Hluhluwe to Umhlanga

Hluhluwe is pronounced almost like “Shlu shlu wee”. The “HL” sound is more like the welsh “LL” sound than like a “SH”, but it will do. We woke again at 0430, did the “stumbling about” routine, and joined our fellow game-drivers. Again there were 3 vehicles, but today we only had one other couple with us and our ranger. And again, the guide was informative, and found us a fair amount of interesting game to watch. We saw a lot of elephants, including watching a set of them wade across a river. The river came up to the elephants shoulders. We also found some rhino bathing in mud – apparently that don’t have pores in their skin, so they regulate their temperature by rolling in mud.

Ellie v rhinoWe also saw a wary (but ultimately innocuous) meeting between a single male elephant and a rhino. Our guide told us that a few years ago the park had introduced a bunch of young elephants, and that without the guidance of the older elephants, they had been somewhat unruly and had actually killed some rhino. OUr guide said that this was typical adolescent behaviour, but that the conservationists had not taken this potential outcome into account, and had since learned that when they introduce new elephants to an area, they now include some older elephants with the new herds to provide guidance to the younger ones.

Back at the camp we had breakfast, packed up to leave, and then spent a few hours driving some of the sand roads to try find some hippo before we left. We were somewhat successful, but could only observe them through binoculars, floating in the river, with their ears, nose and eyes visible. Still, it counts as a sighting, so we left the park happy.

We drove down the coast, now heading towards a nice hotel in Umhlanga Rocks, a seaside resort near to Durban. The thermometer showed 40 degrees for a while, so we really appreciated our air-conditioned hire car.

We arrived mid afternoon at the Oyster Box hotel in Umhlanga Rocks. It was bit disorientating for us, as we were not prepared for the rush of activity as we slowly got our of the car after a long drive. Hordes of hotel staff, all dressed in colonial style, took our cases, our car, escorted us in to reception, gave us glasses of champagne while we listened to a pianist in the lobby and waited to be checked in. This place is superb in terms of quality and service, and they could not do enough for us. We needed some medication, so they sent someone to a local chemist to get the necessaries.

View from Oysterbox room
View from Oysterbox room

Our room faces the sea, and has a spectacular view. The picture on the left was taken from our room. We are here for a couple of days of relaxation, cocktails and catching up on sleep, and are looking forward to it immensely. We are ready to have them take very good care of us.

In the cocktail bar at the Oyster Box Hotel
In the cocktail bar at the Oyster Box Hotel

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