Overview – Ithala GR

Philip Briggs
Expert
By Philip Briggs

Philip lives in South Africa and is the author many guidebooks to African destinations, including the Bradt and Insight guide to South Africa.

Philip lives in South Africa and is the author many Africa guidebooks, including the Bradt and Insight guide to South Africa.

Philip is the author of many Africa guidebooks, including the Bradt and Insight guides to South Africa.

Philip is the author of the Bradt and Insight guides to South Africa.

Ithala has a rare scenic beauty and this is a large part of its attraction. Rolling hills and rugged cliffs are a dramatic setting for a safari. Ithala is mostly a self-drive destination, but day and night drives as well as guided walks are available. Big cats are rarely seen and lion are absent, but good viewing of white rhino can be expected.

Best Time to Go May to September (Dry season)
High Season December (Only busy during school holidays)
Size 290km² / 112mi²
Altitude 389-1,346m / 1,276-4,416ft

Pros & Cons

  • Beautiful scenery
  • Good sightings of both rhino species and lots of antelope
  • Great birding
  • Little visited park and never very busy
  • Walks and night drives available
  • Reasonably priced rest camp in the park
  • Malaria-free
  • No choice of accommodation, only park rest camp
  • Walks and night drives not of the same quality as in private parks

Ithala GR Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

Wildlife

White rhino is very common and black rhino is occasionally spotted as well. White rhino is often approached very closely on walking safaris. Big cats are rarely seen (lion is absent), but elephant, giraffe, buffalo and zebra are relatively common. Among the wide range of antelope that thrive on the grassy slopes are the rare tsessebe and oribi.

Scenery

Ithala Game Reserve is a place of rugged beauty with 300 million-year-old rock formations. Rolling hills covered in mountain grassland go on forever and strategically placed viewpoints are dotted around the park. Ntshondwe, the park lodging, is set at the foot of the cliffs of the Ngotshe Mountain. Towering above Ntshondwe, horizontal contours of pink and russet sandstone offset vertically jagged spires of dolerite (dark, volcanic) rock.

Weather & Climate

The temperature at Ithala is dictated by the seasons and the altitude. In winter (May to September), afternoon conditions are generally warm and comfortable, but the early mornings can get bitingly cold. The wind can also blow hard at this time, adding to the chill. It stays warm in summer (October to April), though this is accompanied by humidity and storms late in the day. In terms of altitude, it gets 6.5°C/3.5°F colder for every 1000m/1000ft you climb.

Best Time to Visit

In the Wet season (October to April), the game reserve is beautifully green due to heavy rain. The precipitation also washes the dust of the Dry season (May to September) out of the air, allowing clear views of the landscape. But the thick vegetation hampers wildlife watching. If this is your priority, it’s best to visit Ithala in the drier months, when the undergrowth thins out, and animals are more easily spotted.

Want to Visit Ithala GR?

Ithala GR Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
Most Helpful Expert Review
Luxury safari destination at a fraction of the cost
3/5

Just three and a half hours drive from Johannesburg Ithala Game Reserve, run by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, offers the first-class look and feel of an expensive private reserve, but at a fraction of the cost. For this reason, it remains one of...

Latest User Review
Great safaripark for self drive with beautiful scenery
4/5

We went to Ithala game reserve as a part of a round trip along the elephant coast. We stayed for two night's at one of the wonderfull chalets. They are clean en up to date. We did a self drive safari, we took al de routes in the park....