Exploring Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park…Mthembu Lodge with Craig Drysdale

I was recently invited by Mantis to experience their new Mthembu Lodge based in their private 6 000 hectare concession area, the Umfolozi Big Five Game Reserve, adjacent to the famous Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park, the oldest proclaimed protected Game Reserve in South Africa, dating back to 1895.



Located on the south most boundary line of the world renowned park lies the uMfolozi Big Five Reserve which comprises of two brand new luxury lodges, Biyela Lodge and Mthembu Lodge.


uMfolozi Big Five Reserve - Mthembu_suite view
Mthembu Lodge
uMfolozi Big Five Reserve - Biyela _bathroom view_villas
Biyela Lodge

What makes this park unique and significant is that the DNA of all white rhino’s alive in Africa today can be traced back to the Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park. Once the royal hunting grounds for the Zulu Kingdom (King Shaka himself), this is also where the very first steps with Operation Rhino were taken almost seventy years ago under the guidance of revered global conservationist, the late Dr Ian Player.


More importantly to note is how this all started.  Both chieftaincies, Chief Biyela and Chief Mthembu, after which the lodges are named, were actively involved in the conservation efforts of the reserve.

There is an abundance of wildlife including Africa’s famed Big Five along with cheetah, wild dog, hippopotamus, crocodile, red duiker and nyala to name but a few species.

The reserve boasts activities such as Big Five game drives, special interest safaris, guided walking tours, bird watching and stargazing. Game drives and walks on the 6 000 hectares are exclusively for guests staying on the reserve. The lodge has a further 95 000 hectares of traversing game drive rights in the main park as well.

uMfolozi Big Five Reserve - Mthembu L (19)





Mthembu Lodge boasts 9 Villas, compromising of 7 one bedroom private villas and 2 two bedroom family villas.

Mthembu Room ViewuMfolozi Big Five Reserve - Mthembu bathroom_1uMfolozi Big Five Reserve - Mthembu suiteview_1uMfolozi Big Five Reserve - Mthembu_suite layout

Family Villa Lounge

Suite facilities have air conditioning, full en-suite bathroom, outdoor (and indoor) shower, guest lounge, vanity desk with hairdryer, minibar, in-room electronic safe, local and international electrical sockets.


Lodge services and facilities include complimentary Wi-Fi in the main lodge, mobile coverage throughout, in-room dining, transfers on request, laundry services, dining room, guest lounge with viewing deck, boma, bar and swimming pool.

Mthembu Guest Lounge MorningMthembu PooluMfolozi Big Five Reserve - Mthembu_wine Cellar


I can personally see and attest to why the Umfolozi Big Five Game Reserve by Mantis went with the strapline ‘an exceptional place to find yourself’.  For me I found the reserve to be a very special (and sacred) place – once the royal hunting ground of King Shaka – it is a vast fertile land of undisturbed perfection. The prolific wildlife sightings is magnificent matched with the refined accommodation offer with great furnishings and finishes. The staff at Mthembu Lodge are welcoming and very professional and make you feel at home immediately. Out of the many game reserves and lodges I have travelled to over the last two decades, Umfolozi Big Five Game Reserve By Mantis and Mthembu Lodge most definitely is up there! – Craig Drysdale – General Manager Global Sales

View more information and rates or contact a Thompsons Africa consultant to make a booking on info@thompsonsafrica.com.



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