Ithala Game Reserve

 

This magnificent reserve, tumbling from the heights of the Ngotshe Mountains a thousand meters down into a deep valley, carved over the eons by the Phongolo River revealing the world’s oldest rock formations, is a game viewers paradise. Situated in the rugged, mountainous thornveld of northern KwaZulu-Natal, the reserve’s multitude of habitats host a spectacular array of wildlife species. Its scenic beauty aside, Ithala’s most characteristic feature is perhaps it’s astonishing geological diversity. Some of the oldest rock formations in the world are found here, dating back 3 000 million years. With a topographic profile varying from 400m above sea level in the north to 1 450m near Louwsburg in the south, Ithala’s terrain extends over lowveld and densely vegetated riverine valleys to high-lying grassland plateaus, ridges and cliff faces.

The area now proclaimed as Ithala has been occupied by man for thousands of years and there are many sites littered with Stone Age spear and axe heads dating back some 20,000 years. There has even been a middle Stone Age tool discovered by archaeologists which pushes the date back to anything up to 200,000 years. More recently, in the last few hundred years, with the advent of the Nguni people, iron smelting took place in Ithala and there are a number of smelting sites adjacent to deposits of banded ironstone which was crushed to provide the iron ore.

Ithala has provided the setting for many historic events, from Shaka’s reign and those of successive Zulu kings, to a number of gold mining enterprises in the early years of the 20th Century.

Ithala has an excellent auto trail to facilitate visitor’s game viewing, and a notated guide booklet is available in the shop at Ntshondwe, Ithala’s superbly designed, multi-award winning Resort.

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