering prime game viewing – some have their own private game-viewing vehicles and rangers, others not, but game drives may be booked. 

Perfect Hideaways, South Africa, Mjejane Private Game Reserve, Ukuthula House
Inspired by a trip to Morocco, this is the second safari house designed by the same owner but Ukuthula House in Mjejane exudes a relaxed glamour

There are four game lodges to choose from: three are positioned on the banks of the Crocodile River overlooking the Kruger National Park: the Moroccan-inspired Ukuthula House, the contemporary Star Chestnut Lodge and clean-lined Ivuba River Lodge while Savannah Red overlooks grassy plains. 

Perfect Hideaways, South Africa, Mjejane Private Game Reserve, Ukuthula House
Beautiful bathrooms are a signature of Ukuthula House in Mjejane. Luxury private game reserve accommodation is often less colourful: we love the style of this creative interior designer owner

Set within this 4 000 ha reserve bordering the Kruger, a stopover at private self-catering accommodation Mjejane allows you full access to this reserve on a private game vehicle or head into the Kruger to explore some of the iconic self-drive routes of the south. Unlike a ‘resort’ or large safari lodge, you can experience an authentic and more personal family safari in Africa. Either way, it’s a superb safari holiday to enjoy before heading to the Mozambique coast or further south into KwaZulu-Natal.

Perfect Hideaways, South Africa, Mjejane Private Game Reserve, Savannah Red
Savannah Red overlooks the grasslands and plains of Mjejane, an easy drive from Johannesburg and a good stopover for Mozambique road trips

…Now for the beach!

After a couple of days packed with game-viewing drives you’ll be used to early starts – we recommend you plan an early-morning crossing at the Lebombo Border Gate near Komatipoort into Mozambique (the border is open daily from 6am to midnight). The drive from Mjejane to the border post is under 40 minutes, but we prefer an early start to avoid queues.

The new Maputo-Catembe bridge has made the drive the coast amazingly accessible, even the village of Ponta do Ouro furthest south close to the South African border. Expect walks on deserted beaches, endless swims in the turquoise waters of this special marine area as well as spectacular snorkelling, world-class diving and kayaking.

Perfect Hideaways, South Africa, Kosi Bay, Thonga Beach Lodge
Expect deserted beaches, excellent snorkelling and diving along the tropical north coast where you’ll find Thonga Beach Lodge
Perfect Hideaways, South Africa, Kosi Bay, Thonga Beach Lodge
Expect deserted beaches, excellent snorkelling and diving along the tropical north coast where you’ll find Thonga Beach Lodge

Jozi to Moz, Route 2:

Perfect Hideaways, South Africa, Manyoni Private Game Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal, Ingwe Lodge
Ingwe Lodge is one of Perfect Hideaways’ newest exclusive-use safari homes in Zululand’s Manyoni Private Game Reserve.

Wildlife wonder

Head out of Joburg via Ermelo to Ingwe Lodge or  Thuleni Homestead, in the heart of historic Zululand. Both sleep 10 and are superb escapes for families of couples. Both are set in classic Acacia bushveld on the 23 000 hectare Manyoni Private Game Reserve. 

Perfect Hideaways, South Africa, Manyoni Private Game Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal, Thuleni Homestead

Thuleni Homestead, a handpicked bush hideaway, has floor-to-ceiling glass with incredible 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. Thuleni is much loved by families with younger children as the sleeping arrangements are more flexible.

Ingwe Lodge has five identical and individual chalets, each one built in tiers on the undulating hillside with sweeping views of the mountains and valleys. The main lodge, with its open-plan entertaining, dining and chill spaces has a well-stocked library, hearty fireplaces for bushveld winters, and a long verandah overlooking the swimming pool.

Ideal for couples or older families, Ingwe Lodge is also a superb place to celebrate a milestone birthday with close friends.

Perfect Hideaways, South Africa, Manyoni Private Game Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal, Thuleni Homestead
Experience the luxury of private game drives at Thuleni Homestead, our luxurious self-catering bush accommodation
Perfect Hideaways, South Africa, Manyoni Private Game Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal, Thuleni Homestead
Experience the luxury of private game drives at Thuleni Homestead, our luxurious self-catering bush accommodation

Manyoni Private Game Reserve is one of the largest privately owned reserves in KwaZulu-Natal and is the focus of the World Wildlife Fund Black Rhino Range Expansion Project. Expect to find a mix of riverine woodland and grassy savannah inbetween hilly regions – one of the many reasons why the reserve is so different to the Greater Kruger.

Distinctive Umbrella Thorn Acacias, striking candelabra Euphorbias, massive Marulas, Weeping Boer Bean, Bush Willow and Tamboti trees are found in the reserve, along with Knobthorn Acacia forest. Manyoni means ‘Place of Birds’ in Zulu, the local African language – not surprising as the reserve is home to over 455 bird species.

Perfect Hideaways, South Africa, Kosi Bay, Thonga Beach Lodge
Explore the unspoilt Isimangaliso Wetland and tropical wilderness of the Kosi Bay coastline in northern KwaZulu-Natal
Perfect Hideaways, South Africa, Kosi Bay, Thonga Beach Lodge
Explore the unspoilt Isimangaliso Wetland and tropical wilderness of the Kosi Bay coastline in northern KwaZulu-Natal

Going coastal

From Thuleni Homestead or Ingwe Lodge, you can choose whether to soak up the wonders of KZN’s Elephant Coast en route to Thonga Beach Lodge or to take a slightly less-scenic route north, directly into Mozambique. Of course, our first choice is to add a few days at Thonga so you can truly discover the natural wonders and astounding beauty of the tropical wilderness areas surrounding Kosi Bay.

Perfect Hideaways, Mozambique, Vilanculos, Perlo do Mar
Set right on the gently lapping waters of the warm Indian Ocean, family friendly Perlo do Mar offers a magical Mozambique holiday
Perfect Hideaways, Mozambique, Vilanculos, Santorini
Santorini is known for its luxurious accommodation, excellent food and service. We love it for its expansive views across the archipelago and dreamy roof terrace where every unforgettable evening begins

Prefer to fly in? Touch down in Vilanculos.

If self-driving is not for you, direct flights from Johannesburg or Nelspruit mean it is ridiculously easy to fly to Vilanculos in Mozambique. Warm up this winter with our hot list of top Vilanculos villas:

Perfect Hideaways, Mozambique, Vilanculos, Perlo do Mar
An authentic Mozambique beach house, just north of Vilanculos on a private estate, Villa Ponta is a favourite with families who love the relaxed and authentic
Perfect Hideaways, Mozambique, Vilanculos, Perlo do Mar
An authentic Mozambique beach house, just north of Vilanculos on a private estate, Villa Ponta is a favourite with families who love the relaxed and authentic

Life is a beach at Villa Ponta, with views that stretch out over the Bazaruto Archipelago. Just 6km north of Vilanculos, the living is oh-so-easy at this self-catering but impeccably serviced beach villa and much-loved by families who have been going here for years for a laid-back holiday. 

Perfect Hideaways, Mozambique, Vilanculos, Santorini
An autheMuch-loved Santorini is set up on a cliff, about 20 minutes north of Vilanculos. It’s ideal for honeymooners and couples looking a luxurious accommodation and pampered stay in Mozambiquentic Mozambique beach house, just north of Vilanculos on a private estate, Villa Ponta is a favourite with families who love the relaxed and authentic
Perfect Hideaways, Mozambique, Vilanculos, Santorini
An autheMuch-loved Santorini is set up on a cliff, about 20 minutes north of Vilanculos. It’s ideal for honeymooners and couples looking a luxurious accommodation and pampered stay in Mozambiquentic Mozambique beach house, just north of Vilanculos on a private estate, Villa Ponta is a favourite with families who love the relaxed and authentic

If you could take a perfect slice of a Greek island villa and beach and relocate it to a wild and unspoilt place with vanilla-coloured sand, a warm aquamarine Indian ocean with gentle and welcoming local hospitality, you’d be at Santorini. Perched on the red cliffs of Kingfisher Bay just north of Vilanculos, Santorini’s unfurling view of the archipelago islands and curling mainland in the distance is unsurpassable.

Santorini’s offering is pampered and fully inclusive (it’s known for its superb food and as much produce as possible is grown in the kitchen garden), making it an ideal destination for honeymooners and couples, but equally good for families who would like to have the privacy of a villa on a private estate.

Perfect Hideaways, Mozambique, Vilanculos, Perlo do Mar
Perlo do Mar offers effortless, multigenerational accommodation just south of Vilanculo
Perfect Hideaways, Mozambique, Vilanculos, Perlo do Mar
Perlo do Mar offers effortless, multigenerational accommodation just south of Vilanculo

Delivering a flawless balance of the wild and the luxurious, Perlo do Mar is off-the-beaten-track perfection and the ideal spot from which to island hop to nearby Bazaruto.

Perfect Hideaways, Mozambique, Vilanculos, Perlo do Mar
Dreaming of an Indian Ocean escape together? Perlo do Mar’s private chef makes this Mozambique holiday a breeze.

This private villa is situated just south of Vilanculos and offers jet skiing, sailing, diving and kayaking, as well as deep-sea fishing. The offering is also fully inclusive with a full-time chef and staff – the ultimate holiday treat for families of all ages who are enjoying a rare get-together.

Perfect Hideaways, Mozambique, Azulik, The Sanctuary
Azulik, is 45 minutes by boat across from Vilanculos in the Sanctuary, the private San Sebastián Coastal Reserve
Perfect Hideaways, Mozambique, Azulik, The Sanctuary
Azulik, is 45 minutes by boat across from Vilanculos in the Sanctuary, the private San Sebastián Coastal Reserve

Accessible only by boat, the Sanctuary wildlife and coastal marine reserve is a very special place and one of our firm favourites. The San Sebastián Coastal Reserve, a 42 000-hectare reserve located in the southern area of the Bazaruto Archipelago, has a well-deserved reputation as a biodiversity hotspot. It takes about 45 minutes to cross by boat, depending on tides, and once there you’ll never want to leave!

A holiday here offers an escape to a sun-drenched paradise with miles of pristine beach and sea, wetlands and dunes, reefs and mangrove swamps, islands, lakes, and forests. Lie back in a hammock and watch local dhows drift by on the breeze or head out kayaking, tubing, paddling or sailing… not to mention snorkelling or diving some of the most unspoilt reefs along Africa’s coastline, including the world-famous Two Mile Reef just south of Bazaruto Island. House Marapi and Azulik are both idyllic self-catering hideaways on the Sanctuary. 

Perfect Hideaways, Mozambique, House Marapi, The Sanctuary
An idyllic getaway on the Sanctuary, the private San Sebastián Coastal Reserve
Perfect Hideaways, Mozambique, House Marapi, The Sanctuary
An idyllic getaway on the Sanctuary, the private San Sebastián Coastal Reserve

Mail us directly on [email protected] if you’d like to hear more.

Perfect Hideaways has over 400 curated properties across Southern Africa. If you’re looking for an idyllic getaway and would like to book a holiday in one of these hidden gems, ranging from self-catering family beach houses to fully inclusive luxury accommodation, please contact the knowledgeable Perfect Hideaways team on [email protected] or +27 21 790 0972 so that we can help you find your perfect hideaway.

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