Nestled within the beauty of KwaZulu Natal in Mkuze, near Hluhluwe, roughly three hours away from Durban to the north, sits a charming private and charming game reserve known as Rhino River Lodge . Rhino River Lodge is a private game reserve located on the banks of the Msunduzne River in the Zululand Rhino Reserve. There is a maximum of eighteen guests, giving it an intimate feeling, and as there are only two game vehicles, the guests are divided into two groups, each with their own ranger, and each takes a separate route on each drive.
Each building is separate but close, with four rooms and two chalets with the ability to accommodate for a maximum of eighteen people. The chalets can sleep four comfortably, with a kitchen, bathroom and living room (pictures). Just a short distance away from the rooms and chalets is the boma, with a fire that is lit at night, a lounge room, a dining room/bar and a lovely pool. I found that having everything so close gave the lodge a comfortable, homely feeling.
The meals were divine, and each day was something different for lunch and dinner, from wraps to salad and quiche at lunch, to amazingly cooked fish or chicken and other delicious meals for dinner. Each night there was a different dessert, and my favourite was the gorgeous yet incredibly rich chocolate mousse. It was smooth and chocolaty with just the hint of marshmallow blended through it. It was one that I would gladly have again. The bread was baked fresh every day and came out warm from the oven – my favourite was the corn bread.
Outside boma where we had dinner after the evening drives.
The intimacy of the lodge enhances the familiarity visitors to the lodge receive from the rangers, such as Alison, Ruan and Isaac, and the lodge manager, Shona. The rangers conducting the game drives and helping out around the lodge who were present during our stay were Alison and Isaac. Alison, Shona and Isaac were friendly, caring and always smiling. It was an immense joy and privilege to have Alison as our ranger on the game drives, and it was something to look forward to every day.
The experience of the game drives was different each morning and evening. We drove out each morning as the sun lifted his sleepy head above the African bush. As the sky goes from grey to pink to a pale blue, the diurnal animals begin to waken and the nocturnal animals drift off to sleep.
Our ranger on these drives was Alison, who was informative and enthusiastic about her job. She made the experience of the game drives magical and special both morning and night.
There is definitely something enchanting about seeing the African wildlife like the white rhino in their natural habitat, and so close to a land cruiser. Two of the rhino we often encountered became known to us as "the boys" – two bachelor males who were unfazed by our presence next to them as they ate and slept.
Mother and 3 month old baby rhino after a mud bath
The game drives are an integral part of the experience at Rhino River Lodge. You have the opportunity to see everything from the Big Five to the small genet and the common impala, found romping around everywhere. As the golden sun greets the bush, and then farewells it, these and many other animals, some more elusive than others, can be seen basking and eating, just waiting to begin their day and night.
An exciting and intriguing aspect of the night drives once the sun has dipped his sleepy head beneath the horizon is spotting the nocturnal animals like genets, leopard and lion. It is at this time that the guests sitting on the left and right front seats are handed the spot lights and look carefully for nightlife, such as the genet we saw one night
Africa's bush has a magical quality that I have never felt anywhere else in the world. The sounds of the African bush accentuate the sights and are unlike anything else that I have ever experienced and that anyone ever will. It is a unique world where you can escape from the outside world.
Rhino River Lodge, along with Rhino Force and Zululand Rhino Reserve is aiding in the translocation and preservation of the black and white rhino populations of Africa, something very important to the reserve and the rangers there. Seeing the beautiful rhino in its natural habitat was amazing and something that I believe should be preserved for future generations, and I commend Rhino River Lodge for all that they are doing, along with the Zululand Rhino Reserve and Rhino Force to achieve this goal.
The experience that my family and I had at Rhino River Lodge was unique and enchanting. It is definitely a place that I would like to go back to with its kind staff and homely feeling around the campfire at night. I highly recommend it as a place to visit or even revisit to experience the magic of the African bush.