Mpila Camp in the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park is not fenced, and any animals, dangerous kinds included, can and do roam between the accommodation units at night (and often during the day too!). I have a basic little camera-trap that I sometimes set up overnight when we visit South Africa’s wild places to see what happens when we’re soundly sleeping, and here’s a few images it captured of Spotted Hyenas roaming outside our cottage at Mpila when we visited in December 2018.
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…
While we were still visiting Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park recently I shared a sneaky photo I took of Joubert busy photographing a pair of playful warthog piglets in Mpila Camp. Now that we’re back home I can share a few more of the photos he took of their playful antics. They also tried involving a young nyala ram in their games, but he wasn’t interested in childish games.
These are all Joubert’s photos. He turned 9 in August.
If there’s any good advise experienced parents can give newly expecting ones, it is that none of the thousands of parenting guide-books on the bookstore shelves will apply to your child 100%. You have to find what works for you, and go with it – your kid will turn out just fine.
The same seems true in the animal kingdom.
This afternoon while having lunch at Mpila in the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, we noticed this mother Vervet Monkey and her baby coming past in a most unconventional manner. Normally the newly born babies would hang below the moms tummy, within easy reaching distance of her mammary glands. This little one however clung to the fur on his mom’s behind with all his might, and it obviously hurts her to quite some degree, as she regularly took him off and gave him a harsh hiding, to which he then responded with a terrible tantrum, screaming to high heaven until she relents and he gets back onto her buttocks. It was such a funny sight, and if she was human I would have given her a knowing wink of the eye in sympathy.
Just in case you were wondering, this is the more usual way female Vervet Monkeys carry their babies; an example from another mom in the same troop that walked past our accommodation unit.
We had only just arrived at Mpila Camp in the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park this afternoon, when we were welcomed by this Spotted Bush Snake on the mosquito screen of our kitchen door – What a welcome!