Unwind in nature: waking up to birdsong in the bush at Zululand Lodge in Hluhluwe, South Africa

There are some things about Africa you just can’t get elsewhere. If you venture into the bush and make the effort to look up, stay quiet, and pay attention, you’ll be blessed with the sunsets, starry skies, and grounding beauty of nature that no other place can really match.

At places like Zululand Lodge in KwaZulu Natal, it’s impossible not to slow down and immerse yourself in the rhythms of the natural world around you. The lodge is solar-powered and energy-conscious, so it’s ideal for responsible travellers looking for an eco-lodge in the bush.

The lodge is on a private wildlife concession bordering Phinda Game Reserve, close to Hluhluwe Game Reserve, Mkuzi Game Reserve and St Lucia. There are 9 tented camps, each en-suite with two beds.

The lodge is owned by Sunway Safaris, and you can stay here on Fair Voyage’s varied (and highly recommended!) 17-day trip through South Africa. My visit to Zululand lodge was part of a familiarisation (fam) trip, experiencing what Fair Voyage will be selling to its clients, and I had the most magical time.

In the morning, you’ll wake up to the sounds of the birds stirring and be surrounded by thick green bushland in every direction. You can’t get closer to nature or escape it, and that’s why staying here is so special. There’s so little between you and the bush.

Life in the bush comes with one guarantee: early mornings. As you head out for the day, you’ll catch the sunrise over the lowveld. And when you’re back at the lodge for the evening, you can watch the sunset from Zululand’s beautiful lookout.

Staying at Zululand Lodge is a great base for exploring Northern KwaZulu Natal, and the nearby Hluhluwe–iMfolozi Park is worth the trip. This will likely be included in your safari itinerary. Look out for the Big 5 – we saw buffalo, elephant and rhino.

Back at the lodge, head out for a bush walk to experience the wild on foot, no wheels required. Look out for cormorants along the Msinene River and try to go unnoticed by the herds of impala as you wander by. Check the path for recent signs of leopard or hippo; just slow down, pay attention and see what’s in store for you that day.

When you’re done for the day, listen to nature winding down into night from the comfort of the lodge – there’s a great area to sit around with a book or chat over a glass of wine (if you remember to bring your own alcohol) with the bush right next to you.

One thing to know about staying at Zululand: you’re going to be very well-fed. Look forward to the chef’s explanations of the local food in front of you, such as their delicious pumpkin soup, a regional stew with roasted vegetables and rice, and trifle for dessert.

After dinner, see if you can head down to the campfire area just behind the lodge for an hour or so before bed. There’s nothing like sitting around a fire in the bush for getting back to basics and remembering that life really can be that simple.

My fondest memories of Zululand Lodge are the moments right after waking in the bush, and looking up at the night sky just before getting into bed. Roll your head back and seek out Orion pivoting as the night ticks on, as well as any other constellations you can recognise. There are few things more awe-inspiring than looking deep into the layers of the Milky Way from the calm of the African bush.

Would I go back? There’s no question.

I stayed at Zululand Lodge as part of my trip through South Africa and Swaziland which Fair Voyage is now offering as one of their responsible adventures. I am writing this article because I had a wonderful time, not because of any obligations to do so.