ADDO Elephant National Park, Hluhluwe - Imfolozi
ADDO Elephant National Park, Hluhluwe - Imfolozi Reviews
Wild Musings, Wild Life, Wild Times Jul 31, 2010
Just some ramblings about my safaris' in South Africa. I haven't been to Kruger as yet but I have been to South Africa twice and on both occasions had a blast while on ‘safari’ but neither were planned, rather we just drove on our own through the parks.
The reason is simply that I have a friend who was then and is currently a ranger with the South Africa National Parks and therefore was well advised as to where to go and what to expect.
Just so you know even the best guided trips can come back with sighting Everything or NOTHING. The rangers patrol the parks every morning and evening and radio back the positions of the game for the benefit of the tourists but the parks being so huge by the time you get to a particular spot the game could have moved on already. Also the best time to see anything is from the early morning till about 11 a.m. before the heat really kicks in and then post 4 p.m. as it starts to cool off. In between most of the game head for the cooler and sometimes more inaccessable areas of the park or to secluded water holes.
I've been to Hluhluwe (pronounced shushlui)-Imfolozi in 1992 which is one of the oldest parks in South Africa in the heart of Zulu land. To say it is huge would be a gross understatement, close to 96,000 ha is the total area of the parks combined and the wild life is simply awesome.
The roads are good within the park and in all honesty a day or even two are certainly not enough to enjoy this nature reserve. If using a 4x4 you will be able to access deeper and more secluded areas of the park as the trails are also marked as such advising you as to the condition of the trail.
Loads of Zebra, Elephant, Wildebeest, Hippo, Giraffe etc. they are all there in abundance but not even the game rangers will guarantee you a sighting so great patience and your sense of adventure are all important along with a hair trigger finger on the shutter of your camera.
Signs abound warning you not to step out of your vehicle except at designated areas as the threat of coming under attack is very real. Warthogs are all over the place and can be brutal if provoked...lions, rhino, cheetah and some seriously huge ass elephants all add to the jamboree and must not be messed with when sighted.
Another thing that I found amusing were signs to keep your speed limit to under 10 Km as well as regular speed bumps throughout the park.
I drove an entire day and only saw about 1/4 of Hluhluwe and I didn't even get to the Imfolozi side of the park.
They have a Rhino boma (enclosure) where wild rhino, cheetah, giraffe etc. are brought in to be tagged or for research and seeing one of these animals up close is enough to get your blood rushing. Seen a baby giraffe which was seriously awesome cause it was wild and just about 2 ft away from me.
Later I was standing outside the rhino boma when the rhino within rushed towards me. It ran full tilt into the bars sticking its horn through them in a desperate and obvious hope of trying to get me as a sheesh kebab on it's rather long and majestic horn.... Luckily he missed by a long shot because of the distance from the viewing area to the cage but it still scared the crap out of me and I had the shakes for a good 10 mins. It feels like a locomotive is hurtling at you because you CAN feel the vibrations of a rhino running at you and he didn't look too pleased!! You will just stand there mesmerised..(Not a good idea if confronted in the wild)
Sadly a lot of the Rhinos were being brought in to have these very same majestic horns cut of and then released back into the parks.... this is to stop them for coming under threath from poachers. They do the same with the big Tuskers as well. It is sad to see these majestic animals roaming the wild without their tusks but we have to do this if we want to see them at all....:(
Photo ops abound and the locals who work in the park will always give you a smile to warm your heart if you bump into them, a quick friendly chat and you'll probably be moving along with tips on the latest movement of the animals.
My other trip was to ADDO Elephant National Park near Port Elizabeth in 2008. I lived on the nature reserve with my friend the ranger and the experience was surreal.
Well the park conserves no less than five of South Africa's seven biomes and is home to one of the densest African elephant populations on earth.
It is home to the unique flightless dung beetle which is crazy cause if you see a beetle when driving through the park you have to stop and let it pass plus you have to be cautious NOT to drive over any dung for fear of killing the dung beetles :)
Wild Elephants frequently just block a road and you have to wait for them to move on. One herd kept us from moving for about 20 mins but the photographs we got were insane. When they finally moved on they went past the entire line of vehicles that had been stopped at a distance of not more than a foot from each vehicle sometimes. The herd was about 25 strong with 3 calves.
Addo incorporates the largest coastal dune field in the southern hemisphere and they also get some of their water supply for the game reserve from these dunes where the sand filters it. The dunes themeselves are awesome stretching out a couple of kilometers in some places from the shore inland. On the plane into Port Elizabeth you will get some of the most spectacular views of this majestic formation as you bank into the final approach to the airport... It will leave you speechless.
The park boasts the Big Seven, (elephant, rhino, lion, buffalo, leopard, southern right whale and great white shark) Yes, yes, yes...you read right...the park also covers the marine part of the world and it's pure bliss....whales sometimes come in as close as 20 mts from shore to calve and you watch them while sitting on a hillock, with the dunes in front of you, zebra and wild elephant behind you while witnessing what can only be described as a Crazy, Kick Ass, Mind Numbingly Stupendous African Sunset...it blew my mind.
Addo also protects the world's largest Cape gannet breeding population on Bird Island, accessable by boat only but if you get a chance to make the trip...do it. If the stench of bird droppings doesn't kill you 1 mile away from the island the sheer no. of birds will shock you to death :) Bee - U - Tee - FULL!
So yeah I spent a little over a week here and completely lost track of time in the process helped along with an endless supply of chilled beer, amazing weather, a couple of BRAAI's and awesome South African music.
You can also go on a 2 day trek by yourself covering 3 biomes of the park...jungle lodges are strategically provided for your stay, carry your own food and sleeping bags though and give in to the solitude and the wilderness.
I'm sorry I don't have any photos to post of this trip as I lost every single one of them when my hard disk crashed just before I could take a backup :( on my return home, but there is plenty info on the official websites so do consider these parks as options. As for my previous trip...that was before I had a digital camera so I have to see what I can dig up, scan the pics and will then post the same.
In the mean time I hope you enjoy reading this post...Happy Travelling.
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