White Elephant Safari Lodge and Bush Camp is located in the Pongola Game Reserve, which is situated east of the N2, in Maputaland, north eastern Zululand in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The closest town is Richards Bay, which is 180 kilometres (111 miles) south east of the N2 freeway.
At the foot of the majestic Lebombo Mountains and the shimmering waters of Lake Jozini, you will find this special destination called White Elephant Safari Lodge and Bush Camp. It is a place with magic and soul, inspired by a dream and created with passion.
Originally built in the 1920's, White Elephant Safari Lodge accommodates 16 guests in luxurious 5-star tented accommodation, recapturing the history and romance of a 'colonial era'. The vast verandah, sparkling pool, sweeping views and tranquil setting provide the venue for a unique African experience.
God wrested the beautiful Lebombo Mountains from the steamy Maputuland plains and here nature ruled with a harsh hand for hundreds of years. But the vast herds of game lured determined men, hunters and explorers. So began the advance of white man in the early 19th century. Hunters made considerable fortunes. One such hunter, "Elephant White" shot 15 elephant in one season. In the plentitude that was Africa, everything seemed inexhaustible...
The abundant game began to dwindle. In 1874, President Kruger proclaimed the Pongola Game Reserve, the first reserve in Africa.
The Anglo Boer War in 1899 brought chaos and the new Game Reserve was abandoned. For years thereafter, lack of funds, muddles boundaries and political agendas caused the Game Reserve to be a "white elephant".
After the 1st world was, man toiled on the steamy plains, planting fields, building houses and railway lines but nature ruled ruthlessly with droughts and disease.
Man fought a bitter struggle for almost 3 years against sleeping sickness and the tsetse fly. For a long time angry gunfire echoed across the plains. "Kill the game!" men cried for they believed they had to destroy the animals to rid the land of the tsetse fly. Hundreds of thousands of animals thudded to the ground. By 1940 the game was gone but the tsetse fly remained: Another "white elephant" in this history of man.
In 1948 man finally won the tsetse fly war, with the notorious DDT insecticide. Cattle now flourished and sugar cane crept further along the course of the Pongola River...
The construction of the gigantic Jozini Dam began in 1970. But it was a flawed dam that caused considerable controversy and it, too, became known as a "white elephant".
Finally, in 1993 the wheel had turned full circle. Fences were dropped and game re-introductions began. Two elephant herds were re-located to our "new" reserve. One of these elephants is an albino, not entirely white but a symbolic reminder of the past "white elephants" After 100 years, the Lebombo reverberated again with triumphant sounds of nature!
In 1999, shrouded in the mist of early morning, a large elephant bull pushed over the mighty Mphafa tree in the Lodge's garden. It was this tree that had given the lodge its name. It seemed fitting that the newly - restored Lodge be renamed "White Elephant"
A century has passed since the first proclamation of the Pongola Game Reserve, one hundred years in which man has struggled against nature. We cannot undo what has been done. We cannot rewrite history; we can shape our future from past lessons.
One-day vast herds will once again migrate freely across the plains at the foot of the Lebombo. The struggle, too, will be difficult. But they are different from those that our forefathers fought. The aim is to return this land to the wilderness, to Mother Nature.
Classic, colonial décor, refined simplicity, deep verandahs and sweeping views capture the history and romance of a bygone era. This KwaZulu-Natal lodge offers guests a passionate glimpse of nature and the challenges facing conservation of the wilderness and Elephant.
The separate, self-catering White Elephant Bush Camp is located 5-10 kilometres away and offers affordable KwaZulu-Natal accommodation while still maintaining a luxurious and exclusive atmosphere. Accommodation at the Bush Camp is offered in one of 7 chalets, each boasting modern amenities, including en suite showers and mosquito nets.
Life is a journey, a safari made up of a myriad of small, precious moments. In today's hurried, stressed world, most of us overlook these little moments along the way. It is these moments that make life happy and worthwhile. This KwaZulu-Natal lodge invites you to take time to see, feel, hear, sense and savor the small moments, to celebrate them and to re-awaken your soul.
Pongola Game Reserve is a LOW risk malaria area. However, guests traveling via Mpumalanga and Swaziland to Zululand are advised to take malaria tablets. Please consult your GP or pharmacist for the correct prophylactic. Mosquito repellent is provided at White Elephant Safari Lodge, as well as mosquito nets on all beds. Tents / chalets have mosquito gauze on windows and doors for guests' comfort.
Venture into the wilderness on guided walks, game drives and learn about nature's intricacies and wonders. Cast the waters for Tigerfish or unwind with dusky bird calls, magical sunsets or a gentle boat cruise.
Stunning views, glorious sunsets, therapeutic silence, Rhino walks, the unique 'Elephanting' experience, scenic flights, an insight into research projects and behind-the-scenes conservation operations, cultural tours and gemstone trails, ensure a rich, varied safari in South Africa.
Pongola Game Reserve, the first proclaimed game reserve in Africa, is host to 4 of the 'Big 5'. Wildlife includes Buffalo, Elephant, Rhino, Leopard, Hyena, Giraffe, Wildebeest, Zebra, Warthog, 12 different antelope species, over 350 bird species and an array of smaller mammal and insect life.
White Elephant Safari Lodge and Bush Camp also offers fishing at Lake Jozini. Lake Jozini also attracts nature lovers and bird watchers alike to appreciate the prolific bird life and waterfowl, as well as a multitude of game including Elephant, Buffalo and Hippo.
White Elephant Safari Lodge and Bush Camp works with the Ubombo Entabeni Children's Care Village. They deal with aids victims and orphaned children, between the ages of 7 - 16, on a daily basis. They have isolated seven desperately needy families. They assist them with blankets, clothing, shoes, and food.