Crossing from Hluhluwe Game Reserve under the R618 into iMfolozi is like crossing into a different world, despite the fact that these two northern KwaZulu-Natal parks are managed as one large conservation area.
Enter Hluhluwe Game Reserve (established back in 1895) at Memorial Gate and you’ll be plunged into a scenic space where roads twist up and down hills, giving spectacular views and offering up the Big Five at the same time.
Talk to Jeffrey Makwala, hospitality services manager at Hilltop resort in the Hluhluwe section of the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, and you’ll come away infected by his enthusiasm for both his resort and his game reserve.
If you’re looking for a technical challenge, you probably won’t want to drive the Mananga 4x4 trail near Satara in the Kruger National Park. But if you want a piece of conservation paradise almost exclusively to yourself and the animals, then this is the trail for you.
Going on an early morning bush walk from the Kruger National Park’s Tsendze camp with field guide Amos Gazide is like having a favourite story acted out for you with all the appropriate actions and facial expressions. But Amos isn’t just full of fun; he knows his stuff too.
Not everyone has been gnawed on by a leopard and lived to tell the tale. Not everyone has lived in the Kruger National Park for 32 years either. But these are just two of many things that make section ranger Johann Oelofse interesting.
He’s a big man, six foot five inches tall, with such enormous boots that his nickname is Mabarule, after an old Shangaan chief best known for his large feet. Spend some time in his company and you’ll soon discover that his knowledge of the bush, his strong opinions and his sense of humour are equally outsized.
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I'm an independent travel writer and book editor with a passion for Africa - anything from African travel, people, safari and wildlife to adventure, heritage, road-tripping and slow travel.
* Top 5 favourite national parks in South Africa