Ithala Game Reserve is a 29 653-hectare scenic destination and is considered a game viewer’s paradise. It is situated within the rugged and mountainous thornveld about 400 km north of Durban, in northern KwaZulu-Natal. Being proclaimed as a nature reserve in 1973, it is one of the youngest game reserves in South Africa. Ithala Game Reserve’s most admirable characteristic is its astonishing geological diversity which has resulted in the production of a variety of soils and a rich diversity of vegetation. The reserve encompasses densely vegetated river valleys, high-lying grassland plateaus, mountain ridges and cliff faces. The altitude varies from 400 m along the Phongolo River to 1,450 m along the Ngotshe Mountain escarpment.
This game reserve was the setting of many historic events in South Africa, including the reign of Shaka and his successive Zulu kings. Evidence of earlier occupation by middle stone age and iron age people can be seen. Ithala also features some rock formations dating back 3 000 million years and some historic sites wherein stone age spear and ax heads dating back some 20,000 years are found.
Wildlife in Ithala
Ithala Game Reserve is also home to a wide array of wildlife species including giraffe, rhino, elephant, buffalo, zebra, blue wildebeest, impala and a wide variety of antelope including tsessebe, eland, red hartebeest and mountain reedbuck. Visitors will surely enjoy observing all the animals and plants and listening to the sound of chirping birds in the wild.
Things to do in Ithala Game Reserve
Ithala Game Reserve does not only offer a fascinating variety of terrain, history and rich wildlife, it also offers a wide selection of tourist facilities and a variety of game activities such as ranger-guided walks, game drives, swimming, and picnics. It also offers an excellent auto trail. Visitors are welcome to try out the mountain bike trails.
Ithala Game Reserve Auto Trails
Ithala has a number of well laid out auto trails with markers at points of interest. The Ithala Game Reserve Auto Trail is a self-drive rocky mountain track with river crossings. Auto Trails consist of a 30 km circular drive that should take about three hours to complete. These Auto Trails gives the guests the opportunity to experience the African wildlife and fauna of Ithala Game Reserve from the comfort of their own vehicle. Booking beforehand is essential because only three vehicles are allowed at one time.
Ithala has a number of routes for walking trails. These walking trails provide a great way to get close to the magnificent flora, fauna, and avifauna of the reserve. Guided trails depart in the early morning and mid to late afternoon depending on the season. Guests can also enjoy the independence of self-guided walking trails.
Day and Night Drives
Day and night drives are conducted in open viewing vehicles and are a popular tourist attraction in the reserve. No safari is ever complete without an exciting day game drive. A night game drive is a great way to experience the romance of an African sunset as well as to see nocturnal animals with the help of a spotlight. These game drives are the perfect way to discover the flourishing wildlife of Ithala Game Reserve. Game drives are conducted in state of the art safari vehicles in the presence of an expertly trained ranger and tracker.
Picnic sites are situated in several scenic spots of Ithala Game Reserve which offer spectacular views and are ideal for game watching. These picnic spots also have barbecue facilities and ablutions.
The interesting history, fascinating geological formations, the astonishing range of landscapes, wide array of wildlife, various activities, scenic beauty, and remoteness makes Ithala Games Reserve one of South Africa’s most sought-after safari destinations.