Tourism, Accommodation and Historical Attractions in Natal, South Africa
Zululand: Hluhluwe Game Reserve
Zululand: Hluhluwe Game Reserve
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The two reserves were originally Zulu Royal hunting grounds have now been consolidated and cover some 96,000ha of prime Zululand countryside typified by rolling hills with grassland summits, separated by steep valleys with riverine forest.
The Umfolozi ("zigzag") River divides into two - the Black and the White Umfolozi. Between the two is some of the best savanna country in Southern Africa and despite much of the game being eliminated from the surrounding countryside during the last century, it remained a haven for black and white rhinos.
In the early years of this century, the disease nagana, which killed domestic livestock was endemic in the area. Local farmers demanded that the only cure was to kill every animal that could possibly harbour the disease that was spread by the tsetse fly.
There was intense pressure to close the reserve down and convert it to ranching. There were no fences and poaching remained rife until recent times. More than one hundred thousand animals were shot before aerial spraying with DDT eliminated the fly.
Today, visitors may see elephant, lion, cheetah, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, impala, warthog, hyaena, jackal and many other animals. Lions were not introduced intentionally to the reserve.
A single male appeared mysteriously in 1958, to be joined after a few years by some females, equally mysteriously. The pride now help to control the number of buck in the park.
Accommodation is in hutted camps and bush camps, all located to take full advantage of the marvellous views over the reserve.
The White Rhino
Umfolozi Game Reserve was the first game reserve to be established in Africa and is internationally recognized not only for its prolific wildlife but also for two other reasons.
The white rhino was, at the time of proclamation of the reserve, almost extinct. The staff of the Natal Parks Board have since protected the animals and allowed them to reproduce to the point where more than three thousand have been relocated to other reserves and zoos.
Currently, there are more than 350 black and 1800 white rhinos in the reserve.
Secondly, Umfolozi was the first reserve in the world to introduce the famous Wilderness Trails and there is 24,000ha (one third of the park area) set aside for this purpose on which no development whatsoever is permitted.
These three day experiences, walking through the bush and camping under the stars by night, with experienced staff enabled visitors to experience the true wilderness and get away from the stresses of 'civilization'.
In addition there is the Weekend Trail over 30 kms with two nights in a tented camp, the Bushveld Trail from December to February and the Primitive Trail (year round) that requires a fair degree of fitness. Hikers sleep out in the open on this trail.
There are accompanied walks each day, Children's Wildlife Camps and several self guided walking trails.
On the way into the park help a local school and enjoy the singing of the local school children.