Scenically, Ithala rates as one of the most beautiful and interesting of KwaZulu-Natal's reserves, with great seasonal contrasts. It is situated in the north of KwaZulu-Natal, close to the Swaziland border and overlooking the Pongola River Valley which consists of predominantly rugged mountainous thornveld with areas of open grassland which is good for game viewing.
Ithala is well known for its incredible geological diversity
with some rock formations dating back 3 000 million years. The interesting topography means there is also a diversity of habitats for both animals and plants.
There are no Lion so the game are more relaxed
which makes for excellent viewing of Giraffe, Zebra and Warthog and there are also Elephant, Black and White Rhino, Buffalo and although not always seen but often heard, Hyena and Leopard.
Ntshondwe is Ithala's main camp situated against a magnificent backdrop of cliffs from which it takes its name. The camp consists of 39 thatched chalets set among large trees and is well known as an excellent place from which to watch raptors soaring high in the surrounding dolerite
and sandstone cliffs above the camp.
The camp consists of a fully equipped conference centre
, a bar, a swimming pool and an excellent curio shop which stocks locally made traditional crafts as well as basic provisions. For those not wanting to self-cater, there is a restaurant overlooking a pretty pan. Another camp with its own pool is the luxurious Ntshondwe Lodge where a cook is available.
Ithala's 3 other bush camps are Mhlangeni Bush Camp set high on a rocky outcrop with excellent views from the open-plan lounge
and sundeck and the showers, and Mbizo Bush Camp which lies beside a series of gurgling rapids and whirling pools.
The last is Thalu Bush Camp at the foot of a steep slope on the banks of the Thalu River. It is also possible to camp at Ithala
. Malaria is a consideration although this is not designated as a high risk area.