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Why did we hand pick Mavela Game Lodge?

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  • Authentic yet luxurious safari tents in the heart of the bush
  • Magnificent panoramic views over the veld from the lodge decks
  • Offers a luxurious Big 5 experience

Mavela Game Lodge

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Price tier (pps): R200  R1500+

Child policy: 12 years and older

13km from Mkuze


-27.7132, 32.0174


Mavela has the distinction of being the only luxury tented camp within the Zululand Rhino Reserve in Kwazulu-Natal, mixing the allure of canvas with complete comfort and extraordinary Big Five encounters.

Owners and nature lovers David and Samantha Stevens converted an old hunting farm into a secluded destination which treats local and international guests to an all-inclusive, intimate African safari. The thatched main lodge is perched above the bushveld, showcasing panoramic views over the reserve. The full board rates include delectable cuisine and two game drives per day, not to mention extremely comfortable accommodation in five romantic, well-appointed tents.

Each occupying their own little bushveld paradise, the tents each hold twin beds, ceiling fans and tea/coffee facilities, leading to full bathrooms. The private decks allow guests to fully appreciate their surrounds, and enthusiastic bird watchers can look forward to viewing a number of species drinking from the bird baths.

At sunrise, a cup of tea or coffee is followed by the first game drive of the day. Apart from being an exceptional birding destination, the 23 000 hectare reserve is home to the Big Five and a wide variety of other wildlife, along with habitats ranging from open savannah to riverine woodland. The experienced guides are able to tailor drives to meet specific interests, and will stop off for a tea and coffee break in the middle of the bush.

On return from the morning drive, guests will have built up their appetites for a filling and varied brunch. During the heat of the day, the swimming pool provides welcoming relief, while the shaded lodge deck is a spectacular vantage point to sit and enjoy leisurely drinks. Other facilities include a beautiful dining area and plush lounge flowing onto the deck.

On chilly winter evenings, the crackling fireplace in the lounge will keep guests cosy while they read a book, socialise or play a game of chess. A decadent tea is served just before the afternoon drive, which is arguably the highlight of the day. The afternoon light offers brilliant photographic opportunities, and possible sightings of the Big Five are complemented by spectacular sundowners and a night safari on the way back to the lodge.

To add more variety to a stay at Mavela, guests can request a guided walking safari, interact with elephants at the Bayete Zulu Game Lodge, or book a sunset cruise or tiger fishing excursion at the nearby Jozini Dam. The day is brought to a close with a delicious dinner, followed by a gathering around the open fireplace under the stars.

Rates & Summary

5 Luxury Tents

Each sleeps 2 in twin beds
En-suite bath and shower
Deck with bushveld views


  • For pricing detail, click on CHECK AVAILABILITY & BOOK ONLINE above


Full board


Children 12 and older are welcome.

Why Stay Here?

Mavela Game Lodge is a secluded luxury tented camp in the Zululand Rhino Reserve, offering full board accommodation and good facilities to those who want to connect with the wonders of the African bushveld. The lodge is elevated above the bushveld, offering panoramic views of a game-filled Big Five reserve. The luxury tents give an authentic safari feel while being extremely comfortable, and twice daily game drives and delicious cuisine enhance the experience.


  • Authentic yet luxurious safari tents in the heart of the bush
  • Magnificent panoramic views over the veld from the lodge decks
  • Offers a luxurious Big 5 experience

Things to consider Bringing

Sunblock, hat, walking shoes, swimming costume, swimming towels, binoculars for bird watching and game viewing.

Road Conditions

The 10km gravel approach road is suitable for all vehicles.

Activities & Attractions

  • Swimming pool
  • Game drives
  • Walking safaris
  • Elephant interactions
  • Sunset boat cruise
  • Tiger fishing


Accommodation & Hospitality

  • Communal lounge
  • Verandah / patio
  • Ceiling fans
  • Bed linen supplied
  • Bathroom towels supplied
  • Daily housekeeping
  • Self-service tea and coffee available
  • No smoking indoors

Catering & Kitchen

  • Full board
  • Licensed


  • Water supply good for drinking
  • Electric geysers
  • No electricity

Leisure Amenities

  • Swimming pool
  • No television
  • Garden

Business & Connectivity

  • No Wi-Fi
  • Good cell phone reception
  • No conference facilities available

Access & Convenience

  • Not wheelchair friendly
  • No pets allowed
  • Off street parking
  • Nearest shops further than 10km
  • Nearest fuel further than 10km
  • Shuttle service can be arranged


  • EFT accepted




Elephant Coast

KwaZulu Natal


On the eastern seaboard of South Africa, the wild country of the Elephant Coast presses up against the Indian Ocean in the east, Mozambique in the north and Zululand to the south and west. Here, the bright lights of the city are nowhere to be seen, replaced by night skies as unpolluted as nature created them.

The area was named for the elephants that once roamed here in great numbers, hunted for their tusks until they had all but disappeared. Luckily this has been turned around and elephants can once again be seen in many of the region’s game reserves, along with the rest of the Big 5.

Made up of extensive commercial farms, private game farms and government game reserves, the Elephant Coast is still relatively untouched by modernity. It incorporates vast expanses of wilderness, including an internationally renowned World Heritage Site, the 328000ha Isimangaliso Wetland Park. It is also home to Africa’s oldest game reserve, the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve, founded in 1895.

The area is a must-visit for ecologically minded tourists; there is far more to see than just the two flagship reserves. Fortunate tourists can see the Big 5, scuba dive with whale sharks or manta rays, watch turtles laying their eggs, fish for tigerfish, and ride horses on the beach or through the bush. It’s a region that is rich in diversity.

Ndumo Game Reserve and Tembe Elephant Reserve are both on the border with Mozambique and offer unique experiences for twitchers and pachyderm fans.

Tembe now boasts herds of elephants that are noted for their impressive tusks, and it’s one of the better places in South Africa to get good sightings and photographs of these animals.

Ndumo is best known for its birding. Species such as the narina trogon, palm-nut vulture and green twinspot can be seen in the forests of figs and other beautiful trees. Healthy populations of hippo and crocodile lurk in the pans and rivers.

KosiBay, a reserve protecting a series of shallow coastal lakes and all that lives in and around them, offers excellent fishing. There are also fascinating cultural and wildlife walks and birding opportunities. In season, one can watch turtles as they lay eggs or hatch from them.

Also on the coast is Sodwana Bay, yet another conservation area run by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife. It’s a mecca for scuba divers and snorkelers from all over the world.

Sodwana holds beneath its waters coral reefs that are home to an estimated 1 200 fish species. These include the prehistoric coelacanth, as well as sharks and other fish.

Lake Sibaya is another attraction, although one that has failed to attain the popularity it deserves. The largest fresh-water lake in South Africa, Sibaya is home to thousands of waterbirds. Game is plentiful along its shores and crocodiles stalk its clear water.

The Jozini, or Pongolapoort, Dam offers a wonderful blend of sport fishing with game viewing. The river itself is also home to healthy populations of tigerfish.

Look out for

Isimangaliso Wetland Park – this World Heritage Site is amazingly diverse and deserves at least a few days of your time. Go for a boat cruise on the estuary, a game drive through the bush, and a hike along the shores of Lake St Lucia.

Sodwana Bay – take advantage of one of the world’s top scuba diving spots. Beginners can go on courses or snorkel; while more experienced divers have a number of reefs to choose from.

Birdwatching – the entire Elephant Coast is home to bountiful birdlife, although there are a few hot spots. The pans of Mkhuze Game Reserve play host to pelicans and all sorts of other birdlife. Over 420 bird species have been recorded in the riverine forest, woodland and savannahs of the park. Ndumo Game Reserve has an even better record, with more than 430 species recorded, the most for anywhere in South Africa. Beautiful, fever tree-lined pans are home to specials such as Pel’s fishing owl, broadbill and black egret.

Fishing – the Elephant Coast’s Jozini Dam is one of the few places in South Africa where anglers can try their luck at landing the tigerfish, one of the most ferocious, toothy fish in the world. If salt-water fishing is preferred, Kosi Bay is a popular and exceptional fishery, while deep-sea charters also operate from St Lucia.

Turtle tours – St Lucia is probably the best place in the country to go on an organised turtle watching tour. While sightings can’t be guaranteed, you have a good chance of seeing leatherback and loggerhead turtles laying eggs or hatching. Community guides at Kosi Bay also offer turtle watching tours that are very worthwhile.

Game view – the Elephant Coast is still home to a healthy population of big tuskers, especially in Tembe Elephant Park. A good sighting of these animals will stay with you for the rest of your life. The Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve is internationally famous for saving the white rhino from extinction, and it remains one of the best places in the world to view this docile behemoth. The rest of the Big 5 can also be seen here, along with many other interesting animals.

Hike – while some areas require a guide (especially the Big 5 parks), there are some exceptional walking trails on the Elephant Coast. Almost all game reserves will offer day trails, while a trail with a difference can be enjoyed at Kosi bay. Here you can wander around the Kosi Mouth estuary, inspecting the primitive fish traps and watching locals at work spearing their catch. 

When to go

To Do

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