Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve safari | Travel guide

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Hluhluwe-iMfolozi is the flagship park of the Kwazulu-Natal province, some  280 kilometres north of Durban.

It is also one of the oldest parks in Africa, originally created in the 1890s as a sanctuary for one last tiny population of southern white rhino. This is where the species was saved from extinction. Rhino are now very common in the park.

Today, the park is now home to over 1200 plant species, 84 mammals and 350-400 bird species and is also  home to the Big Five as well as cheetah, zebra, giraffe, hyena and many more iconic species.

The reserve also has a range of excellent safari tented camps, lodges and luxurious wooden chalets in the heart of the bush.

Why visit Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve?

Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve safari

One of the main reasons to go to Hluhluwe-iMfolozi is the fact that it is an excellent self-drive destination.

These self-drive trails in Hluhluwe are designed for the convenience of visitors who wish to discover the secrets of the bushveld from the seclusion of their own vehicle on a Hluhluwe Game Reserve holiday or guided night and day drives with an experienced ranger.

The reserve also has good wildlife viewing with the Big Five and both rhino species. Self-guided foot trails are popular with three trails available at Emoyeni Mpila, Enkulu and Masinda Ncane.

Guide books are available to assist visitors and to point out places of interest along the way.

Animals

As South African safaris go, Hluhluwe-iMfolozi offers great wildlife viewing and is home to all of the Big Five. Both rhino species are present and white rhino is particularly common. The thick vegetation makes it difficult to spot any of the big cats.

Wild dogs have been reintroduced and are most likely to be observed when active early or late in the day.

Giraffes and Burchell’s zebras are some of the more common species found throughout the park. The park is famous for its white rhino conservation success and has one of the largest populations in the world.

Black rhino is also present in significant numbers but rarely seen. The gracious nyala is a Kwazulu-Natal special as it is very common in the province, but rare elsewhere.

Lucky visitors might stumble on a pack of wild dogs, and the elusive leopard is sometimes spotted on night drives.

Birds

With more than 340 species recorded, along with excellent facilities for independent travel, Hluhluwe-iMfolozi is a great birding destination. There are several birding shelters in the park, and the rolling hills and viewpoints from Hilltop Camp is a great place to observe birds of prey, such as bateleur and martial eagle, soaring over the bush.

Several pairs of southern bald ibis are known to breed within the park. Migratory birds are present from November to April.

Other birds known in the area include the Burchell’s coucal, Eastern nicator, Trumpeter hornbill and the Crested barbet.

Trees

The first spring rains always bring new life to Umfolozi and Hluhluwe reserve. There is never a dull moment as the vegetation changes constantly with the seasons. Even fire plays a big role in changing the landscape and flora of the area.

Whilst summer brings about a different kind of change. This is when the lions start their yearly retreat into the trees.

A common sight in the lower iMfolozi Park as temperatures slowly increase once again over 40c this view of Lions in Trees will come to be a popular sighting. This amazing view continues to astonish all visitors to the park.

Other fauna in the area includes the Weeping Boerbean flowers. There are many interesting things about these great trees but one which stands out is the fact that the “Boers” – Dutch descendants used the Bean(the seed) of this tree as a substitute for coffee.

Other activities on a Hluhluwe iMfolozi safari

Other things to do in South Africa that visitors to Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve can look forward to on their trip:

  • Game drive: Exploring Hluhluwe iMfolozi’s wildlife with spectacular views of large concentrations of wildlife and watch four of the Big Five in the open wild.
  • Day walks: Short day walks of approximately 2 hours are conducted from Mpila and Hilltop Camps under the supervision of an experienced field ranger. These walks are best undertaken in the early morning or late afternoon and may be booked at reception in both camps.
  • Wilderness trails: These trails are offered at the Imfolozi Game Reserve take place from mid-March to mid-December. The 3 day hike is an unforgettable experience with the first and last nights are spent at the Mndindini Trails Camp, which overlooks the White Mfolozi River.
  • Picnics: Several sites with ablution and barbeque facilities are situated throughout the park.

How to get to Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve?

By Plane

To get to South Africa and indeed to the park, visitors can fly to one of two airports: Cape Town International (CPT) or O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg.

It is also possible to fly to King Shaka International Airport (DUR) in Durban and domestic flights to Durban can be booked with several domestic carriers. A South Africa will likely also be required per the latest entry requirements.

By Road

Hluhluwe-iMfolozi is located about 250km/155mi north of Durban and is easily reached by tarred road. The reserve is rarely a destination in its own right and is usually part of a tour around the country.

Carrying a small amount of South Africa currency, the rand (ZAR) is advised for smaller purchases.

Tariffs & Regulations

Entrance fee

All Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve fees are payable at the gate at time of entrance. Park fees are valid for 24 hours.

For overnight visitors, a daily conservation levy of R240 per adult and R120 per child under 12 years will be charged.

Regulations

If you keep to park rules, you can stay with the animals as long as they are not disturbed by your presence.

Accommodation at Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve

Imfolozi Game Reserve accommodation consists of various self-catering units, tented camps and bush lodges.

Some camps have their own cook, who can prepare an array of delicious meals, and a resident field guide. All the Imfolozi accommodation is well equipped and located in tranquil surroundings.

Chalets

Imfolozi Game Reserve accommodations in KwaZulu-Natal are basic without any frills but are well equipped and serviced daily. Most of the accommodation overlooks the wilderness and provides an authentic African experience.

Imfolozi Game Reserve accommodation consists of various self-catering units, tented camps and bush lodges. Some camps have their own cook, who can prepare an array of delicious meals, and a resident field guide.

All the Imfolozi accommodation are well equipped and located in tranquil surroundings. Limited supplies of food and drink can be purchased at the shop at Mpila Camp, although it is recommended bringing your own supplies.

Camps

Hilltop Camp inside Hluhluwe Game Reserve offers 2-bed and 4-bed self-catered chalets. This includes a full kitchen with all utensils, linen and an open plan living area as well as en-suite showers and an outdoor braai and terrace.

Campervan

Guests on a self-drive safari with a campervan can make significant savings by sleeping in their vehicle.

Bars/restaurants/amenities

Lodges will typically have all meals and drinks included in the lodge package.

Useful information

Geography

Hluhluwe–Imfolozi Park, formerly Hluhluwe–Umfolozi Game Reserve, is the oldest proclaimed nature reserve in Africa located 280 kilometres north of Durban in central KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

Safaris here can be combined with trips to Kruger NP or Phinda Game Reserve.

Weather

Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve’s winter and summer fall at opposite times of the year to the corresponding seasons in Europe and North America. Summer corresponds with the Wet season and winter with the Dry season. Hluhluwe-iMfolozi has a sub-tropical climate.

The wet summer months (October to April) are hot and humid. Dry winters (May to September) are pleasantly warm.

During the Dry Season, there is very little rainfall in winter, but there might be the occasional shower because of the proximity to the coast. The heat is less oppressive than summer, and skies are usually cloudless.

In May, the end of summer means that it rains less and the humidity drops. It is cooling down, and the average temperatures are 13°C/55°F in the morning and 24°C/75°F in the afternoon.

Best time to go

Understanding the best time to visit South Africa is important as this will impact accommodation, flight prices, availability and the weather that visitors can expect on their safari vacation. A South Africa visa for entry may also be required.

The best time to visit Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve is in the drier winter months from May to September. At this time the vegetation thins out, and animals congregate around water sources.

The shelters located at the waterholes are particularly busy with animal activity at this time. The colder winter months are also considered the low season and the park tends to be less busy with the exception of school holidays.

Health

Hluhluwe-iMfolozi is located in a low-risk malaria zone, and antimalarials are not considered necessary. It is still advisable to cover up and use mosquito repellent containing DEET in the evenings during those wet months.

Antimalarials and other vaccines for South Africa are advised, as well as covering up in the evening and using mosquito repellent (those containing DEET are most effective).

It is recommended to visit a travel clinic before coming to South Africa. Several South Africa vaccinations are recommended and usually administered before your departure.

FAQs

Where is Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve located?

Hluhluwe–Imfolozi Park, formerly Hluhluwe–Umfolozi Game Reserve, is the oldest proclaimed nature reserve in Africa located 280 kilometres north of Durban in central KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

What animals will visitors see at Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve?

Visitors to Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve will find the Big Five present including the white rhino, elephant, buffalo, big cats sightings, giraffe, Burchell’s zebra, leopard, black rhino and the nyala.

How much is the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve entrance fee?

The entrance fee for Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve is R240 per adult and R120 per child under 12 years.