The Hluhluwe–Imfolozi Park, formerly known as the Hluhluwe–Umfolozi Game Reserve, is considered the oldest proclaimed natural reserve in the entire African continent. It takes up 96000 hectares or 96 square kilometers in size—almost the same size as Netherlands Antilles and Hong Kong, which occupies 1104 square kilometers. The northern region of the safari park is known as the Hluhluwe side, while the southern region is known as the Imfolozi/Umfolozi Park. Today, game viewing is the principal attraction of the park.
Officially opened to the public in 1895, the Hluhluwe–Imfolozi Park is the only state-run park in Kwazulu Natal, South Africa that is home to the African Big 5, which is referred to the most challenging animals to hunt by foot. The African Big 5 includes the lion, African leopard, African elephant, Rhino, and Buffalo. Due to extensive conservation efforts, the Hluhluwe–Imfolozi Park in 2008 holds the largest white rhinoceros population in the world.
The history of Hluhluwe–Imfolozi Park
The safari park is a rich source of historical treasures dated way back in the Stone Age. The park was initially a royal hunting area for the Zulu kings like Shaka and Dingiswayo before transforming it into a park in 1895. The Hluhluwe and Umfolozi were established mainly to protect the declining population of white rhinoceros.
In April 1995, former President Nelson Mandela visited the Hluhluwe–Umfolozi Game Reserve to commemorate its centenary. Back in the day, the Hluhluwe–Imfolozi Park was three separate reserves. The three regions joined under the current title in 1989.
The Hluhluwe Park
The Hluhluwe Park is known for its rolling hilly topography, making it ideal for viewing various flora and fauna. Compared to the Imfolozi Park, Hluhluwe Park still offers a wide array of opportunities to appreciate the wildlife. It is more rugged, mountainous, and dense with trees and shrubs than the Imfolozi Park. A selection of accommodation options can be explored in the Hluhluwe Park. For instance, you can enjoy the crowd-favorites: Rondavels Restaurant and Curio shop.
The Imfolozi Park
The southern area of the park lies the Imfolozi Park. This is situated between two Umfolozi Rivers, where they divide into two areas: The Black Imfolozi (north) and White Imfolozi (south). This area is usually arid in summer, mild to cool in winter, with occurring cold spells during the winter season. Relatively larger than the Hluhluwe Park, the Imfolozi Park offers loop roads, numerous hides, picnic areas, shops, and other types of accommodation. Habitats in this area include grasslands, savannahs, woodlands, and wetlands.
The flora and fauna in Hluhluwe–Imfolozi Park
As was previously mentioned, the Hluhluwe–Imfolozi Park prides itself on being home to the African Big Five: elephant, black and white rhinoceros, Cape buffalo, leopard, and lion. This is where you can also sight 86 notable species, including Nile crocodiles, spotted hyenas, cheetahs, hippos, wildebeests, giraffes, waterbucks, zebras, duikers, bushpigs, nyalas, and more.
The Hluhluwe–Imfolozi Park is also a prime birding destination to those wo fancy bird watching. It is home to 340 bird species, including Wahlberg’s eagle, Shelley’s francolin, Temminck’s courser, Klaas’s cuckoo, crested barbet, and night heron.
Wildlife activities to enjoy at Hluhluwe–Imfolozi Park
The Hluhluwe–Imfolozi Park is a prime destination for those who would like to enjoy a hilly topography and a variety of both wildlife and wildlife. Aside from going on game viewing drives, there are self-guided auto trails that provide insightful information about the management and park’s natural history. Guided walks are especially enjoyable during the early morning and late afternoon.
Bask in the beauty of birds as you take a boat ride along the Hluhluwe dam. A 40-seater boat takes and tours visitors twice a day. The boat trip is lead by an expert community guide. Boat riding is an excellent activity for people who want to sight different bird species, animals within the park, and the Zulu culture.
If you’re a thrill-seeker, the Zulu Croc Reptile Park is the perfect destination for you. This attraction offers a two-hour, personal crocodile and snake experience. This trip is conducted by an expert. Watch these river beasts get fed and interact with the wild’s friendliest (and even deadliest) snakes, with, of course, professional guidance!
These are only some activities that you can enjoy in Hluhluwe–Imfolozi Park. If you plan a trip to South Africa, make sure not to miss this beautiful park in your itinerary!