Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserve, Emdoneni and St.Lucia Overnight!
The weather was perfect for a tour of the Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserve over the Easter weekend. I started off early on Friday morning to pick up my guest Olivia and her two children Thomas and Josie (aged 7 & 5). After collecting them from Durban North, we headed straight for Emdoneni Cat Rehabilitation Center.
Emdoneni Cat Rehabilitation Center
Emdoneni was our first stop on the tour, with Micha the specialist guide taking us around the center today. We visited the African Wild Cats, Caracal, Cheetah and Cerval. As usual the Cheetah were the main attraction, with Moyo (one of the resident Cheetahs) being in a really good mood and enjoying a good scratch from the visitors.
Before that we had visited the African Wild Cat enclosure who were in a very photographic mood, posing politely for the visitors to the center!
After photo’s with the Cheetah’s we visited the Cerval enclosure and found this chap up high in the branches of the tree hissing at everyone who walked by, clearly not in the mood to be photographed!
On leaving Emdoneni Cat Rehabilitation Center we can across our first “safari sighting’ of the tour, a small herd of Nyala standing right next to the side of the road within a meter or two of the car. After Thomas and Josie had finished taking loads of pics, we started off again for the game reserve.
Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserve
The Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserve may not be as big as Kruger National Park, but it’s one of my favorite places to visit as it never fails to deliver! My client Olivia had mentioned earlier that she had never seen Rhino before; that was going to definitely change in the next few hours!
On our first afternoon we spotted a “journey” of about 34 Giraffe (counted by 7-year-old Thomas), as well as Buffalo, Warthog, Zebra and some Impala in the distance. We broke for lunch and checked into Hilltop camp before starting out again for a late afternoon drive.
During our afternoon drive we spotted something really interesting. It appeared as if a Waterbuck was chasing something in the long grass near Memorial Gate. We stopped for a while along with some game rangers to see what was happening. Rumor had it that a Hyena was nearby, and this is what the Waterbuck was chasing off. After a while, most of the other vehicles left the area but I decided to hang around for a while longer.
It seemed that luck was on our side because maybe 20 minutes later out popped a Spotted Hyena from the bush in front of us! He happily made his way towards the vehicle which I pulled over to the left hand side of the road to give him room. He moved alongside the vehicle and then turned into the bush… an awesome sight!
It was getting late by this point so we headed back to camp for dinner (Friday night is a traditional braai (barbecue) night) and bed.
It was an early start to our final day and off we went on our game drive. We had heard that there was a herd of Elephant spotted during the night game drive so we decided to see if we could find them.
We found plenty evidence that the Elephant were around, even hearing them at one point, but they were moving deeper into the bush and away from us, so we decided to keep on going.
The highlight of the mornings trip had to be a White Rhino lying down in the road. As we got close the Rhino stood up and contemplated us for ages, but the moment was spoilt when a vehicle came from the opposite direction with air-con blasting, the driver never turned his car off when stopping and so spooked the Rhino away. Oh well, it happens.
The trip to Hluhluwe was fantastic, we saw many animals, Hyena, Elephant (well the tails end of one anyway), Giraffe, Waterbuck, Nyala, Warthog, Impala and so many more!
We arrived at St.Lucia in time for the 2 hour boat cruise along the Estuary. The St.Lucia Esturary forms part of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park which was previously known as the Greater St.Lucia Wetland Park (the name changed officially in November 2007) and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999.
The 2 hour cruise held some exciting viewing for us. We came across our first “raft” of Hippo within a few minutes. Our specialist guide Thabo mentioned that there were over 900 Hippo in the wetlands area. Further up the river be came across another two large “rafts” of Hippo.
We were also lucky enough to spot a number of Nile Crocodile (of which there are about 1200 apparently), though most quickly sunk under the water on being spotted. Just before docking we did come across a large chap sunning himself on the river bank though.
At the northern most part of the trip, a wide awake Thabo spotted a herd of Waterbuck very near the waters edge, the distinctive “toilet seat” white markings on their hind quarters catching everyone’s attention. Birdlife wasn’t lacking either as we spotted a pair of African Fish Eagles keeping watch from the White Mangrove trees.
I thoroughly enjoyed this tour, the spotting of the Hyena making it especially exciting as well as giving my client Olivia a close up view of Rhino which she hadn’t seen before. Can’t wait for the next one!
We have many “off the shelf tours” available to choose from, including the 3Day/2Night Safari Tour, an Overnight Safari Tour as well as our Kruger National Park Tour . We can also tailor-make any tour for you, so contact us today for your next tour to KwaZulu-Natal.