Family Holidays / KwaZulu Natal / Wildlife Encounters

Mpila Camp, Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserve

Updated Sunday, 9 December 2018

KwaZulu Natal is a wonderful destination to visit during winter, since its mild temperatures allow you to escape the chill of other parts of the country.  As part of our travels, we chose a visit to the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve, which was established in 1895, and is the oldest game park in Africa …

Mpila Camp, Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserve

One of the attractions of selecting this reserve, and Mpila camp in particular, was that I could meet my young boys’ desire to camp, without having to sacrifice my need for a little comfort and some basic amenities.

In fact the two bedded tents with en suite showers are anything but basic! I was thrilled to arrive and see two beautifully tented bedrooms, with wooden beds and cupboards and electricity, (which is on from 08h00 to 22h00) together with a wonderful reeded bathroom with flushing loo and full pressure shower. Now this was camping!

A well-equipped kitchen is connected to the two tents by a wooden boardwalk, which is raised above the ground to allow warthogs and impala to forage below you, which they literally do! Mpila is not a fenced off camp and so we were warned to watch our food on the braai, as the hyenas have a sneaky  means of removing it once your back is turned! (You need to watch young children too.)

Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Reserve

The only hassle is the prevalence of monkeys that seem to emerge the minute one starts to prepare a meal. They are persistent and you can leave nothing out, hence even the fridge has a dog leash lock on it. On one occasion I left the kettle on the stove and returned to find a monkey drinking from it!

Bed time was most exciting when we cuddled up in our warm beds, zipped up the tents, which have mozzie screens, and drifted off into total blackness, punctuated by the odd hyena’s cry. The tents are well protected with mozzie screens and have full mosquito nets to enclose the beds, since Imfolozi falls into a malaria area.

Another advantage of travelling during the winter though, is that the threat of malaria is extremely low, and we did not take prophylactics.

Mpila Camp

During the early mornings and evenings we generally tried to take a drive and sighted an abundance of zebra, impala, wildebeest, giraffe, several rhinos, hyenas and even a few lions in the distance. Our most exciting find was a pack of African Wild dogs, who had collapsed alongside the road, having indulged in an early morning kill. Mpila can easily be navigated in a standard vehicle, though a raised one is always better to spot the more rare species.

We opted for a night drive run by the camp, which leaves at 18h00 and returns around 21h00. We did not see much that we had not spotted during the day, other than a few bunnies, but the excitement of travelling in an open, raised vehicle, ensured that my young boys adopted a nocturnal cycle!

Mpila has a small shop for emergency supplies, but there is no restaurant. The full reserve traverses an expanse of 960 km² and so one needs to be selective about the areas you choose to cover.

Hluhlu Umfolozi Game Reserve

Our three nights in the tented camp cost R350 per adult and R175 per child per night (2009 rates), together with a R90 per person per day conservation levy (R45 for children). Our game drive cost R250 per adult and R125 per child.

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