A familiar favourite: Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park in December

Our December 2019 bush breakaway concluded at the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, one of the oldest game reserves in Africa and a place that is very dear to our hearts. We spent five nights there, accommodated in Chalet #16 at wonderfully wild Mpila Camp.

Hluhluwe-Imfolozi is looking as green and lush as we’ve ever seen it, with the rivers flowing strongly, and that is a heartening sight to behold considering that not so long ago the Park was in the grips of a terrible and prolonged drought that tested the metal of plant and animal life alike. Compare the images in the gallery below with those we took during a visit in 2015, at the height of the drought.

A place as magnificent as Hluhluwe-Imfolozi is home to a countless variety of wildlife. Depicted in the following gallery is just a smidgen of the array of invertebrate life that crossed our path during our visit – we enjoyed them all of course, except those pesky mosquitoes… Regular spells of rain resulted in eruptions of termite and ant alates taking to the wing to establish new nests, providing a glut of food for a wide variety of insectivorous fauna.

The warm, wet weather and ample insect buffet meant that amphibians and reptiles were quite regularly seen, especially in the camp and at other places where you are allowed to exit your vehicle. These ranged in size and danger from frogs and geckos to monitor lizards and nile crocodiles and even a snake or two.

Hluhluwe-Imfolozi is a bird paradise at any time of year, and even more so during the warm summer months when their numbers swell with migrants from northern latitudes. These are just a few of the over 100 species we recorded during this visit.

What would an African game reserve be without charismatic big mammals? Hluhluwe-Imfolozi certainly delivers on that score, but the occasional and usually unexpected glimpses of small or lesser seen furry creatures – mice, hares, bats and the like – can be just as pleasing!

Even the magnificent King of Beasts provided us a few memorable encounters, and the lions at Hluhluwe-Imfolozi definitely are as regal as any elsewhere on the continent.

A visit to Hluhluwe-Imfolozi is just never long enough, no matter how long we stay. We exited the Park at Memorial Gate as we headed back to Pretoria to spend Christmas with our family, which of course is always a great treat, but truth be told it would have been so much nicer if the rest of the family could’ve joined us in HIP to spend Christmas in paradise…

The route from Pretoria to Memorial Gate
(drawn with Google Maps)

 

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27 thoughts on “A familiar favourite: Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park in December

  1. naturebackin

    What a wonderful collection of lovely photos. The bird gallery is particularly entrancing. We too were last at Imfolozi during the tragic drought. Lovely to see your photos of it now – they make us look forward even more to our visit there in a few weeks’ time.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
      1. naturebackin

        Unfortunately we don’t have long – we will be two nights at Mpila, two nights at Cape Vidal and then three nights at Ithala, staying in the small bush camp there. We are looking forward to it as we have been not away in quite a long time.

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        1. de Wets Wild Post author

          That really is a wonderful itinerary – three of our favourite destinations as well!
          Cape Vidal and the Eastern Shores must be one of the best places in SA to see leopards – the Grassland Loop in the early morning is a must drive!
          And we went to Ithala in August 2018 and what a great time we had – even saw elephants right at the waterhole in front of Ntshondwe’s restaurant!

          Liked by 1 person

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          1. naturebackin

            Thanks for the tip re the drive. We will look out extra hard for leopards. We are hoping to see the subspecies of Samango monkey that occurs there (different to the subspecies in the Midlands mistbelt forests) and perhaps see one of the “blonde” Samangos that we have see before when visiting there.
            How interesting that the elephants came up to Ntshondwe! I had the impression that they mostly hung around the Pongola river area.

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  2. Rainsinn

    Wow I am so in love with this post and this place… 😍 Oh how I wish I could live in a place like this πŸ₯Ί… thank you so much for sharing this ❀️

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      1. Rainsinn

        Absolutely!!! 😍😊 living between these amazing birds and animals would be heaven. I could spend an entire day just watching them, photographing them then and repeat the same thing the following day. 😊 there will always be an excitement about what am I going to see today. Wow… I really can’t think of anything better right now 😊

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  3. JANE

    Pardon the yell…but it’s from excitement… WOW!!!
    The bird gallery alone would be cause for celebration… then add all the other flora and fauna. I have a soft spot in my heart for all these wonderful creatures and the one who super captured my eye is the brown-hooded kingfisher. (I venture to say, he was probably not easy to catch for a photo!)
    What a remarkable difference water makes. Thankful the drought has passed.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Seeing the Park during the height of the drought was really tough, Jane, so to see it now looking so vibrant again, with all the wildlife to go with it, really is a reason for celebration. Wet and Dry are natural cycles in Africa’s savannas, but with changing weather patterns making the droughts ever more frequent, prolonged and harsh there’s cause for concern.

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      1. JANE

        You are not alone with changing weather concerns. Not to tread too deeply into the political woes of the United States… I think it’s tough having a president that doesn’t acknowledge science or believe that climate change is a true concern… Your observations and comments accentuate the reality that we are in this as a global community.

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply
    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park really is one of our country’s most valuable reserves – not least because it is the place where the southern white rhinoceros was rescued from the brink of extinction!

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