Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park is the oldest proclaimed nature reserve in Africa. It consists of 960 km² of hilly topography and is known for its rich wildlife and conservation efforts. We saw several of the Big 5, zebra, buck, some tiny new-born monkeys, and more! Read on for all the details…
While staying at Zululand Lodge in mid January this year, we decided to book a Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Drive in the morning.
If you missed my post on our 2 Nights At Zululand Lodge Hluhluwe, be sure to read that too!
You can self-drive in Hluhluwe Game Reserve, but we opted to book a guided game drive with Anew Hotel as we wanted the full game drive experience.
My mom was with us on this trip and we had such a fun time. I grew up in Zimbabwe where we would generally do about 2 trips to the bush every year, but since living in South Africa I had only been on two bush getaways in 7 years.
You can read about our trip to Rhino River in Manyoni here.
This was my 3rd bush trip in SA, and my mom’s first ever. She was really interested to see what the bushveld in South Africa would be like.
It’s safe to say she loved it.
We both agreed the main difference between the bush in Zim and in SA is that the trees and shrubs are smaller in SA, and there is a lot more open space here. The bush in Zim is very dense and quite tall, especially in summer time.
Unless you are talking about Mana Pools in Zim where there is just dirt and massive trees on the banks of the Zambezi River and you can see for miles (that place is like no other!).
Another difference is that Kwazulu Natal is very hilly, and the bush is no exception! it’s hilly all over, with mountains in the distance. Quite beautiful.
This is how our morning Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Drive went:
- We arrived at Anew Hotel at the agreed time
- Signed a simple form
- Jumped into the game viewing vehicle and drove 15 – 20 minutes to Hluhluwe Park
- Once we arrived, our guide went into the office to pay the entrance fee
- And then we were off!
Once we were through the gate to the park, we immediately came across a family of warthogs, the babies were so cute!
Then two big male warthogs on their own, one had a gorgeous red-billed oxpecker on his snout.
Soon after this Mikey spotted a chameleon crossing the road. We love chameleons and so whenever we spot one on the road Mikey will get out and move the little guy to safety.
This occasion was no different, lol. What a beautiful little creature.
Next we came across two rhino, but they were too nestled into the bush to get a good photo. Still, it was lovely to see them with their gorgeous big horns, roaming the bush safely. (They have to watch over these rhinos at all times for their safety, read my post on Rhino River to learn more about this)
On our way to the watering hole, our guide spotted some teeny tiny baby monkeys on a branch with their mama. You can’t really tell from the photo but these monkeys were so dinky.
Once we reached the watering hole we were met with a huge herd of buffalo grazing, and 3 majestic elephants chilling right by the water.
At one point one of the ellies decided to rest his weary trunk on his brothers back. Something I’ve never seen before, it was so sweet!
While we were watching the buffs and the ellies, I turned around to see some zebra emerging from the bush onto the road. I’m always mesmerised by their striking black and white markings, no two zebras are the same.
We moved on from this spot and up a huge hill with the most breathtaking 360° views of what seemed like the entire park, and enjoyed a drink and some snacks.
The photos don’t do it justice!
This was a glorious panoramic view of lush green rolling hills, spotted with flat tops and shrubs, the odd animal here and there, and massive mountains in the distance.
I can imagine the explorers back in the day would have wanted to build a house right there and call it a day. Magnificent.
After our refreshments we jumped back into the vehicle and continued on to see two buffalo wallowing in a muddy water hole right by the road.
We joked about how amazing it is that they can keep their heads up with those HUGE horns – very, very strong necks they must have.
Our guide told us that some consider the buffalo to be the most dangerous of the Big 5 because they show no sign of aggression before turning on you. They just attack with no warning.
Note to self: if ever on a guided walk in the bush, give buffalo a wide berth!
We passed another family of zebra on our way back to the entrance of the park.
That about sums up our Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Drive.
Mikey, my mom and I all decided that we’d like to go back in winter one year to experience the KZN bushveld when it’s dryer and less dense.
Typically you’re more likely to see more game in winter time. But that’s not a hard and fast rule.
Fun story – I was in Hwange National Park (in Zimbabwe) with my aunt and uncle and my cousins quite a few years back and everyone decided they were going to get up SUPER EARLY and go out on a long morning game drive.
My aunt and I didn’t like the sound of that, and so we decided to sleep in. We got up at a leisurely time, had a lazy breakfast and then went out on a casual game drive of our own.
WELL, not long into our drive we spotted a leopard strolling along right by the road!!! This is an extremely unusual thing to see, especially at 10am in the middle of summer. We could not believe our eyes. We watched her for a good 10 minutes before she went further into the dense bush.
Needless to say we were tickled pink that we didn’t get up super early to go out with the others. And it just goes to show you never know what you’ll see in the bush. The rule of thumb doesn’t always apply.
Each experience is unique, you see what you see. And that’s what keeps us going back I think.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post on our Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Drive!
Thanks for reading! Drop me a comment below if you have any questions, I’m always happy to help if I can.