"To everyone at Thanda, after returning from my first visit to Thanda Private Game Reserve, I now have true understanding of the phrase ‘being treated like a queen'. From the minute we arrived I was overwhelmed at the beauty of Thanda and the friendliness of all the staff. The rooms, the sala, the food, the spa treatments were truly out of this world…..that is why we never really left our rooms….sorry for not going on any of the game drives. Apologies to Brent! Daniella, thank you for the spa treatments. I was so relaxed that I even struggled to speak at the end of it all. To the two chefs, Richard and Brandon, thank you for the gourmet meals. Everyone went the extra mile, and it did not go unnoticed!! We all had long faces on our trip back to Richards Bay, knowing that our few days had come to an end. Well, sitting here at the office, behind my laptop, in freezing cold Jo’burg, please know that I am dreaming of the beauty of Thanda, and I hope to visit again soon. Much love, Bernelee"
Bernelee Daniell - Former Miss SA
"This is the ultimate bush experience! A fence-free camp in a beautiful setting means you can even game spot from the comfort of your room (your private plunge pool is an especially good spot to do so from, glass of wine in hand). Wonderful food and great hospitality- the most likeable and friendly staff I’ve come across. I was particularly impressed with the spa and Sophia. She has the best hands in Africa!"
Suzy Josephson – Beauty Editor, Marie Claire
"What an experience – when you sit back and reflect on your stay at Thanda, you realise that no detail has escaped the notice of the Thanda team. Your private villa’s bush setting takes game viewing to the next level; on opening your curtains in the morning you are likely to be faced with a couple of kudu staring back in at you. Outside, in the sala, the day bed with its piles of Zulu-style embroidered cushions is the perfect spot to relax and view the bush in comfort – and the cushions are even lavender scented. The private plunge pool is luxury enough but it is also heated and if you prefer the water cooler the temperature can be adjusted to your liking. And for the final personalised touch of the day, when it’s time for bed an African story waits for you on your pillow – the ideal bed-time reading considering your settings. But what makes Thanda different from other luxury game lodges? From the porters and waiters to the game rangers and management staff, Thanda has a fantastic team who create the wonderfully relaxed atmosphere while running the lodge with a smooth efficiency. The Wellness Centre also adds to the luxury of the lodge – with sweeping views and Sofia’s massage skills it is a spa experience unlike any other. All of these things, including the delicious food, add to the five-star standard of excellence that makes Thanda so memorable. However, watching Zulu dancing around a fire at the Vula Zulu homestead (part of Thanda Game Reserve) with lightening crackling on the horizon was truly a spectacular finale."
Vanessa Kindersley – Chief Copy Editor, Condé Nast House & Garden
"Thanda is a superb lodge – quite different from any I have seen. The accommodation compares with the best in SA. The staff is possibly the most pleasant I have encountered, and whoever trained the local staff deserves an accolade. Everybody was so welcoming and genuinely happy to serve guests. The Zulu cultural experience is superb."
James Clarke – Diversions Magazine
"The first time I went to Thanda, they were still building it, and I wondered if it would look as great as the artwork suggested. When I finally got to see the finished product, I was not disappointed. I knew it would be big and beautiful, but it was even better than I imagined. No expense has been spared on the ultimate getaway. And let’s not forget the big five – and the fascinating other animals – either. What a treat!"
Barbara Cole – KwaZulu-Natal Journalist of the Year
"Thanda is a place that lingers in your memory to haunt you with its splendour. It’s a place where sublime luxury comes home to roost, where every possible whim is seen to before it becomes a question. Its tastefully decorated rooms, massive private outdoor deck (complete with plunge pool and sala with huge round bed for relaxed game viewing) make the intrigue of the bush tangible. This, coupled with the awe-inspiring cultural experience offered by the Zulu tribal village, make it an African encounter unlike any other."
Sandy Welch – Managing Editor, Style Magazine
"I have been very fortunate as my job allows me the opportunity of seeing and experiencing many superb Game Lodges in South Africa and neighboring countries. However, it must be said, “Thanda was one of the most outstanding experiences I have had in my 25 years in the industry. From the exquisite design of the lodge and individual rooms to the well thought out “small touches’ – allowing each and every guest to truly feel like royalty for the duration of their stay – The Thanda Queen!! May the superb management and staff keep it up and continue to grow in all spheres. Like a dream come true – many thanks indeed!"
Jeanette van Rensburg – Gauteng Marketing Manager, Contact Publications (Pty) Ltd, PROUD Publishers of Conference, Exhibition & Events Guide & Incentiveworld.com
"I waxed lyrical in print after my first trip to Thanda – and that was before the villas were completed and the gates were opened to the public. Now, I’m struggling to find the words to adequately convey the magnificence of the reserve, the extraordinary luxurious villas, the relaxed professionalism of staff, the superlative service, the vistas, the pampering in the wellness centre, the evening chorus of frogs, the sights, smells of the bush and the excitement of seeing porcupines at night, an owl and watching a warthog drink from the lodge’s water feature! Maybe the loss for words is all in the name. Thanda means “love” in Zulu – and the emotions and play on the senses while there elicits that same heady, warm and fuzzy, excited, yet secure feeling of being swept off one’s feet into a great romance. May the reserve and all associated with its development continue to maintain that delicate balance between tourist destination and the perfection of nature. So far, you have got it spot on. Well done and thank you."
Trisha Bam – Editor, African Leader
"Sure, there’s a wellness centre at Thanda, with an outdoor massage table overlooking an Oscar-worthy sweep of emerald bushveld, but I didn’t need a treatment. At some mystical point on my second afternoon, I felt my city stress starting to drift away from me. Aaahhhh…Something was massaging my soul. Perhaps it was my delight at hearing a symphony of frogs below the balcony in the moonlight, or the thrilling sight of a warthog drinking from the water feature – or possibly the skinny dips in my private plunge pool at sunset. I love the thoughtful touches – the open-air Landy ride to the main building on arrival; the tray with legs on the sala so you don’t spill your tea; the windows that concertina back so you can bath or shower in the wild (almost); the marshmallows on sticks at your fireplace for after-dinner roasting; the Zulu bedtime story on your pillow each night. But what really gets my personal five-star rating is the noticeable lack of overbearing, over-smiley staff urging you to have a good time. They don’t need to. This quietly ravishing place sings proudly for itself. Bravo!"
Catriona Ross – O, The Oprah Magazine
"A friend of mine, who’d been to Thanda, had said to me: “If you go nowhere else this year, go to Thanda.” So when the opportunity to go presented itself, off I went, excited with anticipation. I wasn’t disappointed: indigenous fauna and flora, bush villas built into the natural surroundings offering unsurpassed luxury and solace oversized lounge and bathroom, oh-so-romantic four-poster bed, freestanding bathtub, indoor and outdoor shower, fireplace, a private splash pool, and other delectable domestic accoutrements. With the added appeal of a Zulu cultural show-and-tell, game drives galore, glorious food and that spa on the hill, guests want for nothing. I loved the sounds of nothing, the peace, the pristine air and extensive views; I love the fact that Thanda means “love” in Zulu. To me, Thanda is about respect: for the land and its free-roaming animals, for the Zulu culture, for life to go on according to nature’s laws. Thanks for a life-affirming experience."
Colette Braudo – Longevity Magazine
"Thanda has all the main ingredients, of course wide open spaces, earth and sky, the Big Five, luxury and superb service – but, more importantly, in my opinion, it’s got authentic character. This singles it out from those typically “Colonial Big Game Hunter”-type lodges, with their stuffed trophies and heavy furniture, which always make one feel a bit awkward. What worked for me? The decor’s distinctly southern African, a chorus of frogs serenades guests at evening sundowners, a bedtime story is left on your pillow every night… and, if you’re lucky, you’ll see a typical Zululand electrical storm light up the night sky. The Bush Villas are complete with the “Big Five” of accommodation: a giant four-poster, a fireplace, private plunge pool, outdoor shower/bath with a view, and a cushion-covered shady verandah for lazy, horizontal game-viewing. Then there’s the Wellness Centre on call and magical Saturday night entertainment (traditional dancing at the Zulu village on the property). And, BLISSFULLY, limited cellphone reception. A wonderful place with integrity. And if you choose your company well, your stay will be sublime."
Caroline Webb – Chief Copy Editor, FEMINA Magazine
"Thanda Private Game Reserve is a luxury estate. From the moment you arrive, when staff great you with refreshing towels it continuous throughout your stay. The luxury spa with massage, where you as a guest can lie in a sala, with uninterrupted views of the African bush and wildlife. Dinner is served at a fireplace where one will often find Zulu dancers performing. For the people who prefer to relax in comfort, there are terraces all over Thanda from which guests can enjoy a selection of some of the best South African wines that can be found in the private wine cellar. In the evening, you can leave the comfort of your mosquito net draped four poster bed, help yourself to a bottle of champaign from your minibar and immerse yourself in the heated splash pool outside your bedroom."
Per Lindelow – Kvallsposten
"Not only is Thanda Private Game Reserve beautiful, it is also so peaceful that you might think you are on another planet or perhaps heaven. The villas are stunning: the bed feels as if you are sleeping on a cloud, the view of the bush from your private-bedroom is breathtaking, the plunge pool and outside shower a genius idea. The food? EXCELLENT!! And the staff made you feel as if you were at home and not just visiting guests. Thank you so much for the wonderful experience – I will definitely be coming again and have told everyone I know that they have to get the Thanda experience!"
Crystal Williams – Cosmopolitan
"Wow, what can I say? Undoubtedly the most beautiful lodge I have had the privilege of staying at. A stunning slice of pristine bushveld, out-of-this-world bush villas and staff that are always one step ahead of you. The design and decor of the bush villas is pure genius and the private day-bed overlooking miles of bush is my idea of absolute bliss."
Richard Holmes – Travel Editor of iafrica.com
"A visit to Thanda feels like visiting old friends you haven’t seen in a while. Friends that are ready to spoil you with whatever your heart desires. Whether it is with delectable food, a relaxing massage, a thrilling game drive or just a relaxing afternoon spent on the daybed on the deck overlooking the Zululand bush – the possibilities are endless. You will be equally pampered by just staying in your luxury villa or venturing out into the bush. The choice is yours. But to experience Thanda at its fullest, make sure you try everything at least once."
Hannelie Diedericks – Visi Magazine & Woolworths Taste Magazine
"What can one put into words that only experience can tell? A stay at Thanda is something altogether unique and spectacular. Amidst the tranquil and beautiful Zululand bush, Thanda announces itself with a quiet, almost regal splendour. The architecture, décor and interior design are intriguing, with every detail and nuance expertly placed, giving Thanda an authentic, understated yet modern African appeal. The whole experience was simply wonderful – the food, the wildlife, the culture and latent history; to be surrounded by both nature’s beauty and the beauty of human creativity made my stay at Thanda that much more rewarding."
Darren Sandras – Tourism Update
"As a travel journalist specializing in southern African destinations, I thought I had seen it all, but the new reserve Thanda (meaning love in Zulu) stands alone in several regards. Firstly, the décor in the rooms boasts original features with immense attention to detail – I won’t describe it, rather let you discover it for yourself, although, my favourite is having your very own private heated plunge pool on the surrounding wooden deck of each room! Secondly, Dan Olofsson’s vision & timely investment in South Africa’s new democracy is providing desperately needed jobs and skill training for the people of KwaZulu-Natal – not to mention having King Goodwill Zwelithini’s full backing of the project – very impressive indeed! I wish the team fortune of the years at Thanda."
Michelle Garforth – TV Anchor & Producer
"Uniquely breathtaking – the way in which Thanda has been built in total harmony with nature is truly outstanding."
Brett Shuttleworth – Business Entrepreneur & Former Supermodel
"Through my extensive travels worldwide, never have I been so speechless about a place of such beauty. This truly is God’s paradise on earth."
Sam Pegg – International Model & Stylist
"I have been to nearly all the game reserves, and Thanda promises that something extra. A health and wellness centre in the middle of the bush, with easy access to the coast is certain to prove a winning combination. The cultural dimensions are also certain crowd pleasers!"
Craig Bishop – Natal Witness
"My visit to Thanda in mid preparation was spectacular. Every detail from design and decor has been planned to the finest detail with no expense spared. The staff’s attention to the guests was unsurpassed. Thanda will undoubtedly be one of Africa’s finest private game lodges from every aspect of comfort and attention, leaving a genuine feeling of a true African experience to all who have the privilege to stay there."
Mike Newton – Editor, Interair In-flight magazine, South Africa
"It was a pleasure and delight to share in Dan Olofssons dream… “For the love of nature, wildlife and dear ones” and an unforgettable weekend at Thanda, truly an exclusive hideaway offering a luxurious escape into nature. Treated to a bird’s eye view of the game reserve on a microlight flight, enlightened about the process of rehabilitating the land, introducing wildlife and creating a natural equilibrium, in awe as a hundred or so impis performed age old dancing rites around a roaring bonfire – not to mention the delectable meals. The weekend was spectacular, the people special so thanks to everyone for making me feel utterly spoilt!"
Heidi Lee Stockenstrom – Discovering SA
"Thanda! Thanda! Thanda! I love it! I love it! I love it! And it isn’t even finished yet! I’m your biggest fan."
Barbara Cole – The Daily News
"For me Thanda is a hidden treasure in the heart of KwaZulu-Natal. It is a place where huge giants tread gently through the fever tree forests, a place where perfect harmony exists between man and nature. Thanda embodies the perfect African bush experience in ultimate luxury."
Elma Kloppers – Beeld
"Thanda offers a complete escape for the soul… combining the incomparable, awe-inspiring magic of the bush with the utter hedonistic indulgence of every creature comfort. It’s a six-star resort in one of the world’s most beautiful landscapes, and an absolute privilege to experience. Sincere thanks for the excellent hospitality and wonderful company. Best wishes for every success."
Debbie Marshall Becks – Zululand Observer
"The promise of bush magic is heavy in the construction-dusted air. The newly completed villa of the owner indicates a commitment to personal service, unstinted comfort and luxury in high bush style, stone fireplaces to ostrich egg chandeliers. And the food is excellent."
Glynis Horning – House & Leisure