One of South Africa’s hidden gems, the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi (‘shlu-shlu-ee’) Game Reserve is the oldest proclaimed game reserve in Africa and encompasses 370 square miles of pristine wilderness and the place where traditional Zulu Kings of old, leaders such as King Shaka, hunted and put in place the first conservation laws. It is a Big 5 reserve, giving guests the chance to see some of Africa’s most sought after and charismatic wildlife. It is also home to many other species including cheetah, hyena, wild dog, crocodile, wildebeest, giraffe and 340 bird species. Hluhluwe-iMfolozi is situated in South Africa’s KwaZulu Natal province, known for its wilderness and gorgeous coastline, making for an ideal ‘bush and beach’ safari destination.
While a true off-the-beaten-path destination, the reserve is well known for its conservation efforts, especially for the southern white rhino. The tireless work of a handful of individuals back in the 1960’s ensured the survival and proliferation of the species by protecting them, then reintroducing them to their historic range across southern Africa. As a result, it is the only rhino species that is not endangered.
The Reserve is beautiful with varied terrain that includes wide valleys, rivers, savannas, forests and rolling hills providing a stunning backdrop for prolific wildlife sightings. Guests in the reserve can enjoy traditional game drives (both day and night) as well as safari walks.
Biyela and Mthembu Lodges are two Africa Adventure Consultants favorites located in the 61 square mile mFulaWozi Wilderness, a private game reserve abutting the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve. As the reserve is private, when you choose to stay in one of the two lodges, you will have the opportunity for a much more exclusive safari experience with game drives and walks being limited to only the guests staying in the reserve. Additionally, you will have access to luxury amenities such as a full spa, swimming pools, outdoor showers, world-class cuisine and more.
Named after local chief Phlwayinkesi Biyela who is a descendent of King Shaka, the lodge is built into a hillside, perfectly positioned to maximize sweeping views of the White iMfolozi River valley below. With 12 luxury standalone suites each with their own private deck and most with their own private pool, guests at Biyela enjoy brilliant views of the wildlife that traverse daily down to the river. The large, air-conditioned suites offer sumptuous king-sized beds, outdoor showers and other thoughtful touches. The lodge also offers a convivial fire pit, private dining set ups, a library and a cocktail lounge.
Mthembu Lodge is nestled on an embankment of the White iMfolozi River. The lodge and its private, luxury suites have been carefully hand-built by members of the Mthembu clan. Seven luxury, air-conditioned one-bedroom suites and two luxury family suites boast magnificent views of the surrounding wilderness. Guests can enjoy watching wildlife from their suites – whether from the king-sized bed, their private deck or the outdoor shower. The lodge offers an outdoor dining boma, private dining set ups, a main area pool and a walk-in wine cellar.
In addition to wildlife conservation efforts supported by their stay, guests can also feel good about their stay knowing that the mFulaWozi private reserve is championing a sustainable model for socioeconomic development within local communities. mFulaWozi is also committed to the preservation of the local Zulu history and culture.
Photos courtesy of South Africa Tourism, World Wildlife Fund and mFulaWozi