I spent the whole of Saturday in the Umfolozi /Hluhluwe Park ..its only 1 ½ drive from Richards Bay and we were there just after they opened the gate for the day. The weather was nice and cool unusual for December in Zululand. We saw everything except any of the big cats and elephants. The park is the greenest I’ve ever seen it and puddles of water to be found around every corner …..a beautiful site especially during one of the warmest and most humid months of the year. The Hluhluwe – Umfolozi Park lies in the heart of the Zulu Kingdom, where ancient trails lead through the thornveld and along the mighty rivers of Africa’s oldest established Wilderness area. This rich tapestry of natural cultural history still beats to the rhythms of Africa.
The Hluhluwe section in the North is characterised by towering grassland hills and diverse terrain and vegetation and is exceptional for its rich variety of bird and animal life . The Umfolozi section in the south is also a natural treasure store for fascinating fauna and flora , with species including the big five – lion , leopard, elephant , buffalo, black and white rhino, as well as blue wildebeest , zebra , giraffe, impala , waterbuck , reedbuck, nyala, kudu, bushbuck, steenbuck, duiker, warthog, cheetah, wild dog, hyena and many others. Over 300 bird species have been recorded here .
Image courtesy of Hluhluwe Game Reserve
We stopped at Hilltop camp for some refreshments and although I am familiar with the view from Hilltop camp it still remains a breathtaking sight every time I see it. There is a lovely restaurant in the park. They cater for breakfast , lunch and dinner, however, bookings are recommended …a meal with a view is a popular outing amongst tourists and the local Zululanders. There is a curio shop with a wide range of curios, books, gifts, refreshments and snacks.
We packed a picnic basket and enjoyed a delicious brunch at Sontuli Picnic spot which overlooks the Black Umfolozi River. There are 4 picnic spots in the park Umbondwe – offers a view of the Black Umfolozi, Umgane – also offers a view of the Black Umfolozi. Mpila picnic site is situated within the camp surrounds where there are braai and toilet facilities .
This is a wonderful park for day visitors or for those looking to spend a couple of nights in the park itself. Umfolozi /Hluhluwe Park has the highest population of white rhino in Southern Africa and you are almost guaranteed of seeing rhino each time you go on a game drive.