Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Reserve - Important Information
There are no locks on rooms, chalets and bush camps in the reserve, as all of the accommodation falls right in the middle of the game reserve, and the only intruders are likely to be of the four-footed kind. Historically, there have been very few problems, however, due to some recent experiences, we regret that we must advise you to keep your valuables and important documents with you or in your locked car if you leave your rooms (e.g. for game drives or to use the restaurant). Cleaning staff are only supposed to enter the rooms after 10h00, which is the time to check out, but sometimes arrive early and it would be easy to cast suspicion on a staff member. Prevention is definitely better than cure in this situation.
Directions and Gate Information
Nyalazi Gate is open from 05h00 - 19h00 from October to March, and 06h00 - 19h00 from April to September. Road to Nyalazi Gate from N2 is tarred all the way (occasional potholes, so drive carefully). To get there, take the N2 (travel towards Mtubatuba), and turn west onto the Nongoma Road - R168. The distance from the N2 to the reserve is 27kms. This gate is particularly useful if staying in Umfolozi, as it is on the border for both Hluhluwe and Umfolozi. It will take approximately 1 hour to get to Hilltop, and 45 minutes to get to Mpila, in game viewing territory.
Memorial Gate is open from 05h00 - 19h00 from November to February, and 06h00 - 19h00 from March to October. The road from N2 to Memorial Gate is tarred all the way. The road is in good condition. From the N2, take the Hluhluwe off ramp and turn west towards Memorial Gate. The distance from the N2 to the reserve is 21kms. This gate is for the north entrance to Hluhluwe reserve. It will take about 2 hours to go straight from Memorial gate to get into the Umfolozi reserve. The drive to Hilltop Camp will take approximately 40 minutes.
Is open from 05h00 - 19h00 from October to March, and 06h00 - 19h00 from April to September. We do not recommend this gate due to bad road conditions and difficult directions, however if you do choose this route, use the road from Ulundi which is 30kms from Cengeni. You will need a map as the route is not sign posted.
Watch out for animals such as cows & goats on the roads from N2 to both gates.
Rest Rooms are available at both Nyalazi and Memorial Gate.
Request a map of the reserve from the gate which clearly labels the roads in the reserve.
Services available from Hilltop Camp
* Petrol is sold at Hilltop (closed from 12h00 - 14h00). There is 97 leaded fuel and diesel available. No unleaded fuel is stocked.
* There is a curio and food shop. Various foods can be obtained, including bread, milk, meats, biscuits, tuck, etc. Candles, matches, torches, batteries & film are also stocked. We recommend that if you are self catering, you do not rely on this shop only as stocks occasionally run out.
* There is a swimming pool at Hilltop Camp which is open during daylight hours.
* Early morning game drives and night drives are also offered at the camp. People booked on packages are given first preference, and thereafter availability is on a first come - first served basis. Private game drives can be arranged with the camp manager in advance.
* Game Walks with an armed ranger are also available from Hilltop Camp. These are 2 - 3 hours in duration.
* There is a restaurant serving breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Packed lunches may also be ordered from the restaurant. (See restaurant information below).
Information and Services available from Mpila Camp
* 95 unleaded fuel only is sold at Mpila Camp. (pump closed from 12h00 - 14h00).
* There is a shop selling basic foods and supplies, including bread, biscuits, milk, candles, matches, charcoal, tuck foods etc. We recommend that you do not rely on the shop as stocks occasionally run low.
* Early morning and night game drives are offered from Mpila. We recommend booking as soon as you can, as reservations are on a first come - first served basis.
* Walks with an armed ranger are also offered, subject to availability.
* Please note that although the camp staff are there daily to tidy the chalets, camps, rest huts and cottages and ready them for the next guests, they are not required to do your washing up after meals, and it is assumed that you will wash up after yourselves. However, many of the camp staff will do the washing up in exchange for a gratuity. (Although there is no hard and fast rule, we would recommend offering between R10.00 - R20.00 depending on how much washing up they will be doing.)
* Please take your valuables and important documentation with you when leaving your accommodation unit for game drives. We suggest leaving them in a locked car.
Information for Self Catering in the reserve
Please ensure that you bring all of your own ingredients. There is a shop at Hilltop which stocks basic foodstuffs (bread, biscuits, drinks, eggs, meat, milk, candles, matches, oil, butter, and a variety of tuck foods). The shop at Mpila also stocks various items, although the range is more limited than at Hilltop. However, the selection may not be to all tastes, and occasionally items run out of stock. The geysers, fridges and ovens are run on gas, as the electricity supply at Hilltop and Mpila Camps is provided by a generator. Please note that gas fridges are not as efficient as electricity fridges. Your food items will be kept cold, but it is unlikely that warm foodstuffs will freeze. We recommend that you get your perishables vacuum packed at the store that you buy them from.
There is no restaurant at Mpila Camp, and the reserve is entirely self-catering.
Due to the demand for accommodation at Hilltop, you may find yourself staying in a self-catering chalet although you would rather use the restaurant for all meals. This will not be a problem. The restaurant seats over 150 persons, and as the breakfasts & dinners are buffet affairs, you are assured of being served. We do recommend that you book a table at your earliest convenience to be assured of getting the mealtime that would suit you. Please also reserve a table for your lunch. If you are staying at Hilltop, it is possible to order a picnic lunch from the restaurant, which you can collect at breakfast time. This will enable you to spend the greater part of the day in game drives in the further reaches of the park.
Breakfast Hilltop Camp
Breakfasts are always a buffet, with fruits, yogurt, cheeses, muffins, cereals, and all cooked foods including bacon, sausages, beans, eggs, etc.
Breakfast is served from 07h00 - 09h30
Lunch Hilltop Camp
Usually a la carte (meals from R20 - R80.00 depending on your choice), however on Sundays a buffet lunch is served, and occasionally during the week a buffet may be served which is left to the restaurant managers discretion. The Sunday lunch buffet and weekday lunch buffet costs R85.00pp
Lunch is served from 12h00 - 14h30
We recommend making a reservation for lunch, whether or not you are staying at Hilltop, as there are many daily visitors also using the restaurant.
Dinner Hilltop Camp
Consists of either a Barbeque dinner, or a lavish buffet.
Tuesdays / Thursdays / Saturdays - a Barbeque dinner is served, with meats, salads, and all condiments you would expect. Desserts are also served.
Mondays / Wednesdays / Fridays / Sundays - a buffet is served, with a range of stews, curries, roasts with all trimmings, as well as salads, cold meats & cheeses.
Desserts are also served.
Dinner is served from 17h45 - 21h00. Please ensure you take your dinner early if going on the night drive.
Packed Lunches Hilltop Camp
Consist of sandwiches, dried meat, muffins, juice, etc. Enquire at the restaurant for more information. You should try to book these at dinner the previous day, and they are ready for collection at breakfast time. Price depends on the menu.
Doing your own game drives
It is perfectly safe for you to conduct your own game drives. There are simple rules and regulations you should follow. There is a speed limit throughout the park of 40kms per hour. You should not get out of your vehicle except at designated picnic spots and view sites, and even then only after you have had a good lookout for dangerous animals. Remember that this is a Big 5 reserve, and therefore it is dangerous to be exposed. You should not go within 30 - 50m of large game such as elephant and rhino for risk of being charged in your vehicle. White rhino are reasonably placid and will let you get quite close as they are not too easily antagonized, however, the more rare black rhino is very excitable and quick to charge, especially if accompanied by young. Unless you know the difference, please do not endanger yourselves and your family by taking unnecessary risks. If driving past baboons and monkeys, keep your windows closed. Keep voices low when viewing game. Hippos may look cute, but they are responsible for more deaths of humans in africa than any other animal. Therefore, if you see them by a river bank, keep well away.
To get the best out of your game drives, try not to look at specific bushes or trees that you pass, and try to avoid darting your eyes to the left and right. Rather, try to keep your eyes on a particular angle, scanning the bush as you pass by . It will take you a while to accustom yourselves to spotting game, but once you get the knack, you will find that animals will be much easier to spot. Don't underestimate the camouflage properties of most of the game species in the reserve. It is quite incredible how you can pass game very close by, and not notice at all. On many of our game drives, vehicles in front of us have just driven on, not noticing what is in plain view close by. As one experienced guide said, 'if you leave the park without seeing lion, be comforted by the fact that the lion definitely saw you'.
If you are staying in the reserve for a few days, then it is worth keeping an eye on the sightings board kept at Hilltop Camp, as the latest sightings of lion, leopard, elephant, eagle etc are reported there. If you see something unusual or spectacular, it would be a kindness to report your sighting on the board, so that others may have the opportunity to try to see what you saw.
Please adhere to the rules of the park, and not try to go on any of the roads marked no entry. These are private camps and staff accommodations, and trespassers will be prosecuted.