St. Lucia Part 1 – Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park

We rented another Toyota Avanza in Durban and stuffed our packs inside and it was off to St. Lucia with Captain Marie-Christine at the wheel.   Personally I hate driving and she likes it so the choice is clear.  I am also a poor passenger so whether I drive or sit in the co-pilot seat it is not much fun for anyone.   Downside of all cars here is the stick shift combined with driving on the left side of the road.  M.C. however had minimal issues.

Bib’s Hostel was recommended by the Baz Bus and was in our price range- it was a great little place to stay. Our accommodation was simple and rustic but reinforces the real attraction of hostels – the people one mets there. Small rooms make you head to the common areas to mingle and chat.   Mariska and Chris, the owners, their new assistant Rob ( who had grown up in the Kruger) and a chap called Yuri who walked to all towns in South Africa over a 4+ year period ( after the death of his family – sad story).  Mariska was so welcoming we even had a braai with her two brothers and their families. People like Mariska and her family are what make this country truly amazing.  We candidly discussed politics, the future of South Africa, the race relations etc.  We also had a lot of laughs and the girls helped cook and do dishes too.  We left with a group of new friends…it was fantastic!  Their stories of St Lucia and its street walking hippos were damn funny.  And the usual stories of tourists running up towards the hippos as the giant beasts walk thru town had us in stitches.  In Africa hippos kill more people than any other animal!  Night was so dark here that the sky lit up with stars and you could hear the hippos on their midnight wanders.

Our second lovely little Toyota Avanza parked outside our place

Our spot in St. Lucia – Bib’s Hostel

Our bunk room from the door. The beds were comfy!

View from the toilet

Common space with 2 big braai areas and a pool table where the younger two spent considerable time playing with a few local guys. Great experience!

The other view of common area from the pool.

Amazing action as two braais are on the go and the result is our family gets to eat with Mariska’s lovely family!

Good times at the pool table


I had remembered the St. Lucia area for its lovely wetlands park and the incomparable Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Park (the first word is pronounced shlu shlu wee – no lie!).–Imfolozi_Park       For me it is the best park in South Africa – lots of animals in a beautiful setting.   It has lots of rhinos which often get exported to other parks.  This was the first game park in all of Africa.  

We did a one day tour to Hluhluwe as all the nearby overnight places were full.  We left before 6am and were given awesome fleece lined ponchos to keep us warm in the relative open air safari vehicle.   Our guide Jeanne was amazing.  He had been guiding the park for 20+ years and was a wealth of knowledge, and could spot animals at incredible distances.  Our family is also very good at game spotting.  We shared the tour with a young German/Italian couple on their honeymoon and an older Swiss couple.   The Swiss couple told me – the guide was great but your family was able to show us many things he could not see!     We had an amazing bush breakfast and a yummy braai for lunch.  At one point Jeanne asked us if it was OK if the tour ran overtime – everyone almost shouted YES!

We met this guy on the road near the Park. He was an amazing welcoming committee!
Such a great welcome!
In the parking lot/entrance to Hluhluwe the trees were filled with weaver nests and weavers!
Weavers have the opening to their nests at the bottom

Lovely weaver

White rhino coming to say ‘Hi’. They are not called ‘white’ due to colour but rather because the word white sounds like “wide’ which describes their mouth. The white rhino eat off the ground and have a wide mouth while the Black Rhino has a pointy mouth best for eating off bushes and low trees.
Hluhluwe is famous for its rhinos. They have exported to other parks for years. The rules now tie poachers is ‘shoot to kill’. Thank you China and Vietnam for your backwards beliefs with regard to rhino horn…

Warthogs are cute when they eat!

As usual lots of impala

Impala and friends…

Impala are the ‘fast food’ of the African bush.

They are everywhere

Also very popular with the predators….
Tailgate breakfast in the park. Very yummy. Kaia modelling the fleece lined poncho which kept us warm as we were in the park just after 6….

Top of a hill with only zebras watching

This was our breakfast crowd

Another reason to stay in the truck most of the time….I do not wanna run into what ever spins those webs

These striped horses are beautiful

Going to the water hole is a very dangerous thing as predators hang out there as well….we did not see any attacks on this trip.


We got to see this lovely member of the small five – the Leopard Tortoise. We saw a few on the road and our guide Jeanne just kindly moved them off the road

We just love giraffes. They are so cool! Despite their size they actually hide well in the bush!

OK not always well disguised…

Jeanne showing us a rhino toilet. Many rhinos use the same toilet so they know who is in the area. Have a sniff and see if your friend has been by!

This rolled dung was HUGE! Dung Beetles are pretty damn strong

These two weren’t far from the toilet…

We ran into a lot of elephants – it never gets old to see these majestic beasts.


Babies are often in the middle of the group

Elephants eat,sleep, poo and walk all day

So big!

Spied on by warthogs…..


Of course one must always be aware of the crafty baboons

Such a beautiful park!

Beautiful Steppe Buzzard

Our Steppe Buzard in flight

Kudu having a feed

Imfolozi River

Herd of buffalo at the Imfolozi River


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