If your family is split between city slickers and nature lovers then Tala Private Game Reserve might be the perfect place to stop by during your holiday in Durban. Since it’s only about an hour away from Durban, you can enjoy the urban lifestyle of the city with a day or two at Tala for the nature lovers in your group. You can find many species of buck, ostriches, giraffes, hippos and even rhino. Unfortunately rhino is the only member of the Big five in the reserve. If you’re really eager to see the Big five during your stay then you have two options, either drive to umfolozi which is approximately three hours from Durban or go to the lion park and zoological gardens near Pietermaritzburg where you can see leopards, elephants and lions.
The reserve has a variety of accommodation available from traditional rondavels to more luxurious rooms. We stayed in the paperbark lodge which was quite nice. The room is neat with a view of the fields where you can see antelope and other animals grazing. It’s really something to sit in the veranda and soak in the wilderness experience. Another cool thing is that the unit has a tub and an outside shower. The sides are covered for privacy but the top is open so you’ll get the occasional bird checking you out.
Meals can be purchased from the restaurants. The menu is small but whatever they offer is done well so it’s worth it. The prices seem to coincide with the usual restaurant prices in KZN.
The reserve offers game drives and guided game walks. These need to be pre booked. Their website mentioned wild bird ringing and guided nature trails that look for insects but these are only available to school groups. I hope they reconsider offering this to guests in the park as I’ve never heard of these activities being offered elsewhere.
The game ranger for our game drive was Milton. Safari documentaries are so common that you kind of heard it all before but we were pleasantly surprised and learnt a few things. It’s also not boring because he’s quite witty which keeps you going. As I mentioned before, you won’t see most of the big five here and the lack of predators is disappointing. The game drive lasted two hours which is sufficient. One of our highlights was seeing an ostrich nest. Not something you see everyday. Unlike other parks, you can see a lot of animals while doing a self drive. Unless it’s very hot, then you won’t see much.
October or November might be a better time to visit the park as it’s still a bit dry in September.
Whenever planning a trip, remember to check Groupon for specials, I made a blunder on this stay by booking directly with Tala when Groupon had a special for the exact same thing ie. Bed and breakfast with a game drive. It would have been R1000 cheaper. :'(
None the less, we had a good stay and it’s worth it if you want a safari experience without venturing too far from Durban.