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Ithala Game Reserve

Contact Details
Vryheid Zululand & Maputaland KwaZulu-Natal

About Ithala Game Reserve

The Ithala Game Reserve measures 29 653 ha in extent, and is situated on the south bank of the Pongola River, about 70 km east of Vryheid, 400 km north of Durban and 500 km from Johannesburg.
Apart from a wide selection of tourist facilities, Ithala Game Reserve offers a fascinating variety of terrain, habitats, mammals, birds and trees. The reserve is also rich in history, having been continually occupied during major events of the 19th and 20th century. The terrain is extremely rugged, rising from 400 m above sea level in the north to 1400 m above sea level in the south, near Louwsburg. Several rivers rise in or near the reserve, winding down steep river valleys to the Pongola River which forms the northern boundary.


Bush Camps

These are accommodation units with a difference. Bush camps are fully equipped with cutlery, crockery, linen and cooking utensils. A gas fridge and stove are provided, although cooking is usually done over an open fire. You are required to do your own cooking. Gas lights are provided. The Ithala Game Reserve Bush Camps can house four, eight or ten people respectively, and are built of wooden poles, reeds and thatch. Each camp has its own, unique character, and is situated away from other tourist areas to give residents complete privacy.

Thalu Bush Camp 4 - sleeper

Tucked away at the foot of a steep slope on the banks of the Thalu River, this unit accommodates four people in two bedrooms situated on either side of a central lounge (no TV) and dining area. One bedroom has a double bed and the other has two single beds. A rustic hot/cold shower and flush toilet are provided (outside). The design of the bush camp incorporates picture windows, which give the impression of being "right in the bush". There is also a well-appointed braai area perched above a magnificent pool.
- Kitchen with gas stove / fridge
- No electricity

Mbizo Bush Camp 8 - sleeper

Situated at a point where the Thalu forms a series of rapids and wide pools on its descent to the Thalu River, the Mbizo Bush Camp has been built to give its occupants the best advantage of the surrounding area. This camp accommodates eight people in two separate four bed units, each having two rooms, one with a double bed and the other two single beds. Each unit has separate hot and cold shower and toilet facilities (outside). A communal braai and campfire area is situated between the two units.
- Gas stove / fridge
- No electricity or plug points
Mhlageni Bush Camp 10 - sleeper

From its vantage point on a rocky knoll overlooking the Ncence River, this exciting bush camp offers its residents complete privacy and solitude in an idyllic setting. Mhlangeni has five two-bed units. There are three hot and cold water ablution facilities with flush toilets. The communal lounge/dining-room/kitchen area is set above a sun deck and braai area providing unrivalled game-viewing opportunities. The camp is set amongst the large boulders of one of the many granite outcrops typical of the area.
- Kitchen with fridge, freezer and gas stove
- No TV
- Veranda overlooking the river

Ntshondwe Lodge:

This is very beautiful unit situated under the hill overlooking Ntshondwe Valley. 3 Bedrooms (en-suite), one of them with a double bed, kitchen with a gas stove, freezer, fridge, microwave. Lounge and dinning room.
- DSTV compact
- Ceiling fans
- Oil heaters in all rooms
- Fireplace in lounge
- Swimming pool
- Braai area
- Washing machine
- Ntshondwe Lodge is wheelchair accessible
- Cook on request

Visitor Activities / Amenties

Game and bird viewing, or just relaxing are the main interests in this beautiful reserve. With the exception of lion, all the major game species occur. Animals that occur that are considered rare and endangered include greater bushbaby, leopard, honey-badger, brown hyena, pangolin, tsessebe, whilst for the birders, goliath heron, bald ibis, bathawk, martial eagle, brown-necked parrot, Cape Eagle-Owl, Cape vulture and lappet faced vulture can be found. Excellent self-guided short and longer walks within the complex provides convenient bird watching and game viewing. Game walks with a tour guide can be booked at the reception office. Regrettably no children under the age of the 13 are permitted. Guided game drives are available. Guided mountain bike safaris are available, however guests are required to provide their own bikes. Regrettably children under the age of 13 are not permitted. There is easy access on foot to a waterhole in front of the resort. There is a curio shop which stocks basic foodstuffs and a variety of curio items. A swimming pool is available to accommodated guests.

What to bring

Please bring your own food, beverages and torches, as well as any other personal items.


Ithala Game Reserve has an astonishing range of landscapes and habitats from the highland sourveld grasslands at the top of the Ngotshe Mountains to the Bushveld and Forest along the Phongola River a thousand metres below. Characterized by deep bush filled valleys and gorges with clear streams cascading over numerous waterfalls into deep pools, and expansive grassy plateaus with large herds of plains game such as blue wildebeest tssessebe and red hartebeest, Ithala offers a wealth of activities for visitors.
- Walking is encouraged, but only under the supervision of a field guide unless one of the self guided trails are taken. This can be booked for an additional fee in advance through Ntshondwe Resort Reception.
- Most rivers are free of crocodiles and bilharzia, so swimming is permitted at Thalu and Mbizo camps. Please take care when swimming and ensure that children are supervised at all times.
- Game-viewing and bird-watching is excellent from the sun-decks or verandas of the camps.


Ithala Game Reserve has a small, rustic campground with three campsites providing basic facilities for up to 20 people. There is a shower, a flush toilet and a kitchen. A thatched lounge/dining shelter is available for use as a communal facility. As with most of Ithala's visitor facilities, the camp ground is situated on a river which is free from bilharzia. Campers may swim in the pools below the camp. Campers need to provide their own food, beverages and equipment.     No caravans are allowed due to the steep roads leading to the reserve.

Picnic Sites

Three picnic sites have been established which all have braai facilities and toilets. Charcoal and/or wood are on sale at Ntshondwe Resort Curio Shop.     You may, of course, bring your own wood or charcoal. In the interest of good conservation practice, please do not gather firewood from the bush around the picnic sites or in the park. The rivers running past the picnic sites are shallow but safe to swim in. Please take care when swimming, and make sure that children are supervised at all times. Please make sure that your braai fire has been properly extinguished before you leave the area, as fire is a very real hazard, particularly in the dry winter months.