Located on the Elephant Coast, in Maputuland, Kawazul-Natal, in the Isimangaliso World Heritage Park, Thonga Beach Lodge is exactly as it sounds: a first class beach retreat.
Accessed by means of a steep sandy road, set on the edge of eucalyptus forest, among the protected dunes, on the edge of an otherwise deserted beach, Thonga Beach Lodge is constructed entirely of sustainable materials – thatch and wood – and is positioned in such a way as to have little or no impact on the host environment. Largely raised, and built into natural spaces, it consists of a main lodge and 12 suites.
The shared areas include a seating area, bar, spa, pool, shop, beach sala and dining room. Characterised by open sides, a cavernous ceiling, the main lodge’s architecture makes the most of local knowledge with regards to creating dwellings that are at once cool, spacious and welcoming. Slumber seating, low tables and a relaxed but efficient service are the norm, while an open fire provides focus in the evenings. Set apart, the dining room, a rondavel (circular, inverted cone roof) is a delight, and the standard of food is high, the beef and ostrich steaks, the homemade muffins, breads and cakes singled out for special mention.
The sleeping rooms are a delight. Situated at the edge or into the forest, each room includes a double bed, seating area, ensuite bathroom and private verandah. Beautifully lit, simple, airy and marked by blonde woods, plenty of glass and reed walls, everything about the room is well thought through, and the bathroom – bath, toilet, twin sink and shower – is just as fine.
In keeping with the general ethos of the area, please be advised that Thonga Beach Lodge recruits locally, from Mabibi village, and the shop stocks Mabibi produced art and artefacts. The service is laid back, efficient and friendly – a perfect combination – and is the recipient unfailingly good feedback.
Activities at Thonga Beach Lodge include diving, fishing, snorkelling, beach sports, turtle tracking, massage, guided walks, Lake Sibaya visits, bird watching and Tsonga cultural visits.
Best visited between May and September, when it is dry and a tad cooler.