Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve. Useful information.

We visited South Africa during a 3 months roadtrip through Southern Africa
(South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland).
October - December 2014.

Average Exchange rate: 1€ = 14 Rands

Hluhluwe - Imfolozi is one of our favorite game parks in South Africa. 
It´s the oldest game reserve in Africa (created in 1895) and the main game park in KZN, the only one with the “big five" on this South Africa state.
Maybe it´s not so famous because of its hard name, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi (sometimes written Umfolozi too). But the place is really great! You have to go if you are around Kwa-Zulu-Natal!

A beautiful park (hills, mountains, rivers) and plenty of wild animals. We really liked it!
We saw plenty of rhinos (we saw more than 40 in one day!), buffalos, elephants (specially in Hluhluwe section, a huge family), giraffes, antilopes, zebras, one crocodile, tortoises, monitor lizards, but no leopards or lions (but we missed them for seconds, they were really close). Just luck!

   Usefull information about Hluhluwe-Imfolozi:   

Good news for your budget: it´s a cheap park, compared with Kruger or Addo. And you won´t be disappointed.
Bad point (read further information): there´s no camping inside the park and accommodation is expensive so you will have to go out for the night if your budget is low. 

Hluhluwe-Imfolozi is part of the Ezemvilo-KZN Wildlife reserves.
Complete information at: http://www.kznwildlife.com/

Price for the entrance: 145 R/pp/day for foreigners (around 10 €) and half price for locals and SADC, included with the Wild Card. 

Open from 5:00 till 19:00 (summer) and 6:00 till 18:00 (winter).
Speed: 40 km/h maximum. Main roads are tarred (expect many potholes), loops are gravel roads but good for a sedan car. Self-drive.

There are two sections, Imfolozi (south) and Hluhluwe (north), but for the visit it´s ONE fee for both sections, it´s more a managment and accommodation division.

The "problem" is that the park is quite big (80x30km)It´s a long drive to do the two sections in one day. Keep in mind that, if you want to do the loops, it´s around 100 km or more in each section. And you drive slowly, many stops... Better if you have 2 days for a good and complet visit.
There are free maps avalaible at the main camps but we didn´t find them at the gates where they sell you the complete Ezemvelo brochure with all the parks and reserves maps and information (45 R). It´s better you have a map, cause small loops and roads, even if there are signs.

We visited Hluhluwe-Imfolozi in mid December (13, 14, 15th) and there were not many people around, even if holidays were coming. We just had a cloudy day and then sun (the rainy season was coming late).

The park was quite green, but easy to see the animals as the vegetation was not high,

There are good picnic areas, with BBQ and WC. Well maintained. Pool in Hill Top (Hluhluwe), for residents, but no control! We swam there, it was really hot, great to cool down.

Don´t forget to check the animals spot boards! There are boards at the gates and camps. It will give you an idea of where the animals can be. Or ask people around...

You can book wilderness trails, walking/camping safaris in Imfolozi, the price is around 2.300 R for 2 nights (quite expensive). Also 3 and 4 nights.

   Access to Imfolozi - Hluhluwe  

There are two main gates to Hluhluwe-Imfolozi: 
  • Nyalazi Gate, main entrance for Imfolozi and southern one for Hluluwe, 30 km from Mtubatuba & N2 and 50 km from St Lucia ( following the tarred road R618). 
  • Memorial Gate, northern entrance, main one for Hluluwe, 13 km from N2 (crossroad near Huhluwe town).  Following a good tarred road (P453). 

It´s 40 km of tarred road inside the park from Nyalazi Gate to Memorial Gate crossing Hluhluwe section.
Note: Cengeni Gate (south of Imfolozi seems to be not used, maybe roads are too bad there).

If you don´t have a car, there are many tours from Durban or St Lucia.
Or you can try to reach the Memorial Gate (maybe hitch-hiking or contacting with other tourists around St Lucia). At the gate, there are game drive tours (around 25 $ for 3 h).

You can check the gates, access and accommodation in this map. Sometimes it´s a bit difficult to get this complete information on the guides.  We hope it will help you!

   Where to sleep at Imfolozi - Hluhluwe ?   

It´s not possible sleep for cheap price inside, because the reserve doesn´t have campsites inside. 

The less expensive accommodation inside is around 400 R/pp (Imfolozi) and more than 500 R/pp (Hluhluwe), that´s more than 30 €/pp.  There are different camps and lodges. The main camps are Hilltop Camp in Hluhluwe and Mpila Camp in Imfolozi. 
Complete information at www.kznwildlife.com

Cheap accommodation outside the reserve:

If you are a low-cost traveller, you will have to sleep outside. 

The good news: there are bakcpackers options not far from Memorial Gate. Yes! 

Hluhluwe Backpackers. 
Nice place, just 1.5 km of Memorial Gate. We recommend this place.
Price for the campsite: 100 R/pp 
We were lucky and they gave us a private room with shared WC for the same price… as not many customers.
The place has Kitchen to cook and BBQ.
Same owner than Dave´s Backpackers in St Lucia. 

 Hluhluwe Backpackers

The two other backpackers are a bit further from Memorial Gate:

- Bushbaby Backpackers in Hluhluwe town (15 km from the gate)
  Prices: 100 R/pp for camping
             200 R/pp dorm

- Isinkwe Backpackers (N2, extra 15 km south of Hluhluwe town). 
  Prices: 125 R/pp for camping 
             180 R/pp dorm.

There´s also a campsite in False Bay (Isimangaliso), 20 km east of Hluhluwe town (around 35 km from Memorial Gate).

You can find cheap accommodation in St Lucia (backpackers and campsite, read the complete information in the Zululand chapter). It´s 50 km from Nyalazi gate and more than 90 km from Memorial Gate.

There are many private reserves with lodges in the surrounds... if you can afford it!


This is where we slept:

We had the Wild Card, so, we went 3 days inside the park.

The first day of visit in Hluhluwe-Imfolozi we came early morning from St Lucia (Sugar Loaf campsite) entering through the Nyalazi Gate. 

We visited Imfolozi and then crossing in the afternoon Hluhluwe and slept at Hluhluwe Backpackers for 2 nights. 

Exploring deeply Hluhluwe part the second day and a quick look next morning earl.

Good plan and you save your budget!


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