Three of us stayed in cottage no. 9 in Ntshondwe Camp for three nights. I have listed the positive and negative experiences of our stay below.
Margaret de Villiers
The positive things were:
- The staff were very friendly.
- One could go on self-guided walks from the camp, which were clearly marked and steered one towards worthwhile places.
- The camp and the rest of the reserve was very clean.
- Our cottage was very comfortable and was serviced daily.
- It was lovely having animals such as warthogs, dassies, mongooses, vervet monkeys and deer wondering through the camp.
- The swimming pool was clean and aesthetically pleasing.
The negative things were:
- We came to the reserve in a Toyota Corolla. Very few of the roads were marked as 4X4 routes, so we assumed that the rest of the routes were suitable for normal cars. However, we scraped the bottom of our vehicle on the second day in the reserve on one of the water channels through the road on the approximately 2.6 km loop in Kwankosazana (which is not marked as a 4X4 route on the reserve map), and from then onwards were weary of driving around the reserve in our own vehicle. Nowhere on the Ezemvelo KZN wildlife webpage describing Ithala or on the reserve map does it give an indication of the minimum ground clearance that one''s vehicle should have to be able to negotiate the roads unscathed in the reserve.
- We wanted to go on a game drive, but were unable to since, upon inquiry, my mother was told that there were no facilities available to help her to climb into the game-viewing vehicle e.g. a ramp or stairs. We were also told that there is only one smaller game-viewing vehicle, and that it was broken.
- Nowhere on the Ezemvelo KZN wildlife webpage describing Ithala does it warn one to purchase one''s food before arriving at the reserve. We arrived to find that the selection of food offered in both the reserve and at Louwsburg are extremely limited.
- The bread knife that was provided with the cottage vanished from our cottage on the second day of our stay. We approached one of the maids about this. She said that she would look into it, but despite this a bread knife did not appear in our cottage for the remainder of our stay.
- The light above the mirror in one of the bedrooms didn''t work.
- The waitresses in the restaurant did not seem to know what subsequent meals would entail. When I inquired on Thursday afternoon what breakfast on Friday morning would entail, I was shown a menu with options ranging from R21 upwards. However, when we arrived at the restaurant the next morning, we were only given a choice of a buffet costing R85/person.
- There are warnings up around the information centre asking people not to feed monkeys, since associating humans with food causes them to become a nuisance and to have to be put down. However, the restaurant is definitely guilty of breaking this rule, since the monkeys steal food from guest''s plates between when the guest gets up and when the waitress takes the food away. Shouldn''t the restaurant either discontinue allowing people to sit outside or enclose the balcony in glass or netting to put a stop to this?
All in all, we enjoyed our stay at the reserve.
In answer to your next question (Would you recommend this to a friend?), I would recommend Ithala to a friend, but I would also warn them about the things that might go wrong during their stay.