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15 Sep

SOUTH AFRICAN DIARY 4

At Hluhluwe it was pouring whenwe arrived at the Hill Top Camp . We ventured out after a quick bite into the jungle to begin the more adventurous part of our trip. The Hill Top Camp is located on the summit of a forested hill and offers fine viewing of the country side on a clear day. The camp is one of the oldest in Kwa Zulu Natal and was extensively rebuilt in the early nineties and today offers a wide variety of lodging facilities from a nine-bed lodge to a variety of superbly appointed self catering  accommodation.

1

This wonderful chalet with a picturesque view is an ideal place to spend a couple of days with one’s family.

Unfortunately we were to spend just one night at this property where we were supposed to have two game drives, one late evening and the next, early morning before heading to Phinda, the private luxury lodge around 4 hours away from Hluhluwe.

2

Before venturing out for the late evening game drive, I discovered that Hluhluwe is one of the largest game parks in South Africa. Besides being renowned for the big five i.e. the lion, the leopard, the rhino, the buffalo and the elephant,it is also well known for the elusive cheetah as well as many bushveld species which inhabit the park. The park covers 96000 hectares and comprises of three reserves Hluhluwe  Imfolozi and the Corridor Reserve. One of the famous sights is undoubtedly the white rhino which is so popular that tourists travel from across the globe to see the rare white rhino at Hluhluwe.

3

After a 10 minute drive we saw a long reptile walking across . We were lucky to spot an almost 15 foot long crocodile trying to find its way to the nearest swamp. Not too far off we saw two sparkling eyes behind a bush and as our vehicle went closer we found out that it was a predator – a cheetah trying to  probably look for a Nyala or a Kudu or a Wildebeest. After that we saw a whole herd of Wildebeest. In the silence of the night, we could hear the frogs croaking, the rain falling and forming puddles of water and the birds humming to welcome the rains.

4

It was a very picturesque drive in the morning and though it wasn’t pouring,  it was cool enough for us to be cosily tucked in our raincoats. We spotted a few rhinos, one of them being the white rhino and on the horizon we saw three elephants. What we were missing was a good pair of binoculars which I would highly recommend to anyone planning to visit South Africa or any other game reserve anywhere in the world. A pair of binoculars is a must .Soon we returned back to Hill Top and although the drive was picturesque, we were not as lucky as the previous night where we were fortunate enough to spot more animals.

Our next stop was Phinda – one of the most luxurious private game reserves in Southern Africa and we were looking forward to continuing our expedition into this world renowned game reserve. Phinda is one of the CC Africa properties which is situated in Maputaland, the northern part of Kwa Zulu Natal.

The reserve forms the link between private reserves and the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park which is a World Heritage Site.

Phinda is described by many as the “Seven Worlds of Wonder” due to its seven distinct habitats comprising  the rare Dry Sand Forest, savanna, woodland and wetland systems, beautiful rivercourses, mountain ranges, marshes and pans ,all  within the 14000 hectares of a wide diversity of flora and fauna. Phinda houses four magnificent lodges known as the Forest, Vlei, Rock and Mountain Lodges – all of which are the members of Small Luxury Hotels of the World. We were to spend one night at the Mountain Lodge which is one of the most dramatic and exciting safari destinations. The lodge is located within the national environs and it is not surprising to see a Wildebeest or a Nyala pass by you when you go to/from your lodge to the main lobby and dining area.

Those who want to reach Phinda can access it by road from Durban as it is only around 3 hours away.

There is so much more to tell you about Phinda that you would have to wait till the next issue of Opportunities Today . So in our next issue we will take you deep into Phinda and then into the heart of Zulu culture in Shakaland.
(To be continued)
Subhash Motwani – South Africa Fundi (Expert)

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