The Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserve which is found in the KwaZulu Natal province is one of the oldest National Parks in South Africa and it covers over 960 square kilometers. The Park is a home to the famous big five and was officially declared a National Park in the year 1895. The Hluhluwe was once used by the Zulu king Shaka as a hunting grounds and this is where he practiced his spear skills on the different wildlife within the Park.
When the Hluhluwe Imfolozi was declared a National Park, it only had 14 white Rhinos registered to it but at the moment it has the largest number of white rhinos in the whole world. The National Park is a home to other numerous wildlife that can be seen all throughout the year, there are accommodation facilities that you can use while on a safari here and all this is done with the help of a tour guide. The Hluhluwe game reserve was once separate from the Umfolozi National Park but since they were all located in the same area and animals used to cross from one national Park to the next, they were later on joined to form one big national Park and that is how it came to be known as the Hluhluwe Imfolozi National Park.
The Imfolozi National Park is situated in the southern part of the two parks and has two main gate entrances that tourists can use to access both National Parks that is the Nyalazi gate and the Cengeni gate. The Imfolozi is the larger of the two National Parks and has a wide range of wildlife for the tourists but since there is no wall fence separating the two, it sometimes becomes a little bit hard to tell whether you are in the Imfolozi or the Hluhluwe. Either way they have the same fun activities to offer to tourists who take their time to visit the National Park.
The Hluhluwe Imfolozi National Park is located in an area that is a little bit low when it comes to malaria infections but when the wet summers start, large mosquitoes can be seen all around the National park and tourists are encouraged to carry insect repellent and also take anti-malaria drugs if they are planning on visiting during the wetter months.
Gate fees at the Hluhluwe Imfolozi national Park
The Hluhluwe Imfolozi National opens its gates for tourists at 6:00am and it is closed at 6:00pm in the evening. You will also be required to present a license or driver’s permit at the gate. There are several gates that you can use in order for you to be able to access the National Park and these include the:
- The Cengeni Gate, this is located in the south western part of the Park and is an entrance to the Imfolozi game reserve.
- The Nyalazi Gate, the Nyalazi gate is located in the south eastern part of the Park and is one of the two gates that leads to the Imfolozi reserve.
- The memorial gate, this is located in the Northern part of the National Park and it is the main entrance to the Hluhluwe Game reserve.
The gate entrance fees depend on a number of factors and at the moment, below is what you are expected to pay before you gain entrance to the Hluhluwe Imfolozi.
4 to 12R per day
240R per day
South African tourists
4 to 12R per day
120R per day.
A full day safari trip to the Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserve
When it comes to how many days of hours you want to spend, it all depends on you and your budget and below is a sample of what to expect when you decide to take a full day trip to the Hluhluwe Imfolozi National Park.
During your full day safari in the Hluhluwe Imfolozi, you will be provided with the following:
- A safari vehicle that has a carrier and all the vehicles have permits.
- You will have a tour guide/ game ranger who is well versed with the National Park and can easily give you first aid in case a problem arises.
- The vehicles provided are open safari vehicles which allows you to easily spot and take photos of the different wildlife in the Park.
- You will have breakfast and lunch as well
- Refreshments along the way
- It also includes the gate fees.
A full day trip to Hluhluwe Imfolozi will take 9 hours before it is completes and within these nine hours, you will be driven around the National Park with occasional breaks for eating and disembarking from the vehicle at the designated areas. The full day trip can cost from 1250R per person or more depending on the season.
Things you need to know about the Hluhluwe Umfolozi Park
Just like any other Park in the world, there are rules that govern the Hluhluwe Umfolozi Park and you should put them into consideration before venturing out in your exploration.
- There are no pets allowed
- You are not supposed to drive through the Park in the night
- You are supposed to stay in your vehicle no matter the case until you reach the designated places for leaving it
- The maximum speed for driving is 40km/h
- You are not allowed to feed the animals in any.
- While driving, you should give yourself a wide berth when you find the elephants for your own safety.
- There are no motorbikes allowed inside the National Park.
- You are to keep the Park clean that is no littering as this might affect the animals.
- You are not supposed to double Park as this might cause congestion in the Park with other vehicles coming in.
What you need to take for your trip to the Hluhluwe Imfolozi National Park
- Warm clothes for those who are visiting during the cooler months
- Light clothes for the drier months
- Cameras with extra batteries
- Recognition books
Getting to the Hluhluwe Imfolozi National Park
The best of getting to the National Park is by driving from Durban which is found in the southern part of the park. When you get to Durban, drive North wards using the National road also known as N2 and this will be a distance of about 250 kilometers long. Continue driving until you get to Mtubatuba and from here you will have to take the road known as the R618 for almost 28 kilometers towards the Nongoma and after the 28 kilometers, you will have reached one of the gates known as the Nyalazi gate at the Umfolozi National Park.
Activities carried out in the Hluhluwe Imfolozi national Park
Some of the activities that are carried out in the Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game reserve include day and night drives which have to be booked in advance and during your drive you will have sightings of some of the animals within the Park. In order for you to enjoy your drive, make sure that you follow all the rules given to you by the tour guide and the most important one is that you are not in whichever case allowed to jump off the car or van taking you around. You can also enjoy birding especially in the wet season when the migratory birds fly into the National Park. You can also get to enjoy a picnic while in the National Park, take bush walks in the gazetted area and also enjoy a local trip to the nearby villages for a cultural experience. Remember that these are not the only activities that you can engage and to know more, keep on reading so that you get to know what to expect when you visit the Hluhluwe Umfolozi game reserve.
Birding in the Hluhluwe Imfolozi National Park
The national Park has a recorded number of bird species that amount to over 400 making it a great destination for tourists who love birding. Besides the endemic birds, the migratory birds also fly into the National Park from November to April during the rainy season and the bird species that you should look out for include:
- The martial eagle
- The Amur falcon
- The crested guinea fowl
- African black duck
- African pied wagtail
- Bronze winged courser
- Yellow throated longclaw
- Wire tailed swallow
- Rudd’s Apalis
- White throated swallow
- Trumpeter hornbill
- Southern white faced owl
- White fronted bee-eater
- Southern tchagra which is near endemic
- African mash harrier
- Harlequin quail
- Mocking cliff chat among others.
Game drives in the Hluhluwe Imfolozi National Park
Game drives through the national Park are always scenic and it does not matter whether you are enjoying a self-drive or guided drive because you will still have a lot of fun while watching the animals including the big five. When going for the game drives, make sure you follow the rules and regulations set up by the Park for your own safety. The animals that can be found in the Hluhluwe Imfolozi include the following:
- White rhinos
- Cheetahs although these are rare
- Black rhinos
- The Nyala
- Wild dogs
- Antelopes and many more other species.
The best for tourists to go out for a game drive in the Hluhluwe Imfolozi is during the dry season which is experienced from June to September. During this time, there is a lot of congestion and therefore you should be ready for the hike in prices of accommodation, transport and other services.
One of the best ways that you can enjoy a game drive through the Hluhluwe Imfolozi is by driving slowly and taking your time so that you can savor the moment as you take the different photos of the wildlife that is found in the Park. Note that the Park starts to officially close its gates at 5:00pm and by 6:00pm, they do not expect anyone to be inside the park and that is why you should be at any of the gates by the time of closing because if you are not, you will be fined.
Picnics in the Hluhluwe Imfolozi National Park
With the great view that are experienced in the national park, you can also get to enjoy a picnic in the designated picnic areas. The picnic areas were strategically placed in that you get to see some wildlife species while relaxing. Some of the most frequented picnic places in the Hluhluwe Imfolozi are:
- The Maphumulo picnic area
- The Sontuli picnic area
- Hilltop picnic area
- Thyeni picnic area
- Mpilla picnic area.
Boat rides within Hluhluwe Imfolozi national Park
Boat trips in the National park are conducted at the Hluhluwe Dam where a boat that can sit about 40 people takes tourists around showing them the different animals that are found in the Park and it is also a good place for one to do birding. The boat trips are conducted by an experienced tour guide and everyone is encouraged to put on a life jacket before the journey begins.
When to visit the Hluhluwe Imfolozi national Park
The best for visiting the Hluhluwe Imfolozi National Park greatly depends on the activities that one is going to engage in while in the National park and that is why it is safe to say that the best time for one to visit is all year round.
The best time for game viewing and drives is during the drier months that is May to September. This is because during this time, there is scarcity of both water and food for the different animals and you will find that many of them gather around the few water holes scattered around the Park making it easy for tourists to spot them.
The best time to go for birding is from November to April when the migratory birds fly into the national park. This is also considered to be a busy season and therefore you should get ready to meet large crowds of people. For tourists that do not love crowds and would like to have a private and not so crowded trip, the best time for you to visit is during the winter months.