Hluhluwe Game Reserve Hotels

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  • CatherineReichardt profile photo CatherineReichardt
  • Reviews: 2527

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Hilltop Camp, Hluhluwe: A stunning and affordable bush retreat!

Over the years, I have visited many game reserves throughout Southern Africa, but I retain a particularly soft spot for Hluhluwe and its Hilltop Camp.

When I first visited Hilltop in the early 90s, it was a rustic and somewhat ramshackle assemblage of thatched rondavels (round huts) which had no kitchens. In the late afternoon, a chap in a uniform would knock politely on your door and ask you what would were having for supper, at which point you would confirm the menu and hand over the ingredients for him to cook in a central kitchen. A couple of hours later, the finished meal would be delivered to your hut with much ceremony on a platter under a silver dome! I recall with some shame the last time we experienced this arrangement, as Hluhluwe was our last stop after a few days on the road when we hadn't had time to go shopping, and our provisions were down to a coil of boerewors (farmer's sausage) which he viewed with enormous contempt: we will never know whether his ego recovered from being presented with unchallenging fare to prepare!

These days, Hilltop Camp is an altogether different and more upmarket affair. However, it still remains true to its surroundings and has managed to retain its charm. The setting (unsurprisingly on top of a hill) is gorgeous, and if you are really lucky, there will be a thunder storm whilst you're there, which will allow you to experience the best free firework display you're ever likely to witness! The rooms are beautiful, and the restaurant is excellent.

Ultimately the true charm of Hluhluwe is the wonderful wildlife. Umfolozi (which was originally a separate reserve, but has since been incorporated into Hluhluwe) was the place which pioneered the South African rhino breeding programme, and the reserve boasts both white rhino (which you are almost guaranteed to see) and the much shyer black rhino. I have always been particularly lucky with seeing hyena here, which you can't guarantee seeing elsewhere.

There are day and night game drives available - try both if you can, as the night time experience is entirely different, and whereas you can drive around the reserve by yourself during the day (and stop off in a number of hides), you are not allowed to drive after dark. I would also highly recommend the game walks, which are guided by rangers carrying rifles: this is really the best way to appreciate the bush if you are moderately fit.

The accommodation comprises:
- 20x two-bed Rondavels with communal ablution and -kitchen facilities;
- 7x two-bed Chalets, fully equipped for selfcatering.
- 22x four-bed Chalets, fully equipped for selfcatering.
- 20x 2-bed Chalets, without kitchen facilities (units therefore not equipped for selfcatering) and are within close proximity to the main reception area where the restaurant is.

The selfcatering units are fully equipped with linen, crockery, cutlery, stove, refrigerator and cooking utensils. Visitors can either bring their own provisions or make use of the restaurant and convenience store.

Hluhluwe is in a malarial area, so make sure you're taking prophylaxis and come prepared with insect repellent and clothing with long sleeves and legs for the evenings.

  • Opinion of Price: less expensive than average
  • Written September 18, 2010
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  • MikeAtSea profile photo MikeAtSea
  • Reviews: 2923

4 out of 5 starsUser Rating

Mtwazi Lodge: The Old Wardens Home

Mtwazi Lodge is close to the renowned Hilltop Camp in the Hluhluwe Game Reserve, and boasts a magnificent setting under a large sycamore fig within its own secluded bushveld garden. This eight-bedded lodge, once the original home of the warden of the reserve, features memorabilia from the rich history of the Hluhluwe Game Reserve.
The accommodation comprises three bedrooms each with its own private bathroom and an annex bedroom with its own shower and toilet. A sumptuous lounge and dining area lead out onto a large flagstone veranda, and from there into a magnificent tropical garden shaded by a gloriously spreading tree.

  • Opinion of Price: about average
  • Related to: Safari, National/State Park, Photography
  • Written December 30, 2009
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Mtwazi Lodge

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  • adrivdw profile photo adrivdw
  • Reviews: 2

4 out of 5 starsUser Rating

Hluhluwe game reserveMpila tented camp: Mpila camp

As an alternative there is also a tented camp at Mpila camp where one stays in either 2 or 4 person tents each with their own kitchen and bathroom facilities.

To stay here is much more authentic than in rondawels as each tent is nearly out of sight of the next, the camp hre is also not fenced and you can hear animals wandering around at night. Quite unique and thoroughly recommended.

  • Opinion of Price: less expensive than average
  • Related to: National/State Park, Birdwatching, Photography
  • Written April 28, 2007

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  • kzngirl profile photo kzngirl
  • Reviews: 109

5 out of 5 starsUser Rating

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Mpila - Rustic with style!: Mpila COTTAGES & CHALETS

Mpila camp is located quite centrally in the Umfolozi section of the park. This is one of my favorite camps. There is a variety of accommodation on offer (all self-catering): rondavels with only four beds, a sink, table and chairs - and communal kitchens and ablutions; cottages and chalets in addition to a safari tented camp which I have not yet had the pleasure of staying in!

CHALETS and COTTAGES
These vary from either two (sleeping four) or three (sleeping 6-8) bedroomed thatched houses. Quite lovely, rustic but comfortable accommodation. They often have a lovely sliding door, opening onto a patio overlooking the braai (BBQ) area. You need nerves of steel if you are the designated braai-er - often it is quite a walk from the cottage or chalet and after dark it can be daunting being in the bush all by your self - fire or no fire!

Electricity goes off at 10pm so if you are a night owl, bring along a torch or candle.

Keep doors and windows closed when you are not around - given half a chance, the monkeys will be in your house, raiding your fridge.

I love to check out the sand around the house first thing in the morning - trying to spot which footprint belongs to who!

  • Opinion of Price: more expensive than average
  • Related to: Family Travel, Safari, Photography
  • Written May 16, 2006
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Our Cottage!

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  • kzngirl profile photo kzngirl
  • Reviews: 109

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Mpila - Budget Accommodation: Mpila RONDAWELS

Mpila camp is located quite centrally in the Umfolozi section of the park. This is one of my favorite camps. There is a variety of accommodation on offer (all self-catering): rondavels with only four beds, a sink, table and chairs - and communal kitchens and ablutions; cottages and chalets in addition to a safari tented camp which I have not yet had the pleasure of staying in!

RONDAVELS (REST CAMP)
These are the most basic of accommodation. A small hut containing four beds (one bunk bed and two singles) one small sink, a cupboard with basic utensils, a fridge, a table and four chairs. There is usually a table and bench outside the hut, and a braai (BBQ) a few meters away from the front door.

The communal kitchen consists of sinks, ovens and cupboards containing basic cooking utensils. Each rondavel is allocated a cupboard complete with the aforementioned utensils.

Both the kitchen and communal ablution block is a short walk from the huts. The bathrooms are simple but clean: one bath and one shower, two loos. The water is a brackish brown, so I don't recommend bathing - it looks like you are bathing in tea - rather shower, that way you don't notice the colour so much! A bar of soap is provided.

The lights go out at 10pm so if you are a night owl, bring your own torch or candle!

Keep your windows closed when you are not around - the monkeys are thieves and will be in your windows eating from your fridge the minute you are out of sight!

  • Opinion of Price: less expensive than average
  • Related to: Photography, Family Travel, Budget Travel
  • Written May 16, 2006
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Our little rondawel

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  • kzngirl profile photo kzngirl
  • Reviews: 109

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Mpila - General Accommodation: Mpila Camp

Mpila camp is located quite centrally in the Umfolozi section of the park. This is one of my favorite camps. There is a variety of accommodation on offer (all self-catering): rondavels with only four beds, a sink, table and chairs - and communal kitchens and ablutions; cottages and chalets in addition to a safari tented camp which I have not yet had the pleasure of staying in!

It is worth noting that Mpila camp is not fenced. This means animals are free to roam throughout the campsite. You will be amazed at the amount of wildlife visible from your front door - or patio for that matter! Even a quick scope at the dust around your hut each morning will get your heart racing: try to decipher who left what in the sand outside your window!

  • Opinion of Price: about average
  • Related to: Safari, Photography, Birdwatching
  • Written May 16, 2006
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Mpila Reception

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  • kzngirl profile photo kzngirl
  • Reviews: 109

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Sontuli Bush Camp: Bush Babies

A few years ago, my family and a few friends booked a few nights into Sontuli Bush Camp. This is off the beaten track, down a road not accessible to the public. The campsite is situated on the banks of the Black Umfolozi River.

The campsite consists of four thatched A-frame sleeping units, each with two beds, a communal ablution block (with an outdoor shower - beautiful) a lounge, dining area and a kitchen.

Although there is a cook in attendance, you must remember to bring your own food - oh and keep the kitchen locked at night, the hyenas and baboons are fans of human food!

Sontuli caters for only one party at a time, so you have the place to yourself for the duration of your stay!

In addition to a cook, we had our very own game ranger who offered to take us on evening or morning walks. Mum and I decided to go with him one morning...we left at the break of dawn.

It was an incredible experience: he began tracking lion! We almost stumbled across a whole pride - they saw us first - and it was only as a lioness leapt up from the rock she was lying on, that we noticed them in the bush ahead.

They had just eaten their full their warning growls were enough to hasten us away - fast! We were so close we could hear the flies buzzing on the left over carrion.

We had a wonderful time walking through the bush as the sun slowly rose in the east. Our game ranger was extremely knowledgeable on the flora and fauna all around us...we followed leopard tracks along the banks of the river, tiptoed cautiously around rhino, spotted birds and buck and heard amazing bird calls...we got to experience wild Africa at its very best.

An unforgettable experience.

  • Opinion of Price: more expensive than average
  • Related to: Family Travel, Photography, Safari
  • Written May 16, 2006
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Mum overlooking the Black Umfolozi


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  • kzngirl profile photo kzngirl
  • Reviews: 109

4 out of 5 starsUser Rating

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Hilltop Camp: City on a hill

Hilltop is an award-winning camp situated in northern Hluhluwe section of the park.

It is the oldest camp but was rebuilt in the early nineties. We first stayed at Hilltop while it was being renovated, and I recall the number of animals that walked through our camp during our stay. Hilltop is now fenced - which has put an end to night time stalkers!

The camp is quite large, and situated at the top of a very big hill - hence the name! It is slightly more expensive than Mpila. Accommodation is varied: from rest huts (rondavels) to self catering chalets to non-self catering chalets (there is a restaurant and bar for those who do not wish to self-cater.)

We stayed in the self-catering chalets and were impressed with the high quality furnishings and finishings: it was a very glamourous camp compared to the rondavels (round huts, with beds and a sink...and usually communal ablutions) in which we stayed previously.

My folks have eaten only once at the restaurant (The Mpunyane Restaurant) however weren't too impressed. The meal that night was a venison braai (BBQ) and they had quite high expectations of trying different game. They were disappointed in both the selection on offer and the way it was cooked: very dry and over done.

We stopped off at Hilltop Camp on our last visit for a cup of tea and an opportunity to stretch our legs. The view from the restaurant / cafe is fabulous: lovely green rolling hills. Ocassionally we have spotted rhino grazing in the distance, but on the whole not seen too much really! So a wonderful vista, but not many animals in sight.

  • Opinion of Price: more expensive than average
  • Related to: Family Travel, Photography, National/State Park
  • Written May 16, 2006
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Reception at Hilltop

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  • LoriPori profile photo LoriPori
  • Reviews: 3120

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BONAMANZI GAME PARK: TREE HOUSES

Each Tree House, specially sited in private isolation (Our site was # 6), has two double bedrooms that lead off a viewing veranda shared only by the birds and the occasional monkey. Beneath each Tree House is a kitchenette, shower and toilet facilities and braii (barbeque) area. Your "living room" is the outdoors.

  • Opinion of Price: N/A
  • Related to: Family Travel
  • Written April 13, 2005
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Entrance to our Bedroom


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  • LoriPori profile photo LoriPori
  • Reviews: 3120

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BONAMANZI GAME PARK: TREE HOUSES

Nestled in the foliage of forest trees, the TREE HOUSES offer a unique living experience high above the animals that pass by below.
The Tree Houses have electric lights, cooking utensils, crockery, cutlery, a cook stove and refrigerator. Guests must bring their own provisions but linen is provided.
In this photo, Hans is in the "kitchen" boiling water for tea. He looks so domestic!!!

  • Opinion of Price: N/A
  • Related to: Family Travel
  • Written April 13, 2005
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Hans Making Tea

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  • LoriPori profile photo LoriPori
  • Reviews: 3120

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BONAMANZI GAME PARK: TREE HOUSES

Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday --September 27, 28 & 29, 1994
Hans, his brother Wim and I stayed at the BONAMANZI GAME PARK in a Tree House for three nights. It was our "Home" while we visited three game reserves located in the area -- Hluhluwe/Umfolozi Game Reserve -- Mfabeni/Cape Vidal -- Mkuzi Game Reserve and the town of St. Lucia.

  • Opinion of Price: N/A
  • Related to: Family Travel
  • Written April 13, 2005
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Our Tree House

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  • MikeAtSea profile photo MikeAtSea
  • Reviews: 2923

4 out of 5 starsUser Rating

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Hilltop Camp: In the oldest game reserve in Africa

The award-winning Hilltop Camp on the summit of a forested hill offers fine views of the surrounding countryside. The camp, the oldest in KwaZulu-Natal, was extensively rebuilt and enlarged in the early nineties, and today accommodation at Hilltop ranges from a luxury lodge to a variety of superbly appointed self-catering accommodation facilities. All units are serviced daily. From the bottom of the price range up, facilities include: twenty 2-bedded rondavels with communal ablutions and kitchens; seven 2-bedded and twenty-two 4-bedded self-catering chalets. Twenty 2-bedded chalets, which are not self-catering, are within close proximity to the main reception area. This area includes an a la carte restaurant, an attractive pub and lounge decorated with photographs and memorabilia of the history of Hluhluwe, as well as a gift shop and convenience store.

The reason to come here is to explore the wild life in Africas oldest game reserve. The success story within nature conservation specialy in the protection of Rhinos can be seen here.

  • Opinion of Price: about average
  • Related to: National/State Park, Photography, Safari
  • Written October 7, 2004
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Hilltop Camp

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  • linnyloo profile photo linnyloo
  • Reviews: 63

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Hluhluwe Hilltop camp: Award winning!

Hilltop camp is situated at the top of a hill, providing stunning views of the surrounding countryside.
The camp was completely revamped in the early nineties, and having been to the previous camp in the 80's, I have to say we were stunned with the difference!

We stayed in a spacious 2 bed self-catering chalet which was superb. There was a pull-out bed for our 4 year old, a bathroom with shower in bath and a retractable clothes line, a well equipped kitchen and lounge and finally a fabulous wooden deck overlooking the valley. The chalet is serviced daily, and was spotless.

There are a variety of different types of chalets available. The one next to us was a 4 bed, in two bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, on two floors for larger families.

There is also the option of chalets without a kitchen if you do not intend to self-cater (there is a very good restaurant on-site) and for the budget traveller, there are 2-bed rondavels which have communal ablutions and kitchens!
A fully equipped shop selling a wide range of curios and supplies is available

There are also luxury lodges and bush camps which must be booked exclusively.

Please see my travelogue for more images and detailed desciption!!

The views!

There is a hide in the camp, from which we saw some male Nyala grazing.

Although the camp is fenced, a warning is given that the fence is not lion proof and these animals can get in. They particularly warn you to take care at night. (lion hunting time)

There is a swimming pool for the hot summer months (much needed!!)

  • Opinion of Price: about average
  • Related to: Safari, Photography, National/State Park
  • Written July 6, 2003
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Our chalet at Hilltop camp


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  • Waalewiener profile photo Waalewiener
  • Reviews: 1129

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Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Hilltop Camp.: One of the best Camps in Zululand -Natal

The locating is on a steep forested slope, with breathtaking vieuws of the surrounding
hills and valleys.
It is a wonderful place to stop and rest and have a great lunch.

The view from the Restaurant (Mpunyane) is fantastic, the bar/lounge is called'' Uzavolo ''
There is a swimming pool , a petrol station ,and a souvenir shop.
Facilities : 69 Chalets/Huts. Children are welcome.
Disable Facilities.
Big Five Game viewing.
Open in front of restaurant Parking

  • Opinion of Price: N/A
  • Written December 30, 2002
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Entrance Hilltop


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  • dutch_anna profile photo dutch_anna
  • Reviews: 218

4 out of 5 starsUser Rating

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Hill Top.: Accomodation in Hluhluwe.

Hill Top camp is a comfortable hotel, a game lodge, but has also cottages for rent. More luxury than in Umfolozi. We had chosen for self-catering.

And here we had a zebra in our backyard!

  • Opinion of Price: N/A
  • Related to: Photography, National/State Park, Road Trip
  • Written October 17, 2002
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zebra


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