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At the town of Hluhluwe, I was back in civilization, and I stopped in at an "ultra" gas station for a coke and a fillup and a chat with the lady at the tourist kiosk there. I was planning a drive through the game park of the same name, Hluhluwe, which from its description in LP, sounded like a nice park to visit. It seemed worthwhile routing myself through there at any rate, though I arrived at its gate at 3:00 and had only 3 hours to get in and out of the park. The park seemed a little busy though at its eastern entrance, not so rich with animals beyond some giraffes and the usual antelope species. For over an hour, I found myself behind landrover Safari vehicles full of tourists with cameras, and at one point I was following a huge tour bus down a dirt road. This traffic was apparently heading for the highland park headquarters, but when I headed down the mountain instead and into the low country, things began to improve. First I came upon a rhinoceros, which I watched for some time as it meandered nearer and nearer my car. Then driving into the rolling hill section toward the Umfolozi wilderness part of the park, I was treated to views of herds of zebra and wildebeest as well as other creatures, such as buffalo, warthog and the antelopes. The wildebeest in particular were fun to watch. Wildebeest are an animal that must be seen in herds to appreciate. Until now I had never seen more than a handful of these creatures at any one time in South Africa, and in small numbers, wildebeest are about as fun to watch as grazing cows. Here were herds of dozens of animals, moving in frolicky measure, the males prancing around their harems of females. Here in Hluhluwe was a faint reminder of the great herd migrations I had witnessed in the mid 70's in the Serengeti in Tanzania, the memory of which had helped seduce me toward Africa on several occasions since.
As the sun went low on the horizon, my time in Hluhluwe was coming to an end, and I left the park on the road to Mtubatuba. It had just gone dark when I reached the town, which according to LP had just one not too appealing hotel. Fortunately, I spotted a sign for the Circle B&B and found my way to a residence where lived a very friendly Afrikaans family. As usual, I was the only guest to call in that night, and I arrived just as the man of the house was unloading his car from a trip to the bottle shop, so I was asked in for a beer, and then another, and another. In the course of the conversation I gained some respect for the family, who conversed with their help in Zulu, and seemed to have a sincere appreciation for the environment. The father would be leaving early next day for a beach cleanup, and I'm sure I could have gone along if I'd felt like a day of braai and beer on the beach. The wife and father were divers and they gave me some books on South African dive sites to take with me back to my room. But first they sent me out for a meal at the local club, which I enjoyed with wine, and I returned for a comfortable sleep in their cozy guest room until it was time to be on my way after a huge breakfast next morning.
My interest in the area between there and Durban stemmed from what I had read about the Zulu wars, and nearby were battlefields of the Zulu and Boer wars. Unfortunately they were not that nearby, so I didn't drive inland to see the actual battlefields, but I did take myself up a dirt road past typical Zulu behive settlements in the lush green hills to a marker that commemorated the spot where Shaka's kraal had been. It was interesting to see the land that Shaka had ruled, as it was a beautiful land of rolling mountains. In a field across from the marker, a group of a couple dozen people dressed in white appeared to be engaged in some kind of ceremony beneath a tree, but I felt an outsider here and didn't linger to investigate.
Shakaland to Durban
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