Hluhluwe: Come see the Big 5 and then some
On the banks of the Hluhluwe river, tucked away between the iSimangaliso Wetland Park and the Hluhluwe–iMfolozi Park in Northern, Kwa Zulu-Natal is one of the best places in South Africa to see and get up close to the Big 5. This relatively undeveloped area of South Africa is becoming popular with tourists from the UK and USA because of the rich diversity of nature within easy reach for all. If you eat a fresh pineapple in South Africa there is a good chance it comes from the Hluhluwe, as 95% of local pineapples are grown here.
Staying and getting to Hluhluwe
There are a number of lodges and reserves in the area surrounding the small town of Hluhluwe that make the region ideal for tourists on all budgets. From 5 star lodges to family run guesthouses and highly affordable backpacker’s lodges, Hluhluwe has it all. The town itself has its own small, grass runaway airport but Richards Bay and primarily King Shaka Airport in Durban would be the main points of entry. Durban has a growing number of international flights operated by Emirates, Qatar Airways, Ethiopian Airlines and Turkish Airlines as well as many domestic flights from Cape Town and Johannesburg.
Things to see and do in Hluhluwe
Time is the scarcest commodity for tourists coming to South Africa. The vastness of the country, the roughness of the roads to get to some places and the sheer number of sights to see and things to do necessitate the need for seeing as much as possible in the least amount of time. Hluhluwe is a part of South Africa where much can be seen in a short period of time because of the diversity.
If one wants to see all 5 of the big 5 in a short stay then Hluhluwe is perhaps the best place to see elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard. The game reserves and open plains make game viewing easy, safe and spectacular. The choices of Safari are as diverse as the abundance of wildlife and whether you choose to see your game in a traditional or less traditional manner is up to the individual.
The lodges and reserves around Hluhluwe offer a variety of game viewing options from typical safari 4×4 vehicle as well as self-drive through to hot air balloons or microlights. The open space of the region is perfect for those who wish to get outside and explore on horseback or by mountain bike. Hluhluwe has some of the best mountain biking in unique terrain in the world; Hluhluwe is home to the RIS Hluhluwe Rhino Charge mountain bike race that forms part of the Big 5 Mountain Bike Challenge. If mountain biking is not for you, then consider one of the many hiking trails in the area that allow to really take in the beauty of the area.
There are many other attractions in the region that is considered one of the hubs of tourism in Kwazulu-Natal with more than just game viewing, hiking and cycling. For those who want to get out on the water the Hluhluwe River becomes a haven for canoeists or those wanting a boat cruise. The region also has plenty of cultural attractions; Hluhluwe is a superb place to get under the skin of Zulu culture and heritage. To top everything off, and perhaps the best way to spend the last day or so of a vacation just relaxing, Hluhluwe is close to some of the best Indian Ocean beaches in South Africa. Soft sand, gentle sunshine and warm, turquoise water make the beaches of Kwazulu-Natal the best place to relax.
Visit Hluhluwe Once and you will return
Hluhluwe is a place you will want to return to, you will want to see how the Big 5 you saw have bred, how cubs have grown and calves have become adults, the Big 5 will become part of you that you will never forget. You will want to return and visit the new friends you have made. Hluhluwe is a place that when visited always beckons another.
-Article written by: Matt Newnham
Based in Cape Town, South Africa Matt Newnham is a writer who has a cup that is always a little more than half full. Matt is passionate about life and success and his writing has earned him the title “The Master of Emotional Appeal” as he manages to find the true heart and human feeling of almost any subject. Matt is the Author of the children’s book series “Space Ranger Fred” Follow Matt on Twitter @MattNewnhamZA , on Facebook and on his website www.mattnewnham.co.za