Durban KwaZulu-Natal 5 Day Safari of the Big 5 Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve and Tour to the Drakensberg 18 August – 22 August 2014
Our Durban, KwaZulu-Natal 5 Day Safari began in Durban(Umhlanga) where I met my clients. Neil had been with me a year ago and had returned with his wife and son to share his experiences with them.
I am always happy when clients return for a second taste of the South African National parks.
I began by covering some of the history of Durban and KwaZulu-Natal as well as the history behind the national parks we would be visiting on day one.
Day one began at St Lucia – Isimangeliso Wetland Park where we would embark on a 2 hour Estuary cruise to view Hippos and Crocodiles. Isimangeliso Wetland Park is South Africa’s first world heritage site. It was decided by UNESCO in 1999.
Upon arrival we had a look at a craft market and began this exciting cruise where we also spotted lots of birdlife.
One of the first things we spotted was this African Fish Eagle which was perched on a tree in the Estuary of St Lucia.
African fish eagle on Day 1 of our 5 Day Safari tour seen at St Lucia
As we continued on and enjoyed the breeze we came across a few large pods of Hippos. This picture below was one of many we saw this day.
Hippos seen on Day 1 of our Durban Safari Tour at St Lucia
During this St Lucia boat safari we spotted some crocodiles as well but I chose this picture of the Estuary mouth with the Crocodiles resting on a sand bank. The Indian Ocean is in the back ground.
St Lucia Estuary mouth with 2 Big crocodiles on a sand bank during our Durban Safari Tour
Once we finished up here we went into the town and got some lunch before making our way to the Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve, Africa’s oldest protected area.
We entered at Memorial gate and spotted some Rhinos, Zebra, Buffalo and Wildebeest before arriving at Hilltop camp and checking in for 2 nights.
Zebra foul seen on Day 1 of our 5 Day Durban safari tour seen in Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve
The view from Hilltop camp is spectacular and after a short rest it was time for the evening game drive Safari Tour in the open vehicle. The clients got to see Elephant and Genet which we had not seen on the drive into Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve.
Huhluwe Imfolozi game has amazing Flora and Fauna and is a very diverse game reserve. The seasons have a huge effect on this protected National Park and this time of the year is really dry and baron with almost no water except in the river systems.
The National park of Hluhluwe Imfolozi is home to the Big 5: Lion, Leopard, Rhino, Buffalo and Elephant. Being only 3 hours from Durban it is a must visit with a Guide if you are in the area!
Upon our return to Hilltop camp we had dinner and went to bed ready for the new day.
Day 2: Durban KwaZulu-Natal 5 Day Safari of the Big 5 Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve and Tour to the Drakensberg 18 August – 22 August 2014
We met at 7am for breakfast before heading into the Umfolozi section of the game reserve. We spotted many things including Giraffe, Zebra and Impala.
I selected this picture of the White backed Vulture on a nest as the first one as Greg loved Birds.
Day 2 of our Durban Safari tour we spotted this white backed vulture on her nest
A bit further on we found a bull Elephant but he was in the thick bush so his picture didn’t get selected. However the next sighting was a Buffalo bull and he gave us a great stare which I captured and you can see below.
Buffalo bull gives us the stare on Day 2 of our Durban Safari Tour in Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve
As we continued on our Big 5 Safari we had a great sighting of a Rhino chasing warthogs as he tried to cross to the road. It was a burned section so it looked great.
Rhino chases warthogs as he tries to cross the road on our 2nd Day of our Durban Safari tour
We went to a view point to see if we could see anything and there were no cats but we spotted this great shot of a White fronted Bee eater.
White fronted bee eater seen in Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve on Day 2 of our Durban Safari Tour
Near to the same spot were a Journey of Giraffe and a Dazzle of Zebra. The Giraffe got his picture taken.
Giraffe seen on our second Day in Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve on our Durban Safari Tour
At this point I figured we better try a watering hole as we were not finding the cats, So we headed to Bhejane hide and got a great picture of 3 different species at the watering hole. This was a great sight during our Durban 5 Day Safari Tour.
Day 2 at Bhejane hide we saw 3 species of animals at the watering hole on our Durban safari Tour
After a while we decided to head back to the home of Operation Rhino – Centenary centre to have some lunch and a rest. My clients also bought a few things at the curio shop before we departed to Emdoneni Cat Rehabilitation centre for the 4pm Cat Tour.
We were lucky as at the gate we spotted an old bull Elephant and he was feeding on some fresh shoots from an Acacia tree.
Elephant bull feeds off the fresh shoot of an Acacia during our Durban 5 day Safari Tour
We made it just in time to begin the feeding session Tour of the endangered Cat rehabilitation center. Basically there are two tours a day and the second in the afternoon is when they feed the cats cuts of meat mostly chicken or wild meats. We got to interact with 3 of the 4 different species of endangered wild cat namely: African Wild cat, Serval and the Cheetah.
Cheetah at Emdoneni Cat rehabilitation center during our 5 Day Safari Tour
After spending a good hour and a half with these amazing cats we returned to Memorial gate and got back to camp for dinner at 7pm.
Dinner was great and after the food and conversation it was now time for some rest and we went to bed.
Day 3: Durban KwaZulu-Natal 5 Day Safari of the Big 5 Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve and Tour to the Drakensberg 18 August – 22 August 2014
We began at 7am when I met my clients to collect there luggage and get down for some breakfast. Today was our final day of our Durban Safari Tour in Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve.
After checking out we began a very long journey as we had one last chance to find Lions before driving cross country to Didima in the Central Drakensberg (Cathedral peak).
On route we saw loads of animals and on this Day we Spotted 4 of the Big 5! We finally found our lions resting in the Black Umfolozi river.
Giraffe on day 3 of our 5 Day Safari Tour to Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve
The Lions were a real great stroke of good fortune and they were all resting in the river on a sand bank. The heat of 38 degrees the day before must have taken its toll on them.
Lions on Day 3 of our Durban 5 Day Safari Tour in Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve
I bumped into an old friend who I did my training with years ago and he mentioned a sighting of a sleeping Black Rhino. We were heading to that spot and we managed to relocate the Rhino sleeping in the shade of a bush.
Black Rhino seen on our Big 5 Stretch of our Durban Safari Tour
After exiting Cengeni gate we heading to Ulundi, Vryheid, Dundee and Ladysmith before getting to the Drakensberg and Didima Lodge. This Journey took us 5 and a half hours to complete but we passed through rural South Africa and the Zulu Capital Ulundi. The battle of Ulundi saw the capture of the great Zulu King Cetswayo and his exile to Cape Town. Chelmsfords men defeated the Zulus and took over Ulundi.
After lunch in Vryheid we made it to Didima at 16:30 where we checked in and recovered before dinner and a nice fire place in our rooms.
Day 4: Durban KwaZulu-Natal 5 Day Safari of the Big 5 Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve and Tour to the Drakensberg 18 August – 22 August 2014
We began day 4 with a great breakfast at Didima. After this we headed down to the Bushman Interpretive centre and Museum in the rain, thank goodness when we came out the rain held off somewhat and we headed to the hikers parking lot to begin our hike.
We hiked up to Doreen falls and up to a view point in the mountains before we headed back to the vehicle. During the hike up we spotted an Eland on the hill.
Female Eland on the Drakensberg mountain on our hike during our Durban Safari Tour
As we continued with our Drakensberg Hike we enjoyed the views and sights and sounds. We spotted Baboons, heard a Jackal and found dung of Porcupines, Eland, Baboon and Jackal.
Stuck between and rock and a hard place are a Cabbage tree and a Yellow wood tree during our Drakensberg leg of our Durban Safari Tour
Doreen falls had a fair amount of water and we spent some time there enjoying the scenery.
My clients in a cave with Doreen falls in front of then on our Drakensberg Durban Safari Tour
Once we left the falls we hiked to a spot where we could enjoy the view and get a good picture.
The view of Cathedral Peak on our rainy day of hiking in Central Drakensberg during our Durban Safari Tour
When we returned to the vehicle we got back to Didima lodge and I had some lunch before exhaustion set in and I rested my eyes for a couple hours before dinner and a bit of work.
After dinner I had some work to do before Bed.
Day 5: Durban KwaZulu-Natal 5 Day Safari of the Big 5 Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve and Tour to the Drakensberg 18 August – 22 August 2014
After meeting my clients at 7am and collecting there luggage we went though for some breakfast before checking out.
It was then time to drive to my favourite part of the Drakensberg, the Northern Drakensberg. I have been visiting this area to hike since I was knee high to a Grasshopper.
We would first start with the Bushman paintings which are 800 years old on a guided hike in the Northern Drakensberg which has to now be guided due to people defacing the San-Bushmen artwork.
Bushman paintings seen on our second hike in the Drakensberg on Day 5 of our Durban Safari Tour
On this hike we also spotted Eland and this was the second day in a row and it brings you good luck.
Eland seen on our Drakensberg hike up to the Bushman paintings on our Durban 5 Day Safari Tour
Once we had enjoyed this short hike we went on to do a 3 hour hike via Tiger Falls, Look out Rock and Gudu Falls before making our way back down to the Mahai camp.
The views are spectacular!
Northern Drakenberg Royal Natal national parks view up the mountain during our 5 Day Durban Safari Tour
This was very enjoyable and we then visited Hlalanathi Berg Resort where we had some lunch before enjoying the great views.
It was then time to head back to Durban and drop my client off after 5 great days of Safari and Drakensberg Touring! What an amazing experience it had been!