Getting Ghosted

Lodge in northern KwaZulu-Natal offers access to a host of delights

 

It may be a little over two hours from Richards Bay to Mkuze, but the drive is worth taking at a leisurely pace, and should not be rushed. There are several roadside stops where you will find convenient shop, restaurant and of course restroom facilities. Richards Bay is also close to the highway and offers a more picturesque stopover – perhaps try lunch at the colourful Tuzi Gazi Waterfront.

When you reach it, Mkuze is a small town featuring a range of stores, a well-run country club and the Ghost Mountain Inn, a great base from which to explore the area. This hotel is one obviously good choice, with the other being perhaps deciding to stay over at the nearby Mkuze Game Reserve. Apart from the game viewing, there are other tour options tantalisingly offered by Ghost Mountain Inn, which operates its own in-house safari tour operator. The Lebombo Mountain drive is ideal for a leisurely afternoon outing. You are driven up to
the top of the Lebombo mountain range, and are able to see how the local folk live up there. There are scenic viewpoints aplenty, and from one corner, you overlook the vast Jozini Dam (which brought back memories of having attended – or rather endured – a military camp there some years ago). Another vista reveals Swaziland in the distance, though it has to be a clear day! We paused for a refreshment stop in this mountainous wonderland – it is a treat truly not to be missed. There is a Jozini Dam tour on offer that includes a boat ride on the lake, with possibilities of sightings of hippos and crocodiles as well as whatever other game is in the vicinity in the Pongola Game Reserve. This can be taken up as a half-day or full day excursion with lunch. The place is also a birdwatchers’ paradise – there are apparently over
420 species of birds to be found on and around Jozini Dam!

Birds and battles

Make an effort to visit the Mkuze Game Reserve. We took up a half-day tour and saw game including zebras, giraffes and elephants. A bird-hide stopover was included, which is likely popular at sunset with birdwatchers. Mkuze does not have the busier flow of, say, Hluhluwe Game Reserve, but in full season, you will encounter many more travellers. Stop for a refreshment and then enjoy an afternoon drive. This is when the animals start to reappear, after the heat of the middle of the day is over. The Ghost Mountain Inn overlooks beautiful gardens, leading down to a lake looking directly across at Ghost Mountain itself, where the Battle of Shaneni between local African tribes took place. What makes the inn special is that it is family owned, and not part of any chain of hotels or hotel group. Rooms are beautifully laid out, with courtyard-style suites on offer for the more budget conscious. The garden includes a great pool deck area – in fact, there are two swimming pools – an ideal, immediate escape from that Zululand heat. A central lounge and bar are also attractive, featuring lovely views across the garden, with pub lunches popular on the upper terraces.

 

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