Hluhluwe & Umfolozi Game Reserves
The Hluhluwe (pronounced Shlu-shlu-we) and Umfolozi Game Reserves in northeastern KwaZulu/Natal, separated only by a corridor 8km/5mi wide, are among the oldest game reserves in Africa, the Hluhluwe reserve having been established in 1897. With a total area of 1000sq.km/385sq.mi (including the corridor, which is also a game reserve), this is the third largest game reserve in South Africa.The white settlers in the area were at first hostile to the establishment of the reserve, since they considered the game (as host animals of the tsetse fly) responsible for a plague which decimated their herds of cattle. They responded by killing large numbers of game animals - an estimated 100,000 between 1930 and 1950 alone. Since the elimination of the tsetse fly by the use of insecticides from 1945 onwards the animals have largely been left unharmed.Both reserves can be visited throughout the year. In summer it is very hot, with day temperatures not uncommonly rising above 35°C/95°F, accompanied by high air humidity and frequently also by thunder showers (after heavy rain some of the tracks become impassable). Temperatures are more agreeable in winter. The months May to October, when the vegetation is less dense, are the best times for observing the game.The reserves are in a malaria-risk area.The fauna in both reserves is almost identical. There are 50 species of mammals, including buffaloes, blue wildebeests, zebras, giraffes, elephants, dwarf antelopes, klipspringers, reedbucks, bush pigs, lions, leopards, cheetahs, spotted hyenas, black-backed jackals, baboons and crocodiles. There are large numbers of rhinoceros: white rhinos are more commonly seen than black rhinos, which almost always live in impenetrable thickets. There are 400 species of birds.Four rhinos were shot in Umfolozi Game Reserve in December 1994 by poachers seeking rhinoceros horn, one of whom paid for it with his life. Powdered rhinoceros horn is much prized, particularly in the Far East, as a means of increasing male potency. A single horn will fetch as much as $30,000, of which the poachers will get between $1,600 and $4,000.The Hluhluwe and Umfolozi Game Reserves are famed for their large numbers of elephants. The white rhino, shown here, is only slightly lighter in color than the black rhino,In the Umfolozi reserve there are two well equipped hutted camps, the Masinda camp and the Mpila camp. In the Hluhluwe reserve there is the new Hilltop hutted camp (220 beds), with accommodation ranging from modest huts to the luxurious Mtwazi Lodge. There are also privately run camps outside the reserves. Within a few km/mi of the village of Hluhluwe are the Bonamanzi Game Park camp and Bushlands Game Lodge, where the accommodation includes comfortable "tree houses".
Facilities: On-site accomodations
Umfolozi Game Reserve
The Umfolozi Game Reserve consists mainly of savanna country, with some areas of dense bush. There are taller trees along the banks of the Mfolozi Emnyana (Black) and Mfolozi Emhlope (White) Rivers, which join within the reserve.Only about half the reserve can be explored by car. An area of 240sq.km/93sq.mi can be seen only on guided walks. (These walks on Wilderness Trails, led by experienced game wardens, take between 3 and 5 days, with overnight accommodation in tents in the bush; they are usually fully booked months in advance.)R 618 leads to the main entrance to the reserve. Alternatively there is a road from Ulundi to the Cengeni Gate on the west side of the reserve.Umfolozi Mosaic Auto TrailA tour of the northern part of the reserve on this trail (67km/42mi) takes 4-5 hours. A leaflet showing the route and the game-watching points can be obtained at the entrance to the reserve.
Hluhluwe Game Reserve
At Hluhluwe an asphalted road branches off N 2 and comes in 15km/9mi to the main entrance of Hluhluwe Game Reserve. It can also be reached from R 618 on a track which goes off on the right 17km/11mi beyond Mtubatuba.With an area of only 230sq.km/89sq.mi, the Hluhluwe reserve is less than half the size of the Umfolozi reserve. The landscape, too, is different: it is hilly country which, particularly to the north and along the rivers, is densely wooded, with a distinctly tropical feel.The reserve can be explored by car on a 40km/25mi network of tracks.