Squeezed between 2 major nature reserves and close to the Indian Ocean coastline in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa, Hluhluwe is a small town servicing the many visitors that arrive here to enjoy the area’s varied animal life, the natural beauty and unique cultural heritage.
Much of the region has remained untouched, however, the subtropical climate is perfectly suited for the production of crops and timber, and most of South Africa’s pineapples are grown here. Lush, green vegetation is presented to the visitor year round.
Hluhluwe cultural history is fascinating and a place where Zulu kings once held sway. The game reserves nearby are filled with boundless animals while the coastal marine reserve is pristine, left for Mother Nature to thrive.
Hluhluwe is a short distance away too from the diverse and colourful coral reefs of Sodwana Bay.
Top 6 reasons to visit Hluhluwe
1. The Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve prides itself on being Africa’s oldest reserve. The 96000ha Park hosts the Big 5 (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo) and has a high concentration of black and white rhino. The reserve’s hilltop picnic site is a popular stop.
2. Ancient coastal forest and huge vegetated dunes overlook the beautiful lake, fed by 4 rivers that have formed islands and a fish-rich estuary, at the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. Crocodiles line the banks while fish shelter and spawn in the waters also frequented by turtles and masses of birdlife. Cruises are offered around the estuary.
3. The Hluhluwe Superspar Rhino Charge mountain bike race is one of the top races in the province and takes place in October. The challenging 25km and 50km routes travel into the False Bay section of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park.
4. Ask your host to try and get you onto the evening hike offered by Umkhumbi Lodge. Ultraviolet lights are used to locate scorpions who glow a mystical green. Other nocturnal species that could possibly be seen are cute bush babies and various non-threatening reptiles.
5. For an authentic cultural experience, visit the Gooderson DumaZulu Traditional Zulu Village to discover true Zulu hospitality. Watch as spears are made, listen to the drums while villagers dance, eat a traditional meal and consult a Sangoma (traditional healer) to gain insight into your wellbeing.
6. Take a drive to Sodwana Bay to spend a day on the sparkling beach, swim in the warm sea and/or charter a boat and do some diving on the many and varied reefs around Sodwana.
Hluhluwe has its own airport for chartered flights. The nearest national airport is in Richards Bay, 100km from Hluhluwe. Fly into Richards Bay via one of the three international airports (Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg). Hire a car from any of the rental agencies at the Richards Bay airport or order a vehicle online. There are no formal taxis in the area, however, a number of tour operators in Hluhluwe offer shuttle services to and from the airport. Baz Bus, the ‘backpacker’s bus service’ makes a stop in Hluhluwe on its way to Sodwana Bay.
Did you know?
The Suni antelope is the world’s smallest at around 12 inches to the shoulder. They are extremely rare but are seen in the region surrounding Hluhluwe. The suni sleeps for much of the day and is most active at night. They communicate with each other through smell.
Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve is now being used as a training camp for reserve force soldiers. The soldiers are provided with bush training and learn how to track and capture rhino poachers.