I recently had the privilege of visiting Thonga Beach lodge following a short safari in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. Thonga Beach Lodge is a beautiful eco-friendly resort located on the pristine shores of the Maputaland coast. Nestled within the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the lodge offers a unique and secluded getaway experience.
Our adventure started even before we arrived at the lodge as we were met in the usual way at Sodwana Bay and transferred via 4×4 on a thrilling drive over the sand dunes to the remote lodge. You can of course drive yourself to the lodge in your own 4 x4 but I only recommend this if you are an experienced off-road driver as it isn’t an easy route to navigate! On arrival at the lodge we were met with beautiful smiles, a cool cloth and a delicious welcome drink. Check-in was incredibly smooth, with our cases immediately taken across to our rooms, whilst we were given a brief tour of the bar, restaurant, pool and comfortable beach facing deck!
The lodge features luxurious and spacious rooms and suites that are tastefully decorated and designed to blend harmoniously with the surrounding environment. The accommodations offer stunning ocean or forest views and are equipped with modern amenities to ensure a comfortable stay. The rooms are an good size whether you are travelling solo, as a couple or as a family. There are even two bedroom family chalets available. For an extra special stay you can even have your own plunge pool in one of the deluxe ocean front suites. Every en-suite room has a separate bath and extra large shower, mosquito nets, fresh filtered water delivered daily, tea and coffee making facilities, a reasonably priced mini-bar, a relaxing seating area and a wide deck to sit and experience the natural beauty outside.
Thonga Beach Lodge is one of only two properties along this area of the coast, so you can be guaranteed that the beach will not be crowded, and you will have plenty of space to sit, relax and take in the natural beauty of the area. The lodge places a strong emphasis on sustainability and eco-friendly practices, and is committed to conserving the natural environment and supporting the local community through responsible tourism initiatives.
The lodge is located within a diverse ecosystem, allowing guests to immerse themselves in nature. The surrounding wetlands and forests are home to a variety of flora and fauna, including bird species, turtles, and small mammals. To take advantage of the location the lodge has a wide range of activities on offer for those who prefer a more activity focussed stay. The activities include snorkelling, diving, turtle tracking (Nov-Feb), a relaxing spa, a scorpion and spider night walk, forest walks, fishing, cultural tours, kayaking and even a bubble maker course! If it is a more relaxing stay you are after then the two warm swimming pools with comfortable sun-beds, the beautifully positioned deck area and the virtually empty beach will provide plenty of opportunity to sit back, read a book or simply escape from everyday life on a pristine and unspoiled beach.
During our stay we experienced two of the phenomenal activities; a morning ocean safari and a sundowner at the lake. The ocean safari was on a surf rib-boat and involved a fast and bumpy launch before a relaxing fast-paced ride along the shoreline to see what we could find, and we were not disappointed. We were fortunate to spot a pod of dolphins who were gracious enough to let us snorkel up close with them for over 20 minutes. A completely authentic experience viewing these friendly and majestic mammals in their natural habitat and an experience that will never be forgotten. The boat ride is not for the faint-hearted but the views, wildlife and informed guide make this a must do activity for those who love everything about the sea.
The lake sundowner involved a 25 minute drive through the local village, where our guide and most of the lodge staff live. We heard first hand about the way of life for locals, and changes that have been made over the years since the lodge came into existence and stared a charitable foundation in the area. The stories and were open and honest, emotional and at times highly amusing! The final lake side location is just beautiful. We drove right out to the edge of the lake, and enjoyed delicious biltong and a drink of our choice as we said a cheerful good-bye to the day whilst soaking in the surroundings.
The lodge’s on-site restaurant offers a delightful dining experience, featuring a variety of delicious local and international dishes. The menu often includes fresh seafood and locally sourced ingredients. Food at the lodge was of an excellent quality, and depending on the weather you will get the opportunity to eat out on the deck near the bar or in the ambient restaurant. We did both during our short stay. You will certainly not go hungry during your stay with breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner included in the full-board rates. Portion sizes were ample, and the quality and type of food was in line with the exemplary standards I have come to expect across South Africa; fresh ingredients, tasty and unique recipes and all wonderfully presented. The bar area is calm and relaxing, offering a large range of local wines, beers, spirits and soft-drinks. There is even a cosy fire-pit where you can sit out and look to the stars, which are so prevalent on a clear night due to the remote location and lack of any light pollution.
A safari and beach combination is a popular tour choice for those choosing to visit countries across Africa, but historically people have chosen the beach stay to be in Zanzibar, Mozambique or Mauritius. Thonga Beach Lodge allows for an exquisite beach front stay along the warm Indian ocean, in luxurious surroundings all whilst remaining in South Africa so without the need for an additional flight, and additional visa’s/entry requirements. The lodge is remote and is around 5 hours drive from Durban or 3.5 hours from Richards Bay so there will be a need for an extended land transfer post trip. However, beforehand I recommend a KZN Safari and/or St Lucia stay and these are only around 2-3 hours from the lodge so there does not need to be multiple extended journeys during your trip. It is also worth considering whether you want to visit Cape Town first to turn your trip into a fully rounded adventure with city, history, culture, safari and beach.
I was honestly bowled away with this beautiful lodge, and believe that part of its charm is how remote it is. So whilst it can take a while to get there, you forget all of this as soon as you arrive because it is such a relaxing destination. My advice would be to stay 3-4 nights minimum to truly enjoy the area, but 6-7 nights would of course be even better!
To book or discuss further how to include Thonga Beach Lodge as part of your next adventure then contact us today:
- Phone +44 (0)208 050 1739
- WhatsApp +44 (0)7757 056076
- Email – email@example.com