Fodor's The Complete Guide to African Safaris
Ithala Game Reserve
Ithala Game Reserve Review
In northern KwaZulu-Natal Province, close to the Swaziland border, Ithala (sometimes spelled "Itala"), at 296 square km (114 square mi), is small even compared with the relatively compact Hluhluwe-Imfolozi. Its size and its dearth of lions are probably why this delightful park 221 km (137 mi) northwest of Hluhluwe-Imfolozi is usually bypassed, even by South Africans—although they clearly don't know what they're missing. The other four of the Big Five are here—it's excellent for black and white rhinos—and the park is stocked with cheetahs, hyenas, giraffes, and an array of antelopes among its 80 mammal species. It's also an excellent spot for birders. The stunning landscapes and the relaxed game-viewing make this area a breath of fresh air after the Big Five melee of Kruger.
The reserve, founded in 1972 and run by KZN Wildlife, is a rugged region that drops 3,290 feet in just 15 km (9 mi) through sandstone cliffs, multicolor rocks, granite hills, ironstone outcrops, and quartz formations. Watered by nine small rivers rising in its vicinity and covered with rich soils, Ithala supports a varied cross section of vegetation, encompassing riverine thicket, wetland, open savanna, and acacia woodland. Arriving at its Ntshondwe Camp is nothing short of dramatic. The meandering road climbs from open plains to the top of a plateau dotted with granite formations, which at the last minute magically yield the rest camp at the foot of pink and russet cliffs.
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