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Hluhluwe – A Safari Wonderland


Hluhluwe–iMfolozi Park

The oldest proclaimed nature reserve in Africa. It consists of 960 km² (96,000 ha) of hilly topography 280 kilometres (170 mi) north of Durban in central Zululand, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa and is known for its rich wildlife and conservation efforts. The park is the only state-run park in KwaZulu-Natal where all the big five game animals occur.  Due to conservation efforts, the park now has the largest population of white rhino in the world. Throughout the park there are many signs of Stone Age settlements.  The area was originally a royal hunting ground for the Zulu kingdom, but was established as a park in 1895. The Umfolozi and Hluhluwe reserves were established primarily to protect the white rhinoceros, then on the endangered species list.The area has always been a haven for animals as tsetse flies carrying the nagana disease are common, which protected the area from hunters in the colonial era. However, as the Zululand areas were settled by European farmers the game was blamed for the prevalence of the tsetse fly and the reserves became experimental areas in the efforts to eradicate the fly.  Farmers called for the slaughter of game and about 100,000 animals were killed in the reserve before the introduction of DDT spraying in 1945 solved the problem. However, white rhinoceros were not targeted and today a population of about 1000 is maintained. On April 30, 1995, the then President Nelson Mandela visited the then Hluhluwe Game Reserve to celebrate the park’s centenary. Hluhluwe–iMfolozi was originally three separate reserves that joined under its current title in 1989.  If you like wild more than mild wilderness hiking, spend three or four nights backpacking and sleeping under the stars in Big Five territory. Hluhluwe-Imfolozi’s Primitive Trail provides equipment and food but without tents or permanent campsites. Their strict ‘no trace’ ethic means bathing is done in the river. Although walking distances are not tough, this is not for slackers and you will carry your own food and gear. Primitive Trails are open from March to November.

Close to Isimangaliso Wetland Park, Hluhluwe –iMfolozi park is the perfect stopover for a Safari, with many tour opperators offering day safari packages, and many lodges, guesthouses and self-catering camps offer accommodation for longer safaris if you would prefer.

While in the area, one simply must visit the Emdoneni Cat Sanctuary, situated just outside Just outside Hluhluwe at Emdoneni Lodge,  it is the only wild cat rehabilitation facility in Zululand, situated on Emdoneni Lodge and Game Farm, a private game reserve with sand forest vegetation. Emdoneni Cat Rehabilitation Centre offers twice-daily educational tours, with informative talks by an experienced guide and feeding during the afternoon.  Orphaned or injured wild cheetah, serval, African wildcats and lynx are rehabilitated for release back into their natural habitat where possible.  Funding for the project comes from tour fees or an ‘adoption’ programme which allows visitors to contribute to the centre.  These funds go directly to veterinary care, feeding, camp and fence maintenance, as well as workers’ salaries. By implementing a system based on donations, it is hoped to improve each cat’s stay at the centre.  The aim of the project is to keep as few cats as possible in captivity. Once their numbers increase, suitable animals are released back into the wild.

Elephant - Hluhluwe

The ZULU experience!

DumaZulu Traditional Village presents something special to its guests. Experience the traditions and language of the Zulu people, learn and interact with a living culture, one of our planet’s most indigenous cultures.

A visit to our Cultural Village is an experience of a lifetime. Discover the Zulu way of life and watch the pulsating traditional dancing with the taste of Zulu beer on your lips and the drumbeat of the Zulus echoing in your ears. Not only is DumaZulu a cultural enriching experiencing for guests where they are afforded the opportunity to learn more about the rich variety of African cultures, but it also allows the local community to continue practicing their traditional ways of living and earn profits from selling curios.

All products and produce sold on the property are made from natural products and are sourced from the land – 100 % green. The cultural shows are performed daily at 08:15 and 15:15. Enjoy the 11:00 show followed by a traditionally cooked Zulu lunch.

Nompondo walking tour: Take a leisurely walk with the resident community tour guide in the Nompondo Community. The community is in Hluhluwe and situated right next to the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve.

Experience education in a rural context on a visit to a local high or primary school; Stop off at the local trading store; Get to know some of the community members while visiting their homestead & Enjoy a midday meal at the umuzi wakwa Mdaka (homestead).

Ilala Weavers: Feel the mystery and essence of Africa with these superb Zulu baskets, each one unique and lovingly hand stitched.  In this age of modern technology and mass production, it is a joy to see and feel the dignified elegance and beauty of a rich Zulu heritage that has become a collectable art-form, preserving an age-old tradition proudly safeguarded and handed down through the generations.  Every basket is made by hand, using indigenous raw materials, and the type of basket varies from area to area, depending on the availability of raw materials, and the use to which the basket is to be put.  It can take up to one month to produce a medium-sized basket that will be unique in size, shape, pattern, weave and colour.  A true collector’s item.


Zululand is an amazing experience – and there are many tour operators, hotels, lodges and activities to help you enjoy the culture and zest of the people of Zululand. Discover the heritage of Zululand when you stop off at Melmoth to visit the Valley of the Kings. This is the birthplace of legendary King Shaka – and the site of several Zulu kings’ graves in the Emakhosini Valley.  Zululand also boasts a wealth of natural biodiversity. The Zululand Birding Route guides twitchers seeking out its 650 recorded bird species, by self-drive or on guided tours. The Dlinza Nature Reserve is a particularly popular birding spot.

There are many other nature and game reserves in this region, ranging from coastal and sub-tropical forested reserves along the coast to game reserves in authentic bush settings further north.

Undoubtedly one of the region’s biggest attractions is the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, the oldest on the continent and home to Africa’s famous Big Five – lion, rhino, elephant, leopard and buffalo. It offers visitors game drives, self-drive game routes, guided walks and wilderness trails that provide an intimate bush experience.

Round off your Zululand expedition with a visit to Richards Bay. This large harbour town boasts beautiful beaches and stunning wetland scenery.


Tiger fishing in Jozini – A once in a lifetime experience

Amongst the best fishing in South Africa is tiger fishing on Lake Jozini in KwaZulu-Natal. These fearsome game fish are known for putting up quite a fight and taking on a tiger fish will add a whole new dimension to your South African fishing safari.


Tiger fish, with their needle-like teeth and ferocious fighting tactics, are nicknamed African piranhas.

South African fishing destinations include the stunning Lake Jozini in north-eastern KwaZulu-Natal. As the most southern body of water where tiger fish are found, the lake has become a hotspot for tiger fishing.

Lake Jozini spans a massive 16 000 hectares and is situated within the breathtakingly beautiful Pongola Game Reserve. The reserve boasts more than 350 species of birds and literally teems with game, including four of the Big Five and a substantial family of hippo which inhabits the lake.

Another prized resident of the lake are tiger fish. These game fish are predominantly found north of South Africa’s borders, but a healthy population has established itself in Lake Jozini and the surrounding rivers.

But be prepared to work hard to land this tiger – tiger fish are famous fighters and will take your line in the blink of an eye! Due to the ecological sensitivity of the area, most fishermen practice catch and release of tiger fish. In between waiting for ‘the big one’, you can enjoy Pongola’s rhino, elephant, buffalo and other game which graze at the lakeshore.

Fishing boats (with skippers), along with all rods and tackle, can be hired from the reserve. For the ultimate fishing safari, rent a luxury houseboat: two fully-serviced double pontoon houseboats, the Shayamanzi and Shayamanzi II, are available, with on-deck seating and accommodation for between 12 to 20 people. Sundowner cruises are particularly spectacular, when thousands of fireflies light up the shoreline.

Because of its rich biodiversity, Pongola Game Reserve, including Lake Jozini, will soon be the centre of a massive conservation area covering more than 35 000 hectares as part of the Pongolapoort Biosphere Reserve.


About Meredith Haywood

Meredith Haywood
I'm the Editor and Creative Director of 5 Star Durban, I Instagram a bit, I cook sometimes, but mostly I write, and edit... a lot... I'm a philanthropist at heart, and I can't resist fluffy bunnies, kittens and puppies... recently I have started to ponder what owning a goat in a flat could be like...

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