South Africa – a country of contrasts with its fascinating peoples, vibrant history, breathtaking scenery and spectacular wildlife – is the place where the Isibindi Africa dream begins . . .
It was while sitting on the banks of the scenic Isibindi River in KwaZulu-Natal, that Brett and Paige Gehren first started hoping that they could share their passion for protecting the pristine and precious natural wonders of Africa. Fiercely committed to conservation and making a difference, the vision for Isibindi Africa Lodges was born.
We selected our unique destinations in South Africa ranging from the world renowned Kruger National Park; Rorke’s Drift in the heart of the Anglo-Zulu Battlefields; Kosi Bay Nature Reserve and the warm Indian Ocean shores of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park and most recently Africa’s oldest proclaimed Game Reserve; Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park. With our devoted team we have created a collection of exclusive lodges to celebrate the biodiversity and cultural heritage of these areas. We have ensured that in establishing these elegant lodges in picturesque surrounds that we “tread gently on the earth” and that local communities share fully in our commitment to protect and promote this majestic land.
The Isibindi Africa family is distinctive by the nature of its people. Creative, fun-loving and knowledgeable, the hosts of our lodges and safaris are as passionate about our dream as we are. Dedicated to making your stay with us as exceptional as possible, these enthusiastic individuals with their effortless energy will share their love of the natural world and the values that Isibindi Africa Lodges holds so dear. Our goal is to give our guests unforgettable and extraordinary experiences that will stay with them forever.
So whether it’s tracking rhino or elephant on foot, scuba diving on exquisite coral reefs, canoeing on shimmering lakes, encountering exhilarating Zulu dancers or sipping sundowners beneath an inky sky studded with a million stars, you too can be part of our vision to protect the wild, care for its people and educate, so that future generations can enjoy Africa’s wild and untamed splendour.
Brett was raised on a farm in Kwazulu-Natal and after finishing school went to study in Stellenbosch and then to Mala Mala as a game ranger. Three years later he started Isibindi River Explorers and Zulu Lodge. At this time he met Paige Elliot who was working for then KZN and Eastern Cape Departments of Nature Conservation as an Environmental Economist specialising in community conservation. They married had four children and built and opened Kosi Forest Lodge, Plains Camp, Rhino Post Lodge, Thonga Beach Lodge and Rhino Ridge Safari Lodge. They believe in hard work and having fun. These days they enjoy exploring Africa with their kids Joss, Geordy, Riley and Rorke. They live on a farm near Eshowe in Zululand.
Barbara Du Plessis joined the Isibindi Family as the Group Operations Manager in October 2014. Barbs, a Durban girl born and bred, qualified from UKZN with a Bachelor of Commerce Degree with Honours in Marketing and Management. Barbs was struck by “Khaki Fever” while working at a family lodge in Zululand where she fell in love with her ranger Joe who is today her husband! Ever since their lives have been dedicated to the success of every lodge they have been involved with. They have managed lodges throughout South Africa, Zambia, Uganda and Tanzania developing not only a career but the adventure but experiencing ‘safari’ in many different countries and having the incredible opportunity to live in some of the most amazing National Parks. 10 years of Lodge Management lead to Operations positions in the safari hub of Arusha, Tanzania. Town life allowed for the arrival of Joshua, their little son, in April 2013. The desire to move back to South Africa was perfectly timed with the opportunity to become a part of the Isibindi Team.
Penny was literally born into the hospitality industry with parents who owned many country hotels in KZN. While studying at university she spent 6 months as a Foreign Language Exchange Student working at hotels in Germany while improving her German. After completing her BA (English & Drama) at UKZN Penny worked at a hotel in the Drakensberg supposedly for the December holiday only, however, much to the dismay of her mother ended up working there for 2 years before moving to the coast to assist in the opening of Breakers Resort in Umhlanga Rocks. It was while working at The Breakers that she was approached by an IT company to head up their training & installations division for Hospitality IT Systems. She gained invaluable experience in all areas of Hospitality Systems and eventually went on to found her own very successful IT company. After 33 stressful years in the IT industry Penny decided to take a sabbatical which led to a complete career change when she joined Isibindi Africa Lodges as Marketing Manager in 2013.