This beach deck at Thonga Beach Lodge has prime sea views.

Thonga Beach Lodge | Maputaland Luxury South African Safari Lodge

iSimangaliso Wetland Park was South Africa’s first World Heritage Site, and with good reason. It’s a mosaic of interwoven habitats – estuary, beach, dune, forest and reef – and possesses a wild beauty that exceeds even the sum of its parts. Soak it up from the comfort of Thonga Beach Lodge, with the sand between your toes.

The place

Arriving at Thonga Beach Lodge, we inhale big lungfuls of bracing marine air, and feel the last of the city cobwebs being blown away. Standing on the beach deck, we look down from the top of the dunes and along the golden sweep of sand that stretches away like an immense parenthesis to each side of us. The manager, Gerard, lets us have a few moments to drink in the scale of the view. He tells us that the tide has turned, and points out where the waves are breaking over dark, jagged rocks just out to sea. This is Pine Reef – a great place to snorkel at low tide. I smile – that’s our afternoon activity organised. I love the idea of being able to run down the gently sloping beach into the water, and arrive almost immediately at a reef busy with tropical fish. We turn and look back across the clustered thatched roofs of the luxury South African safari lodge to the vibrant green of the forest canopy. It’s as though we’re pinned between the ocean and the trees, and yet I’ve never felt freer.

Arriving at Thonga Beach Lodge, we inhale big lungfuls of bracing marine air, and feel the last of the city cobwebs being blown away. Standing on the beach deck, we look down from the top of the dunes and along the golden sweep of sand that stretches away like an immense parenthesis to each side of us.

The manager, Gerard, lets us have a few moments to drink in the scale of the view. He tells us that the tide has turned, and points out where the waves are breaking over dark, jagged rocks just out to sea. This is Pine Reef – a great place to snorkel at low tide. I smile – that’s our afternoon activity organised. I love the idea of being able to run down the gently sloping beach into the water, and arrive almost immediately at a reef busy with tropical fish.

We turn and look back across the clustered thatched roofs of the luxury South African safari lodge to the vibrant green of the forest canopy. It’s as though we’re pinned between the ocean and the trees, and yet I’ve never felt freer.

The room

After much pre-trip deliberation, we’d chosen an ocean-view suite over one that looked into the forest. It’s a light, airy suite, with an open-plan bathroom – I can sense that we’ll never feel enclosed here. The reed walls, open doors and thatched roof remind me somehow of a bird’s nest, only one designed with more human comfort in mind. We step out onto our private deck and gaze out to sea. It’s calm today, like a sheet of sapphire glass. We both notice the table and chairs on the deck and catch each other’s eye – what a perfect spot for a romantic candlelit dinner. I notice Gerard smiling too; I’m sure he has a few surprises up his sleeve for us. For now, he enthusiastically tells us about the option of an early morning kayaking outing on nearby Lake Sibaya, ideal for listening to the many waterbirds that live there, and looking out for languid hippo and basking crocodile.

After much pre-trip deliberation, we’d chosen an ocean-view suite over one that looked into the forest. It’s a light, airy suite, with an open-plan bathroom – I can sense that we’ll never feel enclosed here. The reed walls, open doors and thatched roof remind me somehow of a bird’s nest, only one designed with more human comfort in mind.

We step out onto our private deck and gaze out to sea. It’s calm today, like a sheet of sapphire glass. We both notice the table and chairs on the deck and catch each other’s eye – what a perfect spot for a romantic candlelit dinner.

I notice Gerard smiling too; I’m sure he has a few surprises up his sleeve for us. For now, he enthusiastically tells us about the option of an early morning kayaking outing on nearby Lake Sibaya, ideal for listening to the many waterbirds that live there, and looking out for languid hippo and basking crocodile.

What sets it apart

We’re thrilled to have found a lodge with such a perfect setting – away from the world, but in the heart of one of the most beautiful parts of Maputaland. We learn that iSimangaliso means ‘place of miracles and wonders’, and within moments of arriving we’re already seeing how apt this is. Being within a stone’s throw of both the ocean and Lake Sibaya greatly increases the range of activities on offer, and we fully intend to make the most of them. Thonga Beach Lodge prides itself on its light ecological footprint and we’re happy that all we leave behind are our own imprints in the sand, soon to be swept away by the breakers of the Indian Ocean. We’ve timed our trip to coincide with turtle-tracking season, as well as the best diving. Thonga Beach Lodge offers a rare close-up look at an amazing array of ecosystems, with gourmet food and beautiful accommodation to boot.

We’re thrilled to have found a lodge with such a perfect setting – away from the world, but in the heart of one of the most beautiful parts of Maputaland. We learn that iSimangaliso means ‘place of miracles and wonders’, and within moments of arriving we’re already seeing how apt this is.

Being within a stone’s throw of both the ocean and Lake Sibaya greatly increases the range of activities on offer, and we fully intend to make the most of them. Thonga Beach Lodge prides itself on its light ecological footprint and we’re happy that all we leave behind are our own imprints in the sand, soon to be swept away by the breakers of the Indian Ocean. We’ve timed our trip to coincide with turtle-tracking season, as well as the best diving.

Thonga Beach Lodge offers a rare close-up look at an amazing array of ecosystems, with gourmet food and beautiful accommodation to boot.

At a glance

  • Luxury beach lodge with 12 thatched suites with either ocean or forest views, including two deluxe suites with private plunge pools.
  • World Heritage Site, private vehicle available (additional cost), private dining and flexible schedules.
  • Swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving (additional cost), guided kayaking, open ocean experience, birdwatching, guided forest walk, seasonal turtle tracking (additional cost), sundowners at Lake Sibaya, cultural visits and spa treatments (additional cost).
  • Children welcome, although maximum of six kids under eight years at any one time. Triples can be accommodated, and there are three family suites. Babysitting available at an additional cost.

  • Luxury beach lodge with 12 thatched suites with either ocean or forest views, including two deluxe suites with private plunge pools.
  • World Heritage Site, private vehicle available (additional cost), private dining and flexible schedules.
  • Swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving (additional cost), guided kayaking, open ocean experience, birdwatching, guided forest walk, seasonal turtle tracking (additional cost), sundowners at Lake Sibaya, cultural visits and spa treatments (additional cost).
  • Children welcome, although maximum of six kids under eight years at any one time. Triples can be accommodated, and there are three family suites. Babysitting available at an additional cost.

Prices

  • Not only do African safari lodge prices shift with the seasons, they also change based on your length of stay, room type, travel party composition, special offers, if your trip involves stays at sister lodges – and for more reasons besides.
  • It’s worth noting that depending on your itinerary, your lodge cost will make up about 75–85% of your total safari trip cost.
  • Our safaris are tailor-made to match your personal safari dream, we’d be delighted if you’d allow us to create a bespoke proposal for you.  Simply enquire now – our quotes are complimentary and obligation-free.
  • However, to help you get an idea of safari lodge prices we’ve created three safari-lodge categories with various price ranges, to find out more click here.

  • Not only do African safari lodge prices shift with the seasons, they also change based on your length of stay, room type, travel party composition, special offers, if your trip involves stays at sister lodges – and for more reasons besides.
  • It’s worth noting that depending on your itinerary, your lodge cost will make up about 75–85% of your total safari trip cost.
  • Our safaris are tailor-made to match your personal safari dream, we’d be delighted if you’d allow us to create a bespoke proposal for you.  Simply enquire now – our quotes are complimentary and obligation-free.
  • However, to help you get an idea of safari lodge prices we’ve created three safari-lodge categories with various price ranges, to find out more click here.

When to Go

A visit during these warmer months lets you get the maximum effect of Maputaland’s subtropical climate. It’s generally hot and humid, especially from December to March when average daytime temperatures nudge 30°C. Relief comes in the form of frequent late afternoon thunderstorms, which also provide spectacular son et lumière-style entertainment. Dips in the Indian Ocean are popular now, and while Sodwana gets busy, you can usually find a quiet strip of sand somewhere, especially in Mozambique. This is a good time to head inland to private game reserves like Phinda, as you’ll get to see migratory birds and newborn animals.

Maputaland enjoys deliciously mild winters, revelling in the balmy mid-20s – not too hot and not too cold. Humidity plummets from June to August, making it the most popular times to visit the area. The ‘coldest’ month, July, tops out at around 23°C – no jacket required! Inland, the dry conditions in the wildlife areas reduce the drinking options available to wildlife – in reserves like Phinda, game builds up around the remaining waterholes, while the retreating vegetation means spotting that leopard is on the agenda!

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