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H thonga beach lodge room with pool

The Best of Durban and the Elephant Coast

Inspirational self drive holiday to South Africa

Discover delightful Durban and of South Africa’s KwaZulu Natal’s stunning East Coast with a mixture of city, beach and safari in this fabulous itinerary.  We love this itinerary for its varied wildlife and scenery, and as this is home to the Zulu's; there is plenty of culture to immerse yourself in.  You'll arrive in Durban where you will collect your hire car and drive to the Oyster Box Hotel, one of South Africa’s most cherished and iconic hotels. 

With remarkable coastal views, understated luxury and gracious hospitality you may not wish to leave this seaside haven. From here you will journey north to Makakatana Bay Lodge in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park near St Lucia. Explore the untouched wilderness of the park; discover endless wetlands, varied wildlife and beautiful beaches.  Be far removed from daily life as travel up towards the Mozambique border to the truly remote Thonga Beach Lodge, set on the pristine shores of the Maputuland Coast. Stay in a chic, eco-sensitive hut and enjoy a range of nature activities from scuba diving and snorkeling to kayaking and walking.  If you are lucky and time things just right, you will arrive on the beaches of the Elephant Coast in time to witness turtles laying eggs and whale sharks basking off the coast. Cap your experience with 3 nights at the spectacular Phinda Mountain Lodge in the Phinda Private Game Reserve, where you will be spoilt with an abundance of activities including Big 5 game drives. 

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Day by Day summary

  • Starts - Catch your overnight flight from JFK to Durban King Shaka
  • 4 nights - The Oyster Box Hotel, Durban, South Africa
  • 2 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

Tailormade 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 {: 7100|toCurrency :} per person
High Season from {: 7800|toCurrency :} per person

Includes flights from JFK
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 - 5

Arrive at Durban Airport, collect your hire car and drive yourselves to your hotel in Umhlanga Rocks.

  • 4 nights
  • Star Created with Sketch. Iconic

The Oyster Box Hotel
Bed & Breakfast | Classic Garden Facing 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 5 - 7

Today you will take the 2.5 hour drive to St Lucia.

  • 2 nights

Makakatana Bay Lodge
All Inclusive | Luxury Suite
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

Today you will drive further north to your beach lodge along the Elephant Coast.

  • 4 nights

Thonga Beach Lodge
Full Board | Forest View Room
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 you will head south to the Phinda Private Game Reserve.

  • 3 nights

Phinda Mountain Lodge
All Inclusive | Cottage
South Africa

Phinda mountain lodge guest suite bedroom 1280

Day 14

Today you will take the +-3 hour drive to Durban Airport where you will drop off your hire car and catch with your flight home.

Make it yours

Tailormake this itinerary to your exact wishes

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 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
  • Carbon-offsetting with One Tree Planted
  • Conservation donation to Save the Rhino
  • Community projects contribution with Uthando
Not included icon


  • Gratuities
  • Personal travel insurance
  • Visas and visa fees where relevant
  • Petrol
  • Beverages with the exception of all inclusive hotels
  • Additional activities not included as scheduled at hotels, lodges or camps
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, cultural melting pots and enchanting beaches, 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 favorites.

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

Ready to
explore more?

Our travel experts are ready to start creating your tailormade trip.