Hluhluwe–iMfolozi Park, KwaZulu-Natal Parks and Reserves
(Formerly Hluhluwe–Umfolozi Game Reserve). This is the oldest proclaimed nature reserve in Africa (1895) and, for many, certainly the most scenically beautiful reserve in southern Africa. It’s also the only state-run park in KwaZulu-Natal province with the Big 5.
* Hluhluwe–iMfolozi Park, KwaZulu-Natal Highlights
- ∞Arguably one of southern Africa’s most scenic parks
- ∞Home to Big 5, including black and white rhino
- ∞Africa’s oldest established wilderness area
- ∞An area of exceptional diversity of fauna and flora
- ∞Abundant birdlife – over 340 listed species
- ∞First real wilderness trails established here in 1950s
- ∞Superb conservation efforts prevented extinction of rhino
Saved the Rhino from Extinction
The park is famous for its conservation efforts, notably for saving the rhino from extinction. From less than 20 rhino left in the world in the early 1900s, Operation Rhino in the 1950s and 60s was responsible for getting their numbers up to more than 10,000. There are some 1,600 white rhino in the park today although, once again, rhino are under severe threat in recent years; being mercilessly poached for their horns (which are made from hair) which have somehow become sought-after in certain Eastern countries for medicinal and aphrodisiac purposes.
The park is 960 km² (96,000 ha) and is situated only 280 kilometres (170 mi) north of Durban. It is a low-risk area for malaria. The northern section of the park is more rugged and hilly with forests and grasslands and is known as the Hluhluwe area, while the iMfolozi area is the southern section where you’ll find the Black and White iMfolozi Rivers and open grasslands. All this makes for an especially beautiful safari destination.
Abundant, Varied Wildlife
Besides Africa’s Big 5: lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and rhino (both black/hook-lipped and white/square-lipped), Hluhluwe–iMfolozi has 86 special species including Nile crocodile, hippo, cheetah, spotted hyena, African wild dog, blue wildebeest, jackal, giraffe, zebra, waterbuck, eland, kudu, impala, duiker, suni, reedbuck, warthog, bushpig, mongoose, baboon, vervet monkey and a variety of tortoises, terrapids, snakes and lizards. It’s also the park where you’re most likely to see the elegant nyala antelope. It’s also a birder’s paradise with over 340 bird species listed. The Hluhluwe River flood plain is one of the only areas in South Africa where you’ll have the chance to see all three varieties of longclaw together. Other popular sightings include night heron, Wahlberg’s eagle, black-bellied korhaan, Temminck's courser and Klaas's cuckoo.
Hluhluwe–iMfolozi Park is a 2½ hour’s drive from Durban and almost 6 hours’ drive from Johannesburg (both of which have international airports.) Road transfers are available. Almost daily (except Tues & Sun) flights connect from OR Tambo International (Johannesburg) to Ulindi Airport, a 6 km drive on tarred roads to the park’s Cengeni Gate of the iMfolozi section.
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A good all-round tour experience that takes in some of the best highlights South Africa has to offer: game viewing in the famous Kruger National Park by open vehicle safaris and night game drives, exploring the waterways of Isimangaliso (Greater St Lucia) Wetlands World Heritage Site; enjoying pristine beaches with excellent scuba, snorkelling, whale and dolphin watching and seasonal turtle watching; absorbing the Zulu culture and impressive history of the KwaZulu-Natal battlefields.
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