A very accessible 240 km north of Durban, in the heart of the Zulu kingdom, lies the beautiful Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve. One of South Africa's most underrated game parks Hluhluwe-Imfolozi has all the ingredients needed to create a perfect wildlife destination.
It is the oldest game reserve in Africa (est 1895) with it's 960km2 covering a wealth of historical and cultural heritage sites reflecting the stories of the animals and people of the region. Hluhluwe-Imfolozi has a fascinating history as the hunting reserve of the Zulu kings of the past.
Home to the Big Five of Africa, the reserve is world renowned for it rhino conservation efforts in the 1950's and 60's, known as Operation Rhino. This incredibly successful conservation effort saw Hluhluwe-Imfolozi bring the white rhino back from the brink of extinction and re-established healthy rhino populations.
The entire area of Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve is strictly protected, incorporating vast wilderness areas, some of which are virtually inaccessible by road. It hosts some of the country's first and finest wilderness trails - an increasingly popular way to experience the area. The landscape is diverse and includes thick forests, dry bushveld, hills and open grasslands.
The park is made up of two parts - Hluhluwe in the north and Imfolozi in the south. The Hluluwe section is characterized by more diverse, rugged terrain, with towering grassland hills and mountains. The Hluhluwe Dam offers daily boat trips and makes a lovely alternative way to view the profusion of birdlife and animals. The southern section of Imfolozi is sandwiched between the two Imfolozi Rivers and is better known for its wide open spaces and endless savannas; making it the natural stomping ground of the elephant population.
Hluhluwe-Imfolozi is teeming with wildlife, big and small, and spending time in this bush will awaken your senses to the abundance of life thriving in this park. Besides for the ever popular Big Five game (elephant, rhinoceros, buffalo, lion and leopard) Hluhluwe-Imfolozi boasts an array of other incredible animals including the Nile crocodile, cheetahs, hippos, spotted hyenas, baboons and monkeys, to name a few.
Thanks to the hard work of the Operation Rhino project the park boasts the largest white rhino population in the world and is a prime location for viewing these prehistoric creatures in their natural habitat. Within the park you can visit the Centenary Capture Centre and Museum which documents the relocation projects which have set an exemplaray example for animal capture and sustainable utilization throughout Africa, as well as the renowned Cheetah Project at the Emdoleni Lodge.
With more than 340 bird species Hluhluwe-Imfolozi is a wonderful bird watcher's destination and the Hluhluwe River Flood Plain is one of the only areas in South Africa where yellow-throated, pink-throated and orange-throated longclaw species can be seen side by side. The well-positioned bird hides are set near watering holes, offering rewarding bird and wildlife spotting at close range.
Hluhluwe-Imfolozi is in a low risk malaria area with March to November being recommended as the ideal time to visit. The climate is not too humid during these months and the weather is cool and dry. The absence of lush bush in the drier months not only makes game spotting easier, but also encourages the daily gathering of wildlife at the watering holes.
Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve is the ideal choice for those wanting to combine a Big Five game reserve experience with a relaxed beach holiday. Being relatively close to the city of Durban and its convenient proximity to the tropical Kwa-Zulu Natal east coast makes Hluhluwe-Imfolozi an excellent destination for bushveld adventure combined with some lazy sun-filled beach time and truly gives visitors the best of both worlds.
Use the Google map to explore Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve. Feel free to Print the Street Map when you're ready.