Tracy’s Highlights From Her Trip To Zulu Nyala! 

Going to South Africa for a safari had been a bucket list destination for as long as I could recall.  I wanted to see wildlife in their natural environment while I was the one ‘caged.’  Surprising it wasn’t until an all-inclusive opportunity presented itself did I finally make it a reality.  

I was a lucky auction winner at a fundraiser hosted by Friends of Fairfax County Animal Shelter back in May 2019.  Like everyone, sadly, all travel plans werecanceled in 2020.  I had hoped that we could reschedule for 2021, but as the months went by it was looking doubtful given all of the restrictions.

Fortunately, I noticed the Zulu Nyala staff posting pictures of USA citizens at the Lodge!  I asked tons of questions and was grateful to the amazing Reshmi who took all my concerns away – yes, we have shuttles to/from the airport, yes, we make arrangements for COVID testing in time for your departure to USA, yes, you can schedule your excursions once onsite, etc.  I was IN!  The person who originally was going to go was too concerned to travel, let alone out of the country, but that’s when another friend said, “Count me in!.”  & the rest, as they say, is history… 

This trip, September 2021, was an absolutely INCREDIBLE experience! The photo safari package/trip was worth every penny and then some!  And I got this amazing prize while helping the animals at FFX County Animal Shelter – WIN-WIN!  

So, here’s a glimpse into our days on safari…

Day 1:  We were greeted by Perci when we landed in Durban.  Door-to-door shuttle service.  As we drove into the private game reserve at Zulu Nyala Game Lodge, we saw warthogs, giraffes, zebras, and the Zulu Nyala namesake, male and female nyalas.  We were off to an incredible start!

Once we got to the Lodge, Vinodh (the general manager) and his front desk staff took over from there!  Shortly after meeting our ranger Welcome at lunch, we were off to our first game drive.  I was like a kid in a candy store.  So many animals – my favorite of the evening were rhinos and elephants!!!

Spectacular is the only way to describe it – so many different animals in their natural environment at the Zulu Nyala Game Reserve –  and this was only DAY 1!!!!

Day 2:  We went off to Hluhluwe Imfolozi Nature Reserve, founded in 1895 and the oldest in South Africa, with Ranger Welcome at the wheel.  Could it get better – OH YES!  Elephants, rhinos, cape buffalo, wild dogs!!!!, zebras, giraffes, wildebeests, monkeys, nyalas, water bucks, impalas, kudus, birds, which I forget the name of, warthogs, and baboons.

Day 3:  Our morning was spent at Zulu Nyala.  At this point I’ve taken 1000 pictures.  Thankfully I had many spare memory cards!!! Our afternoon was spent at Emdoneni Rehabilitation Center.  There we learned more about the efforts to save endangered cheetahs.  We also saw servals, caracals, and a wild cat.  Later in the afternoon was game tour number 2 at Zulu Nyala.

Day 4: We were off to Tembe Elephant Park with Ranger Welcome and met Ranger (driver) Christopher….  I was hoping we would see lions… And did we ever!  I didn’t want to leave!  I’m so thankful the Rangers understood how excited we were.  They were perfectly content to cut the engine to sit and watch.  And watch we did!  Of course we saw many other animals, but the lions were my highlight.

Day 5:  Similar to Day 2, we spent time inside Zulu Nyala Game Reserve, went into town for our PCR test, and did an off-site excursion for the afternoon.  This time for the ‘Lion Experience’ at Manyoni Park. After being told to stay seated and not move around a lot, Ranger Jordan got us within 20’ of a lion! I pinched myself… Yes, this was really happening! 

Day 6: We went back to Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserve.  Another amazing day in wildlife paradise.  Zulu Nyala rangers go above & beyond for their guests.  Thank you Ranger Welcome!!!  

I didn’t want to leave! And as for this blog post, I can tell you my plans to return in 2022 are already underway!

A quick callout to the chef and food service staff – the meals are fantastic too.  I greatly appreciated the wide variety of choices and oh the desserts… yummy desserts…

See you in 2022!