Jozini Tiger Lodge is a gem

WITH just over two months left before the kickoff of the 2010 Fifa Soccer World Cup I can proudly say that South Africa is ready to present one of the biggest soccer spectacles the continent has ever seen.

Contrary to what many would love to believe, the country and its people are capable of providing the same hospitality as the previous Soccer World Cup hosts.

Our transport services have been upgraded and the hotels polished to accommodate every tourist's needs.

Talking about accommodation, I had the pleasure two weeks ago of travelling to northern KwaZulu-Natal and I was impressed by what I saw. This part of the country remains unknown to many people yet it boasts both luxurious game reserves and flawless beaches.

But then, as those who know better say, it's not a gem unless it is hidden.

Jozini Tiger Lodge is a true gem. It is situated on the banks of the picturesque Jozini Dam.

Rich in heritage and undisturbed natural beauty, Tiger Lodge is an exciting and glamorous holiday destination that offers a perfect luxury getaway in the heart of nature.

The road leading to Tiger Lodge is not all that perfect, which makes me a bit sceptical when our tour guide says the place is heaven on earth. Looking around all I see are Zulu huts and I think, yeah, right!

To my surprise the place is more than stunning. The serenity is so amazing that the only racket one hears is the harmonious chirping of birds.

The weather in Jozini is usually humid but on this day it is acceptable, if I might put it that way.

To ensure that we remain cool while checking in we are offered wet napkins to wipe the sweat from our brows while sipping welcome drinks.

After checking in it is off to my resting place for the day - a family chalet overlooking the dam.

The room is decorated in pastel colours, with a splash of lime. Though I would love to sink into the cushy bed, my hunger is giving me no respite.

I have to praise the chef at the lodge. He really goes out of his way to impress his guests with his cuisine.

Being the adventurous type that I am I even have a cut crocodile meat that leaves me wanting more.

After lunch it is off to a cruise on a boat. The lodge has a houseboat that takes guests on a cruise, giving them an opportunity to admire some astonishing views of the dam and the wildlife around it. The chef has prepared finger lunches for the cruise and sundowners are available.

Though I feel relaxed after the cruise, my body still complains from the previous day's activities. And, no, it is not anything kinky that gets me tired but horse riding.

I went riding on a two-hour horse trail in Hluhluwe River Lodge the day before. I enjoyed every minute of it. I loved my horse for the day, Spunky, he was so adorable.

Hluhluwe River Lodge is 45 minutes from Jozini Tiger Lodge and I would advise those who love to be carried around by animals to begin their trip at this lodge.

The lodge offers a variety of adventures, including scenic mountain bike trails, hikes, boat trips and a unique cultural tour on quad bikes.

If you feel you have had enough of the reserve life you have the option of crashing into the Hluhluwe Hotel, a fancy five-star institution that offers a Zulu experience.

False Bay is also around the corner for those who might want to go and relax on the beach after spending days in the bushes.

l The writer was a guest of Tourism KZN.