5 Reasons Chicks Dig Rhino River Lodge

5 Reasons Chicks Dig Rhino River Lodge

The alarm goes off. It’s dark. Its 5am. We don’t kick, scream and curse it. Not this time, because that alarm is waking us up to head out on our early game drive. Now that’s a reason worth waking up for on a Saturday morning, says Kelly Robertson.

The giddy weekend my mom and I recently spent at Rhino River Lodge in KZN’s Zululand was one for the memory box. As is expected on a girly weekend away, it was one masked with giggling, constant chitter and chatter and quite a lot of wine, especially since we had a bit of catching up to do. There was also the perfect balance of exciting game viewing activities and relaxation hours spent toasting the African sunset. Rhino River Lodge set in Zululand Rhino Reserve, near to Hluhluwe, is a Big 5 concession where the game drives are full of action. The unpretentious lodge was the ideal getaway place for us girls to have our safari cake and eat it.

1)    Perfect Timing

A stay at the small, down-to-earth but comfy lodge is all inclusive, which I am not usually a big fan of because it can mean that your days are planned for you with no given time to chill and enjoy your holiday in your own way. However this was not the case at all; we managed to balance relaxation with riveting safari activities and delectable dining.

Rhino River Lodge Rhino River Lodge

The three hour (usually) early morning game drives, complete with bushveld coffee breaks, started the days off and thereafter followed breakfasts and chill time.  For us this part of the day involved sitting on the deck with our feet up, jabbering and taking in the winter bush surroundings while occasionally stopping to awe at the family of warthogs on the grass or to giggle at the crested guineafowls passing by, sporting their “fro” hairstyles. Leisurely lunch was served at 2pm each day and the evening game drives started at 4pm including sundowners and animal sightings galore. Then it was back to camp where a 3-course dinner beside the bonfire was calling.

Rhino River Lodge buffalo

2)    The Game Drives

The drives were definitely the highlight of the day and chatter around the meal table was proof of that, with happy guests sharing and comparing sightings.  Our friendly and extremely knowledgeable guides showed us lion, cheetah, rhino, giraffe, buffalo and many more animals and birds. The lodge lived up to its name when we spotted a rhino mother and calf playing in the mud at the waterhole on one of our early drives.  It’s always a very special experience to spot these endangered giants, especially these days with the turmoil that surrounds them and the senseless greed for their horns. Anti-poaching mechanisms and activities are very active within the concession and the safety of the rhino is a main concern of the lodge.

3)    The Food

We quickly learned that the meals served at the lodge were something to look forward to. The food really was outstanding and meals included rich oxtail, mini bunny chows, Amarula crème Brule just to name a few. I’m salivating just a little at the memory of it all.

4)    Sundowners

No bushveld break would be complete without the mandatory evening sundowners, and Rhino River Lodge gets sundowners right. We sipped on G&T’s from an awesome spot on the first evening and saluted the sun as it exited behind the Acacia trees on the horizon. The second evening we gulped down our drinks from the safety of the vehicles, hearts pounding and cameras clicking as we followed a pair of young lions. That deserved a “cheers”!

Rhino River Lodge

Rhino River Lodge

5)    Romantic lions

Those lions that we watched during sunset that day were a fantastic sighting. They were young and in love which made them a favourite amongst the ladies on our vehicle. We trailed them as the male followed the female, doting on her and completely distracted by her movements alone. I don’t think he even knew we were watching. Our guide told us that these two young lovers were entering into their first mating season and the pitter patter of little cub paws might be around soon. Just another reason for us to return to Rhino River Lodge.

Published 24 July 2013: Africa Geographic Blog.