​User Reviews – Hluhluwe-iMfolozi GR

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MrTicklingstick Visited: August 2011 Reviewed: Dec 27, 2011

A magical, almost primordial, place apart.
Overall rating

My wife and I have visited Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve (the oldest in Africa, established in 1895) on four occasions – usually either before, or after, staying in St Lucia (on the coast to the east) so that I can experience the Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park (renamed iSimangaliso Wetland Park, November 2007) and Cape Vidal.

Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve is about 280 km (174 miles) north of Durban or if you are travelling from Swaziland (e.g., Lavumisa/Golela Border Post) it’s a 3½ hour (approx.) drive due south. The park occupies around 960 km² or 96,000 hectares (371 sq. miles or 237,221 acres) in the middle of Zululand, KwaZulu-Natal – and affords the lucky visitor some breathtaking vistas. If you are possessed of a vivid imagination, you might almost think that you are in “Jurassic Park”, half expecting to stumble across an apatosaurus or a herd of hadrosaurs. Rather than dinosaurs, however, you will, almost certainly, experience many close encounters with ‘white’ rhinos, giraffes, zebras, nyalas, chacma baboons, vervet monkeys, elephants, woolly-necked storks, wart hogs and cape buffalos. You might also be exceptionally lucky to see, hovering in the skies, a huge African Crowned Eagle which has an appetite for vervet monkeys and even small antelope.

If you are overnighting for a few days at Hilltop Camp and take the Forest Trail you may encounter the small, secretive Red Duiker antelope (another meal time favourite of the African Crowned Eagle) in the company of iridescently-feathered Crested Guinea Fowl and, usually nearby, the ubiquitous vervet monkeys.

Joining a morning game drive in the company of expert rangers is a ‘must’ and, as well as having a fair chance of seeing other members of the ‘big five’, you may have the joy of meeting an extraordinary bird – the ground hornbill strolling down a track.

The accommodation around Hilltop Camp is well-equipped and more than adequate for any traveler. Remember to book in advance. If you are travelling independently, allow adequate time to reach your accommodation before the rapid nightfall. (Pack a torch/flashlight for ambling around camp at night.)

The food (buffet style) is quite good and can include (very tasty) game (e.g., Kudu); reasonable selection of wines. (As a general rule, the food in South Africa is of very high quality and naturally produced - not 'adulterated' or factory farmed as in the U.S. or much of the U.K.) Well-stocked ‘Curio Shop’. Generally friendly, helpful staff. The rangers are truly excellent and a mine of information and expert knowledge.

Essential to hire a car when visiting South Africa (if you want to experience as much as possible) – preferably a ‘high-sided’ vehicle with a bit of ‘poke’.

Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve is one of the planet’s enchanted places – which draws my wife and I irresistibly to it on every occasion when visiting the hugely varied and stunningly beautiful South Africa. Go visit!

Narina Exelby   –  
South Africa ZA
Visited: January 2008 Reviewed: Dec 28, 2012

35-50 years of age  |  Experience level: over 5 safaris

One of the best places to view wildlife in KwaZulu-Natal
Overall rating

One of my favourite parks in South Africa, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi has so much to offer visitors. It’s excellent Big Five territory, and the landscape, which varies from gentle woodland savannah to rugged flood plains, is beautifully wild.
Years ago, Hluhluwe and Imfolozi were two separate parks. Imfolozi became known as being ground zero for Operation Rhino, Dr Ian Player’s very successful initiative to bring the white rhino back from the brink of extinction. Today still, the park is a very good place to see white rhinos. Also in the Imfolozi section of the park are the famous wilderness trails, where you go out on multi-day walks through areas accessible only on foot. These walks are not for the faint-hearted, but should be on the top of every serious nature-lover’s bucket list.
Hilltop Camp, in the Hluhluwe section, is the park’s flagship camp. It feels something like a resort, with a busy restaurant (with incredible views out and down over the park) and shops, and there is a variety of accommodation available here. Throughout the park, there is a variety of accommodation that suitable to different size groups: rondavels, cottages and what once were warden’s houses.
The last time I was at Hluhluwe-Imfolozi I came across five collared wild dogs that had recently been released. They’d just killed an impala, and the twilight battle between the dogs and three hungry hyenas will always stick in my mind as a true indication of survival in the wild.

Stuart   –  
United Kingdom UK
Visited: January 2020 Reviewed: Feb 1, 2020

Email Stuart  |  65+ years of age  |  Experience level: 2-5 safaris

An excellent game park but let down by poor maintenance and management
Overall rating

We hired a lodge for a family of six at Hluhluwe Hilltop Camp which was excellent. During our three day stay we experienced the game park, including a game drive which too, were excellent. What was not good however was how the place was managed and maintained. For example:
1) There were only 2 x washing machines for the whole camp and both were broken!!! On inquiring I learnt they had been out of order for at least two weeks prior to our arrival.
2) Secondly, the swimming pool was full of green water. Completely unusable for lack of regular cleaning and maintenance. It looked as though the pool had been in this condition for weeks.
3) The shop, as advertised on the website was virtually empty of anything useful apart from small quantities of tea sugar plus two small loaves of bread. The shelves were empty due to nobody ordering stock and goodness only knows for how long. We had to waste a morning driving out of the park to buy groceries.
4) On several occasions there did not seem to be enough restaurant or bar staff on duty resulting in long waits.

I strongly urge management not to forget that things do breakdown and therefore have to be repaired in a timely fashion. Shelves don't restock themselves neither do swimming pools clean themselves. It's called management!!!

Scott   –  
United States US
Visited: October 2015 Reviewed: Jan 31, 2016

Email Scott  |  35-50 years of age  |  Experience level: first safari

Wish we had more time
Overall rating

My wife and I visited Hluhluwe-iMfolozi as a day-trip during our stay at another game reserve. We wish we had taken more time to explore this park. It was massive and had so many opportunities for great wildlife viewing, we felt like we barely scratched the surface. One of our favorite spots was a hide built above a watering hole. We were able to watch a troop of baboons try to defend the spot from some nyala. The views from the roads and paths were truly breathtaking. We will be sure to give Hluhluwe-iMfolozi much more time next time we visit South Africa!

Trish   –  
South Africa ZA
Visited: November 2017 Reviewed: Dec 6, 2017

Email Trish

Loved every minute! We saw Rhino up close! Fantastic!!!!!
Overall rating

Everything was exactly what the dream expected. We never saw any of the Cat Family, but made up for it with Rhino sightings from the moment we entered the Park, and loved being so close to Elephant too. The scenery was breathtaking, amazing to travel from thick bush into open savanna.
We stayed in a tent in Mpila, very clean and comfortable rooms, and had the pleasure of watching the Hyena trying to "steal" our dinner each evening.
The Admin Staff were absolutely fantastic and helpful and everyone was so friendly
Would we go back again? You bet!

Douglas Hibbard   –  
Canada CA
Visited: October 2017 Reviewed: Nov 24, 2017

Email Douglas Hibbard  |  50-65 years of age  |  Experience level: over 5 safaris

Overall rating

It is a beautiful reserve with a great camp at Hilltop. The wildlife viewing was amazing. Spending 30 minutes with a pack of Wild Dog with no other vehicles was truly amazing.

Joshua   –  
United States US
Visited: July 2016 Reviewed: Aug 5, 2016

Email Joshua

Overall rating

Again, easy to access. The tented camp at Mpila was GREAT. Stay there. For a few nights if you can.

Geoff   –  
United States US
Visited: August 2015 Reviewed: Mar 1, 2016

Email Geoff

Overall rating

Since it's nature a lot of this comes down to luck but on our one morning here we saw a fresh buffalo kill with over a dozen lions feeding on it, and no less than eight rhinos, some with young calves. The atmospherics are a big different than Kruger as it's more green and there's less brush.

jeremiahr   –  
South Africa ZA
Visited: November 2014 Reviewed: Jun 5, 2015

20-35 years of age  |  Experience level: 2-5 safaris

Lots of animals to see, but may take time to find.
Overall rating

Hluhluwe-iMfolozi is huge! There are lots of animals, but if you are driving yourself through (as we did), they may be hard to find (probably depends a bit on the season). We had a couple stretches of maybe 45 minutes where we didn't see anything. We spent about 5-6 hours there and probably only covered 60-70% of the park. The roads are fine, though there are lots of potholes on the tarred roads. The dirt roads we did drive were borderline too much for our small car, but manageable. We had a nice time, enjoyed seeing all the animals we did find and got some good pictures. There are plenty of facilities available throughout the park, so it made for an easy place to spend the day. Several picnic areas are available as well. I think that if we go back, we'd try to go at a different time of year, because all of the watering holes were dry and I suspect many animals were sticking close to certain areas with water that we didn't find.

Rapster   –  
United Kingdom UK
Visited: October 2010 Reviewed: Aug 8, 2012

20-35 years of age  |  Experience level: first safari

Overall rating

We saw many more big game animals there, which was particularly exciting for us as we often travel to spectacular / beautiful parts of the world but don't often see big game!

Average User Rating

  • 4.4/5
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

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