Ithala Game Reserve lies between the Pongola River and the tiny village of Louwsburg near Vryheid in Northern KZN. If ever the word “diversity” applied to a protected area Ithala must surely stand at the head of the queue. The terrain within its boundaries is extremely rugged, rising from about 400 metres above sea-level in the north, to over 1400 metres in the south – and this over a relatively short stretch of only 15 km. Ithala has a very varied geology, and the different soils this has produced has, in turn, resulted in an astonishing variety of vegetation types. Because of the range of vegetation, there is a wide variety of living creatures which are associated with the various plant communities. This variety extends to mammals (both large and small – almost everything from elephants to mice), reptiles, birds, insects, fish and so on down the line to microbial level. For more information about Ithala Game Reserve go to:

The picturesque Ntshondwe Resort

The star of Ithala is the wonderful Ntshondwe Resort, set on a plateau against the face the great Ngotshe Mountain on the western side of the protected area.

Ntshondwe Resort

Ntshondwe offers various accommodation configurations from fully equipped, self-catering four- and six-bedders, as well as the fully equipped, self-catering, luxurious six-bed Ntshondwe Lodge with its own splash pool. Residents have the choice of self-catering or using the restaurant.

The restaurant at Ntshondwe Resort

In addition, there are three fully equipped, self-catering bush lodges – the rustic 4-bed Thalu (see ) and the eight-bed Mbizo (see ) as well as the ten-bed Mhlangeni Bush Lodge that consists of five, 2-bed units and a central living area with kitchen, dining and lounge spaces. Wooden decks enable residents to enjoy unparalleled views over the Ithala Game Reserve, (see ). A guide who will take you walking in the bush is available at all of these venues by arrangement.

The interior of a conference centre accommodation unit

Ntshondwe itself has a well-equipped conference centre ideal for corporate functions in an environment conducive to focussed but relaxed effort. A number of two-bed accommodation units equipped with a fridge, a kettle and tea/coffee cups, is set aside for conference delegates. The resort offers a swimming pool, restaurant, bar, coffee shop and curio shop. Game drives and guided walks are offered as well. Ithala is also unique in that for visitors who prefer travelling by air it has a 1200 metre long, tarred airstrip which is big enough to take a Dakota aircraft! Please make arrangements with the Manager at Ntshondwe before coming though, as they need to come and collect you from the strip!

A DC3 Dakota aircraft on the landing strip at Ithala. It just fitted in! The area below the Ngotshe Mountain is in the background.

Ithala Game Reserve is a Big Four protected area of about 30,000ha in extent and is stocked with a wide variety of animals. The Ithala Big Four are elephants, buffaloes, rhinos (both black- and white) and leopards. It also has giraffes (the iconic animal in the game reserve), and an appropriate variety of other game species such as impala, tsessebe, wildebeest and nyala. Leopards do occur naturally in the protected area but are seldom seen.

A typical bush scene in Ithala Game Reserve

Ithala is very rich in history, having been part of Zulu, Boer, San and British events in the area.

For full information on Ntshondwe Resort and Ithala Game Reserve see:

2 replies
  1. Dries de Wet
    Dries de Wet says:

    Our family is simply in love with Ithala (and Ntshondwe) and have been singing its praises for years, also on our blog ( However, the recent deterioration in the condition of the gravel game viewing roads have made us think twice about when our next visit will be, considering that we’ve damaged tyres there now on each of our last 4 visits, necessitating unplanned, and expensive, trips to Vryheid to replace them (time and money we’d rather have spent inside the reserve!).

    We love Ithala, but please tell us that the roads will soon receive some attention so that we can visit again!?

    • Rhino Club Team
      Rhino Club Team says:

      Hi Dries – apologies for taking so long to respond. We haven’t been able to squeeze a positive response out of Ithala management other than they are trying to scrape together funding to repair the roads. let’s hope it happens soon!


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