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This magnificent reserve, tumbling from the heights of the Ngotshe Mountains a thousand meters down into a deep valley, carved over the aeons by the Phongolo River revealing the world's oldest rock formations, is a game viewers paradise.
Situated in the rugged, mountainous thornveld of northern KwaZulu-Natal, the reserves multitude of habitats host a spectacular array of wildlife species. Ithala has some of the oldest rock formations in the world, dating back 3 000 million years. With a topographic profile varying from 400m above sea level in the north to 1 450m near Louwsberg in the south, Ithala's terrain extends over lowveld and densely vegetated riverine valleys to high-lying grassland plateaus, ridges and cliff faces.The area now proclaimed as Ithala has been occupied by man for thousands of years and there are many sites littered with Stone Age spear and axe heads dating back some 20,000 years. There has even been a mid-Stone Age tool discovered by archaeologists, which pushes the date back to anything up to 250,000 years. More recently, in the last few hundred years, with the advent of the Nguni people, iron smelting took place in Ithala and there are a number of smelting sites adjacent to deposits of banded ironstone which was crushed to provide the iron ore.Ithala has provided the setting for many historic events, from Shaka's reign and those of successive Zulu kings, to a number of gold mining enterprises in the early years of the 20th Century.
Ntshondwe's 39 thatched chalets blend into a lush setting of acacias, wild figs, cabbage trees and other indigenous flora. A variety of self-catering chalets, with two to six beds each, some of which have being designed for use by the handicapped, are available, while other chalets without catering facilities are geared for tour groups and conference delegates. These are situated around the visitors' centre, which has a fully licensed restaurant, a bar and an open game viewing deck, which overlooks a small pan.
Ntshondwe Lodge: This exclusive luxury lodge offers complete privacy in spectacular surroundings. It accommodates six guests in three bedrooms with bathrooms en-suite and has a small swimming pool, a sun deck and barbecue area overlooking the valley below. The services of a cook is available on request.
Mhlangeni Bushcamp: Set on a rocky outcrop overlooking a stream, the Mhlangeni bushcamp accommodates up to ten guests in five two-bed units. A central open-plan lounge and sun deck offer excellent views, as do the showers!
Mbizo Bushcamp: Mbizo is ideally situated beside a series of rapids and pools near the spot where the Ngubhu and Mbizo rivers meet. A total of eight guests can be accommodated here, in two separate bush chalets constructed of wood, reed and thatch. Each has two bedrooms, it's own lounge, kitchen and viewing deck. The camp has two separate ablution facilities. The tariff includes the services of an attendant and field ranger to take guests on walks by prior arrangement.
Thalu Bushcamp: Thalu Bush Camp is tucked away at the foot of a steep slope on the banks of the Thalu River. A picturesque barbecue area overlooks a large pool in the river where swimming is permitted. Thalu accommodates four people in two bedrooms linked by a kitchen, lounge and viewing deck. An attendant is provided and a field ranger is available by prior arrangement to take visitors on game walks.
Rates Include:Accommodation, community levy, emergency rescue levy and 14% VAT.
Rates Exclude: Meals, optional excursions and optional extras.
Gate Opening and Closing Times: Summer (1 November to 28/29 February) 05:00-19:00Winter (1 March to 31 October) 06:00-18:00LATE arrivals are charged a late entry fee of R200.00-R500.00Office Hours: The office is open from 07:00-19:30Distance and Time from Gate to Camp: 8 kilometres and 15 minutes.Check Out Time: 10:00 Check In Time: 14:00Facilities: Restaurant, coffee shop, bar facility, swimming pool, conferences, day and night game drives, walking trails are available at Ithala. Petrol and diesel is available at the gate.Shop: Basic food supplies are available at the curio shop. The nearest town, which has a full range of services, is Vryheid situated 69 kilometres away.Facilities for people with disabilities: Provisions have been made for people with disabilities in the accommodation and other facilities in Ntshondwe Camp.No caravans are permitted inside the reserve.Pets are not permitted into the reserve.