Welcome to our virtual safari series! As mentioned yesterday, we’ll be sharing our experiences from four nature reserves that we visited in March. Wherever in the world you are, we hope you are able to escape to South Africa for the next few minutes as you read this post and that you enjoy and appreciate looking at these beautiful animals as much as we did.
Today’s safari is Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. This was our first ever safari and we were lucky enough to experience it with our good friends from Scotland. We had spent the previous week in Cape Town and all agreed that we were happy to get out of the city and experience another side of South Africa.
Established in 1895, Hluhluwe–Imfolozi Park in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa is the oldest nature reserve in Africa. Due to conservation efforts (and despite continued and rampant poaching) it is also home to the largest population of white rhino in the world.
We choose Hluhluwe-Imfolozi for several reasons:
- We were looking to do a safari on a budget, which felt impossible sometimes. (Stay tuned for a blog post with tips on planning a safari on a budget – it’s a challenge, but can be done!)
- Anti-malarials were not required at the time we visited (please check with your doctor before visiting for up-to-date malaria requirements!)
- Being able to drive ourselves around a safari sounded awesome
- It was less touristy than the more popular reserves in South Africa
There are two options for exploring Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park – join a guided tour or self-drive. We decided to join a guided tour on our first day to get a lay of the land and then explore in our own car on the following days.
Both were super exciting in their own ways. Having a guide was helpful, not only for the information he shared on the animals, but because he knew the best places to find animals and pointed out things that we would probably never have spotted on our own. We rode in a typical safari vehicle, which was up high and had large open windows for prime game spotting.
I (Cathleen) found self-driving to more fun and more of an adrenalin rush. Everyone was concentrating so hard and looking in trees, bushes, fields, all over for any signs of an animal or movement. We had at length discussions on which type of tree we’d prefer to hang out in if we were a leopard or a lion. Christopher and I had bets going on who would spot a certain animal first.
The moment someone saw something we’d yell at the poor soul driving, give terrible directions in our excitement (“STOP, BACK, OMG, TOO FAR, AHHHHH”), and hope that what we were backing up for was actually an animal and not a stump. Such a rush!
Regardless of whether it was on the guided or self-drive tour, the highlight was always sitting back and watching the animals in their natural environment. As someone who watches all of the animal and nature shows religiously, none of that prepared me for experiencing them in person. Here are a few of our favorites to share:
Last but not least, here is a video we shot of a group of rhinos trying to nap in a waterhole that was much too small for them. Make sure you watch until the end if you want a chuckle.
Love from Spain,
Cathleen & Christopher