Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Walking Safari

  • © William Mackesy 2008
  • © William Mackesy 2008
  • © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy

Key information: Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Walking Safari

  • There is nothing like tramping through scrub and long grass where big beasts lurk -  rhino, elephant, lion, buffalo - to bring you close to nature, red in tooth and claw.
  • The Hluhluwe -imfolozi park is beautiful countryside around the White imfolozi river, with a wide range of game. It is at the heart of Zulu heartlands, with memories, if few traces, of its Zulu past.
  • This is marvellous but tiring walking in remote, dangerous landscape, on which you will need guides and support. You will camp in the middle of nowhere. Come prepared.

Walkopedia rating

  • Walkopedia rating82
  • Beauty28
  • Natural interest17
  • Human interest5
  • Charisma32
  • Negative points0
  • Total rating82

Vital Statistics

  • Length: Variable
  • Level of Difficulty: Strenuous
© William Mackesy 2008


There is nothing like tramping, accompanied by rifle-toting guides, through scrub and long grass where big beasts lurk - rhino, elephant, lion, buffalo - to bring you close to nature, red in tooth and claw.

The 30,000 hectare Hluhluwe -imfolozi wilderness lies in beautiful countryside around the White imfolozi river, pullulating with a wide range of game. The last, tiny population of white rhino clung on here, before being saved from extinction. You may watch, from a high crag above the riverside, a lioness training her cubs to stalk antelope, or meet a vast crocodile asleep on a sandbank alarmingly near where you bathed earlier on. Buck of all sorts, mongooses, and a gorgeous array of birds await you.

You will see no roads, buildings, or any other traces of mankind, other than ancient bushman paintings in cliffside hollows, although this was the original homeland of the Zulus, and is rich in their history. Tsetse flies and malaria caused its depopulation, and there are now few traces of the Zulu.

You can walk for a day or longer through this marvellous area, accompanied by rifle-toting guides. The timeless bush engulfs you, busy with birdsong in the morning and evening but heavy and sinister in the mid-day heat.

You would be foolish not to spend an unforgettable night camping out here, when the bush is truly alive as you cower in your flimsy tent: you may hear a distant lion roar or the curious, drawn out yelp of the Hyena.

This is superb but tiring walking in remote, dangerous landscape, on which you will need guides and support. You will camp in the middle of nowhere. Come prepared.

of this walk

The White Imfolozi river sparkled in the quiet early light as the little cluster of mules, loaded with our possessions and supplies for the next 3 days, shuffled down the river bank and splashed away through the sandy dry season waters. We shouldered our daypacks and followed Dennis, our guide, through the long grass to the water's edge. Dennis nonchalantly brushed off two already alarmingly chubby looking ticks which had attached themselves in the 100 yards we had walked and were struggling for purchase in his leg hairs. My already well.....


Other accounts: share your experiences

Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.


See also expedition planning, including our universal expedition checklist. Walkopedia encourages responsible travel.

Books and Maps

Suggest books and maps


Books on this walk


Other books

South Africa, Lesotho & Swaziland - Lonely Planet





Stanfords: www.stanfords.co.uk.  An excellent (and user-friendly) online specialist source of worldwide maps (it is also good for guidebooks).


Best times to walk/weather

Best times to walk

Spring, autumn and winter are best. The grass is shorter in winter. Different trails are open at different times of year.



Varies with the seasons. Very hot in summer, generally fine at other times (can get cold in winter).



For detailed weather information, have a look at: www.worldweather.org or www.bbc.co.uk/weather/world/country-guides


Getting there/transport/permits/fees

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By car. The park is 280 km north of Durban in Kwazulu-Natal. The roads are mostly good, so this is very doable on your own.


Permits are needed.



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See Walk Summary above.


Possible problems, health, other warnings

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·        Heat and strong sun. Carry enough water and protect yourself.

·        Dangerous animals of all shapes and sizes, including lions, crocodiles, snakes; malarial mosquitoes, stinging/biting insects and plants. This is a game park and life is red in tooth and claw. Take all appropriate precautions. You must have an experienced guide.

·        This is remote country: you will have to carry all your food and other supplies and help will be hard to get if things go wrong.

·        Health risks: this is a relatively undeveloped country, and you will not get prompt medical help of a standard available elsewhere if you become ill.  Potential problems include malaria.  Come prepared, including getting all appropriate inoculations/medications.

·        Law and order can be problematic. Travel wisely and read up about possible risks..


See also the websites in our useful links page for more detailed, and up-to-date, information.


Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk. Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.


Make sure you have appropriate insurance.


Guided or independent?

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Not an option, except for some shorter self-guided trails.



A guide (and armed rear gunner) and camp echelon are essential (and compulsory). These are arranged through the park. Contact details:


Hluhluwe-Imfolozi National Park

mftrails@kznwildlife.com(headed “Trails enquiry”) to book guides etc.

Main Camp: Imfolozi Section
Tel: +27(0)35-5508476/7

Expedition organisers can make all arrangements. Expedition organisers include:


·        Eco Africa – www.ecoafrica.com

·        www.jenmansafaris.com

·        Headwater do a South Africa walking trip that includes time in the Hluhluwe park.




You will usually want to spend a night at the park headquarters before and after your trek. Simple but clean accommodation, same for the food. Wonderful lawn overlooking the river, perfect for that contemplative sundowner.


In tents if you go out overnight.



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Other information and tips



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Useful websites and information


There are many websites with relevant information. Here are some that we think are useful or have been recommended to us.



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Other things to do in the area

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Other walks


Other activities


Shopping, if you must

We are not a shopping website. But, anything bought from local people must be of some help to this poor area. So, wallets out!

© William Mackesy

share your experiences

Add your experiences, suggestions and photos. We would be delighted to receive your writing and ideas (which will be attributed appropriately where published).

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

© William Mackesy...

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