Thula Thula Game Reserve, KwaZulu Natal
Thula Thula is a private game reserve, said to be the oldest such reserve in KwaZulu Natal and set in a malaria free zone on the Elephant Coast roughly two hours' from Durban. As such it is family operated and lies in the heart of Zululand with a history that dates back to the days in which Shaka and his men held this land as their hunting ground. The reserve is steeped in history not least because it was on the banks of the Nseleni River in Thula Thula where the first historic meeting between Shaka and his father took place.
A stay at Thula Thula assures one of sightings of giraffe, rhino, elephant, buffalo, hyenas, nyala, zebra and over 370 bird species. But the emphasis of the reserve is on luxury, and the colonial and ethnic blend woven into the design and decor of the lodges makes for a timeless elegance that brings to mind the effortless grace of films like Out of Africa.
'Thula Thula', the words of a Zulu childhood lullaby, translate to mean 'quiet', 'peace and tranquility' and here there is an escape from the banal that begins with the hush that hangs over the bush as day breaks and draws to a close.
For Thula Thula is more than a reserve. It is a sanctuary, and Lawrence Anthony is not only the founder of the international 'Earth organisation', dedicated to environmental issues, he also won an Earth Day Award in 2004, the first South African to achieve such an award, for his rescue of animals from the Baghdad zoo. He initiated the rehabilitation of these animals, making sure the animals were protected and fed. Today he is involved in projects closer to home that incude the Royal Zulu Biosphere project and teaching the benefits of conservation to rural communities.