Durban 3 Day Safari Tour to the Big 5 – Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve 1 August – 3 August 2014
Our Durban 3 Day Safari to the Big 5 – Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve began in Durban city where I met my clients at the Blue Waters Hotel.
Huhluwe Imfolozi game has amazing Flora and Fauna and is a very diverse game reserve. The seasons have an huge effect on this protected National Park and this time of the year is really dry and baron with almost no water except in the river systems. The National park of Hluhluwe Imfolozi is home to the Big 5: Lion, Leopard, Rhino, Buffalo and Elephant. Being only 3 hours from Durban it is a must visit with a Guide if you are in the area!
As we drove up from Durban I educated the clients from Hong Kong on the history of Durban and KwaZulu-Natal as well as the history behind the national park.
It took us around 3 hours to get to the Nyalazi gate into the Umfolozi section of this Big 5 game reserve and we began our Hluhluwe Imfolozi Safari Tour.
The fires were a problem and we no doubt effecting game viewing but we still did very well and managed to find 3 of the Big 5 before lunch. Our first sighting was of this male Elephant near the gate.
Elephant Bull at near Nyalazi gate in Umfolozi on our Safari from Durban
We did try to find the cats but it was just too hot in as the southern section of Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve. We saw: Giraffe, Nyala, Buffalo, Rhino, Warthogs, Impala amongst other things like a slender mongoose.
Giraffe gazes at us on the first day of our Hluhluwe Imfolozi Safari
Picture of Wildebeest resting under an Acacia tree during Day 1 of our Trip from Durban
After a while we decided to head back to the home of Operation Rhino – Centenary centre to have some lunch and a rest. My clients also bought a few things at the curio shop before we departed to Memorial gate to get to Emdoneni Cat Rehabilitation centre before 4pm.
We made it just in time to check in and then begin the feeding session. Basically there are two tours a day and the second in the afternoon is when they feed the cats cuts of meat mostly chicken or wild meats. We got to interact with 3 of the 4 different species of endangered wild cat namely: African Wild cat, Serval and the Cheetah.
Cheetah at Emdoneni Cat Rehabilitation centre on our Tour
After spending a good hour and a half with these amazing cats we returned to our rooms before dinner at 7pm.
Dinner was a lovely affair as there was a fire burning outside the restaurant and music playing inside making the atmosphere very pleasant.
I had chatted with my clients and we had made the decision to get breakfast packs and get up early to be at the Gate of Hluhluwe when it opened at 6am.
It was now time for some rest and we went to bed with alarms set very early!
Day 2: Durban 3 Day Safari Tour to the Big 5 – Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve.
At 05:30 we departed Emdoneni lodge for the Memorial gate which is the Northern gate into Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve. We had immediate success and I knew today would be a good day!
We first spotted Zebra and Rhino within 20 minutes and then a large herd of Buffalo before 5 Rhinos greeted us on the main road before moving into the bush.
Buffalo staring at me on Safari in Africa from Durban
5 Rhinos on the road in the misty early morning Safari in Hluhluwe game reserve
As we continues past all the burned sections from the run away Veld fire a couple days before we enjoyed the mist in the valleys and took a few photos. We also had some brilliant luck, as I was driving a herd a branch crack and stopped as I knew it sounded like Elephant. I was right and out of the misty thickets came a small herd of Elephant and crossed the road right in front of us!
Elephant in the mist cross the road in front of our vehicle on our Durban Safari
We continued on to find another 2 herds of Elephant and a bachelor herd, Giraffe and Zebra amongst other species. It was turning out to be a great day of Safari in Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve.
As we made our way closer to the White Umfolozi river we spotted a large male White Rhino sleeping and after watching him for 2 minutes he jumped to alert and posed for a great photo.
White Rhino Bull jumps to attention as he hears something that unsettles him during a Safari Tour from Durban
After this the weirdest thing happened, I spotted an old giraffe male and every time he blinked tears would come out of his eye! I know Giraffe cannot cry so this must have been a result of the smoke or and eye infection.
Amazing stuff! I tried to take a picture but the tears fell so fast so I could only show the wet eye and a tear drop on the eyelash.
Giraffe Cries with tears streaming down his face on our Durban Big 5 Safari
We made it down to Bhejane hide a hut which you can sit inside which overlooks a waterhole. This is an ideal spot as there is no other water in the immediate area. We had great luck as when we arrived 7 different species were at the Watering hole including: Elephant, Buffalo (2 of the Big 5), Zebra, Warthog, Nyala, Impala and Wildebeest. By the time I had taken a photo with my camera I could only get 3 species which is still amazing!
Bhejane hide 3 species together on our Big 5 Safari Trip from Durban
After we were done there we made our way around to find the Lions and lucky for us we were in luck and we spotted 3 Lioness on a ridge. What made this even better was that they got up and walked close to our vehicle to begin stalking Wildebeest. Of course a convoy of cars formed and kindly blocked the Lionesses path across the road so we left them to sort themselves out. It was a brilliant sighting though!
Lioness on our Durban Big 5 Safari
After we left the Lions we headed up to the centenary center for lunch. On route we spotted Giraffe, Buffalo, Baboons, Elephant and Rhino.
We settled in to have some lunch and then looked around the museum before we departed for Emdoneni lodge where we would also be staying the second night.
We all were very tired after a 9 hour Safari stint in the African Bush.
After a rest it was time for dinner and bed.
Day 3: Durban 3 Day Safari Tour to the Big 5 – Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve.
We began the final Durban day Safari with breakfast before we entered at memorial gate to find a pleasant surprise! Lions and Hyenas.
The whole reason was not so apparent as the Lions had made a kill of a Giraffe and the grass was so long that we could not see them or the kill until later on. What made it apparent was that a Journey of Giraffe approached and got very close to the Lionesses to see who they had killed! Very exciting!
Young Hyena looking on at Lions that killed a Giraffe on our Durban Safaris Tour
The next thing when the Giraffe got close to the Lioness was very interesting as the Lioness moved away from the carcass and from the giraffes which were eyeing her up. Life over limb hey! Even a Lion has to be careful of the big feet of a Giraffe, a kick to the jaw could case the Lions death!
Can you spot the Lioness that the Giraffe are looking at….
We continued out of Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve and with that it was the end of the the Bush Safari Experience, now it would be time for a Boat Safari Experience at St Lucia-Isimangeliso Wetland Park.
The boat cruise was 2 hours long and very enjoyable with great sightings of Hippos and Crocodile.
Crocodile on our Durban Safaris Tour at St Lucia Estuary
Large pod of Hippos at St Lucia estuary Isimangeliso Wetland park in KwaZulu Natal
After St Lucia Estuarys Tour we heading into the Town for some lunch at The Ocean Sizzler and we all had some fish as its fresh being a coastal Town.
Then it was time to say good bye to the Safari from Durban and head back to the big city. We arrived back just after 6pm very happy after the 3 Days of Safari Touring in KwaZulu-Natal.