We entered the Reserve, which we know ExTREMELY well, at Memorial Gate at the Hluhluwe end of the HIP.
The tarmac road surface is in an APPALLINGLY potholed condition and you need to drive with EXTREME caution! Generally - follow the tracks that have been made off road surface and you will miss most of the really bad ones! In all the years we have been visiting this Park, (65 years in my case!!), we have NEVER seen the roads in such a bad condition! We strongly recommend that if you are travelling to either Hilltop or Mpila camps you take the first road off to the left (marked 17 in official map book) towards picnic site, and then take first road right (16) before you reach picnic site. This is a gravel road and in a far better condition than the tarred main road. Keep on it all the way (23 + 15 to 11). At the Sivivaneni T-junction turn right or left to appropriate camp!
Entering at the Nyalazi Gate, you have no optiion but to be on the tarmac whichever direction you follow! It is a pleasure to get onto the gravel roads these days!
We spent 2 nights in the Safari Tented Camp at Mpila in the iMfolozi section of the HIP. The tents are comfortable and well equipped with all linen provided, set on a wooden deck and with the ablutions en suite.
The kitchen unit is on same deck, but separate from sleeping tent. The Vervet monkeys are ExTREMELY active and silently clever! DO NOT KEEP FOOD IN YOUR SLEEPING TENT unless you are prepared to totally zip it up at all times! The kitchen unit is supplied with a folding "security" door and a wire door on a wooden frame! KEEP THIS CLOSED AT ALL TIMES and if you are not inside it - lock the latch too!! The kitchen is equipped with electric fridge/deep-freeze, gas cooker, sink and all cooking equipment and utensils and detergent. Crockery and cutlery is also provided. chairs and table are supplied on the deck - both dining bench and deck chairs. A braai (BBQ) is provided just off the deck and wood/charcoal should be brought before entering the HIP as the Curio Shop is inclined to run short of these and other essential commodities!
The tents are serviced each day. The electricity is switched off at 22h00 so recharge batteries etc as early as you can. Shut the gate onto the deck in the evenings and be aware that hyenas and bushpigs are regular visitors to the camp from dusk to dawn. DO NOT LEAVE MEAT ON THE BRAAI UNATTENDED AT ANY TIME! Turn your back and it is likely to be stolen by the hyenas. At this time of year it is really fairly cold from dusk to dawn and although en suite - the bathroom section has reed walls and not canvas, although with the canvas roof!
The electricity is onlly reconnected at 07h00 so to get out of the gate for an early morning game drive, you get up in darkness. A small oil lamp is provided, but a strong torch/solar lamp is highly recommended! A torch also helps you to spot the animals after dark.
Another 2 nights were spent in the same Mpila camp, but in a 2 bedded chalet - bricks & mortar under thatch. These have same equipment as tents and also have decks on which to sit and a braai close at hand.
Learn to live with the ants!! It is hugely challenging to the staff who do their best to leave the facilities spotless after servicing!
The entire Mpila Camp is ONLY fenced to keep out the larger elephants, so expect to see other animals around at all times!
The reception and housekeeping staff were obliging and polite (that has improved greatly since our previous visit 2 years ago!)
All water holes other than Mpafa (between 28+25) and Bhejane (between 19+23) are bone dry already.
Sontuli Loop is now 2-way traffic all the way around, so beware if you know this area well!
All toilets at gates/hides/picnic spots were clean and well-equipped (another improvement!)
Oh! And the road-blocks! Remember to give way to all animals on the roads! Especially elephants!
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