safari to Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve Archives - Tim Brown Tours
  • 16th Sep 2015

    We began our Durban day tour to Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve in Durban city where I collected my clients. It would be a day to remember with great sightings.

    I covered the usual history of Durban and KwaZulu Natal on route to the Hluhluwe Imfolozi big 5 game reserve and answered any questions my clients had.

    We arrived before 10 am and had immediate luck as we spotted Zebra and Giraffe together!

  • 15th Jun 2015

    Durban safaris – 3 day tour 12 -14th June 2015


    I had two different pick ups for this 3 day Durban safari tour one in Durban and the other in Umhlanga. Once I collected my client and we got chatting I knew we would have a good safari!

    Our first day was near floor-less as we achieved so much in the first day. We began covering some of the interesting history of the area of Durban and KwaZulu Natal before arriving at the cat rehabilitation center near Hluhluwe.

    Our tour around the rehab was great!

    We entered the enclosures with all 4 of the endangered species of Cat; Serval, Caracal, African Wild Cat and Cheetah.





    Durban safaris; Serval

    Durban safaris; Serval















    The above picture of a Serval is lovely and these cats are very interactive so when we go into the enclosure it is always a great time watching them.

    Our Durban safari continued and we entered with then Cheetah cubs which were also very interactive.





    Durban safaris; Cheetah cub


    Durban safaris; Cheetah cub
















    This Cheetah cub was so interested with watching her sister playing with a rope on the end of a stick that even her soccer ball was not distraction enough!


    We finished up with the cats and moved on into Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve for the Durban safari side of our 3 day Safari tour. This Big 5 game reserve near Durban is malaria free and is probably the biggest hidden secret in the area.


    Our first sighting was of Warthogs and as it was the first animal we saw we spent some time with them before continuing our safari and then spotting some Zebra not too far from the road.





    Durban safaris; Zebra

    Durban safaris; Zebra
















    We made our way to Hilltop camp where we would be spending the two nights and had some lunch before checking in and settling into the rooms for half an hour.

    Then we headed back out to continue our Safari in Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve. We spotted a huge herd of Buffalo on the road so we spent a good 15 minutes with them while they all crossed and then only continued on.






    Durban safaris; Buffalo

    Durban safaris; Buffalo

















    Video – Durban safaris; Buffalo crossing the road in Hluhluwe


    We were making our way toward the Hluhluwe river when we spotted both Rhino and Elephants. All we could do was wait to see what would happen and good job we did as the Elephants came to the road and we got them to cross in front of us.





    Durban safaris; Elephant



    Durban safaris; Elephant
















    The Rhinos at this point were near to the road as well so we managed to get a decent photo of them before moving onward to see what else we could find.





    Durban safaris; Rhino

    Durban safaris; Rhino
















    We heard that Lions had been seen at 3pm but it was already 5pm so I knew the chances of finding them was not very high. When on a Durban safari or any safari you always have hope and we tried our best at first without success but then as the sun set we spotted them making their way to the road following a herd of Buffalo.

    The Lions then began to hunt the Buffalo which made things hard on me as I was caught up with the ethical battle of keeping the lights on the Lions so we could see them but also not wanting to give the Lions away to the Buffalo which would end there chances of a successful hunt.





    Durban safaris; Lioness

    Durban safaris; Lioness


















    Video – Durban safaris; Lions cross road at night to hunt Buffalo


    What a great start to our Durban 3 day safari tour, the Lions attempted the hunt and in the darkness we heard the growling and Buffalo bellowing when we turned the lights one there was only dust and the Lions had not been able to hold on to their dinner. The lucky Buffalo kept walking away and we left the lions to try again.



    We made our way back to the lodge and settled in for some dinner and a chat about how amazing our day was having seen 4 of the Big 5 on the first day of our Safari in Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve.


    We even did a spot of star gazing before we were all very tired and we headed off to bed.



    Day 2: Durban safaris; our 3 day safari tour




    We began our day with high hopes of seeing lots of animals and hopefully more Lions but you just never know what will show up for you on these safaris from Durban.

    After breakfast we headed South in the game reserve and it was like the luck from day one had never left as we kept up the tempo and saw lots of animals.


    Our major concern was finding Giraffe which we managed to knock on the head after just 30 minutes of driving!





    Durban safaris; Giraffe

    Durban safaris; Giraffe
















    Video: Safari in South Africa; Giraffe crossing road

    We also spotted lots of general game like Zebra, Impala, Warthog, Wildebeest and we must have spent about 45 minutes in one spot as all these amazing animals came to a watering hole to drink.





    Durban safaris; Rhino reflection

    Durban safaris; Rhino reflection

















    Video: Durban safari tour; Rhino get spooked by Zebra at mud wallow

    After watching these Rhinos drinking and getting spooked by the Zebra which came in for a drink we managed to see the female Rhino sharpening her horn so that she would have it ready for any poachers that tried to mess with her and remove her horn!





    Video: African safari; Rhino sharpens her horn waiting for poachers!


    Our 3 day safari from Durban was really turning out to be a great time and we just kept getting great luck and being in the right places at the right times.

    We waited longer at the watering hole as a herd of Wildebeest came down and had a drink during this time we also spotted some great bird life. The best was a Malachite King fisher!





    Durban safaris; Wildebeest drinking

    Durban safaris; Wildebeest drinking

















    Video: Safari from Durban; Wildebeest drinking in Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve


    We then continued on to the Umfolozi river and I could not believe our luck as all of a sudden we spotted Lions running in the river bed. The only issue was they were running away because there was a bush walk that had not seen them and were having there walk in the river bed. This made it exciting and after a very short time we lost visual of the Lions so we continued with our Safari in Umfolozi.


    I did get a picture but I felt it wasn’t good enough to go up on the blog and if you read on your will see why.


    We drop through at this time of the year what looked like a desert as the place was so dry but we did spot more Rhino, Giraffe and other animals before we got to another section of the river and you would not believe it but there was Lions here!






    Durban safaris; Lions in walking in river bed

    Durban safaris; Lions in walking in river bed















    The picture was not the best but I still figured I would use it. We then continued to a “hide” which is a hut overlooking a watering hole. It was here we spotted a wide variety of animals and birds before moving on back up to get some lunch.





    Durban safaris; Antelope drinking

    Durban safaris; Antelope drinking
















    Video: African safari; Warthog rubs himself after a mud wallow




    After spending time in the Hide we made our way back to where we had seen the second lot of Lions in the river bed and it was here that we spotted a huge herd of Buffalo drinking. The Lions just watched them from the safety of being up stream.





    Durban safaris; Buffalo herd

    Durban safaris; Buffalo herd
















    This was a great sighting on our Durban safari tour and we made our way back to the area where we had seen the previous pride of Lion that had been chased by the people on foot. It was here that we spotted them resting in the dry river bed. There was two big males and some Lionesses and cubs!





    Durban safaris; Lions resting in river bed

    Durban safaris; Lions resting in river bed
















    Video: Durban safari; Lions in the Umfolozi river




    This had been an amazing day seeing the Lions 4 times and seeing 3 of the big 5 before lunch. We still had not seen Elephant the whole morning and now it was lunch time so we saved that one of the Big 5 for a big later.


    Lunch was great at the Centenary center before we began the drive back up to hilltop camp. On route we got our Elephants in fact 3 or 4 different Elephant sightings! This meant we had 4 of the Big 5 today as well!





    Durban safaris; Elephant bull

    Durban safaris; Elephant bull
















    Our next stop would be back at camp where we would have an hours rest before heading out on the evening night safari from 5pm – 8pm.


    Dinner was great as usual and we headed off for a good nights rest.




    Day 3: Durban safaris; 3 day safari tour.



    I met my client just before 7am to collect their luggage and get them down for some breakfast. It was a relaxed time as when you do they same tour regularly you get into such a routine of doing things that it just flows. Just after 07:30 we were already on the road and at this stage I asked one of the ladies “what would you like to see today” she said to me ” the African wild dog would be nice”.

    I knew where to look but had no idea if we would be so luck to find the most endangered carnivore in Africa but we did! I could not believe our luck and nor could my clients!





    Durban safaris; African wild dog

    Durban safaris; African wild dog
















    We watched the dogs jumping up and down in the long grass and running all over the place for about half an hour before we lost visual and began to make our way out of Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve. It had been an amazing 3 days with some amazing sightings for a 3 day safari from Durban.


    Our next stop would be St Lucia or Isimangaliso Wetland park to take a 2 hour boat cruise to view Hippos and Crocodiles.



    Our first look from the Jetty we spotted a pod of Hippos and when we got going we made our way to them to enjoy nature. They all ran into the water but it was lovely to see them.





    Durban safaris; baby Hippo

    Durban safaris; baby Hippo
















    Further up stream of the world heritage site of Isimangaliso Wetland park we found Crocodiles, Fish eagles, Herons, Kingfishers and lots and lots of Hippos. Wow what a safari up St Lucia estuary.





    Durban safaris; Crocodile

    Durban safaris; Crocodile
















    We then had a very interesting sighting of a Hippos chewing at a Buoy on a barge boat. This or though exciting for the clients go me very concerned as this behaviour could be very dangerous in the future as the Hippo playing with the boat will show others that they can do the same and this could increase attacks on boats.


    I did however made a video for you to see this interesting behaviour.





    Video: Hippo chewing buoy of boat in St Lucia!






    Our cruise ended and we made our way into St Lucia town for some lunch which was great. After lunch we took a drive to the estuary mouth and then began our trip back to Durban after a very successful 3 days safari from Durban.

    My clients were happy and so was I.



  • 11th Apr 2015

    Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve safaris; Hluhluwe Tree climbing Lions


    Durban 2 day safari; Tree climbing Lions of Hluhluwe
















    Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve – National Park History


    Africa’s oldest game reserve, Hluhluwe Imfolozi was established in 1895 after the South African government and a couple of influential conservationists realised that the continuous hunting of wildlife was causing them to run out of raw materials like Ivory (Elephant tusk) for the trading between Europe, Africa and Asia. Its is am ideal game reserve to visit for a Safari while in Durban as it is a Big 5 game reserve, Malaria free and near Durban.


    Nagana and Malaria free!

    Why did they over hunt this area? Actually it was more the fact that there was an issue with Tsetse flies which was believed to be caused by the animals. The Tsetse fly caused Sleeping sickness or “Nagana” which affected the Blood of animals and Humans causing fever, loss in weight, weakness, Anemia and potentially death.

    This was so feared by the Settlers that they killed vast numbers of game(animals) literally 100 000′s in order to get rid of this disease.

    It was only in the 1940′s that DDT (an agricultural toxin) was used by being sprayed over the vast area of Hluhluwe Imfolozi’s 96 000 Hectare reserve. This not only killed off the Tsetse fly but also the Anopheles mosquito which carried Malaria(female only). This meant that today we are very lucky to take our clients on Safaris near Durban and not have any issues with Malaria!

    Hluhluwe Imfolozi tree climbing Lions 


    We are blessed in Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve to have a Pride of Lions which has a strange ability to climb trees. This is not usual in Lions as Lions do not have a locking mechanism in their wrists to come down from a tree in a graceful manner. They are also big animals and to see them taking to the trees is amazing. On our Safaris from Durban you may get lucky enough to see this spectacle.


    Video of the Tree climbing Lions of Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve




    There is a couple reasons this pride of Lions would have turned to climbing trees and the most common reason would be that the area that they hold a territory in is too very thick and it makes it easier for them to see there prey item by being up high. Having said all of this the Big Lions do not take to the tree so this is something that the Lionesses and the young Lions are doing. As they get bigger the risk of falling when they come down the tree and breaking there necks is higher.


    Durban 5 Day Tour; Tree climbing Lions of Hluhluwe
















    Behaviour like this of the Hluhluwe Imfolozi tree climbing Lions has also been reported in east Africa but as mentioned is very uncommon due to the risks of coming down. These cats are like our domestic cats happy to go up but to come down is a slippy affair!


    Video of Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserves tree climbing Lions


    Just to see these amazing creature even on the ground on one of our Durban safari tour is amazing but when they are seen up in the tree it is even more amazing and special for us.


    King Shaka’s Hunting Pits. 

    With in Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve there is some amazing scars which can be seen on either Wilderness Trails or from the air. The reason behind these great scars at the confluence of the Black and White Umfolozi rivers is due to the greatest Zulu King, Shaka!

    King Shaka reigned supreme of the vast area of Zululand between 1816 and 1828 defeating and taking over smaller Black African Tribes. He became known by the tribes as “the Hyena man” and the Cape Colonist called him the “Black Napoleon”.

    Shaka instructed his “Impis”(Worriers/Soldiers) to construct these great pits which were used to chase vast numbers on animals into once a year. The young Impis would then spear the animals killing them as a sign of there courage.  It appears that there could have been more to this non-selective killing of animals. Shaka being as great as he was would never want anyone to be a stronger King than he was or to defeat him.  It seems that he could have used his hunting pits to prevent there being much food for intruders who entered the area wishing to dethrone the great Shaka!


    Stone age settlements.

    Throughout Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve there are signs of Stone age activities with Artifacts being found over they years. It was also an area where early metal work took place and on the Western side of Masinda lodge with in the game reserve we are told Iron Ore was found and formed into spears and Assagais by the Zulus.


    Flora and Fauna of Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve.

    Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve is home to the Big 5 – Lion, Leopard, Buffalo, Rhino and Elephant. Apart from these amazing creatures, Hluhluwe Imfolozi has Hippos, Giraffe, Zebra, Cheetah, African Wild Dog and a vast number of Antelope Species.

    This is not all that you can expect to see in this amazing nature reserve. With around 380 species of birds, Mountainous areas, Open areas and views to die for you will never get bored if you are guided through this amazing reserve.

    Hluhluwe section: 

    The Hluhluwe Section of the game reserve is vastly different to the Umfolozi section. Hluhluwe is more scenic with more rolling hills and forests. It contains Savanna and some grasslands but more so mountainous with great views over the Valleys.

    Hluhluwe is an ideal spot to look for Elephant, Buffalo, Leopard as well as stunning bird life.


    Umfolozi section:

    The Umfolozi sections of the game reserve is a mixture of Acacia thorn veld and grasslands. We come across many Tamboti thickets and riverine forests which can also make this a good spot to look for Leopard, Lion, Cheetah and African Wild Dog.


    Overall between the two sections of reserve we have the chance of seeing the Big 5 and all the other animals mentioned during your Durban Safari Tour.


    Operation Rhino.

    During the early years of the game reserves establishment from 1895 there was still a vast amount of hunting that took place. With the years of punishment to Rhino populations and other species this was getting out of hand and a program was put into place in the 1850′s to bring back the Black and White Rhino populations from the brink of extinction.

    It was this program which also meant bringing in new genetics from other areas to prevent in breeding that really was a huge success. Today in the 21st  century the White Rhino population in Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve is the highest density of any reserve in the world.

    This is a true feather in the cap for KwaZulu-Natal National parks(Ezimvelo KZN Wildlife).

    Lodging in Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve.

    There are two major camps/lodges within Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve on one of which is fenced and has catering, this is Hilltop camp.

    All the other camps/lodges are self catering facilities and the Bush camps require a Guide to be with you during your stay, for your safety due to no fencing and human nature to explore.


    Hilltop camp is my lodge of choice, being a 3 star facility with Wifi, TV, Shop, Bar and restaurant all set in the forest on the highest point in the game reserve. This of course means great views day and night(of the Stars).

    Below are a few picture of Hilltop camp.