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Activities and accommodation in Hluhluwe Game Reserve

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Activities and accommodation in Hluhluwe Game Reserve

We have booked two nights at a chalet in the Hilltop Reserve for the beginning of August. I now wonder if it would have been better to split the nights between Mpila Camp and Hilltop Reserve to get the best of both as I have read that the two parts of the game reserve are different to each other. Can anyone comment on the location and quality of accommodation available in both?

It is my first Safari. Following the advice in this forum, we will rent a car to get to Hluhluwe and to self-drive at least to some extent. However, I wonder if it might be a good idea to opt for one or more activities on offer. The only problem is that there is so much to choose from and too little time.

There are a variety of different wildlife trails on offer. If I understand the concept correctly they are all walks. We could possibly do one of those but than wouldn't have time for much else. Has anyone done such a wildlife trail? How does it compare to car-based safari or self-driving? A short version would be a simple guided walk that last for approximately two hours. Is it worth it or possibly too short? It seems that there are even some walks near the camps for which one doesn't need a ranger.

I also read that the evening/night game drives are a good option to see nocturnal wildlife. I guess that would be to be preferred to day drives.

I appreciate your response on your Hluhluwe Game Reserve experience - in particular on the activities on offer. Thanks!

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Hluhluwe
Hluhluwe
Zululand, South Africa
durban
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1. Re: Activities and accommodation in Hluhluwe Game Reserve

You will still see both parts of the park no matter which camp you stay at. Mpila is just a different experience as you right in the midst of the park with no fences and hyena etc. often come in to the camp at night.

www.kimssouthafrica.blogspot.com

Port Elizabeth
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2. Re: Activities and accommodation in Hluhluwe Game Reserve

If you don't mind the extra packing, I would split the 2 nights.

My experience (and that is quite little) is that there is more chance of lions and hyenas on the Imfolozi (Mpila) part, than there is in Hluhluwe side. It is quite a drive from hilltop to Mpila, which means you are out later in the morning on the Imfolozi side, if you dont stay there.

Umhlanga Rocks...
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3. Re: Activities and accommodation in Hluhluwe Game Reserve

Hluhluwe Hilltop camp is the only camp with a restaurant, if you are not self-catering. otherwise if you are happy to take your own food i would suggest you spend a night in the tented camp at Mpila . Its also about half the cost.

The night drive at Hilltop was disappointing when we were there a month ago. The guide allows the passangers to shine the light into the bush and they havent got a clue what to look for.

If you do self-driving, you must be on the road as early as possible. Head for home over lunch time if you need a break and then back on the road until the gates close in the evening. The animals do not like the heat in the middle of the day.

You will love your time in the park and it does'nt matter what you see you will have a wonderful time.

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Hluhluwe
Hluhluwe
Zululand, South Africa
Pickering, United...
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4. Re: Activities and accommodation in Hluhluwe Game Reserve

The accommodation at Mpila is fine. The chalets/cottages are comforable despite being functional. They have patio doors straight out onto the lawns with barbeques. We were regularly visited by warthog and antelope, browsing for our crumbs. There is a tiny shop but generally you bring your food with you into the park (Spar at Hluhluwe more than suffices!).

Imflozi/Hluhluwe is all one park and IMO really not that big. We had a fair night drivefrom Hilltop and it does give you an opportuity that you won't get on your own to see some of the night animals. Our best sighting was a huge porcupine and a group of lions. We prefer to stay in Mpila as it is less commercialised. We often drive to Hilltop for coffee or lunch. Midday will not be hot in August (only my daughter was mad enough to use the pool and even then not for long!) and we have had good game viewing all day. However, a lunch stop at Hilltop is always an option. It's always worth a visit to see the board marking the day's sightings too.

We often break our drive at the game bomas (probably empty in August but you never know) and adjoining craft market (run co-operatively by locals).

However, if you can't change your booking you won't miss out too much so don't fret!

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Hluhluwe
Hluhluwe
Zululand, South Africa
UK
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5. Re: Activities and accommodation in Hluhluwe Game Reserve

Thank you for your excellent advice and helpful answers.

I have read mixed reviews about the night game drives. I guess it is still worth opting for it at least once. I understand that with all safari experience there is an element of luck involved.

The more I read about South African safari and Hluhluwe in particular the more questions I have. I hope you can answer some of them.

Has anyone done a guided walk or even a wilderness trail?

Is the board with the day's sightings only at the Hilltop Resort?

Has anyone a detailed map (link, picture, or scanned) of the different roads and loops in the park? I've read suggestions for specific loops but don't know where they are. I wonder why KZN wildlife don't publish a detailed map online.

Is it correct that you have to stay inside the car at all times or are there picnic and viewing areas outside the camps where one can have a break and stretch ones legs?

Can you recommend binoculars and field guides?

I'm surprised that it is possible to get discounted private game reserve lodges at Nambiti for R1200 pppn (fully inclusive). If I would opt for two games drives per day in addition to the 2-bed chalet at Hilltop, I would be at roughly the same amount (food and conversation fee not included). If I had known that in advance, I probably would have opted for the private game reserve for my first safari experience. Of course, I would loose out on the freedom of self-driving which I'm sure I will enjoy greatly.

Many thanks,

zurpher

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Hluhluwe
Hluhluwe
Zululand, South Africa
Pickering, United...
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6. Re: Activities and accommodation in Hluhluwe Game Reserve

Agreed, night drives can be hit and miss. However, for us that's part of the fun (sad beggars aren't we!).

The wilderness trails are several days long and you go out into a separate section of Imflozi where you can't self-drive. It is a major hiking/camping trip not a quick jaunt so not for the faint hearted.

Can't comment on the game walks as I haven't done any.

As far as I know the viewing board is only at Hilltop but I've not been to Mpila for three years so that may have changed.

Detailed maps (and, trust me, there are not that many roads!) are available at the gate at a reasonable cost (probably explains why they are not on the website!) along with info on which animals are around.

There are places to get out of the car and picnic or to visit a hide/viewpoint etc so you don't go stir crazy.

Binoculars - I have an old 8x30 magnification pair of bins but hubby has a posh compact pair with similar magnification. We have an old set of batered field guides which are more technical than most folks would use. A SASOL or Newman's bird book would be really useful and a general guide to the animals of southern africa is a must if you're self-driving.

I've also seen the excellent Nambiti deals (have a look at www.mtbeds.co.za). I'm thinking of taking pot luck when I'm over there in August if I can pick up a good last minute deal somewhere if I have a few rand left! (I've got a month with family so lots of lfexibility to take a look at the book within 7 days deals on mtbeds).

As for packed lunches, if you're staying in the park - do your own! I think the other poster meant if you're going for a day into the park from a hotel.

UK
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7. Re: Activities and accommodation in Hluhluwe Game Reserve

Thanks a million for your great information, safarifiend.

I've read that one usually doesn't spot many animals on guided walks as animals seem to flee in the presence of humans outside their cars. I presume that it would be the same with the longer hikes so that it's more about the experience of being out in the wild and learning about nature instead of animal spotting.

Do you think that 8x30 binoculars are sufficient? I've read that 8x42 are better for broader field view and brighter light. How does hubby's posh one compare to yours? Does it really make a big difference?

Shelly Beach, South...
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8. Re: Activities and accommodation in Hluhluwe Game Reserve

Hi Zurpher,

We have done a guided game walk and a night drive from Hluhluwe.

As you know it's a matter of luck but we had great experiences on both.

On our walk we came over a hill and suprised a buffalo having a nap, he was most indignant and snorted and stomped around for a bit - definitely got the adrenalin going !!! and on our night drive we landed up with a herd of elephants crossing the road around our vehicle - was unforgettable as you could smell and hear them better than you could see them.

Good luck and enjoy your safari

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Hluhluwe
Hluhluwe
Zululand, South Africa
Pickering, United...
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9. Re: Activities and accommodation in Hluhluwe Game Reserve

My 8x30s are fine for me. I can usually find things first. I can't use hubby's as my eyes are so different from each other that I can't adjust them sufficiently to be able to focus both eyes at once! I don't have a problem with light intensity and even use mine at night on game drives with red lights and manage(not infra red though!).

Derby, United...
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10. Re: Activities and accommodation in Hluhluwe Game Reserve

Hi I am going to Hluhluwe as a volunteer for 2 weeks and am having trouble getting insurance as I am over 50. Anyone got any ideas on who to contact? the internet is a minefield!

As anyone been as a volunteer? how did you find it?

Thanks very much

Gill

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Hluhluwe
Hluhluwe
Zululand, South Africa
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