As one approaches Hluhluwe along the long, straight highway into Zululand, sisal bushes dot the landscape and fever trees begin to dominate the surrounding bushveld. Then, on the last stretch before town, endless fields of pineapples stretch out to the horizon.
An important farming centre as well as a tourism hub, the little town of Hluhluwe is virtually inseparable from the internationally respected game reserve of the same name. When the white rhino was driven to the point of extinction, it was the Hluhluwe Game Reserve that brought the species back from the edge. Established in 1895, it is the oldest game park in Africa. This heroic effort by the Natal Parks Board put both the reserve and the town firmly on the conservation and tourism maps.
To the east of the town is Lake St Lucia and False Bay. Within a short drive north lie a number of private game reserves. On the coast are the internationally renowned Sodwana Bay and Cape Vidal marine reserves.
While some would consider Hluhluwe to be a mere springboard for exploring the Elephant Coast and Zululand, the town offers more than first meets the eye.
Look out for
Visiting Hluhluwe and not visiting the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve is senseless. Take a drive through the reserve in pursuit of the Big 5, or go on a guided game walk through the bush. Keep an eye out for the rhinos.
Discover the history and culture of the Zulu people at DumaZulu Traditional Village. Here you can listen to Zulu singing, watch traditional dancing, taste Zulu beer and food, and learn how this nation came into being. Walk around this recreated village for a glimpse into life in Zululand centuries ago.
Learn about Africa’s big cats at the Emdoneni Cat Rehabilitation Centre. The centre offers daily tours with feedings, and aims to rehabilitate injured cats so they can be released into the wild.
Mkhuze Game Reserve is one of South Africa’s birding hotspots. Take your binoculars, your Roberts and a flask of tea and spend a day driving around the reserve, walking, or sitting in a hide.
Pop into the Ghost Mountain Inn for a meal or a cold drink and ask about the legend of the mountain that looms over the hotel. It is said that at night one can sometimes see strange lights and hear strange noises on the mountain. It is sacred to the Ndwandwe tribe, whose chiefs are buried here.
Mountain bike through Big 5 country. Every year a mountain bike race is held that passes through a number of Big 5 game reserves. Keep your eyes open, and make sure you have a little energy in the tank for unexpected sightings. Some reserves offer mountain biking trails throughout the year.