The day after the Troopy arrived we were keen to get out of town. So keen, that we accidentally slept in!
A couple of bottles of South Africa’s finest shared with new friends had us waking up with foggy heads. But true to our word we piled on in and hit the road.
We had decided our first stop had to involve seeing some African wildlife! So we drove to Hluhluwe-Imfolozi park, the KwaZulu-Natal region’s most remarkable game reserve and considered to be a rival to Kruger (minus the crowds!). This park also plays a huge role in conserving the White Rhino and is one of the best places in the World to see the magnificent animals.
On past trips in Africa we had laid eyes on two Rhinos but their teeny tiny silhouettes in the distance were nothing compared to what this park had in store for us.
Within 7 minutes of entering the park we were surrounded by 100 buffalo. A further 3 minutes in and we spotted 2 White Rhino within 50 metres.
We watched the mother and her baby for a good half hour as they made their way closer and closer to us. No other cars in sight. At one point the baby lay down to feed. We could hear them move, breathing in and out and chomping down on their food. They crossed the road just two metres in front of us. The baby decided that we were interesting and decided to stare us down while scraping his foot back and forth.
In a ‘Ahhhh, why didn’t we switch the GoPro on’ moment, we couldn’t believe what had just happened!
The rest of our two days in the park were spent spotting hundreds of buffalo, giraffes, warthog, blue wildebeest, turtles, a close encounter with a tusked elephant ripping down a tree above our heads. We personally think dung beetles are pretty awesome – and boy did we get our fix – seeing them get to work on piles of dung in their little two man teams. One rolling, one hanging on – together rolling a perfect sphere of crap for foraging.
All up we were lucky enough to see 14 wild White Rhino showing off their skills. There were the three big beasts reversing into a defensive circle with their butts in and their faces out towards us. Then there was the gigantic solo male that gave us a cursory glance and continued on munching his dinner. And there was the family of 3 Rhinos; mother, father and tiny baby, who we spent a lot of time with. Eventually they decided to pull us into the fold and walked nonchalantly metres behind the car. They were so close to we could hear the flies buzzing on their backs.
A few days later we met some of Kingsley Holgate’s crew who had just travelled across the continent promoting Rhinoceros conservation. He painted a picture of how grim the conservation of Rhino’s is faring across the continent. Just a couple of weeks ago a Chinese shipping container was detected in port with 400 Rhino horns. The ‘idea’ of farming rhino (both for their horns and their conservation) has cropped up, which he and each of us, see as a bandaid on a massacre. As our friend said ‘A Rhino in a farm is not a Rhino at all’.
We feel very fortunate to have spent time here with these animals. To see them all out the window of our very familiar Troopy made it all feel so special. We still can’t believe we are doing this!
PS. If you are interested in overlanding Africa take a look at our specific Travel Notes geared to help future trips