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Hluhluwe-Umfolosi Game Reserve
Hluhluwe-Umfolosi Game Reserve was established in 1895 and is the oldest Game Reserve in Africa. It was originally two separate reserves (Umfolozi and Hluhluwe) which were set up with the main objective to protect the endangered White Rhinoceros. Today the park covers an area of 960 km² (96,000 hectares) in South Africa’s central Zululand. It is the only park in KwaZulu-Natal where all five species of Big Game (Lion, Elephant, Buffalo, Leopard and Rhinoceros) can be found and due to its conservation efforts the park now contains the world’s largest population of White Rhino (approximately 1,000 individuals). The park includes two large rivers with a flood plain and the Hluhluwe dam that creates an important habitat for birds, insects and plants. Within the Hluhluwe-Umfolosi Game Reserve there are several tourist camps, which are placed at strategic locations on the hilltops. A boat provides regular trips on the Hluhewe dam twice a day.
Kruger National Park
Dating from 1889, the Kruger National Park covers an area of approximately 2 million hectares and is the natural habitat of varied flora and fauna, including the Big Five. Sights vary according to the different eco-zones and a total of more than 500 bird species can be viewed. A number of guided wilderness trails are available, as are game drives, mountain biking and 4x4 options. Due to its size and the fact that it includes six ecosystems, the Kruger National Park is divided into four regions, each with its own atypical landscapes and attributes. The central region houses most of the lions in the park, the far north region is more tropical and has vast birdlife, elephant and buck are found predominantly in the northern region whilst cheetahs and white rhino can be found in the southern region. Facilities at the park include picnic sites, rest camps, waterholes and hides. There are multiple accommodation options ranging from luxury lodges to Bushveld camps. Entrance gates open at 05h30 or 06h00 (depending on the season) and closing times vary from 17h30 to 18h30. Full details are provided at the website.
Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve
Located on the so-called "Panorama Route" of the Mpumalanga escarpment, the Blyde River Canyon is one of the deepest gorges worldwide and offers panoramic views as well as a variety of fauna and flora, the latter including some rare and endangered species. Access is via the R532 north of Graskop and information centres are available at Swadini and Bourke's Luck Potholes. A number of hiking trails are available to explore the sandstone ravines and rock formations, whilst local activities include fishing, horseback-riding, 4x4 game drives, abseiling, boat trips on the Blyde Dam and white water rafting. The reserve covers an area of approximately 29,000-hectares which is the natural habitat for various species of buck, birds, zebras, hippo and crocodile.