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Get Your Safari On At Gwahumbe Game Lodge And Spa

A single zebra and an impala bachelor party greeted us at the entrance of Gwahumbe Game Lodge and Spa. And so began our first safari experience in South Africa.

Gwahumbe Game Lodge and Spa in South Africa
We’re on Safari!

Our excitement was palpable for our first safari in South Africa.

We had arrived in the country without any safari plans, and it didn’t take long for us to realize the folly in this omission. Sure, we usually prefer that our adventures involve exotic foods and fine wines.

But this was Africa – the continent where Elsa from Born Free and Simba from The Lion King roamed the land. What were we thinking?

As it turns out, we ended up experiencing not one, not two but three safaris during our ten weeks in South Africa. Each safari experience provided us with a unique opportunity to connect with South African nature and was special in its own way.

But we’ll always have a soft spot in our heart for Gwahumbe – our very first safari experience.

Pro Tip
Don’t take a safari without travel insurance!

What Makes Gwahumbe Game Lodge And Spa Special?

Wildebeest at Gwahumbe Game Lodge and Spa in South Africa

Wilderness on a Whim

Located on a former sugar farm in the KwaZulu-Natal province, the Gwahumbe game reserve is just a one hour drive from Durban. This prime location makes Gwahumbe easily accessible to residents of Durban, South Africa’s third largest city, as well as to travelers who visit the coastal city of Durban as part of a South Africa dream vacation or business trip.

Close enough to Durban for a day trip but even better for an overnight stay, Gwahumbe is a wonderful place to see animals, eat great food and get spa treatments. Yes, Gwahumbe is a game lodge AND a spa.

Our Stay At Gwahumbe Game Lodge And Spa

Impala at Gwahumbe Game Lodge and Spa in South Africa
You don’t have to go on a game drive to see animals at Gwahumbe. We saw this cutie while walking to our hotel room.

We felt very connected to nature during our two-day stay at Gwahumbe Game Lodge & Spa. Animals roam freely on the property, and the eco lodge is verdant with green vegetation all around.

As much as we enjoyed connecting with nature, we enjoyed the understated luxury throughout the Gwahumbe complex even more.


Serengeti Room at Gwahumbe Game Lodge and Spa in South Africa
Our Serengeti room was both stylish and comfortable.

Gwahumbe offers a range of accommodations from thatched huts to catered apartments.

For our two-night stay, we slept in a comfortable Serengeti room with typical features like a big bed, modern en-suite bathroom and a coffee maker. The extra details like fresh milk, home-made rusks (South African cookies similar to biscotti) and a bottle of sherry made this room truly special.

We especially appreciated our room’s private balcony with two deck chairs and a front-row view of the lodge’s stunning mountain range. We’re not normally early morning people, but this view motivated us to wake up at the crack of dawn to catch the sunrise.

Million Dollar View at Gwahumbe Game Lodge and Spa in South Africa
We loved the million dollar view from our hotel room at Gwahumbe Game Lodge and Spa.

Rates for the Serengeti room, as well as the lodge’s other accommodations, vary based on the season and whether the fully inclusive option in selected. This option includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, afternoon tea and a game drive.

Lodge Facilities

There is no need to be bored at Gwahumbe… unless that is your goal. True adventurers can go on a 4×4 or mountain bike outing. Naturalists can enjoy a birding or fishing expedition. Families can play board games by the fireplace in the Gwahumbe lodge.

All guests can and should participate in at a game drive – more about that later.


Massage Beds at Gwahumbe Game Lodge and Spa in South Africa
This massage room is where the magic happens at Gwahumbe Game Lodge and Spa.

Just a short walk down a path from the main lodge, the Gwahumbe spa is a delightful retreat from the hustle bustle of everyday life in cities like Durban and around the world. The relaxation begins in the spa’s secluded courtyard and continues in private rooms like the one where we enjoyed a couple’s massage.

Though we were tempted to try a “theme” treatment like the spa’s African Wood Massage, we were happy to let the capable masseuses work their magic on our backs and shoulders while serene music lulled us to la la land.

Pro Tip
Schedule a spa treatment after your game drive. These drives are surprisingly physical due to the natural terrains and bumps along the roads.


Infinity Pool at Gwahumbe Game Lodge and Spa in South Africa
Who wouldn’t want take a dip in this pool?

We have just one regret about our stay at Gwahumbe – we didn’t take a dip in the pool.

The overcast weather was fine for a game drive and perfect for relaxing, but it wasn’t particularly conducive to lounging by an infinity pool. In retrospect, we should have taken a dip in this pool for the magnificent view alone.


Indian Curry at Gwahumbe Game Lodge and Spa in South Africa
The food at Gwahumbe Game Lodge and Spa hits the spot. We especially enjoyed this Indian Curry served with Basmati Rice.

Let’s cut to the chase – we loved the food at Gwahumbe.

Trying Durban’s take on Indian food was high on our hit list after we heard about bunny chow, and Gwahumbe’s chicken curry dinner option was our first (but not last) taste of the cuisine. We opted for the curry dish for our second dinner after eating a more refined steak dinner the night before. Though we enjoyed the steak, we preferred the curry for its bright spiciness and fun presentation.

Cheeseburger at Gwahumbe Game Lodge and Spa in South Africa
We can’t resist a good hamburger like the one we ate at Gwahumbe Game Lodge and Spa.

Our breakfasts and lunch were more casual affairs where we dined outside under umbrellas while facing fabulous views of the green property. The attentive staff served us omelets in the morning and hamburgers during the day, embellishing the satisfying, simple food with garnishes from the onsite organic garden.

Game Drive

Giraffe at Gwahumbe Game Lodge and Spa in South Africa
We were so excited to see our first giraffe in South Africa.

“We are the custodians. We are here to take care of them.”

Manager Derek Grose set the tone for our game drive when he explained the lodge’s approach to the animals on Gwahumbe’s private game reserve. These animals run the gamut with the likes of giraffes, zebras, Egyptian geese, wildebeest, kudu, impala, warthogs and one reclusive rhino.

Gwahumbe has no big predators or cats due to its proximity to local communities. Elephants are also missing from the mix due to space constraints. Luckily, we saw all of these animals and more during our future safari experiences.

Ranger Ed Balt at Gwahumbe Game Lodge and Spa in South Africa
Ranger Ed Balt ably guided us during our first game drive.

Ed Balt, one of Gwahumbe’s professional Rangers, took us out on an afternoon Game Drive over the bumpy roads where BBC’s Top Gear previously filmed and into the Gwahumbe Valley in search of animals. Balt had us at the edge of our jeep seats with his tales about the animals who live on the property and the poachers who try to steal them.

He was a man with a mission as he drove us through fields of sugar cane. However, he wasn’t too busy to stop when he saw an ebony porcupine quill on the road.

Four Wildebeest at Gwahumbe Game Lodge and Spa in South Africa
Wildebeest roam freely at Gwahumbe Game Lodge and Spa.

Perhaps it was bad luck or the weather, but we didn’t see a ton of animals during our drive. Sure, we saw the blue wildebeest and giraffes like the ones pictured above as well as a zebra, Egyptian geese, a tortoise and a warthog. However, we didn’t see the resident rhino or any big five animals.

Balt kept us entertained throughout the drive with engaging stories and off-road detours. Even better, he provided our initial introduction to South African flora and fauna like pointy plants called Aloe Ferox and iconic wattle trees called Acacia.

The highlight of our drive was when we got out of the jeep to check out a glorious waterfall and share snacks with Balt and our two drive companions. What can we say? We love biltong!

Transportation And Logistics

Road at Gwahumbe Game Lodge and Spa in South Africa
All roads lead to Gwahumbe Game Lodge and Spa.

Getting To Gwahumbe

  • The drive to Gwahumbe is one hour from Durban and just 45 minutes from Pietermaritzburg. Public transportation is not an option, though you may be able to arrange a taxi or car service.

When To Plan Your Visit

  • Gwahumbe, much like nearby Durban, has mild weather throughout the year. In other words, it’s always a good time to visit Gwahumbe.

Book Your Gwahumbe Stay

Planning Checklist

More South Africa Experiences

Elephant - Ultimate African Luxury Safari at Kirkman's Kamp
Kirkman’s Kamp
Vergenoegd Wine Estate Duck Parade - Stellenbosch Wine Tasting
Stellenbosch Wine Route
Water Buffalo at Thanda Safari
Thanda Safari
About The Authors

About The Authors

Daryl & Mindi Hirsch

Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website. Since launching the site in 2012, they’ve traveled to over 40 countries in their quest to bring readers their unique taste of the world.


Article Updates
We update our articles regularly. Some updates are major while others are minor link changes and spelling corrections. Let us know if you see anything that needs to be updated in this article.

We thank Gwahumbe Game Lodge and Spa for sponsoring our stay to facilitate this article.

Original Publication Date: August 13, 2017


Wednesday 16th of August 2017

Wow! This place is interesting! I love to be here someday and try their infinity pool. Of course, that would be after a long day at the Game Drive. Thank you for sharing your experience. :)

melody pittman

Wednesday 16th of August 2017

This looks awesome! Lion King, curry dishes, beautiful lodging, adorable animals, whats not to love? Hoping for a safari like this some day. ;)

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Saturday 19th of August 2017

You must plan a safari! You will have the time of your life.


Wednesday 16th of August 2017

I kept wondering if each photo was courtesy of the game lodge, but it appears you took them all. So awesome! Wonderful to be able to see the animals and also take time to relax!

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Saturday 19th of August 2017

Thanks for your kind comment about our photos! As for the safari, it was even more wonderful than we hoped it would be.


Tuesday 15th of August 2017

I hope to make it to Africa one day! That lodge & spa looks absolutely amazing. :)

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Saturday 19th of August 2017

You will love South Africa AND Gwahumbe!

Rossana Wyatt

Tuesday 15th of August 2017

I would go for the game drive alone, but I can imagine how bumpy the roads would be... spa treatment definitely need after.

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Saturday 19th of August 2017

Every safari should offer spa treatments. Right?!

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