Return to Hluhluwe iMfolozi - short but sweet!
Female kudu trying to find some grazing in the scorched landscape
It’s always a treat for us to visit Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park in KwaZulu-Natal, not only was it where I had my first ever trip to the African bush, it’s also where we got engaged in 2011 and where we first came up with the idea for Tracking the Wild! This trip, however, was to be a whistle stop tour whilst on our way to Somkhanda Game Reserve in Zululand.
We also seem to have some strange connection to fire lately. The restaurant at De Hoop sadly burnt down the weekend after we visited, when we arrived at Welgevonden Game Reserve in August, they had just survived a four day fire and now, after driving through Nyalazi Gate, we found ourselves faced with a rather blackened iMfolozi landscape.
Having spent the 2.5 hour journey from Durban getting myself all excited about the prospect of some amazing game viewing in the post-winter landscape, my hopes started to feel a little dashed. Early spring is well-known to be the best time to visit game reserves in this area as the dry winters mean that the bush is barren and the grass is short - great for spotting game. The spring rains had also started which meant that some of the rivers were flowing again and the new green shoots were forcing their way through the cracked and dusty landscape. The Operations Manager at Hilltop Camp told us that overnight the grass had grown as much as 5mm! However, in spite of the new food that was growing, the fire chases animals away and so as we drove towards Mpila Camp I felt a little bleak.
However, our afternoon drive into the iMfolozi side of the park did not let us down. We always seem to be lucky this side of the park and today was no exception. Plenty of elephant, white rhino, buffalo, giraffe and zebra. I also saw my first ever black rhino and calf, they were some way in the distance but I was ecstatic at seeing them.
The spring rains had started, this ellie was soaked through!
The new grass shoots coming up already, though seems this baby baboon preferred chewing on a rock!
Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill - the birdlife in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park is abundant
Gorgeous African Paradise Flycatcher in the trees in camp
Red-billed Oxpecker hitching a ride on the fluffy coat of a buffalo calf
Our drive back to camp took us past an enormous number of white-backed vultures in a feeding frenzy on a giraffe kill, sadly we’d missed the lions that had been there that morning. No doubt they were now under a tree sleeping off their massive breakfast.
So even though we did not get to see any cats on this visit, my faith in the spring-time game viewing had been restored. We were even graced with a visit from the resident hyaena who likes to wander through Mpila camp trying his luck at each of the braai’s!
Caught on camera - the resident hyaena wandering through Mpila Camp!
This cheeky vervet monkey was so desperate for a drink he resorted to the hosepipe outside our tent!
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