NOTE – This is a suggested itinerary. Accommodation at Phinda and Thonga may be done in a different order
DAYS 1-4: Phinda Mountain Lodge Phinda Conservancy
Air Charter: Transfer from main terminal at O R Tambo to the Federal Air terminal (10mins), then fly to Phinda (1hr30). At Phinda, an open 4 x 4 vehicle will transfer you to Phinda Mountain Lodge.
With wrap-around views of the spectacular Ubombo Mountains and the serenity of the African bushveld below, Phinda Mountain Lodge is set apart from other safari lodges due to its dramatic location.
Little can compare to Phinda’s exciting range of safari activities. These range from the twice-daily game-drives, nature walks and riverboat cruises to canoe trips along the Mzinene River.
Each of the 20 private suites at Phinda Mountain Lodge feature spacious en suite bathrooms, large beds, sitting areas and spectacular viewing decks. Paved pathways lead down the mountainside from the main guest areas to the spacious suites – a subtly executed blend of avant-garde and ethnic design.
Delicious Pan-African cuisine is enjoyed in the dramatic boma (outdoor dining area) illuminated by dozens of candles and lanterns, or served to you in a spectacular clearing in the bush under a star-studded sky. Phinda is renowned for wonderful bush banqueting in surprising settings.
DAYS 4 – 8: Thonga Beach Lodge Isimangaliso Wetland Park
Travelling: After late breakfast, check out of Phinda Mountain Lodge.
Air Charter: Transfer from Phinda Mountain Lodge in an open 4 x 4 to Phinda’s Airstrip (20mins). A short air hop from here to Manzengwenya Airstrip (30mins) where Thonga’s open 4 x 4 vehicle will drive you to the lodge (25mins).
Thonga Beach Lodge is set on the secluded Mabibi Bay, in the heart of the Isimangaliso (formerly Greater St Lucia) Wetland Park, an internationally recognized World Heritage Site. With direct access onto the pristine shores of the Maputaland coast, this luxury lodge is the ideal place to discover one of the last unspoilt and undeveloped wilderness beaches left on the African continent. Mabibi is a magical place of tranquil swimming bays and snorkelling reefs, coastal forests, grasslands, bush, shimmering lakes and exquisite sandy beaches. Its crystal clear, warm waters offer superb snorkelling and fantastic offshore scuba diving.
There are no other developments within a 50km section of this pristine wilderness beach. It is 25 km North of Sodwana Bay and is the first private concession to have been granted by the Isimangaliso Wetland Park Authority. The swimming pool and central lodge area are 25m from the beach. Lake Sibaya (Southern Africa’s largest natural freshwater lake) is 9km from the lodge.
The 12 suites are Robinson Crusoe-chic! Thatched en-suite rooms have been carefully constructed in the coastal dune forest to ensure minimum impact on the environment and maximum guest privacy. Each room has adouble vanity, stone bath, indoor/outdoor shower, bar fridge, air-conditioning, ceiling fan & mosquito net.
Activities at Thonga Beach Lodge include scuba diving, Open Ocean experiences, kayaking and sundowners at Lake Sibaya, guided snorkelling, seasonal turtle drives/walks, Tsonga Cultural tours and forest walks. Whether you are a walker or a diver, take advantage of the wealth of activities that await you in this beautiful hideaway, or simply relax by the swimming pool.
Scuba diving at Mabibi is phenomenal. The coral reefs along this protected stretch of coastline are home to several species of tropical fish, including Blue Surgeons, Moorish Idols and Parrotfish. Our professional lodge diving team accommodates all enthusiasts, from the beginner to the veteran. For those who don’t dive, we have an Open Ocean Experience. An exciting launch through the surf in front of the lodge takes you beyond the breakers to a world of dolphins, whales and snorkelling. The warm Indian Ocean supports a myriad of fish and marine life. Guests can sometimes swim with dolphins or whale sharks, or snorkel with Manta rays and giant turtles.
In Summer, there are nocturnal walks and drives along the beach in search of pre-historic turtles laying their eggs. Witness the culmination of an incredible journey as giant Leatherback and Loggerhead turtles come ashore to lay their eggs in carefully prepared nests. Turtle tracking is offered in the evening from November to end-January (for the laying season) and until the end of February (for the hatchlings). Every precaution is taken to ensure these magnificent creatures are not disturbed during the laying process. There is no limit to the number of guests that can participate in Turtle walks however Turtle drives are limited to a maximum of 10 guests a night.
In the afternoon spoil yourself at the Sea Spa, which offers a wealth of seaweed rejuvenation treatments, facials, massages, hot stone therapy and reflexology. Alternatively take a walk on the beach, or enjoy afternoon tea before departing on a drive to the inland freshwater lake, Lake Sibaya. Watch the sun go down, look for hippos and crocs, whilst enjoying an early evening drink.
DAY 9: Back to Johannesburg
Travelling: After breakfast depart for Johannesburg.
Air Charter: Transfer from Thonga Beach Lodge in an open 4 x 4 to Manzengwenya Airstrip (25mins). A short air hop (30mins) to Phinda’s Airstrip, then onto O R Tambo with Federal Air (1hr30).