When you think of KwaZulu-Natal, the first thing which comes to mind is the warm ocean and sunny climate, this automatically leaves you with the thought of booking a weekend getaway at the coast.
A mere 2 hour drive from Durban lies a plethora of Big 5 safari, nature walks and other exciting activities.
We decided to venture into the heart of Zululand for a bit of a break prior to the Christmas rush after enduring what seemed like an eternity in lockdown.
Our drive began early on Saturday morning 12th December 2020 as we wanted to catch the opening of the Nyalazi gate at the renowned Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, the oldest national park in South Africa, legend being the original hunting grounds of the legendary King Shaka Zulu. The drive was an easy, one road (Highway) from our home in Salt Rock to the gate of Hluhluwe where we were greeted by friendly staff who adhered to all the safety Covid -19 regulations.
We drove at an easy pace through the park (from the Imfolozi side through to Hluhluwe) heading in the direction of Memorial gate which was the closest en-route to Falaza.
Google maps said 20 minutes and Google maps were on point. Falaza is situated right next door to False Bay Park which is a strip of pristine protected waterway linking the greater St Lucia estuary with the Indian Ocean. We arrived at the gate of Falaza a bit earlier than anticipated and were greeted by a very jovial man named Steve which by the looks of his uniform, he was one of the Guides at the lodge. Falaza is home to the Big 3 being Rhino, Buffalo and the occasional leopard.
Steve welcomed us to the lodge and gave us an introduction to Falaza.
After our check in Steve asked if we would get comfy in the lounge area and enjoy some lunch while our luxurious tent was being prepared. The setting at Falaza is absolutely spectacular, the lush dense vegetation was something very different to what you would expect from a “Game Park” and the difference was perfect. We sat at a table under a tree, the cool afternoon breeze touching our faces helping ease the humidity which KZN is so famous for.
Before I get into what we had to eat I want to point out that I recently began suffering with a severe gluten intolerance, I did advise the lodge prior to our arrival.
The head chef personally introduced himself (Chef Andhile) who has been at Falaza for 5 years, said I was not to worry as I was in his very good hands. I ordered a Chicken breast with steamed veg and chips and Martin ordered a Chicken wrap. WOW is all I can say, the food came quick and boy oh boy was it delicious. The chicken so juicy and the veg so fresh!
After a scrumptious lunch, Martin and I were informed our accommodation was ready. We followed Steve along the pretty stone pathway, past other Luxury Tents which made me feel I was in for a real pampered treat.
Number 11 was our tent, perched atop a wooden base and overlooking the dense Falaza bush, which by the way is home to a variety of wildlife that also enjoy the grounds around the tents.
Nyala and Impala where right outside our door, relaxed and roaming freely throughout the property.
The accommodation at Falaza is decorated with comfortable furniture both modern and eco-friendly. The natural wood and canvas tent covering blend well in the surrounding vegetation. Our tent boasted an outside bath and shower which was enclosed with a circular wall but open to the stars, the best way to cleanse one’s self!
Soon it was time for dinner and we were famished!
After our delicious lunch I knew dinner was going to be a royal affair. The friendliest waiter by the name of Sam attended to us. The dinner menu is something out of a 5-star restaurant, the selection was so difficult to choose from as it all looked so delicious. To start Martin chose a Prawn & Avo salad, our mains where Catch of the day (Sole) with mash, Martin went for Duck Fillet with julienne veg and roasted potato. Dessert for Martin was a Dark Chocolate Brownie with vanilla ice cream and for me just vanilla ice cream. DELICIOUSO!!!!
With a full belly and tired body Martin and I retired to our tent which had been beautifully prepared, bed opened with rose petals in the shape of a heart and a bottle of bubbly, how romantic!
Thank you Falaza for the lovely initiative!!
Our first day started off to an early start. We had booked a game drive into the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park with our second guide, Geoffrey. Excitement!
We saw the Big 4 literally within 20 minutes.
Elephant, Rhino, Buffalo and Lion all meandering along the same road.
Geoffrey knows his wildlife, a personal encyclopaedia that skilfully answered all our questions and allowed us to take as many photos as we wanted.
Thank you Geoffrey!!
On our return to the lodge after an exciting 4 hours in the bush breakfast was served. The food at Falaza is seriously generous so there is no need to worry about going hungry between meals. Breakfast was no exception!
A menu filled with almost anything your heart desired. Scrambled, poached, boiled or fried, eggs benedict or maybe you’d fancy an open omelette? The choice is yours.
Full and content it was time for some real pampering… Our Spa therapists were awaiting to indulge us.
The Spa surroundings were tranquil and quiet, the smell of frankincense floating through the air, I knew I was going to be transported to heaven!
Martin and I decided on a 90-minute Swedish deep tissue treatment. Our spa therapists lead us through to our room which had 2 treatment beds overlooking their private spa garden.
If I told you 90 minutes seemed like 5 would you have believed me?
The Spa at Falaza is on my top 5 spa list in the country and that is no exaggeration!
I have been to a great many spas being in the hospitality industry and Falaza ticks all the boxes for a truly out of this world experience.
Pressure was perfect.
Therapists well trained.
Attention to detail in every room.
List of treatments left you dizzy with choice.
All of the above met the expectations one would seek when visiting a Spa. I highly recommend Falaza as a must visit even if only for their spa treatments.
During our stay at Falaza Steve mentioned all the activities on offer at the surrounding area that one could secure through Falaza.
– False Bay Nature Walk.
– St Lucia Boat Cruise.
– Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Big 5 Safari. Options on 3, 6 and 9 hour drives.
– Elephant Interactions at Elephant Connections.
These are just a few to mention. We chose the False Bay Walk, 9-hour Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Big 5 Safari the elephant interaction at Elephant Connections.
Day 3 and it was time for our early morning False Bay Walk lead by our trusted guide Steve who not only knows his Fauna but his Flora and insect life very well too. The walk was a long 13 km, which was not difficult at all; Steve took us through the sand forest and informed us about the different plant and insect life which calls False Bay home. Steve’s well trained eyesight and hearing totally in tune with the surrounding bush, could hear the faintest crack or distant chirp. Drongo, shrike and roller amongst many, some so beautiful you merely get a quick glance before they take flight. When you visit Falaza I would personally recommend the walk as it is both enriching to your knowledge as it is for your soul.
Our next day was to be an exciting one as this was our elephant interaction which is situated at the Bayete Zulu Game Farm, 45 minutes from Hluhluwe town right next door the famous Thanda Safari Private Game Reserve.
What an experience to say the least, such large, yet graceful creatures. The elephants (Rachel & Rambo) come within 5 cm from you, the insightful guides show you their tusks and teeth, their underbelly and even right in their mouths (I must admit I was scared). You get a chance to feed the ellies along with photo opportunities.
If you have never been within 5 cm of an African elephant I would highly recommend you experience this "WOW" factor.
Our last evening at Falaza was the best yet, a bush dinner experience right in the lush Falaza sand forest. The setting was so mystical, lanterns flickered in the dark, with a roaring bonfire in the middle of a boma dining setting. On the menu was traditional braai vleis or BBQ meats with an assortment of salad and for the sweet tooth a selection of fruit, malva pudding and custard as well as trifle.
Enjoying dinner in the middle of the bush is an experience all South African’s should experience! The sounds of Cicada, Nyala running in the nearby brush or Bush Babies crying in the trees. There is no time for chit chat as you experience the nocturnal sounds and dine on culinary perfection.
There is so much more to write about our stay at Falaza, I could fill a book. In short Falaza is one of my top destinations to visit in the Zululand area when travelling to KwaZulu-Natal. The staff were friendly, their attention to detail and customer comfort satisfaction rivals some 5-star properties and the food is Haute Cuisine!
Thank you Falaza game Park & Spa for a memorable #Weekendgetaway we will cherish for a lifetime!
Special thanks go out to:
– Bongi : General Manager
– Silva : Director
– Berti : Marketing & Guest Relations Manager
for personally coming to chat to Martin and I and making our stay feel like we were a part of the Falaza family.
Even during a global pandemic and after the hospitality industry suffering such a massive blow, Falaza shone bright, hosting us and affording us an experience which truly touched our hearts.
Until we visit again
Photos credit - Martin Reed , Tyrone Spinner & Nyretta Boshof
Contact Falaza Game Park & Spa
Tel: » +27 (0)35 562 2319
Tel: » +27 (0)35 562 2555
Email: » email@example.com
P O Box 13, Hluhluwe, 3960
Zululand, South Africa