Ithala Game Reserve Travel Guide

Known for its excellent game-viewing including 4 of the Big Five, diverse bird populations and unfenced bush camps, Ithala Game Reserve is a 30 000 hectare mountainous safari reserve located in northern KwaZulu Natal.

A Travel Guide to Ithala Game Reserve


Situated just 60 kilometres (37.2 miles) north-east of Vryheid in northern KwaZulu Natal. Access to the game reserve is through Louwsburg.

Internal Road structure

There is an extensive network of game-viewing roads for visitors to explore including 4X4 trails.


The closest international airport is King Shaka International Airport, Durban's international airport.


With its northern border being the Pongola River, this attractive mountainous reserve offers bird watching, game-viewing and magnificent scenery that includes deep valleys and the towering peaks of some of the world's oldest rock formations dating back to over 3 000 million years.

A safari lovers paradise, Ithala Game Reserve is home to 83 mammal species including 4 of the Big Five, namely; Elephant, Rhino, Buffalo and Leopard. There are also over 318 bird species in the park including a number of rare, seldom seen species. For excellent game viewing visitors should head to the Ntshondwe Camp and the picnic site located on the Dakaneni Loop on the Pongola River.


Visitors to the game park can enjoy both guided and self-drive safari game drives to view African wildlife including 4 of the Big Five as well as Red Hartebeest, Common Eland, Tsessebe and Impala. There are also a number of guided walks where a trained game ranger will take guests on an educational and exciting game viewing walk through the bush. Guests can also strike out on their own to explore one of the self-guided walking trails in the camp.

The park-run Ntshondwe Camp has a swimming pool where guests can relax during the day and enjoy a refreshing swim. A popular activity while spending time in the park is to pack a picnic and spend some time at one of several scenic picnic spots within the reserve. Placed in ideal locations, the picnic spots offer great bird and game viewing and all have braai (barbecue) facilities and ablutions.


The park-run Ntshondwe Camp in Ithala Game Reserve offers 39 fully equipped chalets varying in size from 2 to 6 beds. There are also a number of bush camps with 4 to 10 beds and a rustic camping site. The road to the camping site is very steep and no caravans are allowed.

The Experience

A truly beautiful and contrasting landscape with the tall heights of the Ngotshe Mountains plummeting thousands of metres into deep valleys that have been carved out for millions of years by the Pongolo River, visitors will marvel at the ever changing scenery and dramatic views.

As there are no lion in this remote and beautiful landscape the wildlife are all relaxed and guests heading out on a safari excursion can look forward to seeing a fair amount but not ample wildlife. Many visitors marvel more at the scenery and landscape than at the abundant game. Visitors enjoying a meal should look out for monkeys as they have been known to steal fruit and nuts from right under your nose... this is Africa in the true essence of the word.


Ithala Game Reserve is located in a summer rainfall region with most of the rain falling mid-summer. Mist often occurs in the higher reaches of the hills in spring and summer and frost occasionally occurs in winter. Summers are known to be hot and humid especially long the Pongola River.

What You Need to Know

Ithala Game Reserve is in a low-risk Malaria area (and it is present in the winder Pongola Basin) and visitors are advised to consult their doctors and to take precautions prior to visiting the park.

Visitors should also be careful of wandering around the unfenced camps at night and be vigilant around the picnic sites as there is large and dangerous game in the reserve.

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