My partner and I had been planning a trip to South Africa for some time. Having grew up in Kwa-Zulu Natal I knew Uhluhluw-Imfolozi would be the perfect "safari" for my German friend. We searched on google and after much looking around I emailed an enquiry to Heritage Tours & Safaris. Within the next 12 hours I had my first response and this set the ball rolling. We were enticed into the 3 day package which includes a boat ride along the St Lucia Estuary, a night game drive in the Isimangaliso Wetlands, a full days game drive in Hluhluwe-Imfolozi and topped off with a beach trip to Cape Vidal. As I am sitting here writing this review I have to point out that we are embarking on the Cape Vidal trip tomorrow morning so I cannot comment on that as yet - however it is raining so I suspect we will not be snorkelling. The package was attractive because of what it offers and for a great price. We were placed in Umlilo Lodge (2min walk from Town) a beautiful little family run lodge with full (free!) wifi access. Due to the weather we were given the option of taking the night game drive on the first night as there would be a chance we would miss out on it the second night as they were expecting the rain to continue. We decided we did not want to take the chance so we went for it. Unfortunately the guided tour operator did not see our names on the altered list and we were forgotten at our lodge. Umlilo lodge manager promptly contacted Heritage who then contacted the driver who was happy to turn around and pick us up, followed by an apology. The boat trip was marvellous, operated by an informative ranger who clearly has a passion for wildlife. Head my warning though, when he dryly remarks that "in case of an emergency we will remain on-board." this is not dark humour - he is being deadly serious. Between the Bull Shark, (Zambezi) African Crocodile and Hippopotamus there is no chance of survival as these are extremely dangerous animals. We spotted many hippo's, an african fish eagle, a goliath heron, a pied king fisher, giant king fisher and a woodlands king fisher. Only one crocodile made an appearance. They are cold blooded creatures so they tend to spend a lot of time out of the water soaking up the sun, but as it was raining they remained in the warmer water. Our game night drive was pleasant, we spotted many nocturnal creatures including the bush-baby and plenty of waterbuck and we even crossed paths with a 20cm baby python. The following morning we had an early start to the day, pick up at 5 am for the trip to Uhluhluwe - what we were waiting for! Uhluhluwe is one of the oldest game parks in africa, formed in the 1800's it is also the most successful breading reserve for white and black rhino. 5 minutes into our game drive we spotted a large herd of elephants (+- 80 - 100 strong) including large females and their young calves and one notably massive bull. We also spotted lions who were taking time to sleep under some bushes as they showed off their great big paws. We did see a small group of 3 males buffalo and many wildebeast, impala, warthog, inyala, giraffe, zebra and birds galore. The White-backed Vulture perched in a tree adjacent to a yellow-billed kite and a silver chested kite. We also saw a yellow billed hornbill and a burchells coocal. Rhino's were in packs of two and were great big animals lying in the grass sleeping. Our guide Simpiwe kept us educated with his knowledge of the reserve and its many varying wildlife. We did hear of a cheetah kill but got their too late and we were also unlucky not to see hyenas and their counter parts wild dogs. A great trip, and well planned out with an early morning breakfast and a lunch before the end of the drive. I would recommend anyone to Uhluhluwe and even more so to Heritage Tours & Safaris because when we arrived back at our lodge we were welcomed by a package and a card to apologise for the mix up on the first night! Now that is service! They clearly value their customer.
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