Located 280km north of Durban, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi is a 960km2 wildlife reserve that has a tropical climate and offers phenomenal game viewing.
The Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve is one of the oldest and most prestigious wildlife reserves in South Africa. Established in 1895, it’s the oldest proclaimed park in Africa and it has a dramatic history of hunting warriors, greedy poachers and endangered animal species.
The reserve was previously two distinct entities; the Umfolozi and Hluhluwe reserves were joined in 1989 to form the super-safari reserve known as Hluhluwe-Imfolozi.
Hluhluwe-Imfolozi is responsible for saving white rhino from the brink of extinction; the presence of rhino in Africa’s parks today can mostly be attributed to conservation efforts at Hluhluwe-Imfolozi. The reserve is also known as one of the great sanctuaries of the critically endangered black rhino.
The reserve is also home to the Big Five and self-drive explorations of the park will get you close to all the African wildlife you would want to see on safari.
There are also amazing wilderness trails and the park has some of the best bushwalks in South Africa. For birders, more than 400 bird species have been recorded here.
Northern Area – Hluhluwe
Hluhluwe is characterised by evergreen forest, hills and river valleys. The area is excellent for birdwatching (particularly hard-to-find forest birds). Buffalo, elephants, Sykes monkeys and baboons are easily spotted in this area.
Hluhluwe is the safari hotspot for sightings of the elusive black rhino, thanks to the thickets and hills that typify the northern region of the reserve.
Southern Area – Imfolozi
Imflozi has a rich and wild history and was once the private hunting reserve of King Shaka Zulu. The area is a tropical wilderness of undulating, bush-covered hills located between two branches of the great Mfolozi River.
The open acacia savannah makes the area perfect for predators and you’ll see more game in this portion of the reserve. Apart from rhinos, the area is good for spotting cheetah, lion, leopard, elephant and antelope.
Where to Stay
If you want to stay in the park, you’ll want to stay at Hilltop Camp which is located in this northern region. You don’t have to stay in the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Reserve to enjoy it. A good alternative is staying near the reserve at eitherHluhluwe River Lodge or Zululand Tree Lodge.
Hluhluwe Umfolozi is also a perfect add-on to wildlife gems such as the Isimangaliso Wetland Park (previously known as Greater St Lucia Wetland Park) and the game-rich Mkuzi and Phinda reserves- all of which combine to offer the ultimate wildlife experience.