Hluhluwe and Kgalagadi

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Aug 24th, 2005, 05:27 AM
  #1
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Hluhluwe and Kgalagadi

Well, I had initially intended to combine a visit to Mana Pools with a visit to Kgalagadi, but I can't justify spending nearly $1,500 to fly to Mana Pools for a short visit, so I'm considering adding Hluhluwe to next year's visit to Kgalagadi.

My intention it to visit national parks that I have not yet visited (when I have visited all the parks on my list, then I'll start to repeat).

I have been to the following parks:

Kenya: Masai Mara, Amboseli, Samburu and Buffalo Springs
Tanzania: Ngorongoro and Serengeti
Uganda: Bwindi and Queen Elizabeth
Rwanda: Parc Nacional Volcans
Zambia: South Luangwa
Namibia: Etosha and Namib-Naukluft
Botswana: Okavango and Chobe
South Africa: Kruger (and Sabi Sands) [I break them out even though I consider them the same park]
Madagascar: Perinet and Berenty

My wish list includes:

Kenya: Tsavo
Tanzania: Katavi, Selous, Ruaha and Mahale
Zambia: Kafue and Lower Zambezi
Zimbabwe: Hwange and Mana Pools
South Africa: Hluhluwe, Kgalagadi and Addo
Gabon: Lope
Uganda: Murchison Falls and Kibale

Kgalagadi is on the top of my wish list, and that park is my primary target next July, and I think I will add Hluhluwe, which will allow me to self-drive in two parks, which I prefer to being driven for a few hours in the morning and a few at night -- this way, I can spend 12 hours per day viewing wildlife.

Anyway, that's likely too much info, but I'd welcome any info on Hluhluwe, and the drive from Durban. Also, does anyone have info on going to view the shark nets north of Durban with the Natal Sharks Board (saw it described in Lonely Planet and looks interesting).


Thanks, Michael
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Aug 24th, 2005, 08:16 AM
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Drive from Durban is really straightforward and shouldn't take that long - that stretch of the motorway is pretty new and very well maintained and also very direct.

As far as I am aware you will need to go in via the central gate - kind of between Hluwhluwe and Imfolozi.

We drove from Durban to Ballito to stay overnight with a Fodorite (KimWhits, remember her posts?) and then onto Imfolozi from there. Not very far.

We really liked both Imfolozi AND Hluhluwe as they both have somewhat different landscapes. Imfolozi is flatter and Hluhluwe more hilly with some breathtaking views.

We saw several white rhino but no black in either park.

We stayed in tented self-catering accommodation in Hluwhluwe (Mpila Camp). Note that the camp shop here is particularly TINY and you really really need to get all groceries etc before you enter. No restaurant.

We didn't stay in Hluhluwe though we did stop for lunch at the Hilltop restaurant which was very nice. We felt the accommodation here was too expensive compared with all the other SA rest camp stuff and instead we did 2 nights at Mpila, spending the entire day after the 2nd night in Hluhluwe and then overnighted at Zululand Safari Lodge, Ubizane, just 5 minutes drive from the exit. The self-catering accommodation here was excellent.
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Aug 24th, 2005, 10:24 AM
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Kavey, you saw NO black rhino in either park? I'm surprised. Every time we've been there we've seen dozens. It seems we always see a lot of giraffe there, and baboons too.

I agree with Kavey about the accommodations in Umfolozi-Hluhluwe; Hilltop is too expensive, Mpila is great, but it is self-catering only. I haven't stayed in the tents there, but I peeked in to one the last time we were there, and they look really great. I hope to stay there next time.
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Aug 24th, 2005, 11:50 AM
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Thanks for the info, especially on quality and ease of drive from Durban. I think I'm going to reserve Hilltop, notwithstanding price, since I'd prefer not to have to cook, which I'll be doing in Kgalagadi.

Thanks for info.

Michael
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Aug 24th, 2005, 01:12 PM
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Oh, how I wish for a key marked "delete my embarrasing mistake"!

I got white and black rhinos mixed up in my thinking as well as in my post. Please let me blush myself quietly into oblivion...
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Aug 24th, 2005, 01:33 PM
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LOL Celia! Isn't it a pain that we can't edit?

I was surprised to read about your seeing loads of black when I read it - I was feeling very envious there for a moment!

We saw quite a lot of white ones but no black, but then given that black tend to prefer denser shrub areas and white are often in more open areas browsing low grass I guess it's not so surprising.

We saw a few sightings boards list black rhino sightings but given their locations I wasn't convinced that a lot of these weren't just incorrect identifications by visitors who didn't really know how to distinguish them.

I'd definitely have been very jealous if you'd really seen so many black ones!

Michael, we excluded Hilltop because we were doing a 8.5 week trip and budget was a real issue but for a shorter trip the difference in price isn't that much and it really is a beautiful camp. I don't think you'll regret it. The positioning of it really is breathtaking with views from chalets and public areas and the food was pretty good too. I think you'll be pleased with it.
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Aug 24th, 2005, 02:01 PM
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OK, I've booked air and was able to use miles from JFK to Upington with a long stopover in JNB, when I'll fly to Durban, and I just booked my Durban flight (and the webfare was around $124 round trip).

I've lined up lodging in Kgalagadi (one night at each of the three camps), and reserved all rental cars, and now just need to book Hilltop, which I'll do tomorrow.

This is going to be a very inexpensive trip -- I'm used to spending around $1,000 per day (lodging and air) in Botswana, and I think this will come out to around $200 per night (air, Mercedes rental car and lodging).

And I'm really excited about Hluhluwe and Kgalagadi because I can self drive and spend at least 12 hours per day on safari, which is at least 50% more than in the Wilderness camps. While I do enjoy the time at the pool on safari, its not nearly as interesting as the game drives, which is my sole reason for traveling so far.

Oh well, around 11 months to go.

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Aug 24th, 2005, 02:09 PM
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Michael, I agree that being able to linger over drives is one of the wonderful aspects of self-drive.

Another is the satisfaction that comes from studying a bird or animal carefully and identifying it according to sometimes rather subtle aspects of it's appearance.

Posts from you and Celia definitely influenced my own trip planning and I'm sure we'll pick up tips from you in return when you're back in a little over 11 months time!
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Aug 24th, 2005, 10:43 PM
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Michael, you have probably already looked at the Natal Sharks Board website, but if you haven't it's www.shark.co.za.

I've been to more than one of their presentations that are held at their HQ in Umhlanga Rocks (on the Northern border of Durban, part of the greater Durban Metro). Simply because my elder daughter (now 20) has had a fascination with sharks for many years. Not all of the presentations include a shark dissection, some are just a video (but a good one) and entrance to the display area (no live sharks, but plenty of stuffed ones, and lots of old newspaper clippings about the history of shark attacks that peaked in the 50's before the intro of "shark nets).

The details of the show times (and which include a dissection) should be on the website, and also info about the visits to the nets. We've not done the latter yet, but I think they start (at crack of dawn!) from Durban Harbour, not from the beach at Umhlanga.
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Aug 24th, 2005, 10:49 PM
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A small correction, I went into the website after posting. And it seems as if they have the dissection with all the audiovisual shows now. That's changed in recent years, or perhaps they have cut down on the number of show times. I had also wondered if the exhibits were stuffed (as I had guessed), or replicas. It seems as if they are the latter. But that proves that as a layman I wouldn't know the difference, and in any event they're pretty lifelike!
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Aug 25th, 2005, 05:11 AM
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Arthur, thanks. I actually went to that website last night, and I would like to visit on a Friday, when they don't do dissections, but they do have tours (at 6:30am) to visit the nets, and I'll try to get on one of those. It will be on my way from Durban to Hluhluwe.

Michael
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Aug 25th, 2005, 06:14 AM
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Wow, Hilltop is already filled for one night during my stay, so I have a stay at Hilltop on Friday and Sunday, but will be in Umfolozi on Saturday. Do you have info about that lodge, I think its called Mpila. If Hilltop opens, I'll switch back to that park for three nights.

Thanks
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Aug 25th, 2005, 06:52 AM
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Michael
Mpila offers both chalet accommodation (which we didn't stay in so don't know much about) and canvas safari tents (same sort of design as Wilderness Safaris but obviously a little less shiny and new) with small self-catering area attached.

http://www.kznwildlife.com/umfolozi_acc.htm

If you want to stay at Ubizane instead (as I said, this really is just 5 minutes drive from Hluhluwe) then visit http://www.ubizane.co.za/safarilodge/home.cfm and look at the chalets.
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Aug 25th, 2005, 07:05 AM
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PS Mpila is definitely self-catering - no camp restaurant and their grocery selection in the store is miniscule. The opening hours of the reception desk aren't that extensive either so make sure you know when you need to pick up keys by.

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Aug 25th, 2005, 10:39 AM
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The chalets at Mpila vary, (some are multi-roomed, big enough for a family), but most are one big room with twin beds and bunk beds, a sink (but no bath or toilet -- those are in a separate building), a refrigerator, and a kitchen table & chairs. There's a little paved area in front, and a nearby braaiplek. The kitchen is a separate building which you share with others, and it has about 2 or 3 stoves, some toasters, a big stainless steel prep table, and sinks for doing the washing up. There's cutlery and crockery there too.

You're on a hill at Mpila, and the view is beautiful. Warthogs come right up to the chalets, as do monkeys who will steal everything out of your car if you leave it open for even one minute. At night, we heard big animals outside our windows -- mighta been scary ones, but probably just zebras or antelope of some sort.
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Aug 26th, 2005, 05:27 AM
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Kavey, is your South Africa trip report still on the site -- I scrolled through 1,000+ of your posts by title and couldn't find it, and I'd like to revisit now that my itinerary is firmed up. If you find it, can you bump it up, please. Thanks, Michael
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Aug 26th, 2005, 07:04 AM
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Thanks, I wonder why I couldn't find it -- I must have glanced too quickly at the list.
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Aug 26th, 2005, 07:16 AM
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Or I'm too verbose and have actually posted on 1000+ posts since then!

I found it by doing a search on "Kavey's" but I had the advantage of remembering using that within the thread title!
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Aug 26th, 2005, 07:35 AM
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Thanks, a lot more interesting to read when you plan to visit the destination.

Hluhluwe sound great -- lots and lots of rhinos!! Did you see any cats -- I know they're there, but I understand they're not as easy to spot as in Kruger or Etosha (the other self-drive parks I've visited).

Thanks
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