Bird life around the lodge alone is spectacular, tiny blue waxbills flit around the garden like little gems, Paradise Whydah grace the lower branches of the Acacia Tortilis, bright orange, black and white Hoopoe inspect the newly mown grass, and in the distance the cackle of francolin scuttling in the undergrowth. There are more than 400 species of birds in the area, Fish Eagle, Giant Kingfisher, Narina Trogon and the spectacular Purplecrested Lourie , with the “feather in the cap” being… the presence of the rare Bat Hawk.

An afternoon game drive is included in the rate, taking sundowners to the lookout spot over the Mkuze river, to discover the ruins of General Louis Botha's original farmhouse on the crest of the hill, as well as drives through the groves of Tamboti ( Spirostachys Africana ) and red ivory ( Berchemia zeyheri ) trees, whilst Marula trees ( S clerocarya birrea ) of all ages and sizes frame the landscape.

There are also guided or unguided game walks, as well as terrific mountain biking trails with varying degrees of difficulty – bring your own bikes.

Animal species to be seen roaming freely from the lodge are: kudu, zebra, giraffe, nyala , impala, reed buck, wildebeest, ostrich, warthog and smaller antelope and mammals, spore of a female leopard and cub have been found on the ranch.

Hunting by special arrangement.

Things to do nearby

All major parks and reserves in Zululand are within close proximity, Ithala , Mkuze, Hluhluwe / Imfolozi – big 5.

Within 3 hours drive to the sites of South African Boer war(s)

Visit St Lucia Wetlands, or Mozambique 2 hrs drive.

En route to Kruger National Park via Swaziland.

Tiger fishing at Lake Jozini – 50kms to launch boats/ charter.

Elephant & rhino tracking at Pongola game reserve +/- 50kms. Pre booking is essential.

En route to Sodwana Bay from Johannesburg +2hrs.

2hour drive to Ndumo Game reserve and 3hours to Rock Tail Bay.

Some interesting historical facts :

Mkuze Ranch has interesting unique historical value as it was originally the hunting farm of General Louis Botha , and is the only place in this area that has an historical “ Isivivane ” on it. (For perspective of the region view the map.)

River Magud (more correctly emaGudu ) is a place of many tracks and trails, which will explain the existence of the isivivane (or Zulu “lucky cairn” of heaped stones). These izivivane play a vital role in traditional Zulu culture. They were established alongside old, important footpaths and are an expression of man's universal desire for the success of his undertakings – however insignificant they might be. They might have been started by someone to bring good luck on a journey or a military leader, who might have placed the original stone there. A stone might even have been thrown down on the death of an important headman or even where someone might have died of starvation. The isivivane would be started by picking up a stone with the left foot, taken in the right hand, spat upon and thrown down . This same ritual will continue with each passer-by being required to repeat the procedure.

eMagudu was originally the home of the Ndwandwes and a local forest contains the graves of a number of their old chiefs, - like eMakhosini near Ulundi , it is a sacred place.

Zulu Wars

Nearby are the Maqongqo Hills, where the 5000 amabutho of King Dingane kaSenzangakhona , commanded by his famous general, Ndlela Ntuli , were defeated by a similar number of warriors under Dingane's brother, Mpande kaSenzangakhona's chief induna , Nongalaza . The battle – one of the fiercest fought in Zululand – was fought on the 29 th January 1840 and followed Ndlela's defeat by the Voortrekkers at the Battle of Blood River / Ncome on the 16 th December 1838. Dingane was so incensed at Ndlela's defeat at the Battle of Maqongqo Hills that he ordered him to be strangled with an ox-hide thong and his body left unburied. Nonetheless, he cared for Ndlela's two children, Godide kaNdlela and Mavumengwana kaNdlela , both of whom became important commanders in King Cetshwayo kaMpande ' s army and played a significant role during the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879.

During the Zulu Civil War of 1883 to 1888, the Boers on the southeastern “border” of the Transvaal were called upon by King Cetshwayo's son and successor, Prince Dinuzulu kaCetshwayo , to assist him in his fight against the Mandlakazi tribe of Inkosi Zibhebhu kaMapitha . In return for their support, the King promised them vast tracts of land.

The Boers organised a commando of 350 men and proceeded to Ngwibi mountain near present-day Vryheid where they pledged their support for Prince Dinuzulu . They included Louis Botha , - who later became the acting Commandant General of the Boer army and first Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa.

LandscapeThe Commando joined Prince Dinuzulu's followers and proceeded to Zibhebhu's principal umuzi (homestead) at Bangonomo and destroyed it. The Mandlakazi retreated to the Mkuze poort through the Lebombo Mountains where Zibhebhu prepared an ambush below eTshaneni Mountain ( Ghost Mountain) one of his warriors fired a premature shot, however, and despite a fierce fight, the Boers assisted Prince Dinuzulu's uSuthu in defeating the Mandalakazi .

In return the Boers were granted their land (comprising 1 355 000 morgan ) which they welded into the Nieuwe Republiek (The New Republic) with Lucas Meyer as its first (and only) President. Botha was tasked with dividing up the plots which formed the town of Vryheid and in 1886 .He soon gained a thorough knowledge of that part of the country and spent some time exploring and hunting.

Re-discover your senses,
see it…the rugged natural beauty
hear it…the sound of animal traffic
touch it…the abundance of natural textures
smell it… the aroma of wildness
breath it…fresh sweet bush air

Mkuze Ranch… Live it