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Great for families and independent-minded travellers, this 12-day self-drive safari explores some of the most beautiful and remote areas of the northern KwaZulu Natal coastline. Highlights include visits to the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, the Maputaland Coastal Reserve, the Phinda Resource Reserve and finally the dazzling Ballito coast.

Begin with a trip along the renowned Dolphin Coast to the iSimangaliso Wetlands, a World Heritage Site and naturalist's paradise. Travel on to the seemingly endless beaches of the Maputaland Coastal Forest Reserve before arriving at the extraordinary Phinda Resource Reserve for a few days of Big 5 safari time.

End your tour with an action-packed few days in Ballito, a small but bustling coastal holiday town just north of Durban.

Itinerary Highlights

  • Self-drive KZN at your own pace
  • Explore the iSimangaliso Wetlands Park
  • Enjoy sensational bird watching
  • Scuba dive off the Maputaland Reserve
  • Search for the Big 5 at Phinda Reserve
  • Enjoy luxury accommodation

Day to Day Itinerary

Days 1-2

Explore the iSimangaliso Wetlands

Pick up your rental car from Durban Airport and drive to the St. Lucia Estuary and the owner-run Makakatana Bay Lodge. Your rural retreat for the next two nights is set in a mangrove forest with spectacular ocean and beach views.

Elegantly decorated with a distinct emphasis on Zulu culture, Makakatana Bay Lodge is in one of the most beautiful areas of KwaZulu Natal and its serene and secluded surroundings make it the ideal place to relax at the start of your adventure. Unwind on the pool deck or enjoy a scenic walk on the beach, a wilderness area in its own right.

Experience a Big 5 safari on an excursion to the Hluhhuwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve or go on a wetland exploration into the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a highlight above all for birdwatchers.

Days 3-6

Snorkel & scuba at Rocktail Beach

Drive down to the Coastal Cashews rendezvous point and be transferred to the Rocktail Camp, a peaceful retreat in the Maputaland Coastal Forest Reserve.

Rocktail is set in this dense, indigenous forest and is close to a beautiful and remote beach. Embrace the wilderness with quiet walks along the beach and through the forest, a haven for a large number of bird species. Spend time scuba diving or snorkelling in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean with the chance to see manta rays, sea turtles and even whale sharks.

Relax and unwind back at the camp's swimming pool or enjoy an afternoon snooze in your luxuriously appointed tent. If you are feeling adventurous, a visit to Black Rock - a 20-metre fossilised sand dune - is well worth it.

Days 7-9

Track rhino in Phinda

Transfer back to Coastal Cashews to pick up your rental car and drive to Phinda Mountain Lodge in the phenomenal Phinda Reserve for a 3-night luxury safari. Excellent game viewing awaits guests at this conservation gem: enjoy expertly-led game drives, guided nature walks and even rhino-tracking excursions to ensure a close-up and genuine safari experience in this private and exclusive Big 5 reserve.

Relax on boat cruises or even explore the wetlands by canoe before returning to camp and watching the sun dip behind the blue Lebombo Mountains. Ending your day at Phinda is best done with a gourmet meal around a fire in the open-air boma. Relax, reminisce about the day's events and enjoy the starry sky above you.

Days 10-11

Soak up the sun in Ballito

Head down the KwaZulu Natal coast after breakfast to Coco De Mer, a luxurious boutique hotel situated in the heart of a forest on the beautiful Ballito coast.

Spend your days soaking up the sun on the beach and enjoying the great variety of activities that this sunny coastal location has to offer - scuba diving, golf, fishing, horse riding, kite surfing, whale watching and 4x4 trails are among the favourites.

Day 12

Say goodbye to KwaZulu Natal

Leave the coastal town of Ballito and drive back to Durban to drop off your rental car at the airport whereupon your tour ends.


  • 2 nights at Makakatana Bay Lodge on a half board basis
  • 4 nights at Rocktail Camp on a half board basis
  • 3 nights at Phinda Mountain Lodge on a fully inclusive basis
  • 2 nights at Coco De Mer on a bed and breakfast basis
  • 12 days car rental


  • International flights
  • Airport taxes
  • All meals and drinks not specified
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Items of a personal nature

Tour Rates

  • dates rates from
  • 01 Sep 2015 - 31 Oct 2015 $2725
  • 01 Nov 2015 - 30 Nov 2015 $2795

Our rates are per person sharing unless we note differently.

Please treat all pricing as a guide only:

  • All rates are subject to availability and may change without notice
  • Single supplements may apply

Request a quote or speak to one of our African Safari Experts for the best, most current rates available.

Carlien Parsons

Carlien Parsons

Product Manager

"An unforgettable KwaZulu Natal trip: the Isimangaliso Wetlands & the beautiful Elephant Coast make this journey a gem."



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