Here is a report from our roving photography safari guru, where he was recently on assignment in the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi National Park in Kwazulu Natal.
Shane’s Umfolozi report:
“A few weeks back I was given the opportunity of taking some photographs of the new Enselweni Bush Camp for Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife. I had been to the “old camp” more than 20 years ago, so was intrigued to see what had been done.
My girlfriend and I arrived mid-morning at the Mpila camp, to then be shown down to Enselweni. I was pleasantly surprised to find a seemingly eco-friendly camp which, by the way, is the first community driven project in the reserve. Large solar panels provide the power for the lighting and heating of water through the 8-roomed camp with a conference centre to go. All units are self-catering and sleep 2 people, and have been tastefully designed. They have an en-suite bathroom, with a spacious shower area opening up either onto the river view or into the natural bush. The kitchenettes are well kitted out, with everything that one would need. The fridges and ovens are gas driven. Even during the heat of the day, the rooms were cool enough and well ventilated, that only a standing fan (which was provided) was needed.
There was a braai area next to the verandah and on both evenings we made good use of that. Game was plentiful. Over the 2 days we saw: a pack of wild dogs numbering 20 or so on two occasions, numerous herds of buffalo, several sightings of white rhino as well as an abundance of general game, including giraffe, zebra, warthog, kudu, nyala, duiker. The friends that we met up with there, who were occupying the Goyeni Bush Camp, saw cheetah, leopard and Lion during that time as well.
On the Sunday morning, we set off just after 5am to get photographs of the camp from the opposite side of the Black Umfolosi. Bheki our guide collected us and we drove to the Hlatikulu Bush Camp where we got into a canoe and paddled to the other side. Recent rains had caused to river to surge, which unfortunately could not allow us to take the short cut and walk across the river.
This proved to be a blessing, as on the walk, which lasted well over an hour to get in front of the camp, we walked into black rhino, white rhino and buffalo. Bheki’s experience proved invaluable as not one of the encounters alerted any of the animals. We were steered away, walking a large loop around the animals to continue towards the camp. The black rhino as well as the white rhinos were left resting and the buffalo was viewed a good distance off while it too relaxed near the bank of the river. We reached the camp just after 7am and I got the necessary photos. On returning we heard a leopard growling. Exciting to say the least! Carrying over 15 kg of photographic equipment as well as a large tripod, walking through thick bush on a hot summer’s morning, was enough to ensure I deserved a cold shower on my return.
The Umfolosi and Hluhluwe reserves are certainly value for money and provide both wonderful accommodation plus great game viewing experiences.”
Editor’s note: All images in this post are courtesy of Shane Doyle and protected by copyright.
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Hlulhluwe-Umfolozi Fast Facts:
Established in 1895, Hluhluwe-Umfolozi National Park is the oldest game park in Africa and is the only under formal conservation in KwaZulu Natal where the Big 5 occur. Set in the heart of Zululand, the game reserve offers visitors activities – from self guided walks, auto-trails, game drives as well as picnic sites. Viewing hides overlook pans and waterholes enabling visitors to see animals at close range. The Park covers some 96 000 ha and contains an immense diversity of fauna and flora. It became world renowned for its white rhino conservation.
Animals & Birds
Hluhluwe Umfolozi is home to 1,600 white rhino and 370 black rhino – an impressive number which means you are very likely to see one or both species. It also contains the rest of the Big Five; buffalo, elephant, lion and leopard, as well as many other species including blue wildebeest, zebra, giraffe waterbuck, nyala, kudu, bushbuck, warthog, cheetah, hyena and jackal plus about 24,000 impala. You may have some close encounters with elephants as they often cross or block the road right in front of your vehicle.
In excess of 300 species of birds have been recorded.
Rainy Season: This is a hot and humid sub-tropical area and most rain falls during the months of September to April. Annual rainfall is 29-39 inches (750-1,000mm).
Dry Season: The dry season lasts over winter from May to August and the temperatures are very pleasant with warm days and cool nights.