We come to Richards Bay for one reason only – to see some of the amazing wildlife that KwaZulu Natal calls home. So, I joined the ship’s tour to the Hluhluwe National Park to see how many of the Big Five I could see.
The problem of visiting a proper National Park like Hluhluwe, where there are no fences and the animals can wander at will over vast distances, is that it’s not always easy to find the animals in a short game drive. This is the best place in the world to see White Rhinos, and last time I was here we saw loads of them – unfortunately, this time, the animals didn’t get the memo that we were coming, so sightings were a little short on the ground.
However, that does make the excitement levels rise when you get your first glimpse of an elephant in the distance, and it does make you concentrate a little more on the beautiful birdlife on show here. Unfortunately, it made some of my jeep companions a little over-excited when they got their first up-close sighting of a rhino mother and baby. The shouted “wows” were enough to make them scurry back into the undergrowth.
So, we managed to see three of the big five – Cape Buffalo, elephants and rhinos – but no lions or leopards (which I have never seen there). We also saw impala, kudu, a lone giraffe and plenty of warthogs trotting down the road. And, the wide open landscapes and sense of space were never less than magnificent.
A trip to Hluhluwe confirms that Mother Nature is wonderful – even if she doesn’t always play ball with the eager animal hunter.