Floods in Hluhluwe
Washing our clothes in Cape Vidal took longer than expected. So therefore we drove in the afternoon to Hluhluwe-uMfolozi. Everyone pronounces this park in a different way. Some say Chluchluwe, others Shloeweshloewe but we definitely can’t pronounce it. The park consists of two parts that are split up by a road. This is the oldest park in South Africa and surrounded by the mountains. The park has three gates: The Nyalazi gate (in the southern part of uMfolozi), the Cengeni gate (in the western part of uMfolozi) and the Memorial gate (in the eastern part of Hluhluwe). The plan was to drive from the Nyalazi Gate to the Memorial gate and camp near the gate. But when we entered the gate the woman behind the reception looked strange at us because we still wanted to enter the park this late. She told us that we couldn’t reach Memorial gate because the bridge was flooded due to heavy rains. Unfortunately we had to drive back all the way towards St. Lucia and took another road outside the park to get to our accommodation.
Sleeping at a muddy parking lot
We had booked a campsite at Hluhluwe backpackers, situated 1,5 km outside the Memorial gate. Unfortunately, the park itself doesn’t have campsites. It was a bit of a gamble because the reviews of this place were mixed. We arrived in the dark and due to the rain we would have had to take a muddy road to the campsite. We didn’t want to get stuck so the other option was to camp at a muddy parking lot next to the other cars and dog poo. I love dogs but the dogs were all wet of the rain so the whole house smelled like wet dog. While we could have used the kitchen we decided to use our own stuff. I wouldn’t stay here anymore.
Seeking climbing lions
Around six o’clock the next morning we drove into the park. We bought a map and immediately took the first sandy road. The roads go up and down the mountain. Sometimes you are glad that you drive a 4×4 so you know for sure that you’ll reach the top. After we descended from the mountain we saw two lionesses crossing the road. These lions are quite special since they have the ability to climb trees. I was making a joke about that they will probably climb a tree and surprisingly they did! There are different theories why they do this like to cool off, get away from the flies or that they can scan the areas for prey. Whatever it is it’s amazing to see.
It smells like wet dog again
After a short tar road we took a sandy road. All the roads have numbers and at number 15 we suddenly saw a wild dog on the road. Fantastic, but what a scent! We were so close that we could smell them very good (unfortunately 😉 ). It was a pack of seven and while some were away to hunt others were lazy and were still sleeping in the tall grass. Unbelievable, the only animals we saw till then were lions and wild dogs, what a park!
After a wonderful lunch we drove further to the other part of the park, uMfolozi. The river had dropped slightly so we could pass the bridge. After a small round we decided to head back when all of a sudden a leopard crossed the road in front us. He ‘dove’ into the bush. We waited to see if we could catch a glimpse of him, then he suddenly climbed tree. This was still high on our ‘bucket list’: a leopard in a tree. Because it was a tar road soon there was a traffic jam behind us. It became too busy for the leopard and he decided to move on. When we went back to the gate we helped a German family who got stuck in the sand. We pulled them out with our vehicle. This way we could practice a bit before going to Botswana.
Another day in Hluhluwe
Because we liked the park that much we went to Hluhluwe again the next day. That night we slept like two babies in Bush Baby Lodge. We took some sandy roads and what seldom happens did occur today: the wild dogs were still next to road number 15. Normally they never rest twice at the same place. They cover an area of about 400km2. The doggies were more active than the day before and were ready to hunt. The only other car was occupied by a ranger with guests. After about 3 minutes the ranger said “alles klar?” and they moved on. Therefore we could enjoy the wild dogs entirely on our own. We followed them for a while till they got tired of us and disappeared in the bush.
It was time for some other animals. The day before we did see a lot of rhino dung but no rhinos. Today however we were lucky and saw a few. It’s such an awesome park. In two days we saw a lot of beautiful animals. This park is definitely in our top 3 of parks in South Africa!