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Hluhluwe vs iMfolozi (night drive/guided walk)

Toronto, Canada
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Hluhluwe vs iMfolozi (night drive/guided walk)

Hello!

Trying to make up our minds...we will mostly be doing self driving in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi. But also want to supplement with a night drive and perhaps guided walk.

Are these activities best done in either Hluhluwe or iMfolozi? Currently leaning towards staying just outside Hluhluwe (Hluhluwe Backpackers) for one night and then at Mpila Camp for two nights (assuming we can even find spots on either the tented camp or chalets). This would mean we can only do a night drive in iMfolozi. Or should we switch and stay at Hilltop with the night drive done there and then guided walk at iMfolozi?

I should also add that we can likely only manage one night drive and one guided walk booking. Our other option would be doing either from St Lucia.

Any advice to help Decide? Thanks!

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9 replies to this topic
Long Island, New...
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1. Re: Hluhluwe vs iMfolozi (night drive/guided walk)

You can’t do a night drive in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi from St Lucia. They do a night safari in Cape Vidal. You need to stay in the park to do after gate closing activities like sunset, night and morning drives. You can do a bush walk - just stop at Mpila or Hilltop to book the day walk. I don’t remember what time it goes out so check times and gate closing!

Why stay outside the park? And why split the time? Mpila doesn’t have a restaurant or decent shop but a favorite rustic camp, Hilltop is fully serviced, great views. Each is special in its own way. Pick one - you’ll enjoy either, depending on the amenities you want.

Hluhluwe-iMfolozi is one park. We stayed at Hilltop for three nights and enjoyed game drives all three days in both sections of the park. We did a sunset drive, fun. I don’t think it matters which section you do the guided activities in. Bush walks are not about seeing big game, more about the smaller things and sounds and smells. Night drives (I prefer sunset drives) are about seeing wildlife you can’t see during the day like civet and owls.

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Hluhluwe
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Zululand, South Africa
St Lucia
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KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Hluhluwe - iMfolozi Park
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202 Reviews
Zululand, South Africa
Northampton, United...
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45 reviews
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2. Re: Hluhluwe vs iMfolozi (night drive/guided walk)

Hello and I have stayed at Hluhluwe Backpackers and its an ideal spot for a speedy entry into the park. I was at Memorial Gate before it was open and was greeted by a pride of lions within 10 minutes. The backpackers is basic but good value. If you stay there you can get into the Hluhluwe section and self drive all the off roads then, if it were me, I would head down and stay at Mpila Camp. They offer walks and night drives from there. Its much more open in the southern section so for me, better for walking.

Mark - Owner - SafariKZN

Mentioned in this post
Hluhluwe Backpackers
Hluhluwe Backpackers
71 Reviews
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Mpila Camp
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275 Reviews
Hluhluwe Game Reserve, South Africa
Toronto, Canada
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1,131 posts
27 reviews
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3. Re: Hluhluwe vs iMfolozi (night drive/guided walk)

Thanks for the advice. Just to clarify, sorry if I made it sound like the niight drives from St Lucia into Hluhluwe-iMfolozi were possible. I just mentioned it from the perspective of getting a 'night drive/walk' experience in either St Lucia or the game reserve. I realize that it's like comparing apples to oranges and that's silly! I am intrigued by the possibility of seeing small critters, like chameleons, at night. So maybe we can do a night walk at St Lucia and I love the suggestion of a sunset drive in the game reserve.

As for why we don't stay in the park entirely...I humbly admit that it's a budget issue. We have to save a bit here and there and we are fine with backpackers type accommodation. I have confirmed that Mpila has availability but based on the advice above, I will also ask about Hilltop and consider that.

As for why two locations, I guess I was worried about distance traveling between one section to the other if we just stay in one spot. Sorry if I made it sound like two parks :P. I split it up based on how the accommodation is offered on the booking site.

Thank you!

Edited: 13 June 2018, 20:03
Mentioned in this post
St Lucia
St Lucia
KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Hluhluwe
Hluhluwe
Zululand, South Africa
Toronto, Canada
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27 reviews
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4. Re: Hluhluwe vs iMfolozi (night drive/guided walk)

Hilltop has very limited options left in terms of accommodation for our dates (mea culpa for waiting too long, but it's tough to book without knowing exact itinerary ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ) so I think that makes the decision for us. We will consider Mpila!

Long Island, New...
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5. Re: Hluhluwe vs iMfolozi (night drive/guided walk)

Chameleons are cool. I think it was St Lucia where I saw them first. If you’ll be in St Lucia, a night drive is fun and who knows what else you’ll see!

Cancellations happen so check back often. We stayed at Hilltop but spent most of our time in the southern iMfolozi section due to the easier game viewing. It wasn’t far - we just took breakfast and lunch on the road so we could stay out all day. We had some fantastic experiences there - like the bats who were living in the thatch of our bungalow and came out to hunt each evening while we had sundowners. Maybe not everyone’s favorite but we loved it.

No matter where you stay, you’ll love it.

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St Lucia
St Lucia
KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Toronto, Canada
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6. Re: Hluhluwe vs iMfolozi (night drive/guided walk)

I'd love to see those bats!

How far is the drive from Hilltop down to the southern section? Or instead of distance, how long is the drive?

I didn't think about cancellations so thanks for presenting that option.

Northampton, United...
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45 reviews
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7. Re: Hluhluwe vs iMfolozi (night drive/guided walk)

Hi and its a good hour, probably more thinking about it, all on tar and its very important to stick to the speed limit.

I much prefer Mpila to Hilltop but you will need to take everything with you, food, drinks, charcoal......as the shop is normally under stocked. The chalets have great views across the wilderness.

Mark - Owner - SafariKZN

Toronto, Canada
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1,131 posts
27 reviews
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8. Re: Hluhluwe vs iMfolozi (night drive/guided walk)

Thanks a lot, Mark. In that case, I think we will stick with the plan of staying at two locations. I think we'd rather not spend an hour to and from Mpila each way if we are staying at Hluhluwe Backpackers.

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Hluhluwe Backpackers
Hluhluwe Backpackers
71 Reviews
Hluhluwe, South Africa
Northampton, United...
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45 reviews
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9. Re: Hluhluwe vs iMfolozi (night drive/guided walk)

No problem and I like that idea.

Mark - Owner - SafariKZN

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