Hotel Spotlight: Thula Thula

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Curated By

Marilyn Fay

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  • Safari

  • Off-the-Beaten-Path Travel

  • South Africa

  • Sightseeing

  • Wildlife

  • Outdoors

Hotel Spotlight: Thula Thula
Curator’s statement

Located in the lush greenery of Zululand, South Africa, is Thula Thula Private Animal Sanctuary. This expansive reserve offers a unique and unforgettable safari experience, combining luxurious accommodations with thrilling game drives and opportunities to interact with some of South Africa's most famous elephants.

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Where to stay

Thula Thula Private Game Reserve

Your African wilderness retreat in Zululand, where wildlife encounters, conservation and luxury lodges combine for an unforgettable stay in the heart of the bush

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In beautiful South Africa lies a sanctuary where elephants now thrive thanks to a man named Lawrence Anthony. After reading the book "The Elephant Whisper," I was so moved I booked a trip to Thula Thula to meet these incredible elephants face-to-face.

Thula Thula's accommodations are designed to complement the natural beauty of the surroundings, providing guests with a sense of place. Choose from two distinct accommodation options: Elephant Safari Lodge and Luxury Tented Camp.

Rhinoceros view

We settled into our Luxury Tented Camp and we set out to find the elephants. Our vehicle cruised along the dusty trails of the game reserve. Each turn of the wheel held the promise of an encounter, a chance to see them. And then, it happened. Our vehicle came to a halt, and there they were – the elephants from the book, emerging from the bush. Frankie, the matriarch, led the way. Her wrinkled skin bore the marks of countless seasons, each crease a testament to her resilience then Nana, her curiosity infectious. And the babies – oh, the baby elephants! Their tiny trunks reached out, eager to say hello. I sat there, mesmerized. Their eyes, filled with wisdom and sweetness. In that moment, I felt so lucky. Our adventure continued, leading us to a heartwarming encounter with a young rhino. As we approached cautiously, the rhino, unafraid, nuzzled against our vehicle, seeking solace and affection. We got to pet him. The roughness of his skin, etched into my memory. This was not just a safari; it was a journey that touched my soul. It was a privilege beyond measure to meet them in person.

Need to Know

Read "The Elephant Whisper" before you go. Gain a deeper understanding of these remarkable elephants to enhance your experience.

Volunteer Opportunity: This incredible program fosters a deep appreciation for the African wilderness while contributing to its preservation. Thula Thula’s Volunteer Academy is a unique immersive cultural experience. The focus is wildlife conservation, reserve management, and environmental studies. Volunteers work alongside a team of passionate nature enthusiasts in an ongoing effort to bridge the gap between humans and the wild. The funds raised go directly to support the South African Conservation Fund, and important conservation initiatives, habitat care and anti-poaching measures.

This trip report is part of our ongoing series on travel to South Africa. In need of further inspiration? Check out Anne Bisgaard’s guide, Spectacular South Africa.

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Travel Advisor

Marilyn Fay

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