The village of Hluhluwe is in the heart of Zululand on South Africa’s east coast, home to the Zulu kings Dingiswayo and Shaka, who allegedly prompted the very first conservation laws and the oldest game reserve in the country - the Hluhluwe and Umfolozi Game Reserve, established in 1895.
Only a two hour drive from Durban and four hours from Johannesburg the entire area around the Hluhluwe Reserve, right down to the Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park, now a World Heritage Site, has been given over to animal conservation and game farms and visiting the region provides one with an abundance of Big Five viewing, over 350 species of bird and a variety of other wildlife including rhino, giraffe, wildebeest and many antelope species.
The main attraction of the area is without doubt the Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Reserve. This low-risk malaria park is famous for rescuing the white rhino from the brink of extinction and its ongoing protection of both the white and black rhinoceros. The park covers about 96 000 ha and game aside, contains an incredible diversity of fauna and flora. The park provides a couple of self-guided auto trails over and above game viewing and guided walks are also available.
The first Iron Age communities are reputed to have settled along the coast and in the lower-lying river valleys in Hluhluwe from 300 AD and there is evidence of metal working sites that date back to 1000 AD in the reserve itself. The Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park has five distinct eco-systems that range from sub-tropical seas, coral reefs, sandy beaches and lush forests to grassy plains, dry savannah and reed and papyrus wetlands. An aerial view of the Maputoland coastline gives one an indication of the amount of water and natural forest in the area.
The inland lakes and estuaries are home to hippos, crocodile and fish and the beaches of St Lucia, Cape Vidal and Sodwana Bay are easily accessed from Hluhluwe, providing whale and dolphin spotting as well as scuba diving and other water activities.