It’s quite alarming the way in which the early pioneers and settlers of Durban and KwaZulu-Natal went about decimating the local wildlife during hunting trips. In his notes of 1886, John Dunn enthusiastically describes hunts where he ‘bags’ numerous rhino, sea-cow (hippo), lion and of course all manner of buck; and that’s just Dunn, not the other members of his hunting party; in one memorable hunt he mentions “bagging” twenty-three (23) hippos before lunch! Elephants were common place in early Durban days, but the demand for “tuskers” from every quarter, British, French, Portuguese, Zulu, meant that it was only a matter of time before “extinction” became a watchword with many African wildlife species!
We’re lucky that today that game parks like the Hluhluwe/Umfolozi Game Reserve exists not only for conservation, but also to educate.
The Royal Hunting Grounds of the Zulu’s
Originally the royal hunting ground for the Zulu’s, the Hluhluwe area was established in 1895 as a reserve, and in 1989 both the Hluhluwe and Umfolozi areas were joined to create the Hluhluwe/Umfolozi Game Reserve. It’s the biggest state-run park in KwaZulu-Natal, and the only state-run park in KwaZulu-Natal to carry all the “Big-5“, and 86 other species of game. It’s also home to 300-odd bird species and is the only place in South Africa where the Yellow throated, Pink throated and Orange throated Long claw species can be seen together (thank you wikipedia!).
The Hluhluwe/Umfolozi Game Park is probably best known for their conservation efforts in breeding the White Rhino back from the edge of extinction; codemaned “Operation Crash” (a “crash” being the collective noun). It’s scary to think that these magnificent animals numbered only 20 world-wide! Thanks to the efforts of the Hluhluwe/Umfolozi conservationists, the Rhino population sits at about 10 000 worldwide.
The park offers some exciting viewing options for visitors. There’s the usual driving trails on offer, allowing you to enjoy close encounters with the animals from the safety and comfort of your own vehicle. One of the most popular options is a guided tour on an open-vehicle which really gets you close to the animals. The park also offers walking tours with guides and to top it all off, there’s a 40-seater boat which twice a day cruises the Hluhluwe dam
The Hluhluwe/Umfolozi Game Reserve also has a number of lodges and camps to stay at, the most well-known probably being the Hilltop camp which incidentally was the former home of the conservation activist Dr. Ernest Warren.
Being just about a 2 hour drive from Durban, Hluhluwe/Umfolizi Game Reserve is a treat that visitors from around the globe return to time and time again. We at Country & Coastal Touring would love to introduce you to the park on one of our 1 day or extended tours. Just contact us and we’ll get started on the planning for you!