Wildlife Safaris to the
Kruger National Park
Game Reserves of KwaZulu Natal
GREATER KRUGER PARK ACCOMMODATION
The Kruger National Park
South Africa's world-renowned Kruger National Park offers a wildlife experience that ranks with the best in Africa. This reserve was established in 1898 to protect the wildlife of the South African Lowveld. This natural park of nearly 2 million hectares (bigger than Israel!) is unrivalled in the diversity of its life forms and a world leader in advanced environmental management techniques and policies.
Truly the flagship of South African national parks, Kruger Park is home to an impressive number of species: 336 trees, 49 fish, 34 amphibians, 114 reptiles, 507 birds and 147 mammals. Man's interaction with the Lowveld environment over many centuries - from bushman (San) cave rock paintings to majestic archaeological sites like Masorini and Thulamela - is very evident in the Kruger National Park. These treasures represent the cultures, persons and events that played a role in the history of the Kruger National Park and are conserved along with the park's natural assets.
Accommodation is available in a variety of units in large rest camps, bushveld camps and bush lodges. Caravan and campsites are available in most of the larger rest camps. Most camps have well stocked shops where food, drinks, general necessities and curios may be purchased.
Activities on offer include night drives where one can take part in the nocturnal activities of Kruger's secretive creatures. Experienced rangers accompany these groups on the night drives.
All the major rest camps have electricity, a shop, barbecue and communal kitchen facilities, a Laundromat or laundry tubs, a restaurant and/or self-service cafeteria, public telephones and a petrol station. Holiday programmes and evening film shows on wildlife and conservation are arranged in many of the rest camps. Most of Kruger’s rest camps also have swimming pools.
The 65,000ha Sabi Sands Game Reserve shares a common 50 km unfenced boundary with the Kruger National Park to the east. Two perennial rivers, the Sabi and Sand Rivers flow through this Game Park, sustaining the diverse fauna and flora of the area, which enjoys one of the highest and most bio-diverse wildlife populations of any area in Africa. It has arguably the densest population of leopard in the world. Such is the integrity of the environment that there is consistently a year round population of animals that remain within the area. There is limited migration between this, the Sabi Sands Game Reserve and the Kruger National Park, ensuring genetic diversity with an integrated biodiversity within the entire protected area.
The Sabi Sands Game Reserve dates back to the 1950's when the landowners initiated the dropping of their internal fences and the sharing of a common environmental management programme. Due to considerate game viewing practices where clients remain within the 'profile' of the open vehicles and the animals have priority, the trackers and game rangers of the various lodges are able to offer exceptional game viewing of all the general game species, as well as the high profile animals. The success of viewing leopard within this area is legendary and allowing sufficient time in this area, such animals as elephant, lion, rhino, leopard, buffalo, cheetah, giraffe, zebra and a vast variety of antelope and other species, may be closely observed within their own ranges. Many of the animals would most likely have never encountered a fence, as they exist, free ranging, in this most beautiful corner of Africa.
The rangers are also able to travel off-road in their open game viewing vehicles, tracking the high profile animals and viewing them from up close and personal. This ensures that a good percentage of the normally shy animals are seen, some from close range.
Hluhluwe/Imfolozi (Umfolozi) Park
One of the largest game parks in South Africa, the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Park is renowned for its wide variety of bird and animal life. Apart from the “Big 5” i.e. elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo and rhino, the elusive cheetah, wild dog and nyala along with many other well-known bushveld species also inhabit the park, offering visitors an excellent game viewing experience. The park covers 96 000 hectares, and comprises three reserves: Hluhluwe, Umfolozi - two of South Africa's oldest game reserves, both founded in 1895 - and the linking Corridor Reserve, proclaimed in 1989, now making it all one park.
Hilltop Camp is one of the latest developments in the Hluhluwe section of the park. Situated high on the edge of a steep forested slope, it commands breathtaking views of Zululand's hills and valleys.
Hilltop's rustic thatch design merges tastefully with the natural surroundings, and at its high altitude, the camp is cooler than the rest of the reserve, which is a welcome retreat after a day's game viewing.
Comfort is the keynote of Hilltop's chalets, with spacious bedrooms, en suite bathrooms and wide verandas that are ideal for sundowners.
Mkhuze (Mkuze) Game Reserve
The Mkuze Game Reserve is situated on the edge of the Ubombo Mountain range and extends towards the coast on the lowlands of the Mkuze River with its flood plains at the southwestern extremity of the Mozambique Coastal Plain. It lies in a transition zone with regard to its fauna and flora, between the tropical forms to the north and temperate forms to the south.
This game reserve has generally fairly dense vegetation with a number of hides constructed to facilitate game and bird viewing and is ideal for photographers. There is a high density of both black and white rhino, a variety of antelope, wildebeest, giraffe and zebra, a number of elephant and then hippo and crocodile in the pans. It is these pans that are responsible for attracting some of the rich birdlife for which Mkhuze is noted, some 428 species of birds having been recorded here.
Ithala (Itala) Game Reserve
The Itala Game Reserve overlooks the Pongola River valley in the rugged, mountainous thornveld of northern KwaZulu-Natal and offers a wildlife experience second to none. A morning's drive from Durban (400km) or from Johannesburg (500 km), this prime tourist destination also has its own 1,2 km all weather airstrip. Scenic beauty aside, Ithala's most characteristic feature is perhaps its astonishing geological diversity. Ntshondwe Camp is ingeniously camouflaged against a plateau at the foot of the cliffs, a setting that provides the ideal haven for raptors.
The visitor's centre has a restaurant, bar and an open game viewing deck that overlooks a small pan. Light lunches are served from the cafeteria and for larger groups dinner can be arrange al fresco under the stars in a dramatic setting or in the restaurant.
Other amenities include a swimming pool built around a giant rock and a well-stocked curio shop, which also carries a range of basic provisions. Night drives are conducted in open game viewing vehicles that can be booked at the Ntshondwe camp office. Itala's big game species include white and black rhino, elephant, buffalo and giraffe. The absence of lion makes for a relaxed air among these animals and other game such as zebra, blue wildebeest and a wide variety of antelope including tssessebe, eland, red hartebeest and mountain reedbuck amongst others.
St Lucia Wetland Park
Incorporated within the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, this magnificent expanse of lake, islands and estuary covers some 38 682 ha. This is one of Africa's oldest proclaimed wildlife reserves and a noted wetland of international importance that was proclaimed as a World Heritage Site in December 1999.
Visits to the lake are generally incorporated into our tours to the wildlife destinations in the area, which includes a two-hour boat trip on the lake to view hippo, crocodile and an abundance of birdlife.
The lake is very different to the lakes of Europe, the Americas and Canada, in that it is very shallow, with a mean depth of barely 1,5 m and with a large surface area, being just over 60 km's long and 21kms at its widest point. It is a magnificent wilderness destination, with a host of wildlife - the seasonal birdlife, is an ornithologists delight. There are resident hippo and crocodile, with the Eastern Shores and the False Bay Park rich in antelope. Species such as the rare Samango Monkey and Red Squirrel as well as a high concentration of serval occur in the area.
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