Our final stop after leaving Swaziland was a lesser known park back in Zululand in South Africa called Hluhluwe Umfolozi. To be honest, at this point in the trip I think a good many of us were starting to suffer from “Africa Fatigue”, where things that got us excited on the first few days wouldn’t even get us to turn our heads. Another zebra? Yawn…wake me up if you see a leopard making a kill. Despite that, this park had quite a few things that kept our attention at peak performance for the entire day.
The terrain here was quite unlike any other game park I’d ever been to. Most parks are in the “veld”…fields of grass, trees, almost always flat. This park was so much more! Hills, ridges, streams running down valleys..lots of interest and a good challenge for photography. There were fewer places for tourists to stay in the park, but if I ever come back with someone “special”, I’ll definitely be staying at the Hill Top lodge..amazing views, beautiful furnishings, and what looked like a very fun bar.
From an animal spotting perspective, two events really stand out in my memory of this park. First we spent about two hours stalking and following a large herd of elephants, trying to intercept them around the terrain to get us into perfect photo distance. We eventually succeeded, but unfortunately the light was at the worst mid-day height. Still, for a fun experience this couldn’t be beat. Our most impressive encounter happened on our way out of the park…we ran across several rhino’s, two of which were large males fighting over a female. We watched the battle for about 45 minutes, with the animals getting increasingly more tired and bloody. Eventually the loser ran off in defeat, and we bugged out with the evening closing time right on our tail.