Hluhluwe Game Reserve

See Game Reserve Safaris to see a video and for infomation about tours to the Hluhluwe / Umfolozi Game Reserve.

23 067 ha (230.67 km2)
27 April 1897


Scenic view on a safari tour to Hluhluwe/Umfolozi Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), South Africa

The Hluhluwe Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, form the nothern part of the Hluhluwe / Umfolozi Game Reserve, and is not only the oldest proclaimed game reserve in South Africa, but also the most famous of KwaZulu-Natal's reserves. Hluhluwe Game Reserve is noted for its scenic views. From the Hilltop camp on a clear day one can see across grassy hillsides and deep wooden valleys to the distant coastal dunes of Lake St. Lucia's eastern shores.

Waterbucks seen at tour to Hluhluwe/Umfolozi Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), South Africa

Hluhluwe Game Reserve is home to a wide variety of trees and one of the finest examples of coastal scarp forest in KwaZulu-Natal covers the higher hilly slopes. It is an area rich in fauna, with 86 mammals, including elephant, black and white rhino, lion, buffalo, leopard, cheetah and wild dogs. There are about 340 bird, 55 reptile, 4 chelonian, 26 amphibian and 21 fish species occurring within its boundaries. Visitors can cover some 96 km of tourist roads on game viewing drives. Auto trails can be followed with the aid of information booklets (obtainable at the reception centre), detailing numerous points of interest dealing in geology, ecology, fauna and flora. A ranger-naturalist is also available to provide information. Film and slide shows are periodically shown. Short self-guided walks are available and longer walks guided by a game guard may be booked at certain times of the year. There are attractive picnic sites with benches, tables, braai grids and ablution facilities. An attractive game viewing hide overlooking a water hole can also be visited as a break from game viewing drives.

Experience Elephants on a safari in Hluhluwe/Umfolozi Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), South Africa

In the Hluhluwe Game Reserve's Hilltop Camp the Mpunyane Restaurant, with spectacular views over the game reserve, caters for all tastes and offers unusual game dishes. A comfortable bar/lounge provides a pleasant and relaxing venue for sundowners after a day's game viewing. A well-stocked curio shop is also available. New luxurious units offer spacious, comfortable bedrooms and wide, cool verandas. An exciting part of staying at the Hilltop Camp is the night sounds of Lion, Zebra, Owls, Nightjars, the distant barks of a pack of Jackals on the hunt, or the eerie howl of a prowling Hyena passing close by.


Hluhluwe Game Reserve is notable in that it contains within its boundaries most of the rock series found in KwaZulu-Natal. The subsequent erosion of these over millions of years has produced a great variety of soils and allowed the growth of many plant species. The topography is rugged in parts and altitudes range from below 80 m to 540 m on the high ridges. These ridges support tall semi deciduous trees in coastal forests, in parts quite rich in ferns, mosses, lichens and orchid species. In general the game reserve is well watered. Numerous tiny streams originate from the steep slopes. The principal river is the Hluhluwe which rises in the Nongoma districts, flows through the game reserve, and then runs into False Bay in the Lake St. Lucia complex. Its main tributaries are the smaller, seasonal Nzimane and the Manzimbomvo.

The Hluhluwe is a narrow river consisting of a series of deep, elongated rock pools, separated by sand banks and rock beds and outcrops, with some quite steep krantzes on the upper reaches. Along much of its course it is overhung by riparian forest vegetation. It ceases flowing during the dry season but the succession of pools retain water. The deep, wide water at the picnic site is caused by backing up from the Hluhluwe dam outside the reserves eastern boundary. The lower lying valleys comprise thickets of mixed scrub and woodland where acacia species, such as Black Monkey Thorn (Acacia Burkei), Common Hook Thorn (Acacia Caffra), Sweet thorn (Acacia Karroo), Knobthorn (Acacia Nigrescens), Scented Thorn (Acacia Nilotica), Ankle Thorn (Acacia Robusta) and Umbrella Thorn (Acacia tortilis) dominate. Small, shallow pans which hold water for short periods are scattered throughout the game reserve on the low-lying flats.

On the higher ground there are tracts of bushveld. The slopes and crests of the many hills are mostly well grassed and sparsely vegetated. The principal grass species found from the deep valleys up to the hilltops include Red Grass (Themeda), Love Grass (Eragrostis) species, Panic Grass (Panicum) species, Finger Grass (Digitaria) species, Thatch Grass (Hyparrhenia) species and Turpentine Grass (Cymbopogon) species.

The Hluhluwe Game Reserve derives its name from the Thorny Rope Liana (Dalbergia Armata), or iHluhluwe, as it is known to the Zulus.