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Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, South Africa
Fast Facts
Points of Interest Nearby
Family Travel Tips



Photo by Andrew and Jodi Tanenbaum

Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park is the best game reserve in KwaZulu Natal and is considered by many to be on par with the Kruger. It's home to 84 mammal species, 60 types of reptiles, and more than 350 varieties of birds. It counts all of the African Big 5 - lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo. It is the breeding bank for the world's white rhino population. It boasts numerous game viewing hides and a number of guided game viewing activities. The 'small' reserve spans some 96,000 ha and is truly two parks in one. The hilly northern reaches of reserve, known as Hluhluwe, boast riparian forest vegetation. The southern or Imfolozi section is characterized by savannah woodland and riverine forest. Established in 1895, it's the oldest game park in Africa yet it's one of the South Africa's last wilderness areas.
Getting There
Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park is set in the heart of Zululand and is located in the South African province of KwaZulu Natal. The reserve is situated 270 km from Durban, 100 km from Richards Bay, 50 km from St. Lucia and 30 km from Ulundi. The nearest airports are in Durban and Richards Bay. The Richards Bay Airport has daily scheduled flights to Johannesburg. The new King Shaka Airport in Durban has a more extensive flight schedule. There is no public transport to Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park. The only way to get to the reserve without a car is to take a tour. There are three park gates. Mambeni Gate, roughly 30 km northwest of Mtubatuba on the R618, is the quickest route to the reserve and most convenient gateway for Mpila Camp. Memorial Gate, via Hluhluwe, offers access to the northernmost reaches of the reserve. Cengeni Gate, accessible via a dirt road from Ulundi, is the best point of entry for the park's western areas.
Getting Around
A network of self-drive trails crisscross the Hluhluwe and Imfolozi sections of the game reserve. Guided game viewing drives, both day and night, and guided day walks, roughly 2 hours in length, depart daily from the Mpila and Hilltop camps and can be booked at the respective camp reception. The Imfolozi Game Reserve boasts three self-guided walking trails - Emoyeni Mpila, Enkulu and Masinda Ncane. Boat tours on the Hluhluwe Dam depart twice daily and are conducted by members of the local community. There two types of multi-day programs in Imfolozi Game Park: Wilderness Trails and Weekend Wilderness Trails. Both are offered from mid-March to mid-December and are multi-day backcountry treks. Family Travel Tips: The minimum age on the Mpila guided day walk is 13. The minimum age on wilderness trail programs is 14. All bookings are first-come, first-served.
When to Travel
The best time to go on safari depends on what you want to see and the number of vehicles you want to share your sightings with. Wildlife viewing is best from June to September. Birdwatchers are rewarded with special sightings from November to February. The peak season - December, January, April and July - coincides with South African school holidays and advance booking is strongly recommended. The best time for game drives is early morning and late afternoon. Here's a bit about the weather: Summers are hot and humid. Winters are mild and dry. The average daytime high is 28°C (83°F) from December through March and 22°C (72°F) in June and July. The nighttime lows are significantly cooler than the daytime high throughout the year. The area receives in excess of 1000mm of rainfall each year, most of which falls between November and April. Traveling in winter? Early morning game drives can be quite nippy. Pack a hat, jacket and gloves. Plan to dress in layers.
Health & Safety
Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park lies in a malaria risk area. Wild animals and sunburn also warrant precaution. While prophylactic treatment is recommended for visitors to malaria risk areas, no drug is 100% effective thus it's important to avoid mosquito bites. Here are three tips: 1) Use insect repellent with DEET. 2) Wear trousers and long-sleeved shirts after dark. 3) Sleep under a treated mosquito net or in a screened or air conditioned room. Going on a wildlife safari? Keep in mind that the animals are wild and all wildlife is potentially dangerous. Talk to kids about animal safety. Follow the rules set out by your guide. Lastly, safeguard against the southern sun. Wear sunglasses and a hat with a brim. Apply high factor sunscreen to all exposed areas.
Hours & Seasons
Park gates are open 5:00 - 19:00 from November to February and 6:00 - 18:00 March to October. Camp receptions are open 7:00 - 19:00.
Admission & Fees
A daily conservation levy is charged to all visitors. A reduced rate is available for children aged 3-12. Children under 3 are free of charge. South African residents with a valid ID pay half price. Guided game viewing drives, day walks, and overnight wilderness trails are charged seperately.
Things to Keep in Mind
The Mpila Camp shop sells curios, cold drinks, film and gasoline. The Hilltop convenience store sells a variety of supplies. Hilltop Camp is the only accommodation in the reserve with a restaurant. Overnight guests at all other lodges and camps must bring in their own food and drinks.
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Travel Trivia
Magellanic penguins breed in: