Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve

The early wake up call from Tommy was less appealing with a start time of half 5!
Being greeted by a safari truck shocked me, although it was awesome to ride in. After a cold windy trip to the game reserve, the sun was rising to create the mood of excitement and warm feeling of relief as the wind chill dropped. The wide expanses of the reserve became open to us and it seemed as though we were surrounded by wild animals.

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Three hours later we were still searching for the first of our Big Five. However, not easy to deter, we persevered and it was not much longer before being truly rewarded with sightings of both Zebras and Giraffe. These alien creatures were then complimented further by a White Rhino and her calf. As they stumbled away through the bush, we felt ready for the hundreds of Elephants, Buffalo, Lions and Leopard that were sure to follow.

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Three hours later we were still searching. As our guide advised us, it is important to go into the park not expecting to see anything; that way, you become to appreciate that everything you do see is truly unique as well as amazing. Though it may seem unlikely when sat at home, it is easy to lose interest in Girraffe, Zebra, Warthogs, Wilderbeast, Impala, and Nyala (both Antalopes) when in search for big game. In such cases, we found it important to notice every organism in sight.
In all directions are strange plants, sporting twisted stems and hairy fruit, each their own story. A miriad of colourful birds ranging from the large and majestic Furry-Backed Stalk [wooly-necked stork] to the small yet dazzling White-Fronted Bee Eater.

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In all the experience is one which is never going to be forgotten and where all the time spent scouring the landscape pays off. By the end of the day, we had seen Rhino, been caught in the middle of a large herd of Buffalo, and found countless more African beasties which could appear from nowhere just as easily as they can disappear into their habitats. During one of those periods where the wilderness appeared empty, we were making our way through Hluhluwe along a narrow winding road. After rounding a particularly sharp bend we pulled up short behind the vehicle ahead which was rapidly backtracking. Seconds later, we too were beating a retreat as the Matriach of the herd came trumpeting towards us, ears flapping.
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In the following minutes we gazed in awe as over fifty Elephants made their way past, decimating the undergrowth as they went and all the while shepherding  their young. Of all the breath-taking sights we saw, that was one of the most powerful.
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“Bye bye!”

Gemma and Magnus

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