Although I haven’t posted in ages, it’s not because we haven’t been busy; it’s because we’ve been too busy! Things are hectic with full day and multi-day tours on the go, not too mention getting involved in local tourism projects, new websites and a video production to manage! My latest day tour to Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserve was one to remember though!
From Durban to Umhlanga
An early start had me leaving Durban for Umhlanga at 6am, the intention being collecting my clients at 6:30am for the 2,5 hour drive to the Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserve. I was a little late thanks to the Garmin and I disagreeing quite violently over the best route (I was right I might add!).
On the way up to Hluhluwe we chatted a bit about how and why Durban came about, as well as about the Zulu and Indian people in Durban. My clients are Brazilian and I was quite surprised by just how similar the story of Durban and Brazil is!
Our first encounter in the park was a fantastic Bull Elephant who was obviously in musth. Usually with Elephants in this condition you really got to be on your toes and give them space, which is exactly what I did, but he was so chilled out, enjoying a quick mud bath, then a snack from a nearby acacia followed by a short rest with his head against a nearby tree!
From this point onwards things got very quiet. I had already decided to head towards the Imfolozi section of the park and for km after km it was just bush. Every now and again we’d come across some beautiful Impala, and Zebra and the odd Wildebeest (Gnu), but of Rhino there was little sight.
After a fantastic lunch at the Centenary Center we headed towards the Hluhluwe section of the park hoping to see a bit more before leaving through Memorial Gate, and it turned out we got a lot more than we bargained for!
Surrounded by Elephant!
About 4 km’s into Hluhluwe I spotted movement in the bush to the right of us, and at the same time about 200m ahead an Elephant popped out of the bush into the road. I came to a pretty quick stop since I didn’t want to get to close to the Elephant in in front. I happened to glance into my rear view mirror and got a bit of a fright; headed towards us from behind was another Elephant!
My clients and I were pretty thrilled at this, but a bit nervous as well. And then, without any warning, about 20 Elephants left the thick bush on the left of us and started crossing in front of us! It was pretty amazing, I’ve been close to Elephant before, but I’ve always had an escape path; now, we were block by Elephant behind, to the left, to the right and in front of us!
Quite honestly, although my heart rate did go up a beat or two, I was still relaxed… until! A baby Elephant caught sight of us as he was crossing, and then decided to show off a bit by mock charging. This in itself wasn’t a issue until his antics caught the attention of another adult crossing, causing her to rush to the baby’s side, and at us!!
Fortunately, both adult and baby Elephant pulled up short and then turned into the bush, at which point all of us started breathing again! What an experience, my clients were both excited and a little scared; and too be honest I was as well!
The rest of the day was quiet. The Hluhluwe section gave up some Buffalo and two very distant Rhino. We also come across a nice African vista of some Giraffe silhoueted on a ridge of a hill against a setting sun, made for some very nice pictures.
A fantastic way to end a wonderful day in the Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserve!