From baby elephants frolicking in the water to the King of the Jungle lounging around in the sun, is there anything more breathtaking than a scene from nature in the African Bush? Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve offers a once in a lifetime experience to view and appreciate South Africa’s bush animals in their natural habitat. The park features unique topography, an abundance of the Big 5, and rich cultural significance. Check out some of our favorite facts about Africa’s oldest Game Reserve, and how you can visit it!
The Oldest Game Reserve in Southern Africa
A place where Royalty once roamed, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park is a breathtaking stretch of wilderness, with ancient trails weaving through thornveld and mighty rivers.The land was once used as the exclusive hunting grounds of King Shaka, showcasing how the rich culture of humans and nature alike live together in this historical park.
Two game reserves were formally established in 1895, and finally unified, alongside the Corridor Reserve, in 1989 as the official Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Reserve. This led to the establishment of a 96 000-ha park which incorporated an abundance of diverse fauna and flora in the heart of the Zulu-Kingdom.
The Home of Rhino Conservation
During the late 1940s, rhino poaching hit an alarming rate, with less than 100 White Rhinos left in existence. A great conservation effort, called “Operation Rhino” was established.
Safe breeding projects were launched, as well as the safe relocation of White Rhinos throughout game parks in Africa where executed, to ensure the conservation of this mighty animal. This project has since established one of the largest conservation projects. It grew from strength to strength, helping the white rhino population grow to more than 17 000 and helped this species move from the UCN’s Red Data Book of threatened species.
The Home of the White Rhino
At the establishment of the Natal Parks Board in 1947, less than 10 White Rhinos were left in the wild. These Rhinos were located in the Umfolozi region. With the establishment of Operation Rhino, many rhinos were transferred to different wildlife parks in the country, which resulted in almost 90% of the world’s rhino population being situated in SA. Due to this, the genetic lines of all white rhinos in the world can be traced back to the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park.
Home to the Big 5 & Big Game
It’s no surprise that Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park is home to some of the most spectacular wildlife in the world. The reserve is home to 86 mammal species, which includes the magnificent Big Five. All animals roam the park freely, enjoying the unique terrains of this area. One of the most unique aspects of the park’s wildlife is the rare ability to witness Wild Dogs in the lower Umfolozi region of the park. Also known as Painted Dogs, this carnivore is currently endangered with an estimate of less than 550 Wild Dogs remaining in South Africa. Check out the official list of the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Wildlife list and their frequent sightings here. The park is also world famous for spotting Nyala, a spectacular stately antelope.
The Birdlife of Hluhluwe-Imfolozi
Hluhluwe-Imfolozi isn’t just about game viewing; it is also home to some of the best bird species in the world. Its proximity to the foothills of the KZN interior and coastal plains of the St Lucia Wetlands makes it the perfect location for over 400 bird species to thrive. This makes up about 46% of all species found in the Southern-African region.
Hluhluwe-Imfolozi is a birders paradise, offering visitors the opportunity to witness some of the several large species that are rare in other South African parks. Some of these species include White-Backed Vulture, Tawny Eagle, Pallid Harrier, Denham’s Bustard, as well as the African Grass Owl.
The Unique Terrain of Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park
Previously forming two distinctive game reserves, the park truly offers a game viewing opportunity like no other. It’s a unique mix of the bushveld, mist-belt forests and hilly terrain, open savannahs, riverine forest, and wetlands, offering a unique biodiversity.
Its unique terrain gives Hluhluwe-Imfolozi park allows the park to host some of Southern Africa’s most unique combinations of game and birdlife. The Hluhluwe River Flood Plain offers visitors the opportunity to witness the yellow-throated, orange-throated, and pink-throated longclaw in their natural habitat. It is also one of the few locations to house South Africa’s smallest antelope species, each known for its diverse natural habitat. The blue duiker can be found in the park’s unique escarpment forest, the red duiker inhabits the lowland forest, and the Suni (the smallest antelope) inhabits the park’s scrubby thickets.
Game Drives Through the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve
Hluhluwe-Imfolozi is a unique game park that offers visitors a peak into the lives of the abundance of wildlife that roams the plains of the park. Based in Hluhluwe Village in the heart of KwaZulu-Natal’s Elephant Coast, ANEW Hotel Hluhluwe offers guests the rare opportunity to get acquainted with some of the area’s most sought after wild animals, birds, reptiles, fish, and plants.
Join our FAGASA qualified team as they take you through the most beautiful areas in the park, showcasing the beauty that nature has to offer. View our game drive offers and experience the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi National Park ANEW…