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98% Client Satisfaction Rating
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Thonga beach lodge aerial view 2400

Kwazulu Natal Self Drive Family Vacation

Inspirational self drive family holiday to South Africa

For the more adventurous family, this is an off-the-beaten-track road trip along South Africa’s KwaZulu Natal coast. No compromises on luxury though, with 5-star accommodation throughout. KwaZulu Natal has all the elements that make for a perfect family holiday - excellent weather, stunning scenery and beaches, a huge variety of activities and of course the famous wildlife.

The charm of this part of the country is its compactness and accessibility; as a family you can experience the incredible protected marine habitats of the African Indian Ocean, learn about Zulu culture, and see Big 5 game, all within an afternoon's drive of each other. This is the holiday where you will be far from technology and focused entirely on each other and the fun-filled nature activities such as boat trips to see hippos and crocodiles, canoe trips, forest walks, scuba diving, snorkelling, turtle tracking, fishing and cultural tours. Not forgetting of course, the Big 5 safari, staying at the luxurious Phinda Mountain Lodge.

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Day by Day summary

  • Starts - Catch your overnight flight from JFK to Durban King Shaka
  • 3 nights - The Oyster Box Hotel, Durban, South Africa
  • 3 nights - Makakatana Bay Lodge, Elephant Coast, South Africa
  • 4 nights - Thonga Beach Lodge, Elephant Coast, South Africa
  • 3 nights - Phinda Mountain Lodge, Phinda Private Game Reserve, South Africa
  • Ends - Transfer to Durban King Shaka for your international flight home

At a glance

  • Country Icon South Africa
  • Nights Icon 13 Nights
  • Beach Icon Beach
  • Safari Icon Safari

Tailor-made itineraries

Every Mahlatini trip is custom created to your exact travel wishes – no readymade tours or set departures. Get in touch with our experts to start creating your bespoke itinerary.

Guide Price

Low Season from {: 5300|toCurrency :} per person
High Season from {: 5900|toCurrency :} per person

Includes flights from JFK
Price per person based on a family of 4
Itinerary Details


Catch your overnight flight from JFK to Durban King Shaka

The oyster box hotel presidential suite bathroom 1280
The oyster box hotel cinema room 1280
The oyster box hotel clock library 1280
The oyster box hotel presidential suite bathroom 1280 Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Day 1 - 4

Arrive at Durban King Shaka Airport, collect your hire car and drive yourselves to the upmarket, coastal town of Umhlanga Rocks, north of Durban.

  • 3 nights
  • Star Created with Sketch. Iconic

The Oyster Box Hotel
Bed & Breakfast | Sea Facing Family Room
South Africa

The oyster box hotel penthouse main bedroom 1280
Makakatana bay lodge picnic in the bush 1280
Makakatana bay lodge outside deck and lounge area 1280
Makakatana bay lodge boma dinner 1280
Makakatana bay lodge picnic in the bush 1280 Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Day 4 - 7

Today you will drive yourselves to your lodge, set on the banks of Lake St Lucia within the iSimangaliso Wetland Park World Heritage Site.

  • 3 nights

Makakatana Bay Lodge
Full Board | Family Room
South Africa

Makakatana bay lodge bedroom suite 1280
Thonga beach lodge ocean view room pool deck 1280
Thonga beach lodge snorkelling experience 1280
Thonga beach lodge bar and lounge area 1280
Thonga beach lodge ocean view room pool deck 1280 Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Day 7 - 11

Drive north today to your beach lodge on the beautiful Maputuland Coast.

  • 4 nights

Thonga Beach Lodge
Full Board | Forest View Family Suite
South Africa

Thonga beach lodge beach lodge bedroom 1280
Phinda mountain lodge family cottage pool 1280
Phinda mountain lodge guest lounge area 1280
Phinda mountain lodge boma dinner 1280
Phinda mountain lodge family cottage pool 1280 Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Day 11 - 14

Today head back down the coast to the Phinda Private Game Reserve for your Big 5 safari.

  • 3 nights

Phinda Mountain Lodge
All Inclusive | Family Cottage
South Africa

Phinda mountain lodge guest suite bedroom 1280

Day 14

Return today to Durban King Shaka Airport where you will drop off your hire car and catch your international flight home.

We've got you covered

Our trips are unashamedly high-end but always deliver excellent value for money. Our guide price covers the majority of trip costs upfront, on a per person basis, including international flights and all transfers.

Included icon


  • Accommodation as specified
  • Meals as specified
  • All scheduled safari activities offered by the camps or lodges
  • Car hire, group C car (Toyota Corolla or similar) including full cover, unlimited km and taxes
  • National Parks and conservation entry fees
  • GPS with your car hire
  • Beverages (excluding premium brands) at Phinda Mountain Lodge
  • For a family with 2 children aged between 4 and 12 years
Not included icon


  • Gratuities
  • Personal travel insurance
  • Additional activities not offered as scheduled by the accommodation
  • Visas and visa fees where relevant
  • Petrol
  • Beverages with the exception of Phinda Mountain Lodge
Indulge your passions


This sample trip offers countless adventures and activities to ensure lifetime memories are made. From unforgettable thrills to indulgent relaxation, choose those that appeal most and we will curate your perfect itinerary.

  • Big 5 Safari Icon Big 5 Safari
  • 4 WD Safari Icon 4WD Safari
  • Birdwatching Icon Birdwatching
  • Boat Trip Icon Boat Trip
  • Guided Walking Safari Icon Guided Walking Safari
  • Night Drive Icon Night Drive
  • Ocean Safari Icon Ocean Safari
  • Whale Watching Icon Whale Watching
  • Helicopter Flights Icon Helicopter Flights
  • Scenic Flights Icon Scenic Flights
  • Conservation Experience Icon Conservation Experience
  • Cultural Experience Icon Cultural Experience
  • Canoeing Kayaking Icon Canoeing/Kayaking
  • Cycling Icon Cycling
  • Fishing Icon Fishing
  • Golf Icon Golf
  • Hiking Icon Hiking
  • Horseriding Icon Horse riding
  • Snorkelling Scuba Diving Icon Snorkeling/Scuba Diving
  • Kids Club Icon Kids Club
  • Kids Bushcraft Icon Kids Bushcraft
  • Fly Camping Icon Fly Camping
  • Photography Safari Icon Photography Safari
  • City Sights Icon City Sights
  • Natural Wonders Icon Natural Wonders
  • Wellness Spa Icon Wellness/Spa
Enriching encounters


Whether you want to tick off the Big Five or encounter specific safari species and sea creatures on your safari and coastal stay, our expert guides reveal the typical wildlife sightings to expect on this sample trip.

  • Zebra
  • Wildebeest
  • White Rhino
    White Rhino
  • Spotted Hyena
    Spotted Hyena
  • Lion
  • Leopard
  • Leatherback Turtle
    Leatherback Turtle
  • Kudu
  • Hippo
  • Hawksbill turtle
    Hawksbill Turtle
  • Elephant
  • Crocodile
  • Cheetah
  • Buffalo
  • Bottlenose Dolphin
    Bottlenose Dolphin
  • Black Rhino
    Black Rhino
  • African Fish Eagle
    African Fish Eagle
  • Southern Giraffe
Sample Itineraries


From majestic wildlife to out of this world natural wonders, enchanting beaches and intriguing cities, every bespoke Mahlatini journey is thrilling. Unsure where to visit? Whether it’s a bucket-list adventure, a milestone celebration or simply a much-needed escape, experience the joy with this inspiring selection of favourites.

  • Bespoke itineraries
  • Flights and transfers included
  • Best rates guaranteed

Ready to
explore more?

Our travel experts are ready to start creating your dream African adventure.