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Recommended place to stay:

Last updated: 03 December, 2023
Expert travel writer: Susan d’Arcy

This sublime wellness retreat is one of the largest ‘safari’ spas in Africa. Karkloof is a 7,500-acre private game reserve that feels like an African version of Jurassic Park. You’ll see wild animals roaming freely but there’s no need to panic, there are no hungry lions hiding in the undergrowth. Expect mainly herbivores: dainty tan and white antelope, lanky giraffe, and skittish zebra. The lodge also runs a pioneering white rhino breeding programme.

The style is throughout is lacquered and lavish: deconstructed chandeliers, a grand piano in the lounge and fireplaces as big as London bedsits. A villa highlight is the bath tub positioned so you can draw back retractable doors and see the magical morning light on the mist-covered hills, along with the waterholes where game come to feed.

Relaxing here is a serious business: with a grass-roofed eco spa and a soundtrack of tinkling water features. There are 17 treatment rooms, hydrotherapy pools and therapists cherry-picked from top international spas. If you cut through this lodge, the word decadent would run right through the middle.

Don't miss

Guests can book up to 11 hours of complimentary spa treatments; spend at least two on the house speciality, Thai massage, AKA lazy person’s yoga. You get to look out for passing giraffe while your therapist contorts your limbs and stretches your spine, leaving you feeling six inches taller.

Surrounding area

You are surrounded by some of KwaZulu Natal’s finest landscapes: winding rivers, towering waterfalls, lush forests, plains and plateaux complimented by profound silence, broken only by animal chatter.

Karkloof Canopy is nearby; a thrilling network of 10 ziplines that zigzag through the forest, and the Nelson Mandela Capture Site, a museum dedicated to South Africa’s beloved former president, located at the spot where he was arrested in 1952. It is a one-hour drive from Durban.


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General amenities

Key facilities

Airport transfers*
Beach: None
Fitness centre
Fitness classes
Golf course
Hot tub
Kids club
Parking: On-site (free)
Pool (adults only)
Pool (indoor)
Pool (outdoor)
Pool (kids)
Tennis courts
WiFi: Free

Food & drink

All inclusive
Kids menu
Restaurant on-site
Self catering
Additional charge

Room amenities

Room types


Room facilities

Air conditioning
Flat screen TV
Hot tub (private)
Pool (private)
Tea & coffee making facilities

Bedding options

2+ bedrooms
3+ beds
Connecting rooms
Rollaway/sofa bed