Hluhluwe Umfolozi National Park is the oldest game reserve in South Africa and is one of the most popular big 5 wildlife safari and tour destinations in Africa. Hluhluwe Umfolozi is situated in the heart of Zululand, KwaZulu Natal and was established by the former Natal Parks Board.
The wide range of plant life in the park gives rise to a diversity of mammals, birdlife, reptiles and amphibians, and Hluhluwe -Umfolozi Park is renowned for its wide variety of bird and animal life. Besides the big five – elephant, lion, leopard. buffalo and rhino, there are the elusive cheetah, wild dog, and nyala along with many other well-known bushveld species, inhabit the park, offering visitors an excellent game viewing experience.
When uncontrolled hunting brought many big game species to the brink of local extinction, Operation Rhino increased the white rhino population in Umfolozi through anti-poaching control, and today the Zululand reserves contain some of the largest concentrations of black and white rhino in the world. It is also almost entirely responsible for re-populating the depleted rhino stock in many of the reserves in South Africa, and southern Africa.
The Hluhluwe-Umfolozi park boasts one of the best conservation teams in the world and has gained worldwide acclaim for its conservation efforts. Many species of animals which were eradicated from the park through the nagana campaign have been successfully reintroduced, including the lion in the early sixties, and the elephant in the eighties. Giraffe has been extremely successful in inhibiting the park, although there is no fossil record of them ever existing in the area before. Hippo was eradicated, but a small group found their way into the park, possibly from St Lucia, and the population is slowly rising. The Wild dog is one of the park’s major conservation priorities, as they are Africa’s most endangered carnivore.
The park covers 96 000 hectares, and comprises three reserves: Hluhluwe, Umfolozi – two of Africa’s oldest game reserves, both founded in 1895 – and the linking Corridor Reserve, proclaimed in 1989.
To aid in the valuable work done by the heroes of conservation, you can visit the Centenary center, which offers tours and sightings of rhino and other game which have been captured or scheduled for release.
There is a wide variety of accommodation on offer, both in Hluhluwe and in Umfolozi, from bush camps to luxury lodges, and the three-star chalets to be found at Hilltop Camp which has its own restaurant.