Back in January I was in the Hluhluwe Imoflozi Game Reserve for a 3-day tour. My French clients were experienced divers and had just spent a week diving at Aliwal Shoal but the weather had changed drastically for them and so they decided to check out some wildlife.
We arrived in the late afternoon at the game reserve, entering via Nyalazi Gate and followed the main road to get to Hilltop Camp, our base for the next 3 days. Beacause we had arrived so late in the day, I was concentrating on just getting us to the camp without delay, we had been on the road for 4 hours just getting here us here and everyone was a little tired and looking forward to relaxing with a glass of wine or a beer while enjoying the surroundings.
About 3 or 4 kilometers from Hilltop I spotted two White Rhino moving parallel to the road in the thick bush to my right. I decided to stop since it meant that my clients first interaction with game was going to be with Rhino! Pulling over I pointed out the Rhino to my clients and we all got our cameras out and started shooting away.
After about 2 min or so, I noticed a few more White Rhino approaching. We had two White Rhino to the right of us, and four more behind us. The new arrivals sauntered into the road and came to within about 5m of the vehicle, if not less. They were quite unconcerned by our presence and just seemed curious.
Finally it was time to go, we still had to check in and sort ourselves of for dinner. I turned to the front of the vehicle and froze. Within the last 30 seconds since I had checked the road was clear, a young White Rhino had approached and was less than 3m away. And right behind it, Mama stood.
“A sigh of Relief!”
I whispered to my clients to remain really calm and quiet and couldn’t help but notice tension suddenly appear in the vehicle. I wasn’t nervous as such, just overly cautious I think is the right description. It took about 10 minutes I think, before both mama Rhino and her calf were satisfied enough to move off. I wont lie, I breathed a very audible sigh of relief!
All in all, we spent about 45min parked watching the Rhino (and in turn being watched by them), which made us pretty late for check in at Hilltop Camp – but like my guests later expressed, they would not have changed that for the world!