Umfolozi Game Reserve

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

47 753 ha (477.53 km2)
27 April 1897


Lion seen at safari in Hluhlewe/Umfolozi Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), South Africa

Umfolozi Game Reserve is best known for its abundance of animals, for game viewing (84 mammal species), bird life (374 species), its interesting flora, as well as for the stunning views from the comfortable camps over grassed hillsides, bushveld and wooded valleys.

There are many activities for visitors to this prime game reserve. These include self-guided walking trails affording excellent views, day walks into the reserve with an experienced guide, and an auto trail traversing 60 km of tourist roads with the aid of a map and explanatory booklet obtainable from the well-appointed curio shop. Night drive safaris with an experienced guide offer a unique opportunity of seeing a variety of animals by spotlight, including seldom seen nocturnal species. With the road linking Umfolozi via the Corridor to Hluhluwe Game Reserve, it is easy to explore the whole complex and see a greater variety of scenery and habitat types.

Buffalos experienced on tour to Hluhluwe/Umfolozi Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), South Africa

There are game viewing hides at water holes - ideal for the enthusiastic photographer where many hours can be spent in studding nature. Picnic and braai facilities are located at secluded spots where one can relax and observe the comings and goings of animals to the river below. For the more adventurous, a four day trail through the wilderness area, camping in the tented trail camps, can be enjoyed. During school holidays children's educational camps are offered. For the tourist seeking relaxation and solitude, bush camps are the ideal retreat.


Umfolozi Game Reserve is a reserve of wide, deep valleys and steep hilly country, occupying the foothills of the first escarpment rising from the coastal plain. Altitudes range from 60 m in the river beds and low-lying areas, to over 650 m in the western hills. A number of streams and the two main rivers, the Black and White Mfolozi, drain the hills, the two drainage basins separated by a wedge-shaped watershed, diminishing from about 20 km in width in the west until the two rivers meet at their confluence on the eastern boundary. Both rivers are wide and shallow, the Black Mfolozi having short stretches of sandy bed and numerous outcrops of rock, deep pools and a muddy substrate in comparison to the generally sandy bed of the White Mfolozi. Gradients are gentle and, except in the summer floods when they flow to fill the uDadethu and eMquisweni pans, both rivers are slow flowing. Except for a few impressive krantzes, they have sandy banks.

In May 1957 and July 1963 serious floods changed the character of the Black Mfolozi river and in March 1984 almost all of the huge, magnificent fig trees and other riverine forest species that lined the river banks, were scoured away by the floodwaters of cyclone Demonia. The scars left by the floods can still be seen today.

The main vegetation types comprise riverine vegetation, broadleaf woodland, acacia woodland, more open acacia savanna, with low-lying thickets and both short and tall grassed areas. A diversity of soil types is responsible for these vegetation changes.

The Umfolozi Game Reserve derives its name from a corruption of mfulawozi, which means rivers of fibre. This name is derived from the Zulu for Obetia tenax (urera tenax), a fibrous bush of the nettle family which grows along the banks and is used by the Zulus in mat making.