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Durban to Durban
Big Five South African Guided Safaris Tours
Day 1: Hluhluwe/Umfolozi Park
We will collect you after breakfast from your overnight accommodation in Durban (or from the King Shaka International Airport near Durban) and travel along the Dolphin Coast and into rural Zululand, to the “big 5” Hluhluwe/Umfolozi Park where we would spend two nights at Hilltop Camp. The accommodation here is in a chalet, each with its own private bathroom/washbasin and toilet. These chalets are also equipped with a fridge.
Upon entering the gates into the park, our game viewing commences immediately. Set in the heart of Zululand, this is the oldest game reserve in Africa, where Zulu kings such as Dingiswayo and Shaka hunted and put in place the first conservation laws, where today the "big five" of African legend stalk the verdant savannah. Established in 1895, game viewing is the prime attraction.
As the home of Operation Rhino in the 1950s and 60s, the Park became world renowned for its white rhino conservation. The Park covers some 96 000 ha and contains an immense diversity of fauna and flora. Hluhluwe is characterised by hilly topography, and this northern section of the park is noted for its wide variety of both bird and animal life. Sightings of rhino, giraffe, buffalo, wildebeest, zebra, warthog, baboon, vervet monkey, and antelope such as impala, nyala and kudu are seen frequently and with the possibility of seeing lion, leopard, cheetah, elephant, black rhino, hippo, crocodile, monitor lizard, hyena and antelope such as red duiker, steenbuck, waterbuck, bushbuck and then the rare Samango monkey and wild dog, much less frequently.
This first evening we go on a sunset drive in an open game-viewing vehicle with staff from KZN Wildlife, the organisation that is tasked with running this reserve. This is to improve on your chances of seeing some of the nocturnal species such as leopard, lion, hyena, genet, bush babies and then the other nocturnal animals such as the owls and nightjars.
Dinner is served after your return from the sunset drive.
Day 2: Makakatana Bay Lodge
After breakfast we do a further game drive in the Hluhluwe/Umfolozi Park as we exit the park to arrive at Makakatana Bay Lodge in time for lunch. This luxurious lodge is set on the western shores of Lake St. Lucia and is the only privately-owned lodge on the western shores. This afternoon we go on game drive in the Western Shores part of this reserve.
Day 3 and 4: Private Game Reserve
There will be another game drive into the Wetland Park before breakfast at Makakatana, and after breakfast we depart for the nearby Private Game Reserve, arriving in time for lunch. Over a late afternoon tea, our ranger will discuss what you hope to see during the afternoon game drive. This game begins in the late afternoon and lasts until after dark, when spotlights are used for a glimpse into the nocturnal bush life. Listen to lion’s roar in the dark or admire the small nocturnal animals.
Open safari vehicles, seating between 4 and 10 visitors each, head out into the wild under the expert guidance of experienced rangers and at most lodges, trackers. Guests can get in close contact with the wildlife species and are presented with unparalleled photographic opportunities. Early morning safaris head out as the sun rises and as the bush stirs to life. The rangers search for animals by tracking their spoor, and by listening for the tell-tale signs of activity. The bush has its own language, and it is fascinating to watch those who possess the tools to encode it. Late afternoon safaris commence as the sun burns its way towards the horizon. The animals are now getting more active, many preparing for the great hunt after dark. After sundowners, the drive continues with the aid of powerful spotlights that reveal nocturnal species in another world. On average, approximately 6 hours a day or more are spent out in the bush on safari. Game drives traverse a large area and strict vehicle limits at sighting ensure the exclusivity of your safari activities and game viewing experience. Off-road driving ensures that you have the best possible view of any exceptional sighting and rangers are constantly in touch with each other to keep track of animal movements.
Most of these lodges follow the wildlife safari format, which is to arrive for lunch on the first day. It is then check in, orientation and introduction to the bush. After afternoon tea it is out on a game drive from about 15h30 or 16h00. During the drive, sundowners are enjoyed in the bush, where after you return to the lodge for dinner after a period of night driving where the nocturnal species are searched for by spotlight. These drives are in open Land Rover or Toyota Land Cruiser safari vehicles. The driver is an experienced guide who will make the drive more interesting. Early next morning you are awakened at dawn, tea/coffee and rusks are served and out on a game drive again, returning to breakfast. After breakfast there is an opportunity to go on a guided walk in the bush with an armed ranger. This usually focuses on the tracks, insects, birds and the smaller animals. Alternatively, you may choose to relax at the lodge. Many lodges have a lovely outlook into the bush and possibly a water hole at which a variety of animals visit during the day. Lunch is then served and then the cycle repeats itself with the afternoon safari game drive.
Day 5: Private Game Lodge - Durban
As dawn breaks over the African bush, a gentle tap on your door will wake you to the delights of a new day. Your ranger will discuss what you hope to see that day over tea or coffee and morning biscuits or rusks.
Return to your lodge for a delicious breakfast.
After breakfast we check out and make our way back to Durban, arriving in the afternoon, where we drop you off at your overnight accommodation or at the King Shaka International Airport in time for your flight.