The Brandwag (Sentinel) Buttress is the single most iconic feature of Golden Gate Highlands National Park, and a view we can never tire of.
It’s the first day of our two-week autumn breakaway, and this is the view we’re enjoying this evening from the veranda of cottage 27 at Glen Reenen Rest Camp in the Golden Gate Highlands National Park…
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…
The Dlinza Forest Nature Reserve is a 319-hectare pocket of indigenous forest, rich in a stunning variety of trees, other plants, birds and other wildlife – several species of which is rare or endangered.
The Aerial Boardwalk is Dlinza’s main attraction, extending a distance of 125m and allowing easy access to the lower, middle and upper stories of the forest, thereby providing visitors with a glimpse into a world they’d seldom be able to experience otherwise. The boardwalk ends at an observation tower 20m high that emerges above the treetops.
Two walking trails, the iMpunzi (1.3km) and uNkonka (1.8km), lead through the forest – be warned though that there are some steep sections along the way and sturdy footwear would be an advantage. Along the way you’ll be enchanted by the sights, sounds and smells of the forest and you really do not want to be rushed while hiking at Dlinza, so be sure to allow yourself enough time! Roughly half-way along the uNkonka trail you’ll reach a lovely clearing in the forest called Bishop’s seat as it was a favourite spot for a local clergyman in years gone by.
Expert local bird guides can escort visitors through the forest – best to arrange this before your visit. Aside from the boardwalk and trails, visitors can enjoy a leisurely picnic in the grounds at the visitor centre. A rough and narrow road, the Royal Drive, passes through the forest but attempting it in a vehicle with low ground clearance would not be advisable.
Situated in the town of Eshowe in northern Kwazulu-Natal, the Dlinza Forest must be one of the most accessible of its kind in the country, although being entirely surrounded by the town does bring with it several management problems, not least of which is feral pets straying into the forest and killing wildlife, and exotic garden plants establishing themselves within the reserve. There’s no accommodation in the reserve, but the town has a number of lovely bed-and-breakfast establishments or you could drive through from nearby towns, as we did from Mtunzini while staying in the Umlalazi Nature Reserve half an hour’s drive away.