Durban safari tour in KwaZulu Natal 28th January – 1st February 2015
I met my clients for their 5 day Durban safari tour of KwaZulu Natal at the Beverly Hills hotel in Umhlanga. We made our way to Eshowe a former capital of Zululand where we visited Fort Nongqayi museum and the Church built which shows the work of the Norwegian missionaries in the area.
We began in the church where we looked at the history behind the Norwegian missionaries in Eshowe and their assistance to King Mpande KaSenzangakhona.
Below is a picture of the size of Mpande and his wheel chair that the Missions built for him due to his ailing heath. KwaZulu Natal really has some amazing history.
Durban safari tour in KwaZulu Natal; Mpandes wheel chair
We then moved on to the amazing Fort Nongqayi where we enjoyed this museum and the history of Mpande, John Dunn and the rest!
Durban safari tour in KwaZulu Natal; Fort Nongqayi
John Dunn became the only “white” western man to become a chief of a section of the Zulu nation, Eshowe. John Dunn had 48 Zulu Wives and one coloured wife. With all those wives he ended up with 117 children and when he died in 1895 the government had to put land aside for his large family.
One of the sons of John Dunn, Ned tamed Zebras to pull his wagons.
Durban safari tour in KwaZulu Natal; Zebras pulling a cart
At this point we moved across to the other side of the Fort and I came across a great diagram of the 13 states or Chiefdoms Zululand was divided up into in 1879.
Durban safari tour in KwaZulu Natal; The thirteen chiefdoms of Zululand
We stopped for some coffee at the coffee shop and after this chinwag we moved on to Shakaland for the Zulu Cultural experience of our Durban safari tour of KwaZulu Natal.
We arrived just before 1pm and Eskom had decided to cut the power to the area as they have been doing for the past week. Thank goodness the lodge cooks its food on gas!
After enjoying some lunch and the having some rest we began our cultural tour of Shakaland at 4pm.
We began with the video at Shakaland of the movie Shaka Zulu filmed in the 1980’s and then looked at the structure of the Umuzi or homestead. After tasting some Zulu beer and buying some gifts we waiting for the Marimba playing at 6pm and at 06:30 we went up to the main hut for the Zulu dancing.
Durban safari tour in KwaZulu Natal; Xhoza dancing at Shakaland
During the show we also were shown the Xhosa dancing which would have come from the Eastern Cape region the same area where Nelson Mandela had his origins.
Durban safari tour in KwaZulu Natal; Shakaland dancer
It had been an amazing show and we made our way to the dinner area for some more wonderful food. Dinner was lovely and we had great company and conversation before a well deserved rest.
Day 2: Durban safari tour in KwaZulu Natal 28th January – 1st February 2015
We began day 2 of our Durban safari tour of KwaZulu Natal at 8am when we met for breakfast, nothing like a sleep in!
After a great breakfast we began our remainder of the cultural tour at Shakaland in Eshowe. We watch a depiction of the Zulu men, (Shela) proposing marriage to a young maiden.
KwaZulu Natal safari tour from Durban; Zulu men
After this we moved back into the Zulu Cultural village to watch spear throwing amd stick fighting both of which I always love to get involved with. Im sure my wife thinks Im Zulu, Maybe at heart!
The stick fighting was always a way king Shaka could get his men to practice their skills with out killing each other. It is really fun and a great challenge. My guests were great sports the whole trip and both got involved in either the dancing or the stick fighting respectively!
KwaZulu Natal safari tour from Durban; Zulu stick fighting
Zulu are well known for destroying the British at the battle of Isandlwana on the 22nd January 1879. It was after the invention of the short stabbing spear that the use of the long throwing spear that king Senzangakhona, Shaka’s father invented became redundant to a degree. Throwing you weapon away was always a stupid idea and more so if it was not so accurate. I have to say it’s even less accurate when I throw it so no surprising I’m saying this. I need to practice at home more!
KwaZulu Natal safari tour from Durban; Zulu spear throwing
After visiting the Sangoma(fortune teller) and the Inyanga(traditional healer) we packed up, checked out and headed for Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve.
Video of Zulu Man showing us the Use of the Zulu weapons:
We got into the game reserve and had some lovely sightings at Africa’s oldest game reserve, established in 1895 (the same year John Dunn passed away).
Our first major sighting was of an Elephant Bull which was close to the road this was really exciting for my client and always the same for me. This set the tone for the day.
KwaZulu Natal safari tour from Durban; Bull Elephant at Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve
A short while later about 5 minutes actually we spotted another bull Elephant and he was moving with purpose to the road. Having realised he wanted to cross I reversed back and he obliged and wondered across in front of us, Of course this was a sight to behold for my clients!
KwaZulu Natal safari tour from Durban; Elephant crossing at Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve
Moving on we spotted a journey of Giraffe and they were also near the road, I saw again one wanted to cross so I reversed to always him free range and he also moved across in front of us. This was stunning and you can see why Durban safaris are getting more popular in this lovely province of KwaZulu Natal.
KwaZulu Natal safari tour from Durban; Giraffe on road at Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve
We then spotted Warthogs and Nyala before getting ourselves to Hilltop camp for lunch and checked in.
We had little time and after lunch we headed to the gate to go to the cat rehabilitation centre in Hluhluwe for the 16:30 Cat tour.
On the drive out though, we had to stop as we spotted some lovely animals, including Buffalo.
KwaZulu Natal safari tour from Durban; Buffalo bull at Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve
Time was running out so we kicked on to the gate but as the general rule of thumb goes if you are in a rush something will slow you down. I must say I can never complain about this!
We spotted a beautiful female Rhino; she came near to the road to drink from a mud wallow.
KwaZulu Natal safari tour from Durban; Rhino drinking at Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve
We all felt like the day had already been more than just a day as we had done and seen so much!
Durban safaris can be tailored to cover as much as possible or to relax a bit more depending on your idea of an African holiday. A Durban safari tour is the best way to see what South Africa has to offer and you will not be disappointed.
We eventually arrived a few minutes before the Cat tour started and we had time to stretch our legs before heading on the Cat tour. This Cat tour at the rehabilitation centre outside Hluhluwe is really good and Zee who took us around was really good. We began with the African wild cats which are where our domestic cats have their origins.
After Zee’s chat about the cats we watched then get fed before moving on to the Caracal. The Caracal are also highly endangered and traditionally jump up in tall grass to catch their food usually Guinea fowl size birds or smaller.
It was now time to interact with the two male cheetahs and this is always good.
The Cheetah brothers have been at the centre since they were a few days old and have been hand reared so they are habituated enough for interaction.
When my client eventually got their chance they enjoyed the experience and I was able to get a picture for them.
KwaZulu Natal safari tour from Durban; Cheetah on cat rehabilitation centre
Next was the Servals and we first watched them being fed before we interacted with the 2 year old cats. They are such lovely cats and unfortunately have been used for fur coats over the years.
KwaZulu Natal safari tour from Durban; Serval at cat rehabilitation centre
Our Durban safari tour this day had been a very long one and we were all feeling the effects. I must say my clients were very good sports about the long day and never moaned.
We returned to Hilltop camp and had some dinner before a well deserved rest. I always sleep like a log.
We had an early start the next day on the open vehicle game drive at 04:45 leaving from the rooms.
Day 3: Durban safari tour in KwaZulu Natal 28th January – 1st February 2015
We got up really early and met at 04:45 I was very surprised at my clients being so bright eyed and bushy tailed so early in the morning or shall I say late in the night!
I got them down for the morning game drive and made sure they got on the vehicle safely. The only thing was the drizzle and mist, but no complaints!
I waited back to catch up on my computer work and emails before meeting my clients again for breakfast.
Breakfast was welcome after such a long morning and we chatted about the Hyenas which my client saw walking down the road on their Safari in Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve.
After breakfast we went our separate ways for a rest and later we had some lunch before the evening game drive. This also gave me time to write this blog post about our amazing Durban safari tour.
During this time I decided to head out myself otherwise I would just be to bored knocking around camp.
I got a couple nice pictures of some animals.
The first thing I photographed was a male Nyala near the camp itself.
Durban safaris; Nyala
As I continued down into the reserve of Hluhluwe Imfolozi on my safari I found some Elephant and Rhino.
Durban safaris; Rhinos in Hluhluwe game reserve
It was getting late and after checking on one of the hides to see if it had water or animals I made my way back to the camp. On route to the camp I spotted some Zebra, never are Durban safaris boring.
Durban safaris; Zebra in Hluhluwe game reserve
It was beginning to get dark now and I managed to come across a Male Buffalo on his own, near to the road. He was a bit skittish so I took a quick photo and moved on back to Hilltop camp where I waited for my clients to get back from their Safari in Hluhluwe.
Durban safaris; Buffalo in Hluhluwe game reserve
We met for dinner and chatted about how the drive went. They were lucky to have seen some White Tailed Mongooses.
Dinner was a traditional South African braai and we enjoyed our time before heading to bed.
Day 4: Durban safari tour in KwaZulu Natal 28th January – 1st February 2015
We met for a 7am breakfast before heading as far down South in the Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve as possible. It was a hot day for a change and temperatures rose to 33 degrees with an element of humidity.
As we began we had some luck with Baboons, Zebra and Buffalo within a short time. I bit later we found a lovely herd of Buffalo on the road.
Durban safari tours; Buffalos
As we got further south on our Durban safari tour in Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve we came across some Rhinos mud wallowing and resting in the shade of a tree.
Durban safari tours; Rhinos in Mud
There were times of great quietness and we just kept going. Having had so much rain lately the animals don’t have to stay near permanent water sources as there are puddles everywhere for them to drink from. This always makes it harder to spot the animals.
Our next sighting on our safari was this big bull Elephant in Umfolozi.
Durban safari tours; Elephant Bull
As we continued on we found some Giraffe, Zebra and Wildebeest together as well as hundreds of Impala.
Durban safari tours; Elephant Bull
We began our march back up to the centenary centre for lunch and on route we spotted some Baboons in a tree and some at the Umfolozi river.
Durban safari tours; Baboon in the tree
We also had a nice sighting of some Elephants under the trees next to the road and we watched then make their way to cross the road. We moved back to give them the space and eventually the crossed in front of us.
Durban safari tours; Herd of Elephant crossing road
We made it to lunch and had some burgers before a quick browse of the curio shop.
The weather was changing again and we could hear the storm brewing in the distance. As we headed back the temperature dropped to 27 degrees and the clouds built up.
We crossed a river crossing and spotted a crocodile in the water. It had been a great Safari tour in Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve.
Durban safari tours; Crocodile
We arrived back at Hilltop camp and booked our dinner before resting, meeting again for dinner at 7pm.
Dinner was great as usual and after spending some time filling our tanks we headed to bed for the end of another incredible day in Hluhluwe Imfolozi on safari.
Day 5: Durban safari tour in KwaZulu Natal 28th January – 1st February 2015
We began our Day with our bags packed and headed through for some breakfast before checking out. Once the paper work was done we headed out for a short safari tour in Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve and then headed out to St Lucia – Isimangeliso Wetland Park. Before we got out of Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve we spotted Baboons.
Durban safaris; Baboon
It would be at St Lucia estuary where we would take the 2 hour boat cruise to view Hippos and Crocodiles before heading back to the big city.
Isimangeliso Wetland Park is South Africa’s first world heritage site and was declared as such in 1999.
Upon arrival we hoped onto the smaller boat we were taking and straight away had luck with Hippos playing near the shore and a crocodile.
Durban safaris; Crocodile
We continued up stream and found some more Hippos some of which were yawning away. This is always great to see and makes the tour that much more exciting.
The time it takes to get the good shots of a Hippo yawning can be long but when you get that photo it makes the wait worth it!
Durban safaris; Hippo yawning
We continued up the St Lucia estuary on our Durban safari tour and came across some baby Night herons, Pied and Giant Kingfishers. The time on the boat went very quickly and before you knew it we were needing to turn back to the Jetty.
Durban safaris; Giant King Fisher
We made our way back and were all very satisfied with what we had seen. It had also been an amazing 5 days of Safari from Durban having visited some of the most historical, Cultural and natural areas in Africa!
We spend 3 hours getting back to Durban or Umhlanga where I dropped my clients off as they were heading out on a cruise from Durban to Mozambique and then Jetting off back home.
It had been a great KwaZulu Natal safari tour!